Starting Out in La Paz
La Paz is a bustling, proud, modern city of 150,000 with a wide range of accommodations, excellent restaurants, tourist services, and more ice cream shops and seafood taco stands than perhaps any other city in Baja. Of special interest to the kayaker: Deportiva La Paz, at 1680 Obregsn, sells snorkel and scuba gear. A few hotels, including the Hotel Perla, currently offer panga-escorted kayak and/or snorkel trips to Los Islotes, the small islets just off Espmritu Santo.
Playa Tecolote,"Owl Beach," was once reachable only by sturdy, four-wheel-drive vehicles. Now, a good road leads directly from La Paz to Tecolote, approximately 15 miles north. Several marisco stands serving clam, oyster, and various other seafood cocktails are set up on the beach, and jet-skis and boats can be rented (including small, squarish, wooden boats called cayucos hmmm . . . )
If you thought beach culture was limited to upper California, think again. Though sedate during the week, Tecolote explodes on weekends. Mexican families turn out in droves to play volleyball, eat ceviche, rumble around on motorbikes, and generally have a colorful, chaotic, good time. The best timing is to leave Tecolote early in the week, guaranteeing a low-profile launch, and return on the weekend when you're ready to celebrate your completed trip.
The owner and staff of the Playa Azul, a mariscos stand to the right as you enter Tecolote, have been very helpful in the past. I've had luck chartering a very inexpensive panga over to Espmritu Santo (carrying kayaks, camping gear, and all). This service is up to the individual kayaker to arrange on an informal basis, but worth considering if you'd rather have more time on the island and less en route.
Crossing from Tecolote
The crossing is just under four miles. Between Tecolote and the island, the waters in this area are shallow, bisected by a slightly deeper one-mile-wide channel, the Canal de San Lorenzo, through which most large boat traffic passes. The limits of this channel are marked by two structures: a tall metal structure on Scout Shoal to the south, and a smaller buoy on San Lorenzo Reef to the north. Crossing from Tecolote to Punta Lupona, you should keep both structures on your right.
Given the shallowness of the entire area, the water does not seem to get as whipped up as one might expect. Nonetheless, be cautious of strong winds from the northwest as well as quick-moving currents through the channel in winter months. Generally, I have found the crossing quite easy in calm weather, but chose a panga lift one particularly windy day.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in La Paz