A scant 20 miles north of La Paz lay the rugged volcanic islands of Espiritu Santo and Partida. These islands belong to a 244-island collection in the Sea of Cortez which from a Unesco World Heritage site. This is a boater’s paradise – fishing, snorkeling, and hiking in abundance as well as turquoise water and secluded anchorages. One could spend years here poking into new anchorages and sampling the delights of the area, and indeed some folks never leave once they get here.
Our first stop was at the anchorage known as El Candalero on the west side of Isla Espiritu Santo. The anchorage is divided by two small islets around which good snorkeling can be had. Pangas bring day trippers and over-nighters from La Paz. A short but spectacular hike takes you past a well (the only source of fresh water on the island) to a natural rock amphitheater and a large, open cave.
Unfortunately this and all of the other anchorages on the west side of the island are open to wind from the west and south. The first night we were there, around midnight the wind howled in from the west, creating a 3-4 ft chop which meant little sleep was to be had due to the violent motion.
The day before New Year’s Eve, we moved up to Ensenada Grande, an anchorage on the west side of Isla Partida.
From the beach at the head of the bay, a 2-mile trail heads up a canyon to the top of the island from where you have an unobstructed view of the Sea of Cortez. It’s really more of a scramble over builders than a hike, but completely worth the trip.
Since it was New Year’s Eve, an impromptu pot luck was planned to ring in the New Year. Cruisers New Year that is, meaning, we celebrated at Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) midnight, which was 5:00 pm local time. Crews from four yachts as well as some French sea kayakers camped on the beach joined in the fun, with even an appearance from a bold Mexican jack rabbit. Thanks to the folks at St. Helen’s Marina who presented us with a giant bottle of champagne when we fueled up on the way down the Columbia River this fall – it really helped to get the party started!
New Years day was celebrated with some snorkeling (thanks to our friends on Hoku Pa’a who loaned us wetsuits – as otherwise the water is too cold this time of year). Our new French friends headed out, and we had another potluck to say farewell to Hoku Pa’a who will remain in the Sea of Cortez while Anjuli and Konami depart for adventures on the mainland.