An Oasis, Cave Paintings and Red Rocks: Aqua Verde, Los Gatos and San Evaristo Anchorages

Sorry for the long-delayed post. We got distracted by guests and a week in Spanish language school before this one got loaded. Here’s our post about Estelle’s transit south from Puerto Escondido, back to La Paz.

February 8 – 16, 2020

First Stop South: Aqua Verde

We made our escape from Puerto Escondido (finally!) after 10 days on the mooring ball in the harbor, where Estelle was hunkered down protected from the on-and-off north winds. Jumping on the open weather window, we headed south to Aqua Verde for a few days, on our way back to La Paz. With light winds out of the south/southwest we had an uneventful day motoring and anchored in a pretty little cove with a white sand beach on the south side of Bahia Aqua Verde east of aptly named Pelican Rock. 

Pelican Rock with plenty of pelicans!!

While at Aqua Verde, thanks to directions from the crew of S/V Attica, we found ourselves on our second day in the anchorage heading off on a hike to try to find some cave paintings… and with a little trial and error we found them! 

Here’s our directions to the cave paintings from Bahia Aqua Verde: 

  • Take the trail that starts at the north anchorage, over the hill, past the little cemetery on the other side. 
  • Continue to follow the trail as it widens into a dry sandy river bottom and then narrows as it cuts through a palm oasis that runs down to the beach. 
  • From the beach, precede down to the opposite end.  Turn away from the beach and look up at the hills and you’ll see the wide cave opening just below the ridge line.  (You can see the cave opening from quite a ways down the beach before you get to the opposite end.)

Now comes the tricky part: getting up to the cave. 

  • Follow a sand path through the sand dunes away from the beach and towards the cave hill.  When we were there this path was marked at the beach by 3 large sticks stuck into the sand.  (We placed a cairn about ½ way down the path for good measure.) The path-which from the beach looks like a simple widening through the dunes, looks more 4-wheel-drive-road-like as you go along. 
  • Just before the path enters a wide flat bottomland, look to the right (we stacked another cairn here) and you’ll see a trail heading up the hill.  The trail is easy to follow but treacherous—there is quite a lot of loose rock and skree to negotiate as you follow the narrow path up to the cave.  But then, there it is!  It took us about 2 hours to get to the cave from the north anchorage trailhead, including a picnic lunch break. 

There are cave paintings to be found throughout Baja.  We didn’t go see the ones 15 kilometers past San Javier that are on private land, and we didn’t get as far up the Tabor (Steinbeck) canyon to see the cave paintings reported to be found on that trail.  So we were happy to find the cave paintings that were a relatively easy hike from our anchorage in Aqua Verde.  According to a variety of sources, the cave paintings found throughout Baja are dated from 5,000 to 7,000 years old.  No one knows who made them.  (El Capitán, ever the cynic, says it was probably teenagers on a field trip from the US with a can of red spray paint….but don’t listen to him) As isolated and desolate as Baja is, it is hard to imagine how an ancient people were able to eke out an existence here—and yet leave behind art work for us to treasure. 

One of the big plusses for cruisers at Aqua Verde is the well-stocked little tienda off the north end of the main beach. Just follow the arrow to find wifi (see foto below). The store has half a dozen box refrigerators outside that are filled with lovely fresh produce, cheese and meat. At the advise of our cruising guide, we bought some queso fresco (fresh goat cheese from the local dairy). After sampling it, we concluded that it’s an acquired taste! Also at the tienda, you can “buy” an hour of decent internet access for $30 pesos. Time your shopping trip for high tide otherwise the dink may end up on the little sandbar just before the beach like ours did. Insert forehead slap here.

We had company in Aqua Verde: a National Geographic cruise ship! But we found them to be well-mannered cruisers–no loud music from the ship at night, and very friendly and polite when passing on the trails, although they did tend to need a lot of beach chairs… We noted many cameras with impressive lenses among this group.

Second Stop South: Puerto Los Gatos

We had been unwilling to get off the boat when we anchored at Puerto Los Gatos on the sail north, due to sea conditions, but the red rocks lured us back to this isolated anchorage on our return south. Not only were we able to get off the boat and hike around the beautiful red-sandstone shore on this leg, we met another Hallberg Rassy at anchor – a 45 footer. We greatly enjoyed S/V Ocean Echo’s boat tour and onboard hospitality. (Ocean Echo’s double – bunk crew quarters and on-demand hot water heater filled us with boat envy.) But the day got even better when S/V Tomten came unexpectedly into the anchorage. Chocolate chip cookie baking ensued on Estelle to celebrate a fun evening with the Tomten crew.

Puerto Los Gatos anchoring notes: the swell wraps around the north point of this anchorage making for a rolly night. We tucked in to the north west corner of the cove as close to the rocky shore as we dared. The anchorage is an isolated beauty—no services or residents, but for a one-night stand it was fine. We had a north wind in the low teens while at anchor.

Third Stop South: San Evaristo

Our next to last stop was San Evaristo. There is a small village here with tienda, school, and a good restaurant on the south end of the beach. It is a well protected anchorage. As we were anxious to get back to La Paz (guests were coming), we only stayed one night. The light weight sailor was very disappointed with the tienda — which carried no eggs and only very limited, dusty produce — but perhaps it was just a bad day at the market. Aqua Verde is definitely the place to re-provision south of Loreto.

In San Evaristo we found a pretty little hike on the south side of the bay that starts at the beach and takes you to the small light beacon that overlooks the Canal de San Jose. The light weight sailor was inspired to strike a few yoga poses in response to the turquoise water and beautiful vistas found along this short hike.

Last Stop Before La Paz

We spent a couple nights back on Isla Partida in the Ensenada el Cardonal anchorage before heading to Marina Cortez in La Paz to end our transit back from the Loreto area. It was windy and rolly at anchor, with gusts in the 30s, but offered the best protection and holding ground around. Sometimes ya just gotta hang on the hook. And it wasn’t a bad way to end this beautiful south-going transit from Loreto to La Paz.

Aqua Verde, Los Gatos & San Evaristo Smileys and Frowns

Smileys

  • Aqua Verde: beautiful, lovely anchorage, good kayaking, palm oasis, hike to cave paintings, very good tienda for re-provisioning and internet access
  • Los Gatos: gorgeous red sandstone formations along the beach
  • San Evaristo: good protection at anchor, pretty little hike from the beach to the Canal de San Jose side of the south anchorage, good beach restaurant
  • Overall: We continue to enjoy the beauty and weather of Baja!

Frowns

  • Aqua Verde: no frowns
  • Los Gatos: a rolly anchorage in a north breeze
  • San Evaristo: tienda very limited
  • Overall: too much motoring on this transit but that’s Baja in the winter! The wind seems to be on or off.

3 thoughts on “An Oasis, Cave Paintings and Red Rocks: Aqua Verde, Los Gatos and San Evaristo Anchorages

  1. Thanks for all the gorgeous pictures! I’ve never really thought of going to this area before, but you’re tempting me. BTW, tried those chocolate lava cakes and they are terrific.

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    1. Baja has far exceeded our expectations on a number of levels but the natural beauty of the area has been the biggest surprise. So glad you gave the lava cakes a try. They are now a beloved treat onboard!

      Like

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