lions and tigers and bears, oh my — well, not really. more like sea lions, whales, and the attessa , oh my!
Monday started bright and early and proved to be the best day of our trip to La Paz, Mexico. We set out with the our captain Jurrie, and Dive Master Juan from Fun Baja. Fitted in shortie wet suits, fins, mask and snorkel wet set sail on a vey fast 6 person outboard boat. The water was a bit choppy for the first part of our trip to Isla Espiritus – the most amazing rock islands and home to many bird and sea creatures in the Sea of Cortez. On our way things smoothed out, and we met a humpback whale who greeted us with a tale splash 3 times. We saw sea turtles, manta ray, and dolphin near one of the to 10 beaches in the world.
Jim and Marlene were the other couple out for this adventure with us. It was very nice to be the only 4 people on the boat – we had lots of personal attention and great conversations about the environment, kids, life, and career. The world is very small – Jim and Marlene are from Seattle (Lake Forest Park) and live in La Paz 5 months out of the year. Jim worked with Starbucks and Nordstrom, and Marlene owned a bakery in Seattle. They are a very successful couple who look like they were married yesterday. Great role models and really fun people.
Once at Isla Espiritus, I got a on board lesson on what to expect from my very first snorkeling expedition. How to defog my mask and clear it if water got in, what to do if water entered my snorkel and how to check my visibility – left, right, up and down. Then it was time to put on the fins and jump in. Sea Lions make this place their breeding ground so there was a joyful chorus happening between the huge males – I think they were just welcoming to their home. Juan went in first and coaxed me off the boat into the water. He held my hands and was so gentle in his instruction. First I had to acclimate myself to the water temperature – which was actually quite nice. Then we took a minute or two to just feels the waves – “become one with the ocean”. Once I was settled into the water, it was time to test out my breathing apparatus. Being my first time with a snorkel on, it was a little scary to think that I could but my face in the water and still breathe – but it worked! (of course it worked – people have been doing this for years!!). Juan led me around the little inlet and I saw lots of yellow tail fish. The sea lions continued to cheer me on as Juan let go and I swam and snorkeled solo. Figuring out that there wasn’t much needed with the kick was my second learning hurdle. Once I was comfortable, we headed back to the boat, and I stayed in the water to wait for M and Jurrie who was going to be our guide. Juan suited up in his diving gear to take Jim and Marlene on a 30 ft dive below the islands.
While I waited for the boys to join me, I felt a sharp sting on my right wrist but couldn’t see anything so I just continued on with my kicking and floating as I waited. When the boys were ready we set off to explore all around the islands. There were more yellow tail fish, lots of beautifully stripped fish, starfish, tiny bright purple fish and really beautiful coral. We swam snorkeled through a cavern – it was dark, cold and there were tiny plankton that lit up. I felt like I was in an aquarium, visiting the undersea world for the first time was magical. The thing that I couldn’t get over was the sound. I heard this electrical crackle – like rice crispies when you first pour on milk. When Juan returned I asked him about this and he said it is the sound of the coral growing. They creat a bubble and the pop is the crackle we hear.
Jim and Marlene went back out for an second dive and M tootled around the inlet with the sea lions while I snapped pics from the boat. The sting on my hand was getting worse, and all the “oneness” with the ocean current had me a little queasy. When the diving team returned, I learned that I had most likely been stung by a baby jellyfish. Some medication was applied and by the end of the day, my hand was as good as new.
Our adventure wasn’t over yet! We headed back about 20 mins to the private beach/campsite where a beautiful lunch of fresh vegetable soup and grilled fish waited for us. Cervesa’s and a ceremonial tequila shot wrapped up the meal and we headed out into this crystal clear bay to try some paddle boarding. You can literally walk 700 ft out into the water at thigh level. The warmest, bluest, clearest water I’ve ever seen. It was manta ray breeding season so we were advised to not do too much wandering, and to shuffle our feet if we did land in the water. M did a great job on the paddle board after finding his balance. Again Juan was the most patient teacher. I didn’t fare so well. After 5 attempts and 5 falls, I proclaimed M the newbie paddle board champion, but promised to find a place in SF or Santa Cruz to master it!
The day was a success, and 4 tired water babies headed back to home. The ride was extremely choppy due to off shore storms, but we made it back no worse for wear. On our entrance into the marina we passed the majestic or maybe opulent is a better descriptor of the yacht
called the Attessa. M and I had seen this vessel on one of those travel channel shows – worlds most expensive yachts – but seeing her up close and personal was a trip! 4 levels, beautiful dark wood, everything polished and shined, 11 live aboard crew members and the helicopter that topped it off. The 8th richest man in the world owns her, and he may have been in La Paz because the Attessa had been out a few times since we arrived. Pretty good company, huh!
Exhausted from our amazing day, we headed back to the room to relax, get some food, and just soak it all in. Jim and Marlene left us with an invitation back to stay at one of their 3 properties they own in the marina – yeah, we scored a place to stay when we come back and bring our friends with us!!!
The night ended with dinner at the Italian restaurant in the marina, and a midnight walk on the beach to the beach beds at the Costa Baja beach club. The moon was bright and beautiful against the water, and the stars were so close you could touch them. Perfect ending to a perfect vacation.
Costa Baja and City of La Paz, we love you and we are already planning our next visit. Until then, Vaya Con Dios!
P.S. I’ll be adding a link with pictures from all of our adventures soon.