I always feel so lucky and grateful when I’m invited on a press trip. It doesn’t matter if I’m going to China or a town I’ve never heard of in the U.S., a press trip gives me experiences I’d probably never have travelling on my own. But sometimes the press trip seems too good to believe, like my 2017 trip to go trekking with mountain gorillas in Uganda. I have another one of those incredibly amazing press trips next week, to La Paz, Mexico.
La Paz is a small city on the Sea of Cortez, on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. It’s about a two-hour drive north from its more famous neighbour, Cabo San Lucas. I’ve been researching the area for a few articles I’ve been writing for USA Today, and I’m utterly amazed by what I’ve learned and I’m beyond excited that I get to experience it for myself in a few days. Have a read and you’ll be excited to go to La Paz too:
- Whale watching in Baja, Mexico.
- Snorkeling and beaches in La Paz, Mexico.
- Mexico vacations in the Sea of Cortez.
And, for Reader’s Digest:
- 11 whale shark facts you probably didn’t know.
- And another forthcoming aticle.
Because of its location on the Sea of Cortez, La Paz has supreme water activities. First, the water is calm so it’s possible to swim and snorkel from shore, unlike at almost all of Cabo’s beaches (yes, the photos in this article are from my trip to Cabo a few months ago).
The Sea of Cortez is supposedly the world’s most biodiverse sea, and is teeming with undersea life. Whales and fish big and small love the waters around La Paz. The biggest fish in the world like to hang out in the waters off of La Paz — the whale shark. Several years ago I learned that it was possible to snorkel with whale sharks, and that Mexico’s coasts were one of the best places to do it. It’s been near the top of my to-do list ever since.
I’m also a big fan of marine mammals. I was thrilled when I was in the Galapagos to have a few penguins and sea lions swim around me for a few minutes near Isla Isabela. One sea lion did a somersault after I did, and I’ve always wanted to try swimming with sea lions again. Yup, you guessed it. On a UNESCO-protected island near La Paz, there’s a colony of sea lions that like to swim with snorkelers.
I’ve been lucky to go whale and dolphin watching a few times too. Usually the cetaceans are far from the boat, but it’s still spectacular to see them leaping out of the water. Once, off the coast of Vancouver Island, a pod of orca swam right under my zodiac. They turned upside down and I stared eye-to-eye with the magnificent creatures as they swam underneath me, as curious about us as we were about them. I’ve wanted to get that close to a whale again, but didn’t think it was remotely possible.
In researching my USA Today articles, I was stunned by a National Geographic report that the grey whales that migrate to Baja every winter like to interact with humans. The writer said that grey whales came right up to his boat and if he tried to just photograph them, they swam away. But if he rubbed the whales’ heads and played with them, they stayed. He reports that mother grey whales even sometimes lift their babies up on their noses to show boats of humans to the babies, and, I assume, so the humans could admire the babies. Can you believe it? I didn’t until I watched the Nat Geo video!
La Paz sounds pretty exciting, no?
Unbelievably, on Thursday next week I get to go snorkelling with sea lions and then snorkeling with whale sharks. And on Friday we’re going to see the grey whales. Spectacular! And on top of all that? In La Paz there’s even a chance of seeing superpods of dolphins leaping through the water. That one’s been on my “bucket” list for decades.
You know I’ll be writing about the experiences! Stay tuned!