Mexico – Baja California

Nautilus Liveaboards offered an amazing SCUBA deal in July that we just couldn’t pass up – a chance to dive with Great Whites at Guadalupe Island at a reduced sale price plus a 9 day Baja California Peninsula exploratory trip for only $1000 more. Sign us up! The Guadalupe portion was still pending approval from the Mexican authorities but the exploratory portion was a definite “go” so we scrambled to get flights, hotels, and dive gear in order with under a week. Since the exploratory trip started from Cabo San Lucas and ended in Ensenada (for the Guadalupe Island trip), we had to buy a one way ticket into Cabo and a return ticket from San Diego. Even though the border between Mexico and the USA was still firmly closed due to COVID-19, Nautilus had assured us that returning US citizens wouldn’t be denied entry at the border. Flying into Cabo was pretty straight forward with a layover in Mexico City. We hadn’t anticipated 4 different temperature reading stations at the airports in Mexico. They aren’t messing around when it relates to the coronavirus and any elevated temperature reading would have meant we would be denied entry! Our hotel in Cabo had the same instructions – take a temperature reading and any elevated reading would result in a mandatory quarantine. Thankfully we were both healthy and virus free but it was a bit stressful to realize that could potentially end our trip before it even started! Cabo San Lucas, while open for tourism, was a sad state of affairs with businesses struggling to survive with the downturn in visitors. We felt really bad for the people here who rely predominantly on tourism to make ends meet. On the plus side, we enjoyed the crowd free experience. After a few days in Cabo, we finally met the Nautilus crew and boarded our home (Belle Amie) for the next 9 days. What a top notch organization! Even though the Guadalupe portion of our trip was cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions, we both really enjoyed the exploratory dives along the coast of Baja California. We definitely weren’t prepared for the frigid temperature (mid-50s and 60s) but the hot tub on the top deck got a lot of use and we warmed up after each dive. Highlights from the SCUBA trip included seeing a superpod of dolphins, swimming with Pacific white-sided dolphins, watching transient orcas hunting, seeing horn sharks (a new species for us) and shovelnose guitarfish, and playful sea lions. What made the trip however was the amazing Nautilus staff and we had huge smiles the entire 9 day trip. After disembarking in Ensenada, our fellow divers made a mad dash to the border crossing into the US but we decided to prolong our holiday an extra 5 days to see what this city had to offer. Ensenada wowed us with its amazing seafood! Well worth a few extra days to get our seafood fix on here. Other highlights here included an ATV tour out to the San Carlos hot springs and a visit to La Bufadora. We will definitely be back to Ensenada since it is the gateway to Guadalupe Island and the Great Whites are still beckoning!

Colorful sign welcoming us to Cabo! Tiki Bar; Cabo San Lucas Free tasting at Tequila Lighthouse The closest we came to seeing a Great White...sadly, Nautilus was unable to run our trip to Guadalupe Island due to COVID-19 Marlin monument at the marina of Cabo San Lucas Cabo's surfboard sculpture Poor Cabo San Lucas is suffering greatly due to COVID-19. Even Señor Frogs was shut down! Souvenir t-shirt humor Souvenirs for sale but hardly any tourists in sight; Cabo San Lucas Marina view in Cabo Of course we were craving tacos after this sign! Cabo sign where everyone stops for a photo Robby found a throne to match his shirt! Artwork for sale at an upscale mall We would be much happier seeing that marlin in the water and not off a fishing boat Cabo Wabo (founded by Sammy Hagar) is the most famous bar in Cabo Taco time! Our taxi driver recommended Tacos Guss and boy was it a great suggestion! We ate here every day in Cabo First glimpse of the MV Nautilus Belle Amie, our home for the next 9 nights Wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus Approaching a Baja Califonia Mexico lighthouse near Isla Santa Margarita Hawksbill sea turtle seen on our checkout dive Reef stingray; Isla Santa Margarita Early morning sunrise over Isla Santa Margarita Eels have taken over the wreck of the submarine USS H1 Seawolf which sank in 1920 An eel attempts to invade another eel's cubbyhole Marine life thrives on the wreckage of the H1 Seawolf; Baja California Yellowtail surgeonfish Horn shark; Isla Santa Margarita Porcupinefish Shovelnose guitarfish guarded by porcupinefish Sealion chasing a Cortez round stingray Sealion coming in for a closer view to check Robby out Checking out the sealion colony on Isla Santa Margarita Enjoying taco night on the top deck; Nautilus Belle Amie Another magnificent sunrise on the Pacific Ocean; Baja California Swimming with marlin! California spiny lobster Jeweled moray eel Porcupinefish Horn shark Horn shark with Robby in the background for size perspective Guitarfish Playful sealion checking us out Another curious sealion approaches Schooling fish on the 1853 Steamship Independence wreck Glorious sunrise over Baja California Baja California coastline on our Nautilus exploratory SCUBA trip SCUBA diving first thing in the morning - what a great way to start the day! Stonefish Guitarfish Kenny heads in for a chat with the crew Transient killer whales Everyone hurried up on deck for a glimpse of this pod of orcas Orca mother and calf The orcas appeared to be hunting for prey It was mesmerizing watching the orcas! Common dolphins putting on a show Dolphins racing the Nautilus Belle Amie This superpod had well over a thousand dolphins which we learned is a rare event Such a magnificent experience to see so many dolphins! The water temperature was the coldest of the trip (mid 50s) but we were rewarded with this beautiful underwater scene Sea star Giant keyhole limpet Rockfish trying to hide in a crevice We nicknamed this guy "zombie fish" because it was fearless and would swim around staring at us Another zombie fish moves in for its close up Rockfish checking us out Sea star thriving in the frigid water Giant keyhole limpet Garibaldi damselfish Pretty underwater scene with California Sheephead and Garibaldi fish A massive sea sponge formation Swimming with Pacific white-sided dolphins! They playfully zipped around us so it was quite difficult to get any quality shots So much fun swimming with playful dolphins! Pacific white-sided dolphin checking us out Scott accepts a cookie from our happy server Alin Martyn getting the beverages ready for wine & cheese time on the top deck Oren, Kirsten and Robby enjoying the free flowing wine Posing with Sten the Swede, divemaster extraordinaire Yann and Robby Such a great trip in large part to Martyn Goodbye pic with fellow divers and crew (Leslie, Yann, Daniel, Sten, Robby, Scott, Josh, Joseph, Jocelyn, Oren, Becky, Kirsten, Jenn, Alin, Tatum, Adriana, Sylvia, Scarlett, Martyn, Capt Gordon & Mirko) Frontline healthcare workers depicted as heroes in this mural in Ensenada Aztec calendar; Ensenada I dive Mexico! Native warrior statue at Civic Plaza, Ensenada's central square Robby strikes a pose next to the big head monuments at Civic Plaza The aptly named Marina Restaurant and Bar; Ensenada A wide variety of micheladas (beer, lime juice, tomato juice, spices) available by the marina Whale bones by the marina Western gull Fresh seafood restaurants galore by the malecon in Ensenada Sculpture by the malecon; Ensenada Whale mural Ensenada's seafood market Seller holding up a fish for sale A wide variety of seafood for sale Seafood market murals Very few tourists around to hire this horse and buggy Things that make you go hmmmm (pancakes at a fish & chips joint) Street art Cultural Center Riviera Cultural center with souvenir shops, a museum and margarita tastings housed in a former luxury hotel (Hotel Riviera del Pacífico) Robby is dwarfed by this massive wall mural Trying the seafood tostadas at La Guerrerense...Anthony Bourdain knew what he was talking about! Don't miss the seafood at this street shack (El Güero) or the one next door (La Guerrerense) Super Viagra! No prescription needed Talavera dishware for sale Hussong's Cantina is the oldest and best known cantina in all of Mexico, established in 1892. Unfortunately it was shut down during our visit due to coronavirus "Make tacos not walls" Watching the sunset from our balcony at Deluxe Hostal GGG; Ensenada Visiting the Tibetan white Tara (donated by Nepal to Ensenada) Cheeky lemur at Pai Pai Ecotourism Park Ducks waddling to their pond; Pai Pai Ecotourism Park Feeding piglets Chickens checking us out Free tequila tasting at Pai Pai Ecotourism Park Coastal scenery near La Bufadora, a blowhole tourist attraction near Ensenada La Bufadora is considered a marine geyser A spout of sea water explodes violently up to 100 feet above sea level. This is best witnessed during high tide; La Bufadora Grilled shrimp for sale near La Bufadora Leather shoes for sale at one of the souvenir shacks; La Bufadora This is heartbreaking to see. Say NO to shark souvenirs! Drink and food shacks line the path from La Bufadora to the parking lot A pretty drive from La Bufadora back to Ensenada We enjoyed having the freedom of a rental car to explore around Ensenada Straw hat souvenirs Today is going to be an ATV kinda day Exploring around with ATV Ensenada and our guide Carlos Street art Posing at an Ensenada sign on our ATV The road leading out to the hot springs Rancho San Carlos Hot Springs Yummy...tacos at Taqueria El Trailero Ensenada street scene Souvenir dolls for sale; Ensenada Antique car at Todos Santos Bay; Ensenada "Empathy" spray painted on the wall between Mexico and USA visuallight boxby v6.1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *