Swim with Sea Lions at Cabo Pulmo Marine Park

Summer vacation is rapidly approaching. Sunshine, water, and relaxation are on most people's To Do list. One of my personal favorite beachside destinations is the tourmaline crystal waters of the Sea of Cortez along the rocky desert outcrops of Southern Baja in Mexico.

This region is known as the East Cape and begins in the 18th- century Spanish colonial town of  San Jose del Cabo approximately 30 minutes east from the tourist mecca of Cabo San Lucas. A 60-mile dirt road leads from the artsy town of San Jose to an unpopulated region with isolated beaches one can only dream to find. The stark contrast between the dry dusty boulders and scrubby cactus yearning for fresh water against a calm glittering sea penetrates the senses and transfixes the soul. There are few sign posts but most cars can make it depending on weather conditions. A drive through the remote landscape reveals the world's largest cactus, the Sierra La Laguna mountains to the west, generations old cattle ranches, and palatial estates. Many of the homes are available for vacation rental. Otherwise, to drive the region requires a half-day or a full day to experience hiking the desert trails or snorkeling in the salty translucent Sea of Cortez. Take plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.

Pachycereus pringlei, the largest cactus in the world.

Burros hanging by the roadside. "El burro sabe mas que tú." This is how to order a beer in México. ;)

Playa Tinajitas at Cabo Pulmo Marine Park

The first real town is at the headquarters of Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. A store, restaurants, several scuba dive shops, and snorkel tour operators are open daily. Most tours into the marine preserve leave early in the morning including swimming with the sea lions. Cody and I rented a house to stay a few days to explore the park's 17,000 acres encompassing five pristine beaches and a living coral reef systems in the surrounding turquoise waters. In 1995, Mexico’s President Ernesto Zedillo declared 7,111 hectares and the waters surrounding Cabo Pulmo a National Marine Park. For many years, fisherman only frequented the rich abundant waters of Cabo Pulmo. The locals noticed the fish populations substantially declining and campaigned to protect the reef and sea life.  Since the park's designation, the diversity of the biomass has increased substantially and the underwater views are spectacular.

Sea lions are curious as they gracefully glide past.

A school of jack fish. It is magical as they shimmer past and are gone before one can grasp the depth and enormity of such a giant school.

Cody trying to follow but like magic, they vanish into the deep.

To dive or snorkel within the park's boundaries requires a permit. Tour operators will usually file the paperwork for an additional cost. During peak season, some areas may be temporarily closed to support responsible tourism and to not overstress the sea life or coral beds. If you are staying in Cabo San Lucas or San Jose, many resorts and hotels can provide transportation and book tours to Cabo Pulmo marine park. If you or someone in your group does not like the open water, there is plenty of space to relax shoreside and the scenery of desolate Baja desert mountains meeting the azure waters of the Sea of Cortez along a five-mile stretch of pristine beach at Cabo Pulmo is not to be missed. For more information visit cabopulmopark.com

All photographs including underwater were taken with this compact Olympus camera

To book an East Cape stay visit VRBO.com or click here  (My family, friends and I have successfully used VRBO to rent houses in America and overseas.)

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