Rivaled only by boardsailing, kayaking is Baja's most rapidly expanding outdoor activity, and a number of locations and routes are of special interest. The 583-mile kayak trip from San Felipe to La Paz is, of course, the ultimate kayak trip, but you don't have to be a forty-miles-a-day, open-water kayaker to enjoy the Cortez. The two most popular kayak routes in the Cortez, the "Coasting to La Paz" route from Escondido to La Paz and the "Coasting to Loreto" route from Mulegé to Loreto, are both well within the ability of most kayakers. These are favored not only because of their fine scenery, abundant wildlife and lack of civilization, but also because they are the right distance apart for two- or one-week trips, about 135 and 85 miles respectively. In addition, they start and end at sizable towns on the Transpeninsular Highway, making it possible for those on one-way trips to hitchhike or take the bus back to pick up vehicles.

Kayakers explore the Cortez coast
Photo by Walt Peterson
Bahía de los Angeles is an increasingly popular kayaking area. There are many islands to explore and sandy campsites, and its relatively compact area makes it a fine place for a slow-bell kayak/camping trip. More ambitious kayakers can head to Puerto Don Juan and south along the coast to Bahía las Ánimas, a round trip taking a week or so, or head north to Isla Coronado. Those with the requisite open-water experience can head out to Guardian Angel Island, Puerto Refugio at its north end being a prime destination.

Bahía Concepción is calm and scenic and is a great place to practice paddling, self-righting and self-rescue procedures. Once you have these down pat, you can head for the open Cortez to try out your skills in waves. Kayakers also like to launch at Puerto Escondido and head south along the coast past Isla Danzante for Bahía Agua Verde. The deeply indented western sides of Islas Espíritu Santo and Partida Sur north of La Paz have many fine sand beaches, making them popular destinations for novice kayakers and those interested in leisurely kayak/camping.

Alengthy trip along Baja's Pacific coast can be recommended only to intrepid kayakers, for tales of being overpowered by currents and wind, getting lost in fog and pitchpoling are the central themes of many of the accounts of kayak trips down this coast. In spite of this, there are still some excellent locations. Bahía Magdalena is a popular destination, where kayakers can seek out gray whales and explore the mangrove-lined waterways, moving camp only when the mood strikes. Although not often visited by kayakers, the coastline north of Santa Rosalillita has much to recommend it, including secluded beaches, plenty of firewood and excellent fishing and foraging. The coast along the southwest shore of the Punta Banda peninsula just south of Ensenada is pleasant and undemanding, an ideal place for a first ocean trip, and a trip out to the Islas de Todos Santos can be made once the basics are mastered.

by:Walt Peterson ©

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