Ventana Cove

Kayaking the Sea of Cortez
By Andromeda Romano-Lax

Proceeding through the channel that runs between Cerraja and Llave on the west and Ventana on the east, one comes to a beautifully sheltered, horseshoe-shape cove on Ventana's northern side. The cove is ringed by bluffs, flattening out to a level, sand-and-gravel beach at the back of the cove. This beach is one of the three best campsites on the route. Crumbling, rocky slopes behind the beach are good places to spot your first chuckwalla; ospreys reportedly nest on Ventana, and bird calls echo from the nearby bluffs.

Directly across from the mouth of the cove is the lime-covered Isla Flecha,"Arrow" (or Borrego, "Sheep"). Almost hidden behind it is Isla Jorobado, "Hunchback." Directly north of the cove are the rocky, tan-colored twin islands of Pata and Bota, "Foot" and "Boot." (These have also been translated as "Duck" and "Bottle.")

A picturesque, sheltered, clearwater channel runs between the two islands, and is a favored anchoring spot for sailboats. Snorkeling and scallop-collecting are popular in the channel. Pata, the northern island, has a crushed-shell beach and is a good camping spot. The foundation of a stone windbreak can be found on the island's eastern end. A short sandy trail winds from this foundation up to a ridge, from which one can view the other side of the inland, and in the distance, the islands Smith and Calavera.

East of Pata and Bota is a long, flat, white-and-tan islet named Rasita (also known as San Aremar). Piojo (Louse) Island, a tan, mesa-shape isle, is farther east and is the site of a pelican colony. (It is ecologically sensitive, as well as very smelly; landing there is discouraged.)

At mile 6, one exits the channel and, rounding Pata, one can see the small white, dome-shape islet, Isla Calavera, "Skull" (which looks like precisely that) to the north. Behind it is the largest of the Bahma de Los Angeles islands, Isla Smith (also known as Coronado), which is 4.5 miles long.

The crossing to Smith is two miles long. Currents and wind can be stronger here, aggravated by the long channel formed between Isla Smith and the mainland shore; one is outside the sheltering reaches of the bay's headlands at this point. Passing by Calavera, halfway to Smith, one may hear the loud barking of sea lions, or even catch them snoozing, flippers and nose just above the surface, in the waters en route. There is also a cormorant nesting site on Calavera.


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