Starting Out in Bahma de L.A.

Kayaking the Sea of Cortez
By Andromeda Romano-Lax
Bahma de L.A. Details

Trip Length:
18.5-20 miles; 2-3 days.

Charts Needed:
MEX Topo H12 C42, H12 C52 at 1:50,000

Getting There:
From Tijuana to the Bahma de Los Angeles junction (well-signed; site of a restaurant and PEMEX) is 364 miles via Highway 1. The side road at this junction is paved, but riddled with potholes. Follow it 42 miles to Bahma de L.A.

There is no public transport in or out of Bahma de L.A.


The town of Bahma de L.A. grew up around mining and kept growing with an influx of game fishermen and tourists from the north, most of them seeking dorado and yellowtail. Some call it charming, others call it bleak; in any event, it is small and rather dirty but certainly interesting and ciento por ciento (cent for cent) Baja.

There are three hotels, three trailer parks, four restaurants, at least five minimarts, a beer store, a PEMEX station (fuel supply unreliable), a medical clinic, and a natural history museum. Everything is easy walking distance from the shore; the Casa Dmaz hotel and Guillermo's Trailer Park, both on the main road in town, offer the easiest car parking and kayak launch. Guillermo's is also notable for its restaurant, where pink tablecloths, full-course meals, and a well-stocked bar start desert-weary visitors salivating. The Dmaz restaurant gets decent reviews, though the atmosphere at Casa Dmaz is not what most travel guides claim; since the death of Papa Dmaz, Bahma de L.A.'s most noted patriarch, nothing is quite as personal as it used to be.

Beach camping is popular north of town near the Punta La Gringa, though at spots one may have to vie with RVs.

The inner part of the bay, fronting the town, is very sheltered and makes for an easy launch. The beach in front of Guillermo's Trailer Park and the Dmaz compound (behind the PEMEX) is used by sailboaters, fishermen, and just about everyone else.

Circling the Isles
Launching from the beach, one will paddle past a small flotilla of anchored sailboats and fishing vessels, and then head for one mile to Punta Arena, a low-profile point that marks the northern limit of the inner bay and is the site of a red-and-white horizontally striped light tower.

From Punta Arena (Sand Point) to Punta La Gringa extends a long, sandy beach popular for camping, shelling, and loafing. A stretch of shallows, the Bajo, fronts this beach for several miles.

After paddling north along the shore for one to one and a half miles, one is in good position to cross over to the islands. The rugged, earth-tone desert isles may seem difficult to distinguish from afar, so take a moment to orient yourself. Ventana, the largest in the central cluster, is reddish-brown, with two smaller tan-and-white isles directly off its northwest side. This is not to be confused with Cabeza de Caballo, which is farther away, due east, and more darkly colored. Smith (Coronado) Island is the long island to the northeast, easily distinguished by the volcanic cone at its northern extremity. (The enormous island that forms the bay's seaward backdrop is 45-mile Angel de la Guarda, a veritable mountain range rising from the sea.)

The crossing to the western shore of Ventana is two and a half miles (total mileage to this point: five miles). There are two gravel landings on this side of Ventana; the larger and better of these can be located just past a rugged mound of land connected to the isle by a low, flat strip. Just off this point to the northwest are two small, lightly colored rocky isles: Cerraja and Llave (Lock and Key).


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