Expedition Details


Journey to Baja California in the spring, a season that welcomes multiple species of whales—including blue, sperm, pilot, fin, humpback, and Bryde’s—to the Sea of Cortez. Search for these majestic creatures onboard the National Geographic Sea Bird or National Geographic Sea Lion, and at water level from nimble Zodiacs. Don snorkeling gear and plunge below the surface to swim with frolicking sea lions, and explore pristine islands inhabited by myriad bird species on kayaking and hiking excursions.

Trip Highlights

  • Aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird or National Geographic Sea Lion, cruise the Sea of Cortez in the springtime—the best season for spotting multiple whale species and large pods of dolphins.
  • Our itinerary is flexible and determined by the area wildlife activity, allowing us to maximize opportunities for sightings.
  • Explore sea caves by kayak or expedition landing craft, hike uninhabited beaches, and snorkel among fish and acrobatic sea lions.
  • Meet researchers on Isla Rasa and witness the nesting of thousands of Heermann’s gulls, as well as elegant and royal terns.

Itinerary - 8 Days

Day 1 — Los Cabos, Mexico/La Paz, Mexico

Fly into Los Cabos and transfer to La Paz to set sail on the Sea of Cortez.

Days 2 through 7 — Exploring the Sea of Cortez

Our routing is designed with flexibility in mind to maximize opportunities for wildlife sightings. It will most likely include the islands and activities listed below, although the order may vary (B,L,D daily)

ISLAS SAN ESTEBAN AND SAN PEDRO MÁRTIR: Walk up a desert wash to search for desert birds and the endemic pinto chuckwalla—a harmless desert lizard. Later visit Isla San Pedro Mártir, a 1,000-foot-high guano-covered island that is home to thousands of seabirds. Blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, pelicans and frigate birds are all found here.

ISLA RASA: In the spring one of the great wildlife spectacles of the Sea of Cortez is in full swing at Isla Rasa —the nesting of thousands of Heermann’s gulls and elegant and royal terns. We will go ashore to meet researchers and observe the behavior of these three species.

ISLA SAN MARCOS: At Isla San Marcos there is a beautiful cove for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. In the afternoon we are again in rich whale waters near the mouth of Bahía Concepcion where we stand a good chance of sighting several species of whales, particularly fin or sperm.

ISLA SANTA CATALINA: This morning we’ll search for whales in the waters south of Isla Carmen, an area that has proven to be one of the best for finding blue whales, and often bottlenose and common dolphins. In the afternoon we visit Isla Santa Catalina, famous for its giant barrel cactus and lovely cardon cactus forest. The protected bay of our anchorage is also an excellent site for snorkeling. With a full afternoon here, there is time for swimming, snorkeling, hiking and kayaking.

LOS ISLOTES AND ISLA ESPÍRITU SANTO: At Isla Los Islotes, snorkelers have one of life’s great opportunities—swimming with graceful and curious sea lions. With a deeply indented shoreline and dramatically eroded cliff faces, Isla Espíritu Santo is perhaps the most beautiful island in the Sea of Cortez. We have a leisurely afternoon for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and in the evening, a beach barbecue under the desert stars.

Day 8 — La Paz, Mexico/Los Angeles

After breakfast, disembark in La Paz and transfer to the airport in Los Cabos for your flight home.

Related Trips

Special Offer

Airfare and Expedition Cost Savings

Book any 2018 departure and receive a $500 air credit per person, plus receive a savings of $1,000 per child under the age of 18.

Solo Travelers

Book the April 7 or 9, 2018 departures and we’ll waive the single supplement charge in Categories 1 and 2.

Offers are for new bookings only and are subject to availability. Please call for details.

National Geographic Expert

Rich Reid

Rich ReidAward-winning photographer, filmmaker, and instructor Rich Reid has specialized in environmental and adventure photography for more than two decades. He explored Alaska's Inside Passage by bike and ferry for National Geographic Adventure and is represented by National Geographic Stock. Recently, the North America Nature Photography Association presented Rich with a Fellows Award for his professional contribution to nature photography. His award-winning short documentary highlighting watershed conservation on the California coast has motivated him to continue to create multimedia projects using time-lapse photography to benefit our oceans, open spaces, and wildlife. Rich has shared his photography passion for most of his career operating photo tours in Alaska, teaching Visual Journalism at Brooks Institute in California, and guiding guests on National Geographic Expeditions throughout the globe.

Rich will join the following departure:

Apr 02 - 09, 2018


Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


  • Mar 31 - Apr 07, 2018 [SB]
  • Apr 02 - 09, 2018 [SL]
  • Apr 07 - 14, 2018 [SB]
  • Apr 09 - 16, 2018 [SL]
  • Apr 14 - 21, 2018 [SB]

[SL] National Geographic Sea Lion
[SB] National Geographic Sea Bird

Please note: The March 31 and April 2, 2018 departures are dedicated photography expeditions.

Learn more about photo expeditions here >>

Expedition Cost

Category 1 $6,190
Category 2 $7,190
Category 3 $7,990

Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single cabin, add $3,100 in Category 1 and $3,600 in Category 2.

Airfare to/from Los Cabos is not included in the expedition cost.

View Ship/Deck Plan

Activity Level

Light or Moderate

Travelers can choose between a light or moderate activity level. For a light level of activity, they should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.

For a moderate level, travelers should be prepared for multiple hours of physical activity (e.g. hiking, kayaking, biking) each day.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.