You may have never heard of it, but Mexico’s Isla Espíritu Santo (located in La Paz), is a gorgeous island in the Sea of Cortéz that is known for its contrasting landscapes, diversity of flora and fauna, and fun outdoor activities like diving, hiking, kayaking, and more. A UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site since 2005 and National Park since 2007, Isla Espíritu Santo is a top destination for those looking to explore majestic volcanic rock formations, clear blue seas, and pristine beaches—and take in the scenic splendor of this magnificent Mexican island.

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The Journey Is As Good As The Destination

To get to the island, choose any boats from the small pangas (fishing boats) to large, luxurious yachts. The sights will vary depending on how you travel, but whatever transport you choose, you can be sure there will be an abundance of impressive scenery.

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San Rafaelito Island is just one of many beautiful locations along the route to Isla Espíritu Santo. Visitors describe this small island as being full of wildlife—including many types of birds and sea lions. Its rocky landscape is an ideal hangout for these playful creatures, so be sure to keep your phone ready for some candid photos! If you have a chance, you may even be able to take a dive and admire the beautiful reef below the crystal clear waters.

Balandra Beach is another stop along the way that is not to be missed. Surrounded by crystal clear waters that make it one of the gems of the Baja Peninsula. Essentially a large cove nestled among low mountains, Balandra is considered by many to be “the most beautiful beach in Mexico.” Another notable feature of Balandra is ‘El Honga de Balandra’ (The Mushroom of Balandra), which has long been seen as the symbol of La Paz. The large, mushroom-shaped rock weighs about 20 tons and is an impressive sight for any explorer of La Paz.

Swimming, Snorkeling, And Sea Lions Galore

Isla Espíritu Santo is connected to another small island called Isla Partida via a shallow channel that can sometimes be waded across (depending on the time of day). Isla Partida has its own claim to fame as the home of the largest blue-footed booby colony, so be on the lookout for these impressive birds. Most people, however, get to the island by boat and on the journey can admire the islands’ spectacular and colorful geological features. Depending on the approach, you may also catch a glimpse of dolphins, rays, and even more sea lions.

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An even smaller third island, Los Islotes, is an ideal place for an underwater adventure. Pop on your snorkeling gear and dive into the pristine waters where you may encounter sea lions face-to-face. If you aren’t into snorkeling, don’t worry—there’s still plenty to see above the water as the area is known for its marine life. The stunning beaches and fascinating geological formations paired with the dazzling array of wildlife, make any visit to Isla Espíritu Santo an unforgettable experience.

Must-See Geological Marvels

The water is pristine, the beaches are beautiful, and the wildlife is thriving. But don’t underestimate the geological beauty of the island. Formed by a series of earthquakes, the islands were birthed from minerals rising to the surface from deep beneath the Earth; creating the lovely, layered colors that make up the impressive rock formations. One formation of note is known as ‘La Mascara.’ Resembling a masked face, it faces the water and is just one of many impressive sights that rise up out of the deep blue sea. The island is also known for being archaeologically significant as well and includes remains of the Pericú people, an indigenous people that once lived at the southern tip of the Big Sur region.

If you are visiting La Paz, be sure to schedule a trip to Isla Espíritu Santo. From start to finish, the voyage offers splendid sights, wildlife galore (especially sea lions!), and an opportunity to take in some of the most fascinating geology in the region.

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