We began our journey to Espiritu Santo with plans to kayak around the island. Once we discovered this would be a two day trip requiring good equipment and some planning, we instead opted for a boat tour of the Island. Several other beach-goers highly recommended Azul Tours having themselves spotted several varieties of whales, including blue whales.
When we pulled up the morning of our tour we had no reservation. At 600 pesos Azul was slightly more expensive than competing Marlin Adventures, but there is no question that our tour was longer and more fruitful than the Marlin Adventures boat. Additionally, we were promised a lunch, including beer, on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches…but only after we’d had our fill of snorkeling with the ‘Lobos Marinas’ (Sea Lions).[ad#ad-3]
The boat itself was comfortable and apt to the job of showing up to 12 passengers around the island. It was small and open yet we did not get wet while riding and my camera was safe the entire time. As we approached the island we slowed down to circle a small colony of sea lions floating in the middle of the water. Our captain showed a great deal of patience ensuring we all had an opportunity to take pictures.
Next we received a radio call from another Azul Tours boat alerting us to pilot whales in the area. The captain, Saul, informed us that this is not common as pilot whales are usually here in August, not March. Regardless, he was just as excited as the rest of us and got the boat as close as he could for some pictures. This was particularly challenging as the pod would descend without warning and then reappear elsewhere, creating a challenge for Saul to keep up.
After following three different pods of pilot whales we received a radio call about a nearby humpback whale. While we were not able to get as near to the humpback, there was only one and it was able to stay under the water for a large amount of time making it difficult to track, Saul was the last boat to leave the area as we kept trying to get that perfect picture. I’m not sure I ever got it, but I certainly gained an appreciation for the huge size of the animal.
Next we sped off to Los Islotes where the there were so many sea lions the air stank of their breath and we had trouble telling whether the load burps were from them or from members of our boat. We donned tour provided snorkeling gear, including fins, and followed our guide as he showed us to the sea lions who were only too happy to check us out. Saul was not only the only guide in the water but he swam us around to different points to show us different fish, crustaceans, and still more sea lions. He brought a starfish up from the bottom for us to hold. You could tell the man loved his job.
Once we’d had our fill we climbed back aboard the boat and to Ensenada Grande where we ate delicious ceviche and Marlin, enjoyed a few beers, and swam in the crystalline waters. Once we were on the way back the show did not end however; I spotted a school of manta rays floating near the surface, a couple even threw themselves out of the water. We circled for a few minutes which was more than sufficient to take plenty of pictures.
We were told our tour would be 4-6 hours and we pulled in at the 6 hour mark. While we went to the same places as the other tours there was no question that we stayed longer as our captain put in the extra effort. We also learned it was extremely important that we drove to Playa Tecolote to begin our trip rather than starting way back in La Paz. The La Paz based trips spend the same amount of time on the water but much of this is speeding to and from the island. Additionally, these tours only see one half of the island; meaning no whales.
If you chill easily you would be well served to rent a wet suit for the snorkeling portion as the waters can be a bit chilly, but this is not necessary.