Exploring Remote Anchorages in the Sea of Cortez: Mid-Region

remote anchorages, mid region. Candeleros Chico
Candeleros Chico near Puerto Escondido and Loreto, Baja, BCS

The mid-region of the Sea of Cortez, from Agua Verde to Santa Rosalia, offers a stunning array of remote anchorages and islands. A good majority of cruisers and sailors in this region return year after year because each season welcomes new coves and inlets to explore.

After leaving the Southern region of the Sea, most cruisers will stop at Agua Verde, which I highlighted in “Exploring Remote Anchorages: Southern Region.” Cruisers will then head directly towards Loreto and the National Park, which comprises the 5 islands closest to Loreto: Danzante, Coronados, Montserrat, Carmen, and Santa Catalina.

Established in 1996, the Loreto Bay Marine National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage site where rocky shorelines, white sand beaches, and amazing diving dominate the region.

1) Isla Montserrat, Yellowstone Beach

Like El Portico near La Paz, Yellowstone Beach is another hidden gem many cruisers and sailors will bypass. Perhaps Isla Carmen and Danzante garner more attention simply for the proximity to Puerto Escondido (near Loreto). But Montserrat is only 15 nautical miles SE from Puerto Escondido. 

As you set your sights on the northern section of the island, the golden yellow cliffs illuminate the anchorage like a partially setting sun. Heed the charts and guidebooks regarding the reef that extends north of the pristine white beach and drop your anchor in about 15 to 20 feet of water.

This anchorage has a Northern exposure, so waiting for the right weather window may have something to do with its relative obscurity. However, once calmer winds and water dominate the area, it is a special place worth visiting.

From the anchorage, travel a short distance north by dinghy to the sandy isthmus that joins two large rocky areas. It’s often shallow enough to walk from one rocky point to the next. But the diving here is absolutely incredible due to the rocky pinnacles on either side of the isthmus. 

Even with relatively shallow water (no more than 60 feet deep), we dove through one rocky cliff wall after another. So rather than swimming along a single wall, we could glide up and down through rocky channels, never knowing what we would encounter as we swam up and over a pinnacle.

BONUS: once you anchor, jump into the water and look for lobsters hiding in the small boulders along the sea floor.

Yellowstone Beach, Isla Montserrat. Another remote anchorage
Golden yellow hues dominate the cliff faces in this anchorage at Isla Montserrat.
remote anchorages with Wonderful diving at Isla Montserrat
Wonderful diving at Isla Montserrat

2) Candeleros Chico, around the corner from the glitzy Villa del Palmar Hotel

So many of the beautiful drone shots Kevin has taken capture this stunning anchorage, just a couple of miles south of Puerto Escondido. The cove itself is small and only accommodates 2 to 3 boats, but it’s a favorite stop for kayakers, fishermen, and other visitors staying at the posh Villa del Palmar, which is far enough away for it to feel completely isolated.

The anchorage also has a northern exposure. But when the conditions are right, you can simply jump off the back of your boat and snorkel for hours along the rocky shoreline.

There is also a small beach where many cruisers will hang out for a bonfire together. Or you can hike from the beach towards the southern shoreline, where an abandoned shack lined with liquor bottles makes you wonder whether some salty sailor got dumped for insubordination.

BONUS: Dolphins love cruising through the cove around breakfast time. If you’re not sipping your coffee in the cockpit when they make an appearance, the short bursts of exhales echoing off the cliff walls surrounding the anchorage will signal their arrival.

Remote Anchorage, Candeleros Chico
Another epic drone shot in Candeleros Chico
remote beach and anchorage in Candeleros Chico
On the beach in Candeleros Chico. Notice that we're the only one at anchor.
remote anchorage, salty shack. Candeleros Chico
Arrgh! Some salty sailor or panga fisherman must have been bored here.

3) Isla Carmen, Punta Perico

Most cruisers who sail to Isla Carmen, just a short distance north of Danzante, love popular anchorages like Bahia Marquer and Bahia Balandra (or Puerto Balandra), located on the western side of the island. But the east side of the island offers a quieter retreat in so many ways.

First of all, kayakers and local pangas carrying visitors from Loreto almost never travel the distance around to the east side. Fewer people means more privacy, better fishing, better snorkeling, and even a greater chance of spotting Blue whales swimming in the open Sea.

Kevin and I had the privilege of seeing these creatures, the largest whales in the world, a couple of miles away from our boat as we motorsailed toward Perico. The water spout reminded us of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser with its glorified height and width. 

Punta Perico, adjacent to the stunning Bahia Salinas, features an inland lagoon of sea salt. However, Perico is nestled in a smaller cove, surrounded by golden yellow and salmon-colored cliff faces that jut over the ocean, creating a shelf where eels, crabs, and starfish seek shelter.

The cove’s real appeal is the point (hence the name “punta”), where Cabrilla (aka Sea Bass) and Parrot fish live in abundance. When we’re not snorkeling along the rocky shore taking GoPro pictures of the beautiful turquoise Parrot fish, we like to hop in the dinghy and troll with our fishing line to catch our dinner.

mid region sea of cortez remote anchorage. Punta Perico
S/V Flying Free at anchor at Punta Perico

4) San Juanico, north of Isla Coronados

The bay of San Juanico is as popular with cruisers as Agua Verde, and like Agua Verde, it’s part of the Baja peninsula. When you have to flee the 5 National Park Islands due to bees swarming your boats (yes, certain times of year, you will find it difficult to stay anchored; thirsty bees seek any drop of fresh water from your boat’s deck), you will find San Juanico as the perfect place to hang out for awhile.

There are many lobes in which to anchor, and you can spend days snorkeling, diving, beach combing, and hiking. Beach bon fires and plenty of cruisers’ get-togethers make for a special combination of adventure and boating camaraderie. 

San Juanico, a remote anchorage north of Loreto
San Juanico anchorage. Wonderful hikes here!
San Juanico cruisers' gathering at sunset
San Juanico cruisers' gathering at sunset

5) Playa Santispac, Conception Bay

Conception Bay, off the Mex 1 highway on the Baja peninsula, also offers multiple coves and anchorage areas. With two beach restaurants and plenty of land and water activities, cruisers could easily spend a few weeks in this area and never get bored. 

Many people and RVers visit here to go kitesurfing or windsurfing as the afternoon winds funnel through the anchorage regularly. And there are multiple areas for kayaking or paddle boarding. Others hitch a ride to Mulege, a fun town a short drive away. The town features a river oasis amid the surrounding desert, cave paintings, and a brewery, among other things.

Generally, though, cruisers arrive here after traveling a couple of days from either north or south in the Sea. This means most sailors are ready to unwind and simply enjoy the stunning water color present in every cove in the bay.

Playa Santispac anchorage at Bahia Conception
View of the anchorage at Santispac, Conception Bay
Ana's restaurant at Santispac beach
Ana's restaurant at Santispac beach
remote anchorage. Ana's restaurant, Santispac
Kevin and I at Ana's restaurant on Santispac Beach

Final Thoughts about the Mid-Region Area

Obviously, I have barely scratched the surface in showcasing the more remote anchorges in the Sea of Cortez. But like I mentioned in “The Top 10 Reasons Sailing Nomads Love the Sea of Cortez,” this special area invites cruisers year after year to sail and live with ultimate freedom and solitude.

What would you suggest? What amazing remote anchorage(s) in this area did I miss?

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