We have just received fifty new full-face snorkel masks. Most users love them. This mask sells on Amazon Prime at $79.50. The retails price runs as high as $110. They are free to use on board Island Cat along with everything else we provide. Benefits to the new full-face mask are:
- A 180-degree field of vision, inside a shatterproof polycarbonate window, for added safety.
- Full mask for natural breathing through the nose and mouth.
- Snorkel top can be seen from 4 times further away than a traditional Snorkel.
- The “Dry Top” snorkel system limits water entry through the top of the snorkel.
- There is a purge valve at the bottom of the mask to drain water when the head is raised.
One of the best features for this new type of mask, at least from my perspective, is that certain guests may be relieved that they no longer need to put a snorkel tube in their mouth. The snorkel tube is built in to the top of the mask. The wider and deeper vision is also a big plus.
Also at no additional cost, we have 70 wetsuits available for guests, 50 of these are “shorties”, the balance full-length suits. We have 40 sets of traditional snorkel gear including fins, 10 of which are for small persons, primarily children. We have 50 of the new full-face snorkel masks, in addition to fresh warm water showers, and laundered towels. Everything you need to get out there on a whale shark encounter this season, www.BajaWhaleShark.com, or to experience a remote beaches excursion, www.BajaRemoteBeach
Whale Shark Season begins soon. In October the whale sharks begin to arrive in the bay of La Paz. They will be here October through April, so there are lots of options for going out. However, November through February will fill up, so put your plans in motion as soon as you can. A few whale sharks have stayed here throughout the year, but legally we are not permitted to take you to their feeding area during the summer months.
Two unlicensed operators this summer thought they could get around the law. They were caught and assessed large fines. Both their boats, and their commercial licenses, are now at risk. Not smart and not okay. We are careful to follow conservation rules and guidelines, and we comply with the laws. In fact, we have a marine biologist on board as teacher, hostess, and snorkel leader, and all of our crew members are trained in regards to these wonderful creatures. The last thing we want to do, is harm them in any way.
Whale Sharks are the largest fish in the world. They are technically sharks, but really big ones, basically the size of whales. No worries though, you are not on the menu. They dine on plankton, one of the smallest things in the sea. We expect quite a number of whale sharks this year, but nature has a way of fooling us sometimes. In the past five years of running our Whale Shark encounter we have never failed to find them during the official season, however we have been forced to stay at the dock a few times when weather worries had the Port Captain issue a notice that we stop activities. This is a rare event, but it does happen, so schedule your whale shark encounter towards the beginning of your Cabo-La Paz vacation, just in case we need to shift it a day or so.
To schedule go on line to www.BajaWhaleShark.com, or call Terry at our U.S. number, 541-325-7369 which transfers directly to his cell phone in Mexico.
“The U.S. State Department´s recent travel advisory warning Americans about the risks of traveling to Cancun and Los Cabos should not be taken too seriously,” (emphasis added), according to an article in the Miami Herald, on 24 August 2017. The article went on to compare crime in Cancun, and the Los Cabos areas to cities in the U.S. Many cities in the U.S. simply have more crime. A careful reading of the travel advisory regarding Cabo specifically, indicates a recent rise in crime, but does NOT warn Americans away, as it does in other geographical locations. To drive this point home, I am unaware of a single U.S. or Canadian tourist having been harmed in a Cabo San Lucas tourist area by criminal factions. It’s just not an issue.
Millions of people come to visit Cabo and La Paz. They return home suntanned, with new experiences and new stories. They are almost always happy for having been here, even though they may be suffering hangovers. Recall that it was John Steinbeck, Nobel price-winner in Literature, that once commented, “Cabo is a drinking town…with a fishing problem.” And, that hasn’t changed much. But more to the point, Cabo beaches are safe, the Sea of Cortez is safe. Our tourist destinations are safe. And aside from the occasional hurricane, the only sign of turmoil and concern we see here, is an increased federal police and military presence. But even still, overall crime in Cabo, is less than many U.S. cities.
On a personal note, I have been a permanent resident of Cabo San Lucas for years. I live and work here, and I am out and about, driving, walking, watching, dining, cruising, sailing, etc., continually. I drive back and forth to La Paz, and other cities in Baja Sur, almost every week, and frequently more than once a week, and I have driven the entire thousand-mile length of the Baja, exactly fifty times as of this writing. In all this activity, I have never witnessed a single event where I felt in harm’s way.
In my experience, Mexicans, especially in the lower Baja, are very friendly, generally kind, and typically considerate. And, I feel SAFE here. I feel much safer than in many U.S. locations I have lived and traveled. But that’s not all there is to it. Los Cabos and La Paz are two of the nicest areas in the world. In my opinion, visitors have no reason to be worried about staying here. Yes, there is occasional violence. But the simple truth is that tourists and ex-pats are not the target.
In an article titled, “The U.S. is raising warnings about Mexico’s tourist hotspots, but some see a NAFTA-related gambit,” published in the Business Insider, on 28 August, it suggests the U.S. State Department is sending a message to the Mexican government that they can destroy their tourism industry if they do not agree to “pay for the wall,” in the NAFTA re-negotiations taking place right now. Hmmm. Maybe. Maybe not. But what I can tell you is that in my Cabo neighborhood, lots of folks still don’t even lock their doors. This is rather reminiscent of America in the 1950´s. I guess we have some catching up to do.
— – Terry Neal’s most recent book, “The Search for Zarahemla” is a 500-page book set in Mexico. It demonstrates a firm grasp of Mexican geography, history, archeology, and anthropology, and has a movie contract pending. You can find it here:
As many of our readers will know, the Island Cat office is located on the Cabo San Lucas marina. However, for good reason, all of our sailing, cruising, and exploring adventures take place on the inside Sea of Cortez, famously known as the World’s Aquarium. According to Nature.Org, the inside Sea of Cortez, (the Gulf of California), is the second most biologically diverse marine environment on the planet! That’s why we’re there!
Our large and spacious sailing catamaran is moored in Marina Costa Baja, which is part of the remarkable, five-star Costa Baja Resort, in La Paz. This is widely considered the finest marina in the Baja. It is located at the north end of the city of La Paz. La Paz, is the capital of the Mexican state of Baja Sur. In Spanish, La Paz means: Peace. And, for most of the year, the inside Sea of Cortez, is just that, peaceful and inviting. Our dive boats, and Sports Fisher, are also located in La Paz. And yet, for most Americans and Canadians, La Paz, the gateway city to the most fascinating sea in the world, is essentially unknown.
Everyone knows Cabo San Lucas, and its sister city, San Jose del Cabo. The incredible growth taking place around the twin cities have made the greater Cabo area, the fastest growing employment zone in all of Mexico. There are hundreds of new hotel rooms, and dozens of new resorts opening throughout the Cabo corridor. Nevertheless, the inside Sea of Cortez, just a comfortable two-hour ride away, with all its incredible sea life, and fascinatingislands, rock reefs, corals, beaches, bays and coves, is still virtually unknown. For the Norte American, La Paz, is still an undiscovered paradise. The Sea of Cortez, is a miraculous gift to those wise and brave enough to step outside the resorts of Cabo for an all-day adventure. Come sail with us. Your ground transportation is free. Launch your own expedition to an islanddestination, or schedule a trip to a remote and deserted cove, or swim with whale sharks, or sea lions and tropical fish. Experience the virgin sea. Explore her amazing gifts. Then, like almost all of us before you, you too will fall in love with this very special place.
Island Cat‘s large and spacious sailing catamaran is not cheap, but value
for value, we are the best at what we do in the Sea of Cortez. No one else provides what we do at anything close to our prices, and we are darn proud of it!
(Use only the link above. Do not buy the Kindle version until after 3 July. The current version is incorrect.)
There hasn’t been a time I’ve sailed on Island Cat that I haven’t been overwhelmed with emotion at one point or another at the sheer experience of it all – the fun, the joy, the peace. This particular day was no exception.
A few weeks prior to this outing, the Public Relations Department of the Mexican Board of Tourism contacted Island Cat for a cruise plus scuba diving. The satellite office in New York City, had done its due diligence, and had quickly found Island Cat to be the highest-rated excursion adequate to accommodate their needs. Specifically, the Tourism Board was hosting a dozen Writer/Photographers from around the world – each here to experience the beauty that the Sea of Cortez has to offer, and to share these discoveries in their respective homelands.
The Mexican Tourism Board wanted a vessel that could easily provide for all the journalists coming south. They were also hopeful that it would be a comfortable space for the support group who would be in attendance. To say that their expectations were exceeded, would be a colossal understatement. As I watched the day unfold – and with it, the feel-good vibe that so often accompanies an Island Cat excursion, I knew that Iwould write about the writers. As with every expedition, once all of the guests boarded, met the friendly and knowledgeable.
As with every expedition, once all of the guests boarded, met the friendly and knowledgeable crew, and were briefed by affable Captain Chris, a buzz of excitement ran about the inside cabin. With coffee at the ready, and a breakfast of pastries, yogurts, and fresh fruits laid out on the large inside table, everyone relaxed. The proverbial ice broke, and those of us outside of the PR group, became acquainted with the others, chatting happily as we got underway.
The guests aboard hailed from spots all over the map. They came from Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, etc., and exactly none of them had ever been to Baja Sur before. Their trip of three days was to be a whirlwind of activity, having them complete three two-tank dives in as many days, without the expectation of any real sightseeing – let alone relaxation. They were here to bolster the reputation of Mexican tourism throughout the world. The collective intent, was to remind their audiences why the famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, called this place, the World’s Aquarium.
With nearly an hour of cruise time before they would move to the dive boats Island Cat dragged from her stern, the group took full advantage of a relaxing reprieve from their previous day’s exertions. The bow of the boat easily held this fun and divergent group. Relaxing laughter flowed as much as the sunscreen. The common language was English, each word accented differently depending on who said it. The collective creative soul, braided with the intense appreciation of the surrounding beauty each artist held reverent. Then came an hour of laughter, laughter, and more laughter. Way fun.
When the time came, the crew offered wetsuits to the divers, and as excitement mounted, our large and spacious sailing catamaran slowed to a stop, bringing the dive boats to the starboard side, one at a time. As Island Cat’s onboard Dive Master, a marine biologist, boarded a dive boat, along with the high-tech quality scuba gear, and twelve very eager passengers, I overheard someone say that it had been an incredibly relaxing way to begin a day of diving. The energy was palpable as the two groups sped away to their first dive site, the Fang Ming, a large, intentionally palpable as the two groups sped away to their first dive site, the Fang Ming, a large, intentionallysunken ship, the first artificial reef in all of Latin America. Although this reef is a huge biological success, it is almost always deserted of divers. What an amazing place!
Our final destination was Isle Espiritu Santo, an environmentally protected island with coves of turquoise waters leading to white sandy beaches, and hidden reefs found at the base of the surrounding cliffs, brimming with sea life. Centrally located between the three dive positions, the cove offered the enthusiastic tribe of creatives on board, the opportunity to stop by for snacks and drinks between their descents, and, equally important, it allowed them time to play in the clear waters of the cove. As we reached the shallow waters, Captain Chris along with Scott, skillfully dropped anchor, and artfully eased us into a position that offered the most amazing views.
Once again, there was that photo burned into my mind from a travel magazine long ago – the imagery outside the boat that saw me welling up in tears at the sheer beauty of it all. Once more, I was in awe that I was actually standing there, and humbled by the nature that existed without any help at all from humankind.
The next three hours saw peaceful moments punctuated with a flurry of activity as the group returned to the cat as many times, met with food, drinks, and an abundance of play. In spite of the fact there was work to be done, the collective attitude was of leisure and relaxation, and one writer told me that while his work can be considered fun, this day was much more than just fun. Moments later I saw him jump from the bow, directly into the clear, warm water, rolling onto his back, and stretching his arms and legs out like a sea star. The high salt content of the water allowed him to bob on the surface like a cork.
Every party must end, they say, and after several hours of fun, intermittently peppered with work that was also fun, the crew pulled anchor and we began the return cruise to port. The trip home on Island Cat is always a special time, seeing those who were strangers only hours before come together as friends. We relaxed together on the bow – the drinks, conversation and laughter flowing, each artist’s camera and notebook occasionally pulled out to record something of purpose. In some ways, we became the subject of one another’s story, as more than once I looked up and saw a camera pointed at another in the group who unknowingly was projecting the peace we all felt after a beautiful day aboard.
And then, as if on cue in a finely rehearsed final scene of a play, the jumping manta rays leapt from the sea in groups of two or more, unknowingly posing for the flurry of clicking cameras. I’ve said before that I feel a sense of peace with each Island Cat journey I am fortunate enough to be a part of, and this trip offered that familiar pang, pulling at the strings of my heart, bringing tears to my eyes. And yet, disembarking the boat on this occasion, found my feelings intensified even more. This curious and divergent group of journalists, exhausted from their whirlwind work in the Sea of Cortez, had boarded just eight hours earlier expecting another day of work – work that is occasionally fun. Instead, from the moment they stepped aboard, they found themselves imbued in peace and relaxation, and positively embroiled in fun.
I’ve dropped my anchor for most of my life in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where rain and overcast is a mainstay for the better part of the year. Shameless optimist that I am, my sunny disposition typically sees the silver about the omnipresent clouds. But when that big ball of fire in the sky makes a show- even just a cursory peek, my disposition can be positively luminous. So, in the midst of a wet Oregon spring, I went in search of a break from the grey skies, taking a solo trip to one of my favorite sunny destinations: Cabo San Lucas. And after a day spent in the sun, lackadaisically playing in the clear water’s of the Sea of Cortez in La Paz, Baja California Sur, that disposition of mine is positvely shining. And I have a certain ‘Cat’ to thank for it.
The evening after I arrived in Cabo I sat alone at Tiki Bar nursing my Modelo, inadvertantly eavesdropping on a table of four nearby as they chatted about what they referred to as the most amazing experience they had ever had when vacationing in Cabo. As a would-be connoisseur of the area after several previous trips to town, I was curious to know what it was they were discussing, and so I covertly – if not audaciously, moved to a seat nearer to their table.
Their words may well have been poetry, imbued with synonyms of “beautiful” and “incredible” and every word possible for “love” as the members of the table took turns gushing over their time on the catamaran called Island Cat, moored in La Paz. Hearing the name, it was all I could do to not rush into their conversation, and I found myself suppressing the inherent desire to chime in with some of those same synonyms they were so freely tossing about. I had been out on an Island Cat excursion before, and charmed by so many things – not the least of which being their attention to me as a Guest, had returned twice in as many years, resulting in an almost visceral response upon hearing the name mentioned. Rather than dive into their conversation, I picked up the phone and immediately booked an outing with them.
My previous trips on Island Cat had seen me swimming with the biggest fish in the ocean, the Whale Shark. The experience of being in the water just feet away from a fish as large as a school bus as it fed on plankton with a mouth the size of a car, cannot be understated. It was a spiritual experience almost. The raves of table five at Tiki Bar, however, were about an excursion I had not yet taken, to the remote, paradisiacal beaches of the Sea of Cortez, and I was just lucky enough to get on board with eight others the following day.
At a brisk 6:45 am the next morning, I was picked up at my door by Juan, who would be our shuttle driver to and from La Paz, about an hour and a half away. The shuttle, which seats 18, is spacious and comfortable – allowing the tallest of us to actually stand upright, were they so inclined. As Juan, who is aptly nicknamed “Juantastic”, picks up Juan, who is aptly nicknamed “Juantastic”, picks up each guest, he helps them into the back and offers them water, giving the immediate impression that service to customers is first and foremost – something I’d surely experienced in my previous outings with Island Cat.
As it seems to be with each trip I’ve taken, the drive became a time of getting to know one another, and by the time our party of nine landed at the dock, we were laughing together as old friends. Captain Scott met us there, introducing himself and welcoming us before we walked down the ramp to the waiting boat.
I’m known to be a bit of a sap – admittedly, I can be a crybaby at the silliest of things, and seeing Island Cat again nudged that tendency in an unexpected way. Her tall mast stood stoic and strong, her rolled up sail spoke of flexibility and independence, and her double hull shouted balance and stability. I resonated with her, and as I boarded the boat with help from Crew Member Leo, I was covered with goosebumps in my excitement at spending the day with her once again.
A breakfast spread, fresh coffee, and open bar were waiting for us, and after a brief visit with the Captain, we were underway, motoring out of the harbor as we happily chatted and settled in. I found a spot on the bow of the boat, where the crew had laid a row of lounging cushions up against the angled windows, offering guests both a comfortable space to lie in the sun and a perfect view as we sailed. I closed my eyes and swallowed it all – the sun on my face, the light wind blowing through my hair, the pure relaxation I felt, and hailed a small inaudible thank you to table five at Tiki Bar.
After less than an hour of cruising the briny Sea of Cortez, the sap within me emerged again as we came to a shallow cove and dropped anchor. The color shifted from the dark blue of a deep sea to strikingly clear water with a bright turquoise hue. The white sands beneath led to a small, crescent- shaped beach, vacant of any visitors at all – our very own playground for the day. I held my breath in some sort of reverence, in awe of the beauty in front of me that seemed to be pulled directly from a travel magazine.
Leo offered to take us snorkeling and swimming with a small colony of sea lions a few minutes ride away, and along with a few others, I jumped on board the Island Kitty, the 22′ dive boat dragged by the Cat. After all, considering the sea lion is known to be the “dog of the sea” in their playfulness and affability, who was I to say no? I love dogs!
As all the crew members have been during my previous times on Island Cat, Leo knew his stuff, offering information and answering questions as we puttered around the small rock that jutted from the sea, home to a colony of about 50 sea lions. Soon we were in the water, tooling around the base of the rock. Leo surprised us all by free diving about 45 feet to the bottom of the rock to retrieve a bright red starfish for a quick show and tell. He did this several times, with each pass bringing something new and unique, offering us an up- close view of a world we otherwise would not see. A few of the younger sea puppies, playful and excitable, engaged with us, expertly twisting and rolling in the waters around us as we hilariously mimicked them.
After about an hour we started back to the Island Cat, where a pristine beach, water activities, and a delicious tortilla soup made by the boat’s chef waited for us (of which I ate two bowls).
The next two hours were spent kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming in the warm, transparent water, sunning on the boat or beach, and being waited on mercilessly by the Crew before heading back to port. I found myself wishing this day would not come to an end – that I might stay in that cove forever with Island Cat and all of the exciting accruments she has to offer. And, if I’m being honest, I’m tearing up as I write this.
I’ve pondered what it is that gives me such a connection to Island Cat – why I tear up at the mere memory of my experiences aboard her, why I feel peace when recalling, why I feel such intense joy. I’ve been on other excursions – none that caused me to feel anything of the sort as I dug back into them. Fun? Sure. But peace? Joy?
It is true, from the moment I was picked up until the moment I was dropped at my door, I was treated like royalty by any and all Island Cat Crew – ask and ye shall receive and so on. And I won’t deny that I could probably get used to being waited on (and of course, I was grateful, smiled wide, and tipped appropriately). But, while the service wasn’t to give me a day-in-life that I was somehow missing by being on the wrong end of the 1%, it was indeed intended to offer me a day of freedom. From the moment Juantastic held the door open for me with a bottled water and a smile, I felt it; I was free to let go of whatever happened to be pecking about my brain incessantly, free to connect with incredibly vibrant and colorful natural surroundings- pure and unblemished, free to observe footloose and fancy-free animals in their own habitat rather than through 12 inches of glass. And, yes, free to lounge about while others catered to my every need.
It is within that sense of freedom where my connection to Island Cat resides, and each excursion I take attends to that sense of peace and joy. She is similar to a good friend who knows when I need a break, akin to an old pillow to pull over my ears for a few hours, and very much indeed like a good old dose of therapy. And, hey, couldn’t we could all use a bit of therapy from time-to-time?
According to the Gringo Gazette, (the best source of news down here), we had 2.5 million visitors last year. This reflects a 55% increase over the past four years. Our little southern peninsula state of Baja Sur, is now the fastest job-growth state of the 32 states that constitute Mexico. The resort city of Cancun, along with the Mayan Rivera, is located in the state of Quintana Roo, which is now in2nd placetoCaboSanLucas.Who knew?
Cabo Hotels & Resorts
Cabo is a remarkable place to visit, and obviously, we are a resort destination. If you have not visited the Cabo area for a while, you will be in for a surprise. Almost the entire beach route from San Jose del Cabo into Cabo San Lucas is a solid line of resort properties. Cabo is definitely on the grow.
Tourism is the fuel! Staying in a Cabo resort can be a wonderful experience, but much more expensive than getting out to explore the less touristy places. There are great places right in and around Cabo to have a real American breakfast for less than $4, along with a full ocean view and friendly service. There are some great taco diners here too, where dinner runs about the same as breakfast. And, I’m not talking about fast-food, these are sit down locations with friendly service. Yep. I love it here!
The Cabo Marina
America’s late, great, Nobel- pricing winning author, John Steinbeck, arrived in Cabo San Lucas on a boat doing scientific research over sixty years ago. His flippant comment, that: “Cabo is a drinking town with a fishing problem” is as true today as it was back then. People come here to escape the cold, and bask in the sun, to fish, kick back, party, and enjoy the beaches.
Island Cat has an office on the world-famous Cabo marina. This is the place well known as the “Sports Fishing Capital of the World.” In fact, the Jackpot fishing headquarters is less than fifty steps away from us. So, the question is often asked, Why, do we cruise out of La Paz, instead of Cabo? Simple answer: The REALLY cool stuff is on the inside Sea of Cortez. (That’s the Gulf of California, for us Gringos.)
The Sea of Cortez
La Paz is the gateway to the inside sea. This is the place that the famous oceanographer, Jacque Cousteau, (the inventor of the Aqua-Lung, and the entire scuba industry that followed), called the “World’s Aquarium.” Here are numbers of deserted islands, and beautiful, swimmable, remote beaches. This amazing place has an incredible array of sea life, with masses of tropical fish, and 39% of the world’s fish species. We even have the largest fish on the planet, those gentle giants we call whale sharks. They come every year from about mid-October through mid-April. We take guests out to swim with them almost every day through-out the season.
The beaches in Cabo are beautiful to be sure. Most, however, are not swimmable due to severe ocean undercurrents, and like so many tourist areas, there are masses of vendors hustling the beaches. It’s downright hard to find a quiet place to just relax and enjoy. Steinbeck was spot-on, Cabo is indeed a drinking town…with a fishing problem. This is a very different experience from the deserted coves, bays, and beaches, we visit on the inside sea. It’s true, we provide an open bar on board Island Cat, but that is really not the reason guests join us. (Well, there may be some exceptions there…tongue held firmly in cheek.)
The fishing is great out of Cabo, just like La Paz, but we Gringos, for the most part, have not yet discovered La Paz as the SUSTAINABLE fishing mecca that it will surely become. The inside sea is always warmer. And, most of the time, the waters are calm, with only gentle swells, making it perfect for cruising and exploring. But, the real reason we operate out of La Paz is there is WAY MORE nautical stuff to see and enjoy out of La Paz, than just about anywhere else in the world. Yep. That’s right. This is a very special area. And, the crazy thing is, very few people even know it exists.
Our guests are primarily from Cabo. Most have never heard of La Paz, if they have, they tend to confuse it with the capital of Bolivia. So, we operate a shuttle service from all the major hotel properties in Cabo and San Jose del Cabo, taking guests directly to our fully outfitted and spacious sailing catamaran. It is moored in the finest marina in Baja Sur: Marina Costa Baja. From here we have become memory-builders, providing epic lifetime experiences to so many. Come join us. It really does not matter where you are staying down here, what matters is the experiences, and the stories you take home. Just another party? Or, something so much greater?
La Paz Hotel Rates
For those readers interested in a different vacation experience, away from the glitz and glamour of a Cabo resort, we have contracts with the more interesting of the La Paz hotels. They tend to be quieter and more traditional, yet just as clean and safe as anything you will find in Cabo. The hotel properties we recommend have beautiful water views, palm trees, sand beaches, and lots of sun. The cost is CONSIDERABLY less per night than the rooms of Cabo. We have special pricing. Our rates are so low they seem unreal, compared to normal resort areas. Technically, we are not rates are so low they seem unreal, compared to normal resort areas. Technically, we are not allowed to publish our rates as they are set forth in confidential re-seller contracts. However, we do extend these discounted rates directly to our Island Cat guests. We make your reservation for you, giving you the rate on our contract, and you pay when you get there. This leaves you lots of extra money to spend with us. Ha! Not kidding. Really!
The vast majority of our customers are NOT Scuba divers. However, for those who are certified divers, or would like to be, simply contact us, and we will get you involved. Wreck dives, wall dives, open water dives, reef dives, we’ve got it all. If you are interested in learning to dive, we begin in Lover’s Cove, right on a quiet beach that has a shallow rock reef with coral heads close-by.
The drive from Cabo San Lucas, to La Paz, features a long stretch of ocean beaches that extend from Cabo all the way to Todos Santos. (The location of the mythical Hotel California, made famous by the Eagles.) The ocean along this fifty-mile stretch of mostly empty highway, seems to stretch on forever. It is blue, beautiful, and peppered with the water spouts of whales moving along the coast this time of year. It is a mesmerizing scene hard to describe.
Typically, I drive north to the capital of Baja Sur, the fascinating city of La Paz, once or twice a week. It’s a bit less than two hours each way, and one would think I would get very tired of it. And yet, I do not. Most of the drive is on a relatively new four-lane highway with very little traffic. Of course, traffic is dense in the city, but the drive on the open road is both interesting and peaceful. The spectacular ocean views on one side of the road, and the desert panorama on the other, are right out of a fairy tale.
My return trip to Cabo is usually late in the day, just about sunset. This is an even more powerful experience than the drive north.
The setting sun looms large over the ocean, a giant golden ball, that illuminates the geyser-like water spray of gray and humpback whales. The prism effect of water droplets thrust up in the air by blowing whales creates a cascade of glittering colors drawn out in lines of light, as if an artist had painted the scene on canvas. This incredible seascape presents itself mile after mile. It is captivating and more. I sometimes pull to the side of the empty highway just to pause and draw it all in. This is nature at her finest. A gift of beauty, peace, and wonder.
The whales, this time of year, are here to calf and breed. The season for whale-watching in Cabo begins in late November or early December, and runs through March. Our business does not run whale-watching tours, but we organize them for our guests of both the Villa, and our large and spacious sailing catamaran, Island Cat. This is truly the best time of year down here. Escape the cold, the rain, the snow, and come enjoy the magnificent show put on by the breaching, blowing, whales. Terry
Last week Christine and I went to Vagabundoes restaurant. Christine is Island Cat’s office manager. We were there to meet with some guests who had returned to Cabo to go out on Island Cat for their FIFTH adventure. Many readers will know Vagabundoes as the Trailer Park, an iconic laid-back restaurant frequented by locals, along with a bevy of visitors that have heard stories of this fun and easy place. As we walked in, we were greeted by eight guests who had just the day before been out on Island Cat swimming with whale sharks. We were not expecting to see them. These were happy people, well into celebrating their fantastic day out on the Sea of Cortez. Two of the eight were three times return customers who had brought their friends to Cabo and gone out with us again. Recognizing both of us, Christine, because she puts everything together and organizes the details, and me, because I am the sales guy, they were loud and outspoken about their great time aboard.
We took a table up a level, by the pool to wait for our friends from Arizona. (There is really no stopping this process, repeat customers are more than guests, they become real friends.) The folks at the table next to us, whom we did not know, had witnessed the celebration of those down below, and seen the welcome we had been given. Politely, one of them asked if we too had been out on Island Cat. Ah…yes, was my reply, but before I could say much more, the foursome launched into a dialog saying that for them, their experience on Island Cat had been a life- changing event, a “game-changer,” were the exact words. Seems they have a 2nd home in one of the beautiful beachfront resorts in Cabo. They come down several times a year. However, like most folks here, they had no idea how much was available on the inside of the Sea of Cortez. (The inside Sea of Cortez, is what most of us gringos were taught was the Gulf of California.)
When the folks from the next table figured out who we were, the kudos just kept coming. As it happens sometimes, especially at Vagabundoes, people start talking loudly from table to table, saying hello to people they know, and introducing themselves to others they do not. As it turned out, every person in the full restaurant that night, (sans a table of four in the corner), on Island Cat, and collectively they commenced telling stories of their adventures aboard.
Person after person that night had wonderful things to say about the crew, the boat, and the various places we have taken them. I am 70 years old. I have owned and operated a number of businesses in my life, and enjoyed many good relationships, but I have only rarely experienced this kind of spontaneous show of support. This is payment greater than money. This is payment in respect, support, and kindness. Wow! We really do live in paradise! Ah, lest I forget, there are the occasional pesky hurricanes, the immense Mexican bureaucracy, and the way-too-hot summers, but on balance, this is PARADISE, and what we get to do is fun!
So, it’s cold up there in the north. Come on down and join the Island Cat crew. Come bask in better weather, enjoy great adventures, and make new friends. Terry
Whale Shark Season
This season we have seen more whale sharks and larger ones than we have seen in years. Whale sharks are considered an endangered species, but for some reason they like the bay of La Paz and seem to be coming here in larger numbers. Either that, or we are just a lucky boat, and find more of these remarkable creatures than in times past.
This is our fifth season operating our Swimming with Whale Sharks excursion. We are good at it, and we have NEVER failed to find them during the season, which officially runs from November through March. Whale sharks don’t send us an email telling us when they arrive or when they leave, but we are out there often, and we know these areas well. We typically find them by early October and on through April, notwithstanding the season opens a month later and closes a month earlier than these times.
This season the Port Captain in La Paz forced us to cancel operations on four days we were sold full. The reason given was ostensibly due to weather and safety issues. Many drivers of small open boats, known as pangas, must take their guests the entire way out to the whale shark feeding area, riding low in the water with sea swells coming against them side on. This can be dangerous at times and the port captain wisely kept these pangas in port. But, only one of these days would the winds and seas have put our guests at risk. Recognizing this, the Captain of the Port subsequently gave Island Cat, permission to go out based on the security and stability of our large and spacious sailing catamaran.
Island Cat is easily, the most stable boat that provides the whale shark experience. We have an educated and experienced crew, including a US Coast Guard 100-ton Master Captain, a marine biologist on board as hostess and snorkel leader, a competitive free-diver as deckhand, both the latter are also Master Divers. Even our backup captain, and sometimes chef, is a 100-ton Master Captain, with seventeen years’ prior as a paramedic. So, in addition to having THE most comfortable boat working these waters, we include a highly educated and professional crew, AND considerably more amenities than any other provider.
Last month the port was closed again, and we choice to go out. Our guests were thrilled. Everything went very well and all had the opportunity to swim with the gentle giants we call Whale Sharks. However, to be very clear, SAFETY IS OUR FIRST CONCERN. If the seas are not safe, whether the port is closed or not, we will return to the dock and not allow guests into the water. And, if conditions are unusually difficult, we will simply not depart the dock. Thankfully, the Bay of La Paz, where the whale sharks feed, is renowned for good cruising weather. Bad weather happens, but it happens infrequently.
For those who have not yet been to Cabo or La Paz, or who love it and want to come back and enjoy the Island Cat experience again and again, we have a special offer for an entire week’s vacation that includes hotels, rental car, and three separate nautical adventures aboard Island Cat. We even have fishing, or scuba available as part of this remarkable offer.
Seven days, six nights, with three days of sailing adventures. Included are hotels, car rental, and three days of ALL INCLUSIVE, five-star nautical adventures with Island Cat, the premier charter sailing catamaran in the area. See: www.IslandCatBaja.com. Included is a day on the water to swim with whale sharks, see: www.BajaWhaleShark.com, a second day on the water to swim with sea lions, tropical fish, and to explore remote beaches and coves, see: www.BajaRemoteBeaches.com.
The third day on the water allows an option for either Deep Sea Fishing, Scuba Diving, or another day out on Island Cat…you choose.