Carnaval, Inland Exploring, and Whale Sharks

February 22 – March 2, 2020

Estelle welcomed aboard temporary crew aka the Adorable Couple or AC for a planned week long escape to the islands. The AC’s arrival coincided with Caranaval, the annual 5-day party in La Paz (which lasted into the wee hours nightly making for sleepy crew.) Estelle was bombarded with the noise of the festivities while in Marina Cortez. Note to self: If we are ever in La Paz again during Carnaval we are making a bee-line for the islands.

The highlight of Carnaval was the fabulous parade along the Malecón on Sunday night. We bought egg shells filled with confetti sold along the route but we were thwarted in using this traditional expression of celebration by all the signs in the parade urging us not to throw them!


Waterfalls and Hot Springs

With winds and seas against us we sadly came to the conclusion that an escape to the islands would not result in a comfortable ride nor anchorage so we switched gears and rented a car. The AC—ever good sports—perused the Baja guidebook and came up with a plan: we would grab a hotel in Los Barriles and go hiking inland in search of a waterfall of renown and hot springs. And that’s what we did!

We started our explorations taking dirt roads off Hwy 1 to Cañyon de la Zorra, an ecological preserve. From the entrance to the preserve it’s an easy two mile hike back to a 30 foot waterfall. It is postcard picturesque and given its close proximity to Cabo we were not surprised to find a half dozen tourists in the pool under the waterfall taking selfies and jumping from boulders into the cold water. To avoid the “crowds” we scrambled over boulders to some swimming holes directly downstream where we enjoyed a little paradise all to ourselves.

Note to all: One of the great pleasures of Baja, besides the gorgeous natural beauty and the great low-humidity warm weather, is how relatively uncrowded and undiscovered it is (once one gets out of Cabo San Lucas.)

Mid afternoon we packed up and took more dirt roads (that were relatively well marked for Mexico) to nearby Santa Rita hot springs. The hot springs are on private land and well maintained. The water temp could have been hotter for some in our party but the light weight sailor (LWS) found them plenty hot and had to move to cooler parts of the pools before too long. The hot springs capped a lovely day of inland exploring.

Shopping highlight: back in Los Barriles, where we dined at Triny’s (four thumbs up), El Capitán discovered a lovely little linens shop where the personable proprietor was weaving a mat. The LWS commissioned a design with fish, enjoyed watching the weaver weave, and we picked up the hand-woven mat the next day. What a keepsake!

Scientists Bonus – both parties of the AC are geologists. Which means that there is plenty of stops to look at rocks when traveling with this delightful pair.

Playa Santa Maria and Cabo

The next day we set off in search of beach snorkeling. We tried Pescadero north of Los Barilles first, but the surf was too rough. Luckily we found a recommendation among Trip Advisor comments to Playa Santa Maria in San Jose del Cabo. This is a fantastic beach! Clean, with showers and banos, the beach is known for its snorkeling along the rocky outcroppings at either end of the beach. Unfortunately it’s so close to Cabo that a constant stream of catamarans filled with sightseers stream continually into the cove. But they are corralled into a roped off area well off the beach and we found that they added very few snorkelers to the water and bodies to the beach.

The AC confirmed the presence of good snorkeling at Santa Maria claiming they found both Dory and Nemo among the colorful fish. Those of us on shore enjoyed spouting and fin slapping whales in the distance. What a great beach! 🏖 (Tip: rent a beach umbrella for $200 pesos for the day— small price for a beautiful free beach!). We concluded this beachy day with dinner at Mi Casa in Cabo—the AC was curious about the reported Cabo chaos so into the fray we went. On the way back to La Paz we stopped in Todos Santos for a late evening snack of tacos al pastor — yum!

La Paz, Balandra, a Golden Birthday and Whale Sharks

Back in La Paz we celebrated a Golden Birthday with dinner, cake, and whale sharks! Yep, we did the tourist thing heading out in a panga with fellow adventurers and jumping in the water two at a time with a guide and these gentle giants. Whale sharks are filter feeds and grow to over 30 feet long. The juveniles, which are up to 20 feet long, hang out in the south end of the bay—very close to La Paz. It was very cool and kinda scary being in the water with these enormous fish!

Next up, we finally got a weather break! So we headed out on a day sail to nearby Playa Balandra for an afternoon of snorkeling, ending the Adorable Couple’s Baja Break with the sails up and a nice reach with about 10 knots of breeze. We miss the AC already but are going to need a week to sleep in and recover from all the adventuring!

Juvenile Whale Shark (about 20 feet)

Smileys and Frowns


  • The Adorable Couple in Baja! We miss you!
  • Los Barriles: Triny’s Restaurante
  • Traveling with geologists
  • Cañyon de la Zorra waterfall
  • Santa Rita Hot Springs
  • Snorkeling at Playa Santa Maria, San Jose del Cabo
  • Snorkeling with Whale Sharks – shout out to the folks at Baja On Board!
  • Snorkeling at Playa Balandra, La Paz


  • Carnavale- the parade was cool but the continuous noise was exhausting
  • Northers and high choppy seas kept Estelle tied up at the marina for most of the AC’s visit.

4 thoughts on “Carnaval, Inland Exploring, and Whale Sharks

  1. I now enjoy following your sailing adventure. Thanks to Eli for helping get me connected with you two. Great pictures and commentary.

    Nick Spika


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