PHOTO: Frolicking with whale sharks is but one Los Cabos adventure. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
It’s easy to see why the late undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau nicknamed the Sea of Cortez as the “World’s Aquarium.” Home to some 1,000 islands with sub-surface cliffs and canyons, this vibrant ecosystem is brimming with more than 800 species of marine life.
Here are six ways to enjoy this bountiful playground when visiting its shoreline gateway: Los Cabos.
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1) Watch for Whales
Of the 11 whale species found across the globe, eight venture each winter to the warm waters off the Los Cabos coastline—including humpback, gray, blue, minke, bryde, fin and sei. While we’re currently on the tail end of whale watching season, you’ll find nearly every boat operator still working to thrill passengers with sightings of these massive mothers and their new calves as they prepare to migrate 6,000 miles from the Baja Peninsula’s warmth to frigid Arctic waters.
Cabo Adventures amps up the excitement aboard an all-weather inflatable speed boat to search the bay for these gentle giants. Marine mammal experts help expand your knowledge and awareness of whales while providing tips on how to capture Instagram-worthy images.
Among other options for catching the action are Sun Rider Tours, Pez Gato and Cabo Sails.
2) Snorkel in Chileno Bay
For a fun twist on typical catamaran treks, the 96-ft. Buccaneer Queen offers a swashbuckling aquatic affair aboard an authentic wooden pirate ship.
Built in 1968 in Coronado, California as a detailed replica of a historic galleon, this impressively tall ship hearkens to the days when pirates plied the coastlines. After snorkeling amid the bay’s colorful tropical residents, explorers can relax and refuel with a hearty feast, open bar and interactive games.
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3) Swim with Whale Sharks
A variety of operators offer whale shark journeys where nature lovers can snorkel eye-to-eye with these amazing creatures from August through May.
Cabo Adventures transports nautical enthusiasts from Los Cabo in comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles along the new highway to La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur the state. Upon arrival, the company gears everyone up for this “swim of a lifetime.”
Despite its moniker, the whale shark isn’t a whale. It’s actually the world’s largest fish—or shark, for that matter. Not considered a threat to humans (since they don’t hunt mammals), this shark species filter feeds mainly on plankton, krill, shrimp, larvae and algae. You’ll be wowed by this behemoth’s size, feeding techniques and gentle grace when swimming next to these spectacular mammals in the clear sea waters.
4) Explore Isla Espiritu Santo
Of the nearly 1,000 islands sprinkled within the Sea of Cortez, Isla Espiritu Santo is considered the ultimate. Sun Rider Tours transports diving enthusiasts to this UNESCO-protected area with its turquoise blue bays, sea lion colonies, red wind-shaped rock formations and below-the-surface marvels. Count on friendly sea lions to welcome you with a bark and a potential jump onto the boat.
Cabo Expeditions chimes in from La Paz for a cultural tour plus short boat ride to the 31-square-mile island, while Pisces wows with luxury yacht charters to experience the eco-bliss.
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5) Land a Marlin
Deserving of its hype for fantastic fishing, Los Cabos accommodates serious anglers as well as newbies hoping to hook and haul in marlin, wahoo, tuna, dorado and roosterfish. The sportfishing-centric destination’s longest established charter company, Pisces offers a fleet ranging from 22-foot pangas for three to a 120-foot luxe yacht with all the bells and whistles. Swaggering with an impressive catch rate, the sportfishing company focuses on conservation by encouraging releases—especially with marlin.
Pisces also appeases solo anglers with a boat-share option arranged on its 28-foot and 31-foot vessels. Or head out with Puerto Los Cabos charters from San Jose del Cabo to hit hot spots further down the coast like Iman, Gordo Banks and 95 Spot.
6) Sail Into the Sunset
No Los Cabos getaway is complete without a sunset cruise that lets you toast the end of a perfect vacation day via colorful, dramatic backdrop. Sun Rider and Cabo Sails add spirits to the festivities while cruising to Land’s End as the sun slips below the horizon.
Buccaneer Queen also sails into libation-laced sunsets to the iconic rock formations at Land’s End with its Adventure at Dusk.
Upping the options, Pez Gato takes a refined approach with wine and jazz aboard the state-of-the-art Tropicat, while the operator’s super-power, double-decked Cabo Mar seats 150 for a lively Fiesta Dinner Cruise, pairing tropical spirits with a Mexican taco buffet.