2020 Trip Report: Baja Sardine Run & Dive Safari

The action at Magdalena Bay was phenomenal with a bonus humpback whale sighting. The sea lion colony at La Paz was fun and interactive and Cabo Pulmo Marine Park always amazes.

Thank you to all the guests, crew, hotels, and restaurants who worked extra hard to made this a wonderful memory in a difficult year.

See my upcoming trips to snorkel the Sardine Run with Striped Marlins in Baja, Mexico Here

The Beginning

All the guests arrived to SJD airport in Cabo San Lucas and most spent the night at a local hotel. We had an early transfer of several hours up to our accommodations outside of San Carlos.

snorkel with striped marlin

Magdalena Bay Striped Marlins

Every year late October and November, a magical event happens in the nutrient rich swirling blue waters off Magdalena Bay, Mexico, where striped marlin gather to hunt on the second largest sardine run in the world. This thrilling underwater action is spectacular. There is an excellent chance of also seeing California sea lions, dolphin, pelicans, different species of gulls, frigate bird and albatross.

  With my cohost Leonardo we have picked the best captains and nice hotels that are relaxing for after the long days outdoors. We have discovered some nice hotels and some places to do some short land based walks.

This is a real wildlife hunting scenario and you feel the adrenaline of the hunters and the fear of their prey, the sardines.  The excitement and frenzy runs through the water as scores of marlin zoom through bait balls, picking off sardines with every lunge. You are right in the middle of the action.  The sea lions and birds add to the chaos as they join in the feeding frenzy.

As the sun rises in the morning skies we head out to sea in a fast chase panga boat. We are the first to leave the docks. Once we reach the marlin’s feeding grounds, we start scanning the horizon for bird activity. When we spot a gathering of frigate birds, we race to that area with everyone quickly getting into their mask and fins. As we get close to the action, we can see the ocean boiling with activity as the Sea lions and Marlin drive the sardines bait ball into a frenzy. near the surface Immediately everyone enters the water into the marlin and sardines mayhem. A little courage is required at first, but the spear – nosed predators are extremely accurate, making very close passes without contacting with the snorkelers. Within minutes the bait ball is completely consumed and the snorkelers get back in the boat in search for the next bait ball.

striped marlin Magdalena Bay Trip

On our 2nd day on the water we traveled along side of a pod of humpbacked whales. These whales also are a seasonal visitor to Baja along with the marlin and sardines. We watched and photographed the traveling whales as they swam close to the surface with tails and blows. This just added to another spectacular day.

Magdalena Bay snorkel charters
Magdalena Bay dive trips
baja mexico dive sardine run
striped marlin hunting sardines

As an added activity we photographed a flock of pelicans feeding in the shallows near shore. It was a fun photography challenge.

pelican underwater photography

Diving at La Paz

We enjoyed the inland scenery until we reached the east coast of Baja at La Paz. First we dove at the sea lion colony on Isla Esparto Santo. Hearing the sea lions barking on the surface all the way underwater was humorous. The sea lions show off their swimming by zooming toward us and all around. A few sea lions tried to pull my camera away. While not as fast paced as the sardine hunting, this dive was a fun whirl of action.

Baja Mexico photography tour
Diving the Sea Lion Colony at La Paz

That evening we did our dark dive with the mobula rays. We were surrounded by rays who flew in from the dark and into the circle of light formed by our spotlight.

Baja Mexico Dive trips

Cabo Pulmo Marine Park

The Cabo Pulmo National Park was founded in 1995. Our dives here have ranged from sand bottomed wrecks with bull sharks to colourful reef dives. My favorite this year was floating mid water among the mega schools of jack fish. They move in unison to part a path around you then form in again around you. Two dolphin calmly swam among the schools, not hungry but in a prime situation should they change their minds.

Cabo Pulmo dive trip
diving Cabo Pulmo
Baja Mexico Striped Marlin

Our Baja Safari ended back in at the Cabo airport where we had arrived days before. This was a wonderful trip. The only regrets were for the guests who could not make the trip due to pandemic related travel restrictions.

Next year I will return again in peak season for the Marlin. Check out trip details and schedule on my website.