Whales and Wildness: Spring in the Sea of Cortez

  • Trip Type: Expedition Cruise
  • 8 Days | Round-trip La Paz, Mexico
  • Group Size: Max 62

Expedition Details


ourney 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 from the decks of the National Geographic Sea Bird or National Geographic Sea Lion in 2018 or the National Geographic Venture in 2019, 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.

BAHIA LORETO: Start the day searching for marine life 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, visit one of the islands of Bahía Loreto Marine Park, and enjoy ample time for kayaking, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding and possibly hiking.

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

National Geographic Expert

Kirsten Luce

Kirsten LuceKirsten Luce is a photojournalist who began her career working for a small newspaper along the United States-Mexico border. She has worked for National Geographic in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, and her favorite story so far was “How Fireflies are Keeping this Tiny Mexican Town Alive" in Tlaxcala, Mexico, which was published in the August 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine. Her photos have also appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, Bloomberg Businessweek, TIME, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, GEO, and Le Monde, among other outlets. Kirsten’s work has been exhibited in Italy, Germany, Trinidad, and the U.S., and was recognized by the Creative Arts Annual as well as American Photography, awarded a Getty Grant for Editorial Photography, and nominated for a National Magazine Award. She has taught introductory photojournalism at Columbia University in New York and at Foundry Photojournalism Workshops around the world. Baja California Sur has some of Kirsten’s favorite landscapes on the planet.

Kirsten will join the following departure:

Apr 14 - 21, 2019

Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


  • Apr 14 - 21, 2019

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

Learn more about photo expeditions here >>

Expedition Cost

Category 1 $6,380
Category 2 $6,990
Category 3 $7,480
Category 4 $8,340
Category 5 $9,170

Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single cabin in 2018, add $3,100 in Category 1 and $3,600 in Category 2. In 2019, add $3,190 in Category 1 and $3,510 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.