Western Espmritu Santo
Mesteno,"Untamed," Cove is small, ringed by steep bluffs, and backed by a fine-sand beach.
Caleta El Candelero, "Candlestick Cove," is a medium-size cove, guarded from its center by a finely fissured islet called Roca Monumento. A navy building is visible on the sand beach at the back of the cove, and an old well lies inland.
Isla Ballena, "Whale Island," sits offshore from a cove of the same name, at mile 28. Caleta Ballena has a wide, white-sand beach. From here south, the hills above the shore take on a gentler appearance, often tinged with green scrub. Points between the coves continue to exhibit interesting sandstone formations, such as Punta Raza, just south of Caleta Ballena, where sandstone shelves jut just above water level from the bases of bluffs.
Puerto Ballena is a bay divided into three smaller coves by two steep, rocky ridges. The ridges rise above water level to reappear offshore as two small islets, Gallo and Gallina (Rooster and Hen). The best beach is found on the north face of the second, more southerly ridge, in the middle cove; this beach may be used by local fishermen to clean their catch, however. Mangroves cover most of the shore within Puerto Ballena, and there are surprisingly few good camping sites given the bay's large size. The foundations of a building from pearling days can be found on the southern shore of the third cove; the beach here is made of sharp, white coral.
A small, unnamed cove is at mile 31. At mile 32.5, the shore dips in to form a large, extremely shallow bay, the Bahma San Gabriel. A coral reef can be found on the north side of the bay. A small, two-lobed, unnamed cove is the last one on the island's western side.
Punta Dispensa, at mile 34, can be identified by a large red mound that sits inland and slightly east of the point. Rounding Punta Dispensa, one paddles into the area of shallow azure waters and wide, white-sand beach that characterize the island's southern extremity. Punta Lupona is at mile 35.
Be wary of following seas on the return crossing, especially in winter months when winds blow from the northwest. San Lorenzo Reef and the Scout Shoal structures should be on your left as you paddle back to the peninsula. Tecolote Beach can sometimes be spotted from the sea by looking for the glinting of cars traveling the last stretch of road to the beach. This applies mainly to weekends, however. If returning midweek, you'll be far more dependent on compass readings.
On the very last stretch, as the marisco-stand umbrellas and volleyball nets come into view, use caution: You wouldn't want to get run over by a 14-year-old on a jet ski after surviving a 43-mile paddle around a desert isle. Enjoy the curious stares as you make landfall and amble up to Playa Azul to request your well-deserved octopus cocktail.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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