Trip Highlights

Trip Highlights

  • Experience close encounters with sea lions, whale sharks, and tropical fish while snorkeling or diving in the Sea of Cortez.
  • Travel by traditional panga boat to deserted Cerralvo Island, and spend a night camping on the beach.
  • Join marine biologists in their underwater research efforts, helping to identify and examine resident species.
  • Kayak or paddleboard alongside pods of dolphins, and search for glowing bioluminescence on a nocturnal snorkeling excursion.
Cabo Pulmo–and the Baja Peninsula in general–is a magical place where the desert meets the ocean. Here, people are protecting one of the richest and most beautiful reefs in the world.
Octavio Aburto, National Geographic Expert



Described by legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau as the “world’s aquarium,” the Sea of Cortez teems with marine life, from acrobatic dolphins and sea lions to massive manta rays and whale sharks. Dive into this incredible underwater ecosystem alongside marine biologists and conservationists to lend a hand in preserving at-risk habitats, and witness ground-breaking conservation initiatives in action.


Our expedition begins in Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, a living laboratory for underwater explorers with National Geographic’s Pristine Seas initiative, which aims to protect the world’s wildest patches of ocean. The park is also a shining model for oceanic conservation and harbors the only living coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. Get to know your fellow travelers, and break into your On Assignment teams to begin discovering the Baja California Peninsula. Learn about how conservationists are working with residents to reclaim a patch of ocean from commercial fishing, pollution, and other environmental threats. Then get out on the water, on the lookout for whale species such as blue, sperm, and fin. Cruise the coast in a traditional panga boat and anchor at multiple snorkel spots to swim with graceful sea turtles, acrobatic sea lions, and colorful schools of fish.

Days 4-6: Sea of Cortez

Travel to La Ventana Bay on the Sea of Cortez and settle into our waterfront accommodations, run by a marine biologist, sea captain, and educator. Dive into the water and snorkel or scuba dive along the rocky coast, accessible directly from the beach. Learn to identify the resident aquatic species—including fish, crabs, and sea stars—and assist a marine biologist in examining and recording their behaviors. After sunset, grab a flashlight for nighttime snorkel excursions, in search of nocturnal marine species and glowing bioluminescence. Take a cooking class and learn how to make authentic tortillas and spicy salsas, and practice traditional dance moves with students from a local dance troupe.


Pack your boat for an overnight camping trip on Cerralvo Island, the southernmost island in the Sea of Cortez. Upon arrival, set out to explore secluded land and seascapes. Hike beneath dramatic sandstone cliffs, and snorkel with playful sea lions near a rookery. In the evening, cook meals over an open fire, and learn the basics of how to navigate by the stars.

Days 8-9: Sea of Cortez

Return to La Ventana Bay, and meet representatives from the local branch of Reef Check, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving tropical coral reefs and Californian rocky reefs. Help the team check the health of the local reef, and collect data for projects aimed at protecting native species. Invite students from the local primary school to join in your explorations, and together perform a plankton tow, using microscopes to identify the species you collect. Spend your down time practicing your Spanish with the students and playing games on the beach. Enjoy a research presentation from Whale Shark México, then spend a day on the water photographing and identifying whale sharks—the world’s largest fish. Lend a hand with beach cleanups, plant native species in a nearby cactus sanctuary, and join local kids for a game of football.

Days 10-12: Todos Santos

Say goodbye to the Sea of Cortez and drive across the peninsula to the Pacific coast. In artsy Todos Santos, chase the perfect wave while learning to surf with local guides. Spend the last nights of your trip reflecting on your adventures in Baja, and present your On Assignment projects. Depart José del Cabo for Los Angeles on our final day.