The Most Beautiful Towns to Visit While Sailing in the Sea of Cortez

Sail around the Sea of Cortez to explore awesome towns like San Jose del Cabo
Sail around the Sea of Cortez to explore awesome towns like San Jose del Cabo | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Nick Dauk

With indigenous monuments, turquoise waters and bright sunshine tempting you to spend all hours topside, you’d think that the Sea of Cortez was in a far off land – in fact, it’s hanging out right under the nose of the United States in Mexico. The Gulf of California has much more than Cabo’s crazy parties – think sportfishing, Unesco World Heritage sites and an abundance of marine life rather – making the Sea of Cortez waters something every avid sailor should explore.

Explore the towns along the Sea of Cortez.

La Ventana

Another quiet fishing village that your yacht could regrettably sail past, La Ventana is the place to test your mastery of the wind on a kiteboard. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only newbie out on the water in the picturesque curved bay. If you prefer relaxation to recreation, take a dip a few kilometres north in the natural hot springs of El Sargento.

El Golfo de Santa Clara

Okay, hear us out – “Mexico’s armpit” may sound like the last place you’d want to take your yacht, but we’d never steer you into rough waters. El Golfo de Santa Clara is a small fishing village in Sonora where you can leisurely cast a line off the golden dune beaches dotted with saguaros and cacti. We think it’s a perfect pit stop – no pun intended – before you sail around Isla Montague to see where the Colorado River gives birth to the Sea of Cortez.

Puerto Penasco

If you thought Sonora’s armpit pleasantly surprised you, then you certainly won’t turn your nose up at the livelier fishing city of Puerto Penasco – a short sail south. Rocky Point, as it’s called, is a hot vacation spot for US citizens who make the trip down to “Arizona’s Beach”. Golf is never a bad idea here – nor is people watching on the Malecon – but our vote is to pick up a souvenir at the SeaShell Museum and check out the huge fin whale skeleton outside of Cedo’s Environmental Centre.

Guaymas

Guaymas is very much a mariner’s playground with its beaches just begging for hours of diving, kayaking and snorkelling. Pull into this port during Carnival and you’ll see where Mexico’s first celebrations of the holiday began. At any other time, stop off at the pearl farm to discover the process of harvesting Cortez Pearls. Make sure you snag some local dragon fruit ice cream before you hop back on board.

San Jose del Cabo

While the newbies follow the flotilla to Cabo San Lucas, seasoned sailors will find a little more refinement in their revelry at San Jose del Cabo. This “Old Town” has a downtown arts district that’s as rich and colourful as the city’s history and culture. Naturally, you’ll find food options just as diverse, like the Tikin-Xic fish taco at Don Sanchez’s upscale eatery or the European-Mexican hybrid tapas Habanero’s Gastro Grill. And if you need to get a little crazy in Cabo, La Lupita has mezcal shots already lined up.

Bahía de los Ángeles

Clinging to the eastern shore of the Baja California Peninsula is a coastal town that’ll turn you into a barnacle, too – Bahía de Los Angeles. The slow pace of this town is an absolute necessity and you’ll discover why as you patiently wait to watch great grey whales, sea turtles and sea birds make their way around the bay. A panguero will help you put your patience to the test when they take you out for a day of sport fishing for yellowtail horse mackerel, common dolphinfish and yellowtail amberjack.

La Paz

Yachting to La Paz is an activity in itself – you’ll likely spot thresher sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, seals and other sea life as you sail past the islands. Be prepared to show photos as the port is full of yachters who are all willing to swap stories with you over daiquiris at Club Cruceros. Captains Sunset Bar is another good spot to let a local’s loose lips spill where the best remote coves and beaches around the Sea of Cortez are.

Loreto

Loreto may be a sleepy city that sees very little tourism, but those fortunate enough to spend the day on these shores will be shocked that it hasn’t become riddled with resorts. The charming and colourful colonial architecture juxtaposes the crystal clear waters of Loreto National Marine Park – whose beauty can’t be captured as perfectly on camera. Spot blue and humpback whales as winter turns to spring, so keep your eyes peeled as you’re dining on torta sandwiches and local chocolate clams.

Tour the towns along the Sea of Cortez.

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