There's nothing like sea kayaking in Baja's Sea of Cortez, particularly during the winter when the water's warm, the desert skies remain sunny and the astounding marine life is active.
We've crafted our Isla San Jose Kayak tour to take you away from Baja's busy shorelines and into the secluded stretches few explore. This remote island paradise adventure remains obsure to most sea kayakers, making the views incredibly special for all of their rarity. Join us on this incredible adventure and kayak, snorkel and hike through the Sea of Cortez's stunning desert islands and waters.
ADD A DAY TO SNORKEL WITH WHALE SHARKS: This day tour is specifically designed to be included before or after your kayaking adventure. The thrill and excitement of snorkeling with the world’s largest fish is a perfect complement to your trip. In addition, La Paz is one of the few places in the World where you will have the opportunity join these docile creatures in the water for an up close and adrenaline filled experience. For all of our whale shark day tours we often partner with a leading whale shark Researcher, Deni Ramirez; so not only do you get the thrill of a lifetime, a portion of your tour cost goes back to supporting this important research. We'll share in the excitement of this experience, as well as the contribution to the conservation and protection of this vulnerable species.
Images & Videos
Day 1: Welcome to La Paz in Baja!
Fly direct to La Paz or to Cabo San Jose and transfer north two hours to La Paz by bus or taxi. Overnight in La Paz and meet in the evening for an orientation with your Sea Kayak Adventures tour leader. We hand out waterproof bags to pack and answer all your last-minute questions. You also have time to explore the city, capital of Baja Sur, with its lively seaside promenade and many exceptional seafood restaurants.
Visit fishing village on Sea of Cortez
We meet in the morning and head out in our van for a day of fun and exploration. We stop by an artisanal factory where adobe bricks are made. We continue north, traveling through a fascinating landscape of huge cacti and rugged mountains. Our guides, all bilingual Mexicans from the area, are a fount of knowledge, eager to share their home with you.
By midafternoon we arrive at a small coastal fishing village where we camp on the property of a local fishing family. There's time to swim and snorkel, or walk through the surrounding desert alone or with your guide who tells you about the native plants. We also take our kayaks out for a short paddle to make sure foot pedals are adjusted and that everything is ready for the next day's crossing.
Those that wish can learn the art of tortilla making from our host family, perhaps while also sipping on a little tequila. It's a real treat to have a glimpse into the lives of these people who live primarily from the bounty of the sea. Our visit adds to their income and is a positive element in their lives on many levels beyond economic. As the light fades we sit down to a festive and traditional Baja dinner of fresh seafood, freshly-made tortillas and more. The evening sky is soon studded with diamond-sparkling stars and sleep beckons.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
We rise early, have a hearty breakfast and start our paddle from the mainland to the island. Our crossing takes from two to two and a half hours and our timing is important as winds sometimes pick up later in the morning. For added security we have a panga (motor skiff) follow us and it also carries all our camp gear.
Upon arrival at Isla San Jose, we beach our kayaks for a well-deserved break and chance to stretch our legs with a walk on a beach. This beautiful Sea of Cortez Island has dozens of long beaches of golden sand, perfect for beach combing. Depending on our mood and sea conditions we may have lunch at our first landing, or continue a short distance more.
After lunch we continue paddling another hour or so to our camp. Here you are introduced to our routine for the next few days. Arrive at camp, set up tents, take a swim or snorkel or, go on a walk or, read a book. Free time away from any phones or email. Disconnected from your world at home and totally connected with where you are and the people you're with.
Soon it's time for appetizers, then dinner under the stars. Relaxed, physically tired and hopefully at peace with everything around you, you fall into a deep sleep.
Paddling duration: 3-4 hours
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
Warm rays from the rising sun awake you from your slumber. If that doesn't do it your guides wake you gently. We have breakfast on the beach, then pack up your stuff while your guides pack up the kitchen and camp. Then off we go into the inviting Sea of Cortez, one of the healthiest marine ecosystems in the world. We may see giant blue whales swim by, or fin whales or orcas! Pods or dolphins sometimes play with us as we paddle.
We paddle a couple of hours then stop when we find a welcoming beach for a long lunch with time for walking, snorkeling or sunbathing. After lunch, settling into the rhythms of island life, we paddle a bit farther to camp. Now familiar with our routine, we spend another glorious evening.
Paddling duration: 3-4 hours
Exploring in the Sea of Cortez
Depending on weather, the group's interests and available hiking possibilities, we may have a layover day. Often people welcome the break from kayaking and the chance to give arms and shoulders a respite from working out.
Isla San Jose has some amazing hiking trails including one that crosses the entire island. Reaching a high point on the island with expansive vistas over the azure Sea of Cortez, perhaps with whales blowing spouts in the distance, may be the highlight of the trip for you.
There is also time for digging clams from the beach when the tide is low. Your guides lift the veils of mystery in the rich tidal areas. You might also enjoy learning how to fish with one of our guides who has a passion for this
Paddling duration: 3-4 hours
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez
Another day of adventure and relaxation. We paddle along the coast, adorned with cliffs and arches. Secluded coves where you look into transparent waters to fish below. By now you are as one with this place. Life at home seems far away. We land and explore, on foot or with fins. Another scrumptious lunch. Another wonder-filled afternoon. A festive last night camp.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez and Return to La Paz
We rise early to make our crossing from the island to the mainland. On arrival we have an early lunch with our village friends, then load up into our van for the drive back to La Paz. Once at your hotel, a warm shower feels great! Refreshed, we meet for a lively no-host farewell dinner at a local restaurant and regale each other with tales of the trip.
Return home or extend your stay with a Whale Shark Snorkel Day tour starting at only $90!
Our kayak adventure is done and you are free to depart at any time. We highly recommend you join our half day tour snorkeling with Whale Sharks
Dates & Rates
ALL PRICES IN US DOLLARS. We will do our best to adhere to the itineraries and trip descriptions listed on our website. However, tour itineraries or sub contractors (such as taxi, cruise boats or hotels) may change slightly due to reasons beyond our control including but not limited to Acts of God, wind, waves, inclement weather or other. We always welcome you to call us to clarify any item - often this is the best way to fully clarify expectations - call us collect or on our toll-free number. You will be sent pre-trip email with latest details within a month of your tour - it is your responsibility to check in with us prior to your trip to see if you have all the information you need. We will always do our best to provide you with the best possible tour and to fully meet your expectations to the best of our ability.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: Solo travelers will always have their own tent during kayaking tours, at no additional cost.
- All camping equipment and paddling equipment
- Transportation while on tour
- Snorkeling equipment
- Professional naturalist guides
- All meals while on tour
- Full service of our Adventure Consultants.
TOUR DOES NOT INCLUDE:
- Transportation to and from La Paz
- Hotel night before and after the tour in La Paz
- Meals before or after the tour
- $25 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary
- Items of a personal nature
- Gratuity for guides.
FAQ & More
Please check out our Transportation Guide for our recommendations on how to get to La Paz.
Yes, all of our tour pricing is in US Dollars.
Included: Skilled professional guide services, ground transportation, motorboat-support to carry gear, hotel nights as indicated on itinerary, snorkeling equipment, camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags, liners, and sleeping pads. Our camping trips include all meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day.
Not Included: Airfare, transportation to and from airport, gratuities, $25 National Parks & Biosphere Reserves access fees required by itinerary, and items of a personal nature.
For all of our Baja tours we use high quality, fiberglass kayaks, made by Seward. The majority of our fleet is comprised of tandems, as these boats offer the greatest stability, speed, and ease of paddling. There are typically a small number of single kayaks present on the tour, which will be utilized by the guides. Depending on weather conditions, and interest, they may allow guests to rotate into singles; however this will be at the guide's' discretion based on safety and the paddling objectives for the day. We also have a limited number of solo kayaks available to reserve and use throughout the trip (for an additional cost) for paddlers who have ocean kayaking experience.
Yes, if at any time a guest does not want to paddle they are welcome to ride in the panga instead.
We have single kayaks available to reserve and use throughout the trip (for an additional cost of $100) for paddlers who have previous ocean paddling experience. If you would like to reserve a single kayak for your trip you will need to contact our Adventure Consultants to add this to your reservation and provide a summary of your ocean paddling experience.
Whether you are an avid sea kayaker, or it is your first time, you’ll enjoy these incredible trips, and share in our passion for adventure, commitment to conserving the environment, and relishing unique experiences. For those new to the sport, kayaking is easy to learn in the sheltered waters that we visit, and we provide all of the camping gear, kayaking equipment and guidance needed. In addition, we keep our groups small to allow you to not only travel intimately among nature, but to ensure you receive the necessary attention from our guides.
When stopping at shore, you should be able to climb in and out of the kayaks on your own. They will be floating in calf-deep water. Your guides are happy to assist, but balance and limberness are required. When you get to your evening campsite, all group members must to be able to help carry the kayaks above the high tide line, in teams of 6-8, before the group disperses. You will change camp sites almost every night, but may have a layover day. Camp sites are assigned by the National Park Service immediately prior to the tour.
When you get to your evening campsite all group members must be able to help carry the kayaks above the high tide line. You will change campsites almost every night, but may have a layover day. Campsites are assigned by the National Park Service immediately prior to the tour. We endeavor to secure the very best campsites for the natural beauty and amenities of the area. Your guides will give a demonstration of how to set up and take down your provided dome tent. We also will provide you with a sleeping bag, liner sheet, pillow and an inflatable thermarest sleeping pad. There will be a kitchen/dining area and shade tarps where you can sit back and relax.
While kayaking, we can only carry enough fresh water for drinking and cooking. There are no fresh water sources on most of the coastline and islands we visit. You can clean up with saltwater and soap off above the high tide line, or bring disposable shower wipes. A porta potty will fit into a hatch of the kayak or on the panga support boat, and will be transported to each campsite and set into a sheltered area for solid waste. Liquid waste can be expelled below the high tide line, or in a separate porta-potty bucket.
We know your Guide will make the biggest difference on your trip! Which is why we pride ourself on employing only the best local guides for all of the incredible locations that we visit. Part of this is to support our eco-tourism efforts, but we also believe that there is no better way to experience a new destination than through they eyes of a local! We find talented and skilled local guides, train and certify them, and provide a positive and consistent source of income to them and their families.
Most of our guides are with us for the long-term, despite the seasonal nature of the industry. Our top-notch equipment, unique itineraries, and perfected operations attract extraordinary guides, many of whom are highly sought after in the industry. ROW Sea Kayak Adventures guides know their outdoor skills as second nature. Each trip will have 2-4 guides to assist, inform, and lead the way so you get the most out of your adventure. They love to share conservation, knowledge, games and laughter - and they’re great cooks!
Spring and fall are the most ideal times for yoga on the beaches of the Sea of Cortez, as the seasons are characterized by warm days, glassy calm waters for paddling, and endless sunshine. Fall trips enjoy the chance for a desert in bloom and warm water snorkeling, while during spring, many cetaceans migrate into the Sea of Cortez and sightings may include blue, fin, and humpback whales.
If it’s too windy to paddle your guides will have alternative activities for guests to enjoy. There are opportunities to snorkel, hike or just relax on the beach with a margarita. We plan our itineraries to minimize risks posed by weather, but there is always an element of unpredictability in nature. The risk capsizing is reduced by our stable boats, but exists. All of our kayak guides are certified in kayak rescue.
In general, fishing in allowed in Loreto. You would need to obtain a fishing license either before arriving or upon arrival. Our guides will not allow fishing if you are unable to produce a valid license. You will also need to bring all of your own fishing equipment. Along our kayaking routes there are areas where fishing is allowed, the guides will let you know where fishing is prohibited. Also, fishing is only allowed at the guide's discretion, as we have an itinerary, schedule and other group members that we have to take into consideration.
Sea Kayak Adventures will provide you with a detailed packing list prior to your trip. We provide all of the necessary camping, paddling and snorkeling equipment, which you will need to fully enjoy your adventure. If you are interested in more specific information, check out our general Baja packing list here! If you have any questions, or need help deciding what to bring, you can call or e-mail one of our friendly Adventure Consultants at any time for some extra advice!
Our renowned wilderness meals are prepared daily by our guides using local, fresh, healthy ingredients. In Baja you can expect an authentic dining experience, with savory dishes like chiles rellenos, tostadas, ceviche, and chicken mole. We even serve delicious desserts like brownies and pineapple upside-down cake! Each morning, we serve up freshly brewed coffee or tea. Throughout the day we provide an abundance of local fruits, vegetables, and other snacks. Wine and mixed drinks are served with hors d’oeuvres each evening for happy hour.
We do our best to accommodate special dietary requests, working within the parameters of the destinations in which we operate. If you have a very strict diet, we recommend packing extra snacks that you know you can eat.
To keep our group size small and our impact minimal, we typically limit our tours to 14 people or less. Our standard minimum to confirm a departure is 4 guests for our San Jose kayak tour.
Please check out this great website Weather Underground for temperature averages in Baja.
Our tour costs are based on double occupancy on any included hotel nights. Solo travelers who would like their own single hotel room can pay a single supplement (see "Dates & Rates" above for the single supplement price for this tour), or can be matched up with another solo traveler of the same gender if one is available and willing to share. If we are unable to pair you with another solo traveler, we must apply the single supplement charge to cover our hotel costs. Solo travelers will always have their own tent during kayaking tours, at no additional cost.
If you will be extending your stay in lovely LaPaz before or after your tour, consider joining us for a day to snorkel with Whale Sharks. La Paz is home to a unique and prolific Whale Shark population. We partner with a local research and non-profit organization to facilitate these tours. Don't miss the adrenaline rush of snorkeling with these gentle giants, while simultaneously learning about this unique species. Please inquire with the office if you would like to add on a Whale Shark tour to your reservation.
You can leave your luggage at your tour hotel while you are on tour. We recommend getting a luggage lock if you are leaving any electronics in the bags. We’ve never had any issues with guests leaving their bags at the hotel but it’s always better to be safe just in case.
A deposit of $500 per person is required within 10 days of your reservation to hold your spaces. If the tour you are signing up for is a confirmed departure your deposit is non-refundable. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance to protect your vacation investment. US residents may purchase travel insurance directly through ROW Sea Kayak Adventures offered by Travel Insured International.
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, you should notify ROW Sea Kayak Adventures in writing, by e-mail or fax immediately. If written cancellation is received (call to verify) before the final balance is due, you will be given a refund less the amount of deposit. Deposits are not refundable. If cancellations are made on or after the final due date, no money will be refunded. If you are unable to go on the trip, you are welcome to find a replacement for yourself. Please understand that once you've signed up, we are unable to sell your reserved space to other individuals or groups. Therefore, we regret that we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason we strongly recommend you consider purchasing a Travel Protection Plan to protect your vacation investment.
Full payment is due 60 days prior to the launch date, as indicated on your invoice. Due to the high demand for these trips, please be sure to pay your balance on time so as to not jeopardize your reservation. Your final payment must be paid by check or bank draft in US funds. Alternatively, you may pay your final balance with a credit card, but a 3% administrative fee will be added.