The Sea of Wonders
Loreto Bay National Park
The Loreto Bay National Park (PNBL) has all you may wish from the Sea of Cortez: it’s located in an ideal setting, far from the buzz and pollution of heavily exploited areas and naturally protected by its 5 main islands. The sea is often as flat as a glass pane and teeming with life: seals, whales, mantas, dolphins and of course thousands of fish will greet you in your way to the islands.
Here we have listed some (but not all) of the most popular dive and snorkel sites. You can click on the names to expand the information and see pictures.
Exploring the PNBL
The 5 islands of the Bay are: Coronado, Carmen, Danzante, Monserrate and Catalana.
Coronado is an ancient (and extinct) volcano, eroded by wind and sea and resulting in an intrincate coastline. The north side of the island consists on steep cliffs and incredible lava formations.
The south side offers the prettiest sandy beaches and calmer waters, ideal for swimmers and snorkelers alike.
Carmen island is the biggest and the highest. Unlike its small sister Coronado, isla del Carmen is a continuation of the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range and its topography way more variated. Isla del Carmen has it all, from high limestone cliffs and caverns, to secluded bays, deep underwater walls, pinnacles etc. It even has its own abbandoned town on its east side!
Danzante island is the steepest and most dramatic of them all. Although not as high as del Carmen, its cliffs and rugged terrain will amaze you as you sail along its coastline.
Montserrat and Catalina are the farthest ones and less visited. Their remote location (specially Catalana) has keep them isolated from thousands of years and created an Eden of life, under and above water.
Isla CoronadosBlack lava, white sand and sea lions!
And island that used to be a volcano, and it shows. The north end is all about lava cliffs and spectacular rock formations, where we can also find a sea lion colony and an incredible amount of birds such pelicans, blue footed boobies, terns and frigate birds. The south side in the other hand, offers several white sandy bays and calm waters. The underwater topography is often steep and deep walls and ledges are common in every dive site. Diving with the sea lions is a big attraction, but do not miss the huge black coral forests that stretch out as far as the eye can reach, and its healthy population of groupers, barracudas, invertebrates and of course tons of reef fish.
Isla del CarmenThe largest variety in the National Park
Isla del Carmen is huge! Expect to find pretty much everything here. From the sea caves of “Arroyo Blanco”, to the ghost town of “Bahia Salinas”, where the salt mines used to be. Around its waters you can also find a big sunken ship where we can dive or snorkel, and it’s full of life. Divers will also enjoy some of the most fishy dive sites, like the pinnacles of “Piedra Blanca” or the seamount “El Murcielago”. Other dive sites offer deep, vertical walls like “The Abyss”, a wall that drops into the depths or the wild north. The variety is huge! You will need several days to explore this wonderous island.
Isla DanzanteDramatic scenery and idilic coves
We call this the “Treasure Island” for a reason. Yet small, this island offers a plethora of landscapes, both over and underwater. The east side is steep and abrupt, with frequent walls that plummet into the abyss. Rocky formations are common, being “La Ventana”, a rocky arch, the most emblematic of them all. The west side is sheltered from the wind and offers many sandy beaches and coves. “Honeymoon cove” is probably one of the most gorgeous places in the entire Marine Park. Divers will enjoy exploring the deep and steep walls and canyons and some incredible pinnacle dives with an abundance of corals, pelagic life and a lot of nudibranchs. Oh! Have we mentioned the 180 foot long wreck “Agustin Melgar” near the south end? This is diver’s playground!
Isla MontserratRemote and pristine
A more distant and therefore less visited island with some of the more untouched bays, coves and reefs. The ride there might be long, but it’s normally a really fun as we might be surprised by pods of dolphins, jumping rays or passing whales, depending on the season. Near the north side of the island there is a couple of twin islets with beautiful turquoise waters around them. They are also home for a sea lion colony. Several bays and beaches can be visited and almost certainly, you will be the only people there! The waters north from the island hide a huge reef system, sometimes it even breaches the surface. If weather allows, snorkel and diving is excellent and very often the amount of life is overwhelming.