Baja, MEXICO – When Salem, Ore.- based sea kayaking outfitter Tofino Expeditions started guiding trips along Mexico’s Baja Peninsula in 1988, sea kayaking was still a fringe activity. The sport has since given rise to a major international industry, and Tofino Expeditions has remained at the forefront. “It was just mountaineers and crank canoeists,” Tofino Founder and President Grant Thompson said of the sea kayaking’s early days. “We used to get together and sort of dream of the day when you’d see kayaks on people’s cars.”
Originally one of very few kayaking outfitters guiding trips in Baja, Tofino must now compete with a rapidly expanding universe of commercial guide services. To stand out from the crowds, the company offers a wide range of tours, engineered to appeal to paddlers of all experience levels. This winter, the outfitter will celebrate its 25th consecutive season on the waters of Baja.
Tofino’s eight-day Sea of Cortez tour winds along the coast and offshore islands of Mexico’s Bahia Loreto National Park, through turquoise bays edged with white sand and dramatic cliffs. Each night, the group will pull up on shore to sleep out under the stars and enjoy Tofino guides’ famous gourmet wilderness cuisine.
In the winter months, the waters are popular with Blue and Fin Whale, which are often seen by paddlers on the trip. Jacques Cousteau famously called the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium,” and the offshore islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the diversity of life they host. The islands are teeming with birds; pelicans congregate on partially submerged reefs, osprey nest in the highlands, and blue footed boobies roost on the faces of white seaside cliffs.
Available from November to April, the trip costs $1,245 U.S. per person.
For the experienced
While most commercial guiding operations cater only to kayakers with little or no experience, Tofino offers a host of options to experienced paddlers. These trips are done in sporty single kayaks, and pair travelers with expert guides who can not only prepare gourmet meals each night, but give tips on perfect paddling form as well.
These trips also tour the Sea of Cortez, but experienced travelers are afforded more flexibility. They can explore the area’s “hidden gems,” likes Islas Carmen and Danzante. Paddlers can expect to see a wide variety of local birds, and may even paddle near Fin and Blue Whales.
Eight-day experienced kayaker trips are available from February to April, and cost $1,245 U.S. per person.