The Sea of Cortez: Frequently asked questions

Travel Advice

The Sea of Cortez, described by Jacques Cousteau as 'the world's aquarium', has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its natural beauty and the diversity of the region's terrestrial and marine life.

Yet this remarkable place is still relatively unknown as a holiday destination, which is why we've put together this guide to exploring the Sea of Cortez on an expedition cruise...

Where is the Sea of Cortez?

The Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, is a partially enclosed body of water on Mexico's Pacific coast, protected by the long finger of the Baja Peninsula. The reason for the sea's extraordinary marine riches is a combination of powerful tidal action, strong ocean currents, fluctuating water temperatures, and the nutrient-filled fresh water from the Colorado River, all of which create plankton-rich waters and thriving marine life.

Beach on Espiritu Santo Island in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico

When is the best time to visit the Sea of Cortez?

This a year round destination, though what you see will of course change from season to season. Spring in the Sea of Cortez is the best time to see large pods of dolphins and various species of whales, whilst one of the great wildlife spectacles is in full swing at Isla Rasa - the nesting of thousands of Heermann's gulls and elegant and royal terns.

Gray whale in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico

How do you get to the Sea of Cortez?

San José del Cabo is the most commonly used gateway for spring cruises. You will need to fly in via a US hub, and Los Angeles is usually the best choice. Some itineraries also use La Paz as a gateway, for access to the ship in San Carlos or La Paz.

La Paz, Mexico

What sort of marine wildlife will I see in the Sea of Cortez?

You will see sea turtles, pods of dolphins and a variety of whale species, in particular fin, sperm and humpback whales. You may also see blue whales, gray whales, orcas, pilot whales and Bryde's whales; whale sharks, mantas and sea lions also live in these waters, and you may even see the near-extinct vaquita, the smallest porpoise known to man. On land you will see lizards both big and small, including the endemic pinto chuckwalla, a harmless desert lizard.

Sea lion in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Which birds will I see in the Sea of Cortez?

You will see a great diversity of birdlife, including verdins, ladder-backed woodpeckers, Costa's hummingbirds, brown pelicans, gulls, wandering tattlers, great blue herons, frigate birds and boobies.

Pelicans off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Which cruise lines operate in the Sea of Cortez?

Our recommended expedition cruise lines in the Sea of Cortez are UnCruise Adventures, a small and friendly operation who operate 7-night itineraries on the 84-guest Safari Endeavour, and Lindblad Expeditions, who offer 7- and 14-night options and have an exclusive tie-up with National Geographic. For more advice on the right cruise for you, give us a call and we can talk you through the options, based on the wildlife you particularly want to see, or the experts on board that are relevant to your specific area of interest.

Lindblad Expeditions in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico

What else is there to do near the Sea of Cortez?

Depending on your gateway, you might want to extend your stay relaxing in Cabo, or combine your cruise with some touring in California. You could even include a side trip into the desert to Las Vegas, and visit the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. We can tailor-make your Sea of Cortez holiday to your exact requirements, and we offer a far more comprehensive service than if you booked direct with a cruise line.

Las Vegas, USA

Still have more questions about travelling to the Sea of Cortez? Give our friendly team of expedition cruise experts a call today on 020 7399 7630.

Tom O'Hara
Meet the author

Marketing Manager at Mundy Adventures

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