I will launch the tour for my new book, Surfing the Border, on Saturday January 24th in Coronado and Imperial Beach. I will be speaking and signing books at the Coronado Library Winn Room from 2-3pm and then from 5-6:30 pm I’ll be at the Pier South Resort in Imperial Beach. Should be a blast!!
One of the great pleasures of being the Executive Director of WILDCOAST is being able to evaluate our impact each year. And this year was a tremendous year of success. Here are some of our results.
From my Southwest Surf Patch.com column of October 26, 2011.
You don’t have to travel too far to experience the best coastal wilderness on the planet. There is no other place on Earth that provides the outdoor experience and friendly fishing folk in one location as the Baja California peninsula.
If you crave travel plans that bring you in contact with pristine waves, friendly whales and untrammeled wilderness, then pack up your gear and head south.
Whether you fly or drive, fish, surf or dive, the fact is that the real Baja is not found in the large tourist resorts but in the quiet and more remote fishing villages and mission towns far removed from the hustle and bustle of modern resorts such as Cabo San Lucas.
Here are some areas in which it is possible to experience the best of wild Baja. These are all family friendly locations that provide either camping or small-scale hotel and eco-lodges to get you close to the water and wildlife.
San Ignacio Lagoon: This sheltered mangrove lagoon about 35 miles west of the mission village of San Ignacio is one of the world’s top destinations for whalewatching. Between late January and mid-April, hundreds of gray whales assemble in the shallow waters of this desert lagoon to give birth, mate and escape the cold water of the north Pacific. Numerous San Diego and locally based outfitters provide eco-camps and whalewatching services such as Kuyima, Pachico’s Eco-Tours, Baja Discovery, Baja Expeditions, and Baja Eco-Tours.
Bahia de los Angeles: Located about ten hours south of San Diego, this small fishing settlement on the shore of the Sea of Cortez is a haven for sportfishing, diving and wildlife watching. During the fall there are opportunities to observe whale sharks (with a certified outfitter). The numerous islands just offshore are filled with seabirds and excellent diving and snorkeling. There are a plethora of small eco-camps and a few hotels. If you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of a sea turtle, fin whale, or a sea lion or all three.
Loreto: This lovely and quiet mission town in Baja California Sur on the Sea of Cortez is the gateway to exploring white sand beaches, pristine islands, the jagged peaks of the Sierra de la Giganta and hidden missions. Loreto is also one of the best places for sportfishing and diving in Baja. To the north is Bahia Concepcion that provides more undeveloped beach camping and to the south are the dramatic peaks and beaches of Agua Verde.
Magdalena Bay: This huge mangrove fringed series of bays is a maze of hidden waterways, sand dunes and mysterious islands that extends for more than 100 miles along Baja California Sur’s Pacific coastline. During February and March, gray whales are found near the fishing villages of Puerto San Carlos and Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos that also provide small-scale accommodations and basic restaurants. Sportfishermen have long been attracted to the area and birders are also discovering the wildlife of this long forgotten region.
Cabo Pulmo: This tiny village of about 60 people borders the northernmost coral reef in North America. Cabo Pulmo National Park was recently listed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography study as one of the world’s most robust marine conservation areas. A dec
ade ago, local community members, conservationists and the Mexican government joined forces here to ban sport and commercial fishing within the national park and fish and ocean wildlife have rebounced. Cabo Pulmo is now one of the best dive spots in Mexico and is a haven for whales, sea turtles and giant schools of fish and even sharks. Small-scale accommodations abound here and there are numerous sportfishing resorts located to the north. Unfortunately there are plans to build a new Cancun-style resort here so don’t delay visiting this world-class nature reserve.
- Staying Safe in Baja (sergededina.com)
- Biodiversity: Marine life rebounds in Baja ocean preserve (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Hidden Baja Undersea Park – World’s Most Robust Marine Reserve (aboutashark.wordpress.com)
- In Mexico’s Baja, worry that a ‘new Cancun’ may harm reef (uwtreasures.wordpress.com)
- Huge resort proposed right near restored reef (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
From April 2-7 I will be touring the Cape Region of Baja California to show the Blue Ocean Film Festival “Blue on Tour” ocean documentaries and give talks on my book Wild Sea.
APRIL 2nd: San Jose Organic Farmers Market, 10am-2:00pm
APRIL 2nd: TBD
APRIL 3rd: Los Barriles Art Festival, Hotel Palmas De Cortez Los Barriles
APRIL 3rd: Vinorama Country Club, East Cape, 6pm
APRIL 4th: DREAMS Spa and Resort, @ 6:00pm
APRIL 6th: Sculpture Francisco Merino Galeria @ 6:30pm
APRIL 7th: La Esquina, Todos Santos @ 7:00pm
When I am there I look forward to seeing old friends, making new friends, and surfing the crystal clear blue water of the East Cape and Todos Santos–two of my favorite places in Baja.
The Baja Boys have been exploring the back roads and surfing the point breaks of Baja California since they were micro-groms. In this video, they break down in the middle of the desert. Stranded and surrounded by scorpions, they find perfect point waves and make friends with the locals.
Here is basically a press release from a yachting publication–announcing the plans for a new mega-resort marina scam on areas that are unsuitable for this type of development. The failure of the Baja Boom (turned Baja Bust) has not dissuaded the state-financed tourism development machine in Mexico to think rationally about Development. Instead there is development any cost for projects that have little relationship to the overall infrastructure and investment needs of the Mexican economy.
Two Marinas Planned for Huge New Sea of Cortez Resort in 2012
By: Capt. Pat Rains | Thursday, December 09, 2010 10:29:00 AM
Last updated: Thursday, December 09, 2010 10:29:00 AM
Mexico president Felipe Calderon announced plans for a huge new tourist development, including two marinas on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez.
Bird’s-eye View — This aerial photo shows the Sea of Cortez entrance to Rio Teacapán and Laguna Agua Grande, near where Fonatur plans two new marinas by the end of 2012, and a mega-resort similar to Cancun to be completed by 2015.
Described as twice the size of Cancun, the new beachfront development will initially cover 7.5 miles of Sinaloa coastline in an area about 80 miles south of Mazatlan. Stretching over 5,884 acres, the mega-resort will encompass the vast Laguna Agua Grande waterway and several canals, plus the seaside towns of Isla del Bosque and Teacapán at the border with Nayarit.
The fishing port of Teacapán lies about 40 miles north of Isla Isabela, which is a protected nesting zone for frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. Although Isla Isabela is a popular cruising and fishing destination, the tiny island has room for only a handful of oceangoing yachts in two small fair-weather anchorages.
Logistically, new marinas nearby on the Sinaloa mainland would provide recreational boaters with safer berthing, fuel, shelter from bad weather and shorter offshore passages between existing destinations.
The two new marinas will provide a total of 1,000 slips designed “in harmony with the Escalera Nautica marina model,” according to Fonatur, the federal agency tasked with developing tourism infrastructure. Fonatur completed nine other full-service marinas now operating under the Singlar banner, and most of them are currently for sale or have been sold to private investors.
According to Barnard Thompson of Mexidata.info news service, the project is “provisionally called the Pacific Coast Integrally Planned Center.” Thompson said the first phase of the Sinaloa CIP is slated for completion in 2012, and will cost an estimated $139 million.
“The final stages of the phased developments are to be completed by 2025,” Thompson said. “This is much the same way that other Fonatur master-planned seaside resorts — such as Cancún, Los Cabos, Ixtapa, Loreto and the Bays of Huatulco — have been done.”
Besides the two big tourist marinas, the plan calls for four golf courses, about 44,200 hotel rooms (including hotels and condominiums), a 5-mile beachfront walk and a light railway (an existing rail line runs from Hermosillo to Puerto Vallarta), plus a new airport.
“Based on what has been learned from other CIPs such as Cancun,” Thompson reported, “hotels will not be allowed right on the beach. The required buffer zone will be 300 meters. Hotels will also have a maximum height limit of four stories.”
This huge new development “will be in the midst of the Sinaloa National Wetlands, in part on the near-5,000-acre Rancho Las Cabras, owned by former Sinaloa governor Antonio Toledo Corro,” Thompson’s report stated.
“Fishing is big in the region, commercial fishing (and shrimp farming), and of course sportfishing,” the report continued. “Several species of protected sea turtles come to area beaches; and, at sea, among the many species found are billfish, humpback whales and white sharks.
“Of historical significance, there are large oyster shell mounds near Teacapán that experts say were harvested by indigenous peoples living in the area as long as 4,000 years ago,” the report said.
Local fishermen and panga boat operators at first protested against this development, fearing they would not be allowed to chauffeur the avalanche of new tourists to the indigenous villages, historic oyster mounds and other ecological tours. After agreements were reached last year with hundreds of local ejido members, the resort plans have gone forward. But it still has to clear environmental hurdles.
Of all the spots in Baja, there is probably no other more iconic break than southern Baja’s Scorpion Bay in the Pacific fishing village of San Juanico.
San Juanico has now become the Malibu of Baja. With three main points and a variety of even more reefs that break on select swells, there is plenty of surf here for the growing population of American expats (at times it feels like a surfer retirement village) and legions of visiting surfers.
Back in 2003, WiLDCOAST helped to stop a planned marina here that would have had a huge impact on surfing in the area–the main source of income besides fishing for the now fairly well off (by Baja Sur standards) community.
This summer, the boys and I took a close to 3,000 mile r/t tour of Pacific Baja and the East Cape. We had a lot of fun at our early summer stop at San Juanico.
The water was cold though–about 58-60–but there were virtually no crowds.
If you want to experience real Baja, avoid Scorpion Bay during the height of the summer south swell season. But for off-peak off season days it is a fun spot, especially if you have kids and a spouse that likes clean restrooms and hot showers.