Island Paddling in Southern Baja

Isla Espiritu Santo

The sun is up as we pass Balandra Bay, a popular beach for the residents of La Paz in the summer. We take a detour into the bay to visit the famous standing column, a mushroom of conglomerate (a geological term referring to waterworn pebbles embedded in a finer cementing material) taller than a man, balanced on a narrow stalk.

Away from the bay, we paddle past the last headland of Punta las Pilitia, and then before us is the open canal. Because large boat traffic passes through the Canal de San Lorenzo, we keep a vigilant eye out for passing ferries before paddling on.

There is a light chop in the canal from the east, but the headland of Cabo Lupona grows quickly in size as we paddle out, and soon we are close to sheltering land again. A school of striped fish suddenly explode out of the water, fly several meters through the air, disappear momentarily, and then fly another couple of meters, all in perfect formation. Then they are gone.

We make our way into the first large bay on the west side of the island. It is deep, almost cutting through to the eastern coastline. While much of Baja is clothed in a ragged covering of hardy plants, the bones of the earth stand bare and beautiful here. The few plants that manage to survive the desert climate of Isla Espiritu Santo are spaced out widely. There are no grasses, no trees, almost no bushes or shrubs, no soil.

A mangrove forest provides an incongruous strip of emerald in a world that is otherwise devoid of green. In the afternoon we wander the island. Walking is easy—there's nothing to impede our steps. The island is a single path, bare, leading everywhere and nowhere.

Article copyright © Rick Hudson. All rights reserved.

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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