Paddling Paradise: Escaping Winter in Baja
Paddling Paradise: Escaping Winter in Baja by Melanny and Evan aka Outofthisvan
Last January, we escaped winter by heading south to Baja California Sur, Mexico for 8 weeks of sunshine, sand, and paddling. While relaxing on the shore is nice, what's a trip to the beach without an adventure out on the water? Lucky for us, we were able to bring along our Rogue R-Deck packraft and Chasm-Lite inflatable paddle board.
Evan and I, along with our dog Penelope, live full-time on the road in our Promaster van. As outdoor adventure enthusiasts, storing all our gear is a challenge. With limited space, we have to be conscious and selective about what we add to our collection. Since our mountain bikes take up a majority of our "garage" space, everything else needs to be compact and easy to store. One of many reasons why we decided the Chasm-Lite SUP was a perfect addition - it's the most lightweight, portable, and packable SUP out there.
With boats packed away in the van, we started our journey south from Sedona, AZ to our first big stop - Bahia de Concepcion. Bahia is one of the largest bays along the Baja California Peninsula. Known for its calm, crystal-clear waters, and protected coves, it is the perfect spot for paddling and spotting marine life from dolphins to stingrays.
We arrived at Playa Los Cocos in Bahia just before sunset and decided to wait until morning to inflate our boats. They take only a few minutes to set up so we were in no rush but to our surprise, we woke up the next morning to dolphins swimming past our cove. A lesson to always be prepared! Even though we could see them from shore, I couldn't help but imagine what it must feel like paddling on the water with them.
The next day, with our raft and paddle board ready to go, we woke up at sunrise and immediately jumped on the boats to quickly find ourselves completely surrounded by over a dozen dolphins around us. It was surreal!
Over the next week, we hopped around several little beaches along Bahia. Every day we had an opportunity to paddle with dolphins and each day felt even more special than the last. They have so much room to roam and you can't help but feel incredibly lucky every time they come near - sometimes hanging around for a full hour! It's truly an experience we'll never forget and one that would not have been possible without our Rogue R-Deck or Chasm-Lite Inflatable SUP.
Since both the Rogue and Chasm-Lite are so easy to pack up, we never felt like we had to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Knowing there were many more seasides to explore, we drove further south towards Loreto to another beach called Playa Juncalito. This beach is also protected from heavy winds creating a perfect environment for calm waters and easy paddling.
We spent a couple of days here exploring the rugged coastline with dramatic cliffs and vibrant sea life below - including more dolphins. This time Penelope, our dog, got a front-row seat to the show when they suddenly showed up while she and Evan were out for a paddle together. She got nervous and paced back and forth but with the paddle board being 10ft long, she had plenty of room.
Over the course of the next 6 weeks, we ventured further south to countless other beaches. Our other favorites for paddling were La Ventana and Cabo Pulmo.
La Ventana is known for heavy winds, great for kitesurfing, but on calm days, the water becomes glass-like. From camp, we hopped on the boats at every given chance with the only obstacle being the large rocks between the van and the water. Having our lightweight Chasm-Lite made it easy to navigate those 70 ft or so of uneven boulder-sized rocks so we could paddle to the best snorkel spots and see the jumping Mobula rays up close.
Later in Cabo Pulmo, we got to venture further with our Chasm-Lite to the several small coves in this protected national marine park. Despite the walk being sandy and steep, the SUP being lightweight and packable made it easy to bring along. This gave us a way to paddle around the coves with ease in search of all the vibrant fish and turtles that live here. Cabo Pulmo is home to one of the largest and most diverse coral reefs in North America.
Baja has so much to offer and without our Rogue and Chasm-Lite, we wouldn't have experienced so many of these once-in-a-lifetime moments. We spent calm mornings on the water, paddled with friends to distant islands, and saw dolphins, turtles, stingrays, and fish of every single color. Even Penelope got to join in on all the water adventures. It was a trip we won't soon forget.
For the past five years, Melanny and Evan, accompanied by their dog, Penelope, have embraced van life, exploring various corners of North America. Their passions include hiking, mountain biking, paddling, and capturing moments through photography. If you would like to discover more about their adventures, visit their website at https://outofthisvan.com.