baja kayaking

I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time in the next few years kayaking in the Sea of Cortez. I’m new to the sport and would like help picking kayaks for the area. I’d like to buy a total of three kayaks. Two sit a tops, one solo and one tandem, and a touring kayak for trips. I’m 6’5" and about 210 so I don’t fit in all the kayaks. I’m leaning toward a plastic touring kayak because I’ll be pulling it up on beaches to camp and not all the beaches are nice soft sand. Any help, especially from people who have kayaked down there would be appreciated. Thank you

Why that particular plan?-and some boats
At your size for a touring kayak to take on camping expeditions I would look at the Prijon Kodiak, it’s an excellent plastic seakayak that can carry lots of gear and is a fast paddler. I’ve used one on trips on the open coast on the Pacific side of Baja.

For sit on tops check out the WS Tarpon or Ocean kayak Prowler 15 . If you can find them used the Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro or Heritage Seadart are great boats for the sea of Cortez.

If you are talking about Tandem sit on tops your choices are limited. One thing you want to keep in mind on the sea of Cortez is wind, lots of the fat slow tandems will perform poorly. The Cobra tandem may be OK, the Hobie Oddysey works pretty well in wind, this was my first boat and I liked it a lot. The Heritage tandem was the best tandem SOT for real paddling but it is not made any more. Be careful with the Ocean Kayak Zest II. It is a dog in the high winds in the afternoons on the sea of cortez, lots of hotels have them down there, and I learned by experience.

The tour companies down there do not use plastic, even though they have clients who are not going to treat their gear nicely. Plastic would be nice to handle those brushes against rocks and barnacles that people do, but the high summer temperatures can be murder on plastic boats. If you have it strapped on a roof during the higher heat, a plastic boat can get molded to the shape of the straps you use (indenting where the strap is holding it down), and is then very difficult to get back into standard shape.

some of the outfitters do use plastic kayaks but I agree that the sun is hard on them…and all the other gear.

As a new paddler, be aware of the wind and big water possibilities down there. Experienced kayakers can and do get into trouble and some have died (even of hyperthermia).

If you’re planning on camping on beaches, keep in mind that several areas require a permit for camping and you need to have an approved toilet (no cat holes). Other areas are private land and you might run into some trouble there, too.

We’ve kayak camped down there three years in a row now and it gets busier every year. It is a beautiful place and the people are wonderful.

Lots of plastic boats in Baja
Don’t tie it on the roof rack in summer and let it sit in the sun.

Is this the same Baja I go to?
Pretty much you can camp anywhere you want on a beach, unless it is in a gringo real estate development.

I’ve never seen a proper toilet in any of my trips to Baja.

TP on the beach is pretty common.

is a big area, I guess.

Our friends in Baja are natives and enviromentalists, as well.

We camped on at least one island that was part of their park system where toilets are mandatory (you have to bring a portable one–there are no toilets there) and we were always told to ‘leave no trace’ and not take any souveniers from the beaches and we follow that in our country and theirs.

We’ve seen gringos make a mess down there and were sad to see it. We spent a portion of our trip cleaning up beaches.

Hi Toesnorth
Not disputing your facts, just very different from where I have been.

According to my friend from mexico… all beaches are public property you can camp where you like in Mexico as long as no one with a gun and a uniform tells you something different. As I have been stopped and searched by Federales many times with no issues I assume it’s true.

In Northen Baja at remote beach camping areas, there are no toilets, there is no requirement about bringing your own, in fact I would think the locals would find this very funny.

Where do you go in Baja?

Hi seadart!
We did the Loreto to La Paz trip a couple of years ago and there were a few beaches where we had to secure permission from the local land owners. Now, maybe this is just good manners and not the law, but our friend is a local and he felt it necessary.

Around Loreto, some of the islands require permits and “toilets.”

Isla Espiritu Santos down by La Paz also requires permits.

They are adding to their parks lands and working with enviromental groups to keep them as natural as possible. A good thing, too, more than likely because it is getting busy down there.