Eastern Espmritu Santo

Kayaking the Sea of Cortez
By Andromeda Romano-Lax
  |  Gorp.com

Punta Lupona is a low, sandy point on the southern side of Espmritu Santo, fronted by shimmering, turquoise shallows. A fine rim of white sand extends along most of the shore to Punta Bonanza, interrupted by a few low-profile, rockier areas. Swimming is wonderful here (though remember to shuffle your feet to warn off any stingrays), the water is particularly warm, and landing and launching are easy.

You may notice a small shack east of Punta Lupona, or crates and cutting blocks dusted with salt behind the beach just past the point. These are used by Mexican fishermen, who clean, salt, and dry manta rayas (actually mobulas) caught off the island for market in peninsular Baja.

Punta Bonanza, two miles from Punta Lupona, is a rocky point fronted by a small shoal. Some rocks protrude above water level in this area. The sand rim continues a short distance beyond Punta Bonanza, but then the coastline gets rockier and its elevation increases, bluffs and some small caves appearing above the water line along the shore.

At mile 5, near Punta Lobos, the waters just offshore deepen considerably, the bluffs onshore deepen, and wave reflection becomes increasingly noticeable. Exposed boulders just offshore contribute to turbulence when waves get choppy. The bone-white bluffs in this area, coarsely fissured, look like giant molars or shattered vertebrae, and contribute to an eery, stark ambience on this less visited side of the island.

Just past Punta Lobos is a bay with a few rocky landing spots. On the northern side of this bay is an uncharted inland lagoon.

From an unnamed point at mile 8, the cliffs steepen further and begin to display horizontal striations of red, orange, white, and black. Even though there are no sheltered coves between here and Caleta Partida, there are a few cobble landing areas. Less comfortable than any beaches on the west side, these cliff-ringed sites are nonetheless remarkable for their isolation and rugged beauty. Snorkeling in the rocky areas offshore is excellent, hiking and rock climbing are possible, and few sailboats dare to anchor here, thereby ensuring campers' privacy.

The last miles to Caleta Partida reveal more stunning coastline. The striated cliffs give way to bluffs topped by high caps of blond sandstone, sculpted and pockmarked, and veined with ochre. The deep waters off the eastern side of the island are known for runs of yellowtail in winter and spring, and yellowfin tuna in summer and fall, as well as sailfish and billfish, which might be a little difficult to land from the cockpit of a kayak.

Near the very northeast corner of Espmritu Santo, there is a cave large enough for paddlers to enter. Large sally lightfoot crabs, their shells lacquered red, purple, and black, skitter along the rocks inside the cool, dark cave.

At mile 13, Caleta Partida separates Isla Espmritu Santo from its northern neighbor, Isla Partida. The cove, or channel, is somewhat S-shaped, and can be navigated by kayak or panga. Two small fish camps lie inside the cove. Anchoring boats favor this area, and it may be crowded; nonetheless, it is a possible camping site. One may paddle westward to shortcut over to the western side of Espmritu Santo, or skip the channel and continue north to circumnavigate Partida.


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