No trip to La Paz is complete without a visit to the islands: Isla Espíritu Santo, Isla Partida, and the home of hundreds of sea lions, Los Islotes. Teeming with marine life, they make for an excellent boating day trip for those who want to snorkel, dive, or just enjoy the island bays with white sand beaches. Visitors can arrange for an organized day trip from La Paz, or there are pangas that leave from Playa El Tecolote and take travelers for US$55 per person. Tours generally pick up clients in the morning and fees include snorkel or dive equipment, the national park entrance fee, drinks for the day, and lunch.

Sea lion blowing bubbles underwater.

Friendly interaction wit sea lions is highly likely on Los Islotes. Photo © stocktrek/123rf.

Isla Espíritu Santo

The large island 25 kilometers off the coast of La Paz is Isla Espíritu Santo, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s considered by many to be the most beautiful island in the Sea of Cortez and boasts dozens of bays with white sand beaches and waters full of marine life.

Most travelers experience Isla Espíritu Santo on a boat day trip from La Paz. These boat trips focus on diving and snorkeling in the waters around the island, because of the rich marine life that lives around the rock and coral reefs. Visitors will have a chance at seeing and swimming with sea lions, orca, dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, and blue or humpback whales.

The island isn’t inhabited, but tent camping is permitted. This is the only way to spend any substantial amount of time exploring the island since the boat trips stop only briefly to allow some swimming and snorkeling. Camping gives visitors the unique experience of exploring the island and waters by day and enjoy stargazing at night. There are 10 designated hiking paths on the island that are great for getting out in the terrain and encountering mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. Because the islands are protected, camping requires getting a US$4 permit in advance from the SEMARNAT office (Ocampo 1045, tel. 612/128-4171). Fun Baja can arrange for multi-day camping trips on the island.

Isla Partida

Connected to Isla Espíritu Santo by a narrow sandbar, Isla Partida is a much smaller island, but still has beautiful bays, beaches, dive sites, hiking, and camping opportunities. There are small fishing camps at either end of the island, but otherwise the island in uninhabited. You’ll need to bring in your own drinking water and provisions. Just like Isla Espiritu Santo, camping here requires getting a permit in advance from SEMARNAT for US$4 (Ocampo 1045, tel. 612/128-4171).

Los Islotes

At the northern tip of Isla Partida and Espíritu Santo are smaller Los Islotes where a large colony of hundreds of sea lions resides. Friendly interaction with the sea lions is highly likely, and these islets are a popular stop on the island day trips for snorkelers and divers who get in the water with the sea lions.

Map of Isla Espíritu Santo, Isla Partida, and Los Islotes, Mexico

Isla Espíritu Santo, Isla Partida, and Los Islotes

Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon Los Cabos.