espiritu santo island la paz

My odd sea sickness, swimming with sea lions, and whale watching in Espiritu Santo Island, La Paz

Wondering if you can visit Espiritu Santo Island La Paz? I’ve done this quite a lot while living in La Paz, Mexico and it’s one of the best activities in the city!

Reader Mail: Hi Trisha! I found your amazing blog while searching for La Paz, Mexico. Now I’m in a rabbit hole since I found that you are very knowledgeable about round the world travel. I am super impressed!

I e-mailed you regarding the apartment hunting in La Paz but now I found myself having so many questions. Are there lots of things to do in La Paz?

My girlfriend and I are heading there this December and was wondering if the Espiritu Santo Island La Paz tours are open? What are the COVID restrictions in La Paz right now?

Thank you for the well-done blog and for providing very detailed information in all your articles. I look forward to meeting you if we push through Baja California. I might have some more questions along the way!

– Derek Bloomfield, Missouri, USA

Hey Derek,

Thank you so much for the kind words. And welcome to the blog! This is actually a very valid question since Espiritu Santo Island La Paz was briefly closed during COVID.

They didn’t allow some of the activities like swimming with the sea lions which is part of this Isla Espiritu Santo tours combo. I will explain all these in this article but if you have any questions that you think weren’t answered in the post, let me know and I will update it.

I am currently living in Cabo San Lucas so if you ever come this way, let me know – I would love to meet you too! Good luck on your trip and let me know if you have any questions about La Paz!

Xx,
Trisha

How much is the Espiritu Santo Island La Paz tour?

It really depends on the company and its inclusion. Some boats will only give you a tour (without food and drinks) so you have to be clear about this when booking your Isla Espiritu Santo tours.

Tour prices range from $75 to $125 USD. I will also suggest a list of tour companies you can sign up with including the prices. However, I am supporting a local fisherman in this tour which you can book here.

Get a 10% discount on this tour when you use the code PSIMONMYWAY10 upon checkout here
espiritu santo island la paz

Captain Hector works as a boatman in La Paz and also travels all the way to Mazatlan and Nayarit!

I met these guys while I was living in La Paz and decided to advertise their services here since they don’t have any social media presence or knowledge on building websites. I also do my #SupportLocal project in Sayulita.

You can use the code PSIMONMYWAY to get a 10% discount for this tour. This coupon code is only applicable if you book it through my blog.

Can I do the Espiritu Santo Island La Paz tour on my own?

Unfortunately, you have to sign up for a tour in order to visit Espiritu Santo Island. The most ‘do-it-yourself’ you can do is to go to the harbor where the boats depart but you need to be there really early to talk to the boatmen and secure a spot.

Related: Essential La Paz restaurants – the best of Baja Sur
espiritu santo island la paz

The Espiritu Santo Island gang: @thelifeofjord, @rick_ontherun, and @foodieflashpacker.

This is what I did the first time I visited Espiritu Santo Island but the haggling was quite difficult since it was last minute. I realized that when you ask in person, they would put the price more since you are already there – you won’t have a choice because they feel like they really want to go.

Recommended: How safe is La Paz, Mexico? 
espiritu santo island la paz

The boat has a capacity of 20 people (small boat) so I took a seasickness pill since I am really bad on boats.

You also need to talk to a lot of boatmen before agreeing to a price and in my experience, I talked to three different guys in person and whenever I am ready to choose which tour to go to, the spot is already filled!

The transaction on the harbor is super fast so you have to be able to decide quickly and speak Spanish to haggle. Otherwise, I really encourage you to book ahead of time.

How do you get to Espiritu Santo Island La Paz from Los Cabos?

La Paz is about a 2-hour drive to La Paz. You can rent a car at San Jose del Cabo International Airport if you want to go directly to La Paz. The airport taxis will charge $150 USD for private van transport.

Renting a car in Mexico is a little complicated but if you don’t want to drive, you can always rent a car in the town proper, both in Cabo San Lucas (CSL) and San Jose del Cabo (SJC).

Related: What’s it like to live in Cabo as a young expat
espiritu santo island la paz

Driving the whole of Baja California is a dream! I always rent a car when I am here since I sold my car before leaving Puerto Vallarta.

The daily cost of rental cars in Cabo (and La Paz) is $70 USD per day without the security deposit which is more or less $200 USD. The deposit will be returned to you when you return the car in good condition.

Buses also go from Cabo to La Paz and they only cost $10 USD. They take a little more than 2 hours but they are comfortable and convenient. They depart every 30 minutes from the CSL and SJC bus stations.

travelwifi travel guides

Is Espiritu Santo Island La Paz worth visiting?

ABSOLUTELY! Compared to Cabo and Todos Santos, there are more things to do in La Paz and one of the best activities is to go on the boat to Espiritu Santo Island.

Espiritu Santo Island or Isla Espiritu Santo has been a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2007. This is a protected area and one of the most untouched in Mexico – you’ll never see any beach vendors or stores within this island because it’s not allowed.


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Espiritu Santo Island La Paz guide: everything you need to know

What to expect on your Espiritu Santo Island La Paz tour

See the rare population of blue-footed boobies in Mexico

As soon as the boatman said that this is the second (and only) place in the world where you can find the blue-footed booby (after Galapagos), I immediately contested the tour guide because I’ve also seen these in Punta Mita, Nayarit.

I guess we all say that when we’re bragging about our hometowns and at the time, I was still living in Sayulita, Nayarit so I told him this is not true.

You might also like: The digital nomad life in La Paz, Baja California Sur
espiritu santo island la paz

The booby species take their name from the Spanish word “bobo” which means ‘stupid.’

The blue-footed booby is named after their noticeable blue feet. They are widely found in the Galapagos Island and all over South America. In this case, there are also a few in Mexico.

We did not go down the boat to see them. The boat just stopped in front of the rock formation where they are located. You won’t be able to see their blue feet from afar so I needed to use a zoom lens. Even in the photo above, you can barely notice it!

Read: How cheap/expensive is it to live or travel in La Paz?

espiritu santo island la paz

There was also this white tree that grew in the middle of the boulders where the boobies are. I really don’t remember the history of this tree but I remember the boat captain saying it’s just there and grew out of nowhere.

Of course, as soon as I find out what this tree is all about, I will definitely update this post!

Visit Espiritu Santo Island and have a nice seafood lunch

Being on a boat for too long is really taxing for me. I grew up in a country surrounded by water and a lot of people can’t believe how seasick I can get.

As soon as we arrived at Espiritu Santo Island, it was time for a little rest from being on the boat. And of course, food! Baja California is known for its seafood so I was really excited to see what the captain prepared for us.

You might also like: Hiking Todos Santos Sugar Port Trail

espiritu santo island la paz

espiritu santo island la paz

espiritu santo island la pazI thought it was going to be super basic but I was surprised when they started taking out all the Tupperware of food – freshly made ceviche, different sandwiches (ham, egg, cheese), and many snacks that involve tostadas.

They also set up a big tent and I have no idea how they were able to fit that in our small boat. It was 1:00 PM when we arrived on the island so the sun was scorchingly hot – I am glad they brought a big tent!

Related: What to eat in Baja California Sur

espiritu santo island la paz

We stayed on the island for two hours and the tour guide gave us a little tour to the Candelero trail (Sendero el Candelero), one of the most popular trails in Baja California.

The trail starts from the beach towards the canyon and at the end, there’s a well where you can bathe with super cold water.

Swim with sea lions by the end of the boat ride

The sea lion’s location is actually closer to La Paz but we saved it for last because the captain said there will be fewer people by sunset. We passed by it at the beginning of the boat ride and saw a lot of people so we saved it for last. You can definitely ask your tour guide to do this because you’ll enjoy the sealions more!

espiritu santo island la paz

Alright, I actually thought this would be so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, it is so fun to be super close to the sea lions but I get really scared when they get super close to me. I thought they were going to harm me but the tour guide said they won’t.

I was literally an inch from the sea lions and I also got a close encounter with the alpha, the largest of them all. Speaking of which, I need to find these close encounter photos from the guys I was with. I wasn’t confident in bringing the camera during the swim but I was with a bunch of bloggers and Instagrammers so I was sure I will have a photo at some point.

espiritu santo island la paz

The very best thing about swimming with sea lions in La Paz is that they are free. Again, this is a protected area so these sea lions are not controlled by any human. Just make sure you don’t hurt them or do something stupid to harm them. Swim with them but only watch – do not touch!

Whales and dolphins (if it’s the season)

I did this trip in October and it was the best season for sea creatures in the Baja California peninsula. Although the whale season is sort of an all-year-round thing in Baja, the peak months are January through March. The grey whales will be passing through Baja from December to April.

espiritu santo island la paz

As soon as we departed the harbor, big groups of whales and dolphins welcomed us to the waters of La Paz – it was such a beautiful sight!

Best Isla Espiritu Santo Tours 

While there are many Isla Espiritu Santo tours out there, I want to show you what the actual prices are including the vessel used in each tour.

I would, however, encourage you to support the local fishermen I am supporting in La Paz. Just get in touch with me via Instagram or e-mail for discounts! Here are some of the tours that I am knowledgeable about:

Local Espiritu Santo Island tours

I am currently supporting the local fishermen in La Paz who don’t have the means to advertise themselves on social media.

You can use my code PSIMONMYWAY10 to get a 10% discount. You can book two of their tours below:

🦈 Espiritu Santo Island tour with a local: this is the exact tour I am talking about in this post. Includes swimming with dolphins and lunch.

🐳 Espiritu Santo Island tour with whale encounter: this is pretty much the same as above however, there is whale watching included.

Snorkeling Trip to Espiritu Santo Island

💲 from $125 USD per person | 🛥️ Catamaran | 🧑🏽‍🤝‍🧑🏻 10 pax max

This tour is limited to 10 people because of COVID so it’s best if you are going with a big group. You can also join other people on this tour as long as you pay the per person price and if there is availability.

A full refund is issued if you cancel 24 hours prior to the trip. All snorkelling gears are cleaned for your convenience but you can also bring your own.

👉🏽 Check prices and availability for snorkeling trip to Espiritu Santo Island 

Espiritu Santo Island Day Tour

💲 from $121 USD per person | 🛥️ Catamaran | 🧑🏽‍🤝‍🧑🏻 8 pax max

This one has an 8-person limit because of COVID. Discover the Espiritu Santo Island for a day with experienced guides who will be with you all the way!

I am not particularly good with water (funny that I live in Mexico and grew up in the Philippines) but the guides on this tour were super nice and were with me during the water activities!

👉🏽 Check prices and availability for Espiritu Santo Island day tour

Snorkeling Adventure at Espiritu Santo Island National Park

💲 from $110 USD per person | 🛥️ Catamaran | 🧑🏽‍🤝‍🧑🏻 10 pax max

This tour is great because it passes by Balandra beach on the way back for sunset. This is focused on the Espiritu Santo National Park so there are more activities on this tour.

However, you have to pay the national park fee separately. What I love the most about here is the lunch whilst sailing Ensenada Grande – fresh ceviche, sandwiches, etc – snacks are always available when you’re hungry!

👉🏽 Check prices and availability for Espiritu Santo Island National Park

Espiritu Santo Island La Paz guide on Pinterest: save it for later!

espiritu santo island la paz

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • November 1, 2021

    I already love this place. I think swimming so close to the sea lions is perhaps a bream come true, should I ever get to do it. You are so fortunate. And those boobies with blue feet, definitely a sight. That white tree amid the rocks does look eerie. But I guess overall, a marvellous experience.

    reply
  • Puloma Bhattacharya
    November 1, 2021

    Nice post on Espiritu Santo island. Swimming with the sea lions and watching whales and dolphins must be quite a sight to enjoy. And the Rock formations band blue footed boobies and the white tree sticking out of the Boulders makes Espiritu island a beautiful place.

    reply
  • Natascha
    November 3, 2021

    The trip to Espiritu Santo Island from La Paz sounds amazing! I would love to swim with the sea lions and see blue-footed boobies. I have seen them in Ecuador too (not on the Galapagos Islands). They are really supercute!

    reply
  • November 4, 2021

    Aww just for the wildlife, especially the blue footed boobies I am adding Espiritu Santo Island to my list. I have never seen those birds but would definitely want to see them sometime in my life. As you mentioned, I will register for the tour and try to do it as part of the tour. I am also sea sick and hence take the tablets before getting on the boat.

    reply
  • November 4, 2021

    Is it safe to swim with sea lions?! I thought they could attack…

    Souinds like an amazing experience but possibly a slightly risky one…

    reply
  • November 4, 2021

    These personal tours by local fishermen are the best! I took a panga tour in Bahia de Los Angeles and got to swim with whale sharks and see lots of dolphins and seals. I was amazed at the knowledge of our guide! Sounds like you had a similar experience…

    reply
  • November 4, 2021

    The island looks absolutely stunning. And water being my favorite as well could see myself enjoying with all the activities on offer. The place reminded me a bit of Portugal. The boat trip with Dolphins & Whales around is certainly very exciting. Would love to indulge in water sports, one of my favorites.

    reply

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