Los Frailes, Bonanza Bay, and Whales

January 1, 2020

Our transit to Los Frailes from Puerto Los Cabos was one for the memory books. We saw over a dozen humpback whales, full breach, half breach, flipper slapping, blowing, and lots of tails in the air before diving. Many of the whales seemed to be traveling in pairs and it was thrilling to see the synchronized rise of two huge backs come out of the water and two tails wave together before they took their next dive.


It was a blustery day from Los Puertos with Estelle cooking along at about 7 knots. Seas were rolly–but under 2 meters (the light weight sailor’s (LWS) estimate)–and I now know we were still in Pacific Ocean waters (the change became obvious once we rounded into the Sea of Cortes–waves shorter, closer together, less swell, and the water color turning from blue to an aqua green.) During the transit to Los Frailes we couldn’t take our eyes off the horizon as every large spray in the distance signaled a breaching humpback whale. We saw so many whales we even had time to get out the Nikon!

The huge splash following a breach was often our first sighting–luckily they tended to breach more than once.

Los Frailes, our first night out was not a great anchorage as it opens to the southwest, making for a rolly night, but it was remote and peaceful. We weighed anchor in a squall but got a rainbow for our troubles. Los Frailes is at the southwest end of Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. This park was set up to protect the Cabo Pulmo Reef the “only living hard-coral reef system on the west side of North America.” UNESCO singled out this marine park ten years ago for its “robust recovery” after only ten years of park status which includes no fishing or anchoring. The next day we gave the marine park zone a wide berth as we sailed past.

Some compensation for anchoring in a squall.

Leaving the park behind, we turned the corner, crossing the Tropic of Cancer as we did so to head north up the Cerralvo Channel with light north winds on our nose. We were now “officially” in the Sea of Cortez. There wasn’t a whale in sight on this long day of light-air motoring. We set anchor in Bahia de Bonanza on Isla Espiritu Santos, a national park, around 9:30 pm. A good anchorage, well protected with flat water, despite strengthening north winds.

Los Frailes to Isla Espiritu Santos Smileys and Frowns


  • Whales, whales and more whales from Puerto Los Cabos to Los Frailes
  • Bahia de Bonanza on Isla Espiritu good anchorage
  • We made it to the Sea of Cortez!


  • Barely a frown, as the isolated location is lovely, but it was rolly at the Los Frailes anchorage and more unprotected than the LWS cares for.

Next Stop

Left Bahia de Bonanza under 18 knots of wind for a fun broad reach through the San Lorenzo Channel down to La Paz. We found a slip at the top of the La Paz channel at Marina Costa Baja. We plan to take the shuttle into town tomorrow and start exploring this famous city, the capitol of Baja.

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