Paddling through Paradise

Sea Kayaking in Baja California
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If someone had told me I would take up sea kayaking after age 50, I would have accused them of nipping on the cooking sherry. The last time I paddled anything it was summer camp—never mind how many years ago—and the vessel was a standard-issue canoe, not one of those new-fangled fiberglass boats with a tight little opening and nylon spray skirt. Yet there I was last winter, on the crystal-clear waters of the Sea of Cortez, trying to coordinate steering with foot peddles and paddling with two blades as I launched on a weeklong outing along the coast of Baja.

From October through May, balmy weather—high 60s to high 80s—and warm waters make the islands and coastline on Baja California an ideal kayaking destination. While experienced kayakers may want to arrange their own trips to the region, novices like myself will find that a guided trip offers a compelling alternative. I chose a company that runs multi-day trips from the town of Loreto, located about half way down Baja on the Sea of Cortez.

Different from tipsy whitewater models, our beamy kayaks were very stable, even in choppy water. Most of the group's kayaks were doubles so the guides could pair up stronger and weaker paddlers and achieve a balanced pace. Personally, I was happy to have help, but for those macho types who wanted to do it on their own, there were single boats.

Great vacations are not without their small inconveniences, and kayaking in Baja is no exception. Everything depende del viento ("depends on the wind"), and, as Baja is prone to strong El Norte winds, we were bound to encounter rough seas and difficult kayaking conditions. While this might sound exciting to more experienced paddlers, to me it heralded exhausting work and potential catastrophe. Fortunately Baja kayaking companies are adverse to losing clients in tumultuous seas. If the wind is up, days are spent hiking or relaxing on the beach. Several companies offer nine-day trips. This way, even accounting for a couple of windy days, clients will still get a week's worth of paddling.

All Original Material © Ellen Clark. Photo © Outside Adventures.

Ellen Clark is a freelance writer and photographer based in Los Angeles, California. Ellen specializes in sports and fitness, photography, and travel; particularly active and adventure vacations, and she has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout the United States and Canada.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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