John Harvey Photo

Cabo San Lucas

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          to Slide Show Smaller ImagesIt sure is great to be in Mexico!


Welcome to Mexico!  Spring Break is a good window to travel for us - not too hot in the tropical destinations and still cold at home.  We would normally go to Hong Kong, but there is a wedding in the fall and we didn't see ourselves going twice.  We looked around at options and Cabo San Lucas bubbled up to the top for reasonable price and low effort - Helen wanted a week of all inclusive stay.

Claira With Virgin Pina ColadaMargarita (Virgin)Stacked Salad

Sunset At The Pool
Trying to pick an all inclusive having never been somewhere before is tricky.  Having two kids, we are looking for a specialized kind of room with three beds, ideally in at least two bedrooms.  Many resorts are dominated by rooms with a single bed and the few family appropriate rooms seem to sell out quickly.  Resorts with three beds at reasonable price turned out to be a very short list so I picked based on the menus in the restaurants.


Our resort was built in a number of phases and is currently building out the "Timeshare" phase, but thankfully they weren't pushing the timeshare angle hard.  Our resort doesn't actually have beach access - the beach is rocky and the current can apparently be really strong.  I was surprised that the lack of beach access didn't really bother either kid.  If you followed the tides, it might actually be a good place for snorkeling (A snorkel tour by boat once unloaded very close to shore) but it's hard to risk things like that when you are on vacation.


Nara Right At Net

Close to our building was a number of tennis courts but Pickle ball seamed to be the sport played down here.  You could sign out a court and rackets for two hours so we played a few games once the sun was low on the horizon.

Claira Returning Ball

Magdelana Bay

There are three large lagoons on the West Coast on Baha where grey whales come to have their babies and hang out for the winter.  The closest to Cabo is Magdelana Bay and we found an overnight tour that would take us up to see the whales.  It's a long van ride up (there were 8 guests and 2 guides in our tour) but we made it to the bay in the early afternoon to go whale watching.

My Life Jacket Does Not FitGrey Whale Statue At Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos

Frigatebird
We were out in the boat by about 3:30 and out first stop was actually just across the bay.  The bay is surrounded by sand dune islands and there is a spot where fish waste is dumped.  Birds are often there taking in the free food, but the coyotes have also figured out this is a good place for a free meal.  As our boat touched down on the sand, the coyote decided now would be a good time to leave.  Given that they live on an island made out of sand, surrounded by Ocean, these animals must be good at conserving water.

Coyote In Sand Dunes

We drove for kilometers trying to find grey whales, but had no luck.  Apparently even a few days ago there were a dozen plus mothers and calves in this bay, but the whales don't post a schedule and they were gone.  This is an El Nino year and a lot of regular animal migrations such as the whale sharks in La Paz are off their schedule.  We drove north of the entrance to they bay and found a large group of bottlenose dolphins (or they found us) and the played around our boat for a while.
 
Bottlenose Dolphins In LagoonBottlenose Dolphins Swimming Towards UsFamily Of Bottlenose Dolphins
 
We are limited by the sun so as they evening got closer, we turned around and headed back to town.
 
Cormorants Taking Off

 
We had a stop off on the sand dune islands and went for a walk in the sand.  We found small collections of shells in the sand which made very little sense to me - had someone dropped these off before? 
 
Nara Sliding Down Sand DuneNara Listening To Broken ShellSand Dollar Test In Sand Dunes
 
Sand Dunes Near Sunset
We got back to the dock, just as the sun hit the horizon.
 


 
Boats At Sunset
This dock and landing area is meant to hold a lot of traffic.  Sadly, it was almost all empty.  Perhaps a week ago when the whales were here, this would be busy but on the other hand it might have just been over developed and it's never busy.  Hard to know.

Nara And John At SunsetSunset At Dock


The next morning we went out to try and find any whales outside of the lagoon area.  The captain tells us that the Moms and babies generally stay in the lagoons but there are often more whales just outside of the lagoons.  The water outside of the barrier islands is significantly rougher and our little boat was kicked around as we went out looking for whales.  Any time we slowed down, birds caught up with us, hoping we would be throwing away fish bits.

Pelicans Hoping For Hand OutsJuvinile PelicanMature Pelicans

We eventually gave up and headed back to the lagoons.  We found a pod of Bottlenose dolphins that liked to follow our boat (and rode the bow wave for a bit)

Nara Taking Photos Of DolphinsSand Dunes With Bottlenose Dolphins

Dolphin With Lots Of ScratchesDolphin High In Boat WakeDolphin Exhale Phase


We drove through some mangrove forests on the way back and then came into port.

White Ibis In MangrovesThree Ibis In MangrovesReddish Egret With Seagulls
 
We had a long drive to get back to Cabo San Lucas - we arrived just after 7pm.  A quick Uber back to our hotel and we made our 8pm dinner reservations!

Shopping in Cabo San Lucas

Our resort is a few km from town, but our resort has a shuttle bus that runs every two hours.  There is a large marina in Cabo that seems to be the epicenter of tourist fleecing which includes a large mall.  Our resort had a number of "sister restaurants" included in the meal plan so we stopped in for lunch and a walk around.

Walking Into Marina AreaClaira With Angel WingsNara With Angel Wings
 
Claira did actually do some shopping - she found a silver pendant with a bright blue opal inlay.  We almost ripped off the jewlery store - I had Peso's in my wallet so while we negotiated in USD, I accidentally converted as CAD (12:1) instead of USD (16:1).  The jewelry shop worker figured it out later and came out to find us as we walked back.  My bad - we paid the difference.

Kids With Pirate StatueKids With Statue On Bench
 

Birding around San Jose Del Cabo "Estuary"

Before I left, I found a company doing nature tours of the Cabo San Lucas/San Jose Del Cabo area.  They have a variety of tours but need at least two people to sign up before they run a tour.  I was lucky to get a third spot on a Sunday morning trip to the Estuary in San Jose Del Cabo - the same place that was one fire when we first flew in on this trip.  Pick up was 6:45am at our hotel and we filled a small Nissan.  The two other birders were also guys - a binocular birder from Alaska and a photographer birder from the Midwest.  I brought a tripod because I get tired of carrying my camera all morning.

Our first stop was the estuary which is actually more like an oasis - fresh water happens to come out of the ground here just before the ocean.  There isn't much circulation but the wading birds didn't seem to mind.
 
 
The Estuary

The estuary is an intersection between palm trees, fresh water ponds and beach.  Our guide has been to this location so many times that she knows which birds to find in which trees. 
 
 
Beldings YellowthroatLazuli Bunting On FrondCactus Wren

The pond side grasses are their own habitat.  Our guide spotted a few Lapis Lazuli - a bird we get in Vancouver.  Surprise to me - these birds are in their winter plumage so they don't look like the breeding plumage I've seen before.   We also got our first Baha penisnula endemic - the Beldings Yellowthroat.
 
Cinnamon Rumped SeedeaterTwo Lazuli Bunting In Tall GrassBeldings Yellowthroat In Tall Grass

Beldings Yellowthroat Female
 
The water itself is another habitat - there were more than a dozen egret in the grasses and more birds in the water foliage.

Common Moorhen In Water HyacinthEgrets With Fire Burnt Palm TreesSpotted Sandpiper

Stilts Getting AirborneAmerican Coot With Common Moorhen

Gila WoodpeckerGreat Blue Heron With Burnt Palm TreesHooded Oriole
 
We talked from the pond area to the beach/ocean side of the estuary.  There were Turkey Vulture in circulating and an American Kestral looking for a snack.
 
American Kestrel In PalmTurkey Vulture On BeachTurkey Vulture Overhead


Xantus Hummingbird Female
We got back in the car and drove to a different part of the marsh.  Our guide knew two spots to find two more Baha endemics - Xantus's Hummingbird and the Gray Thrasher.  Again, our guide knew to the tree where to spot these birds.

Xantus Hummingbird StretchingGray Thrasher


I was dropped off at the resort by 11:30am with lots of time for the rest of my day.  On the way back to the room, I noticed some iguana's sunning themselves on the rocks.  I thought they might be invasive but doing some research when I got back, I found out these lizards may have been introduced by the first nations people that lived in Baha thousands of years ago.

Iguana In Sun

 
When you first leave the airport at San Jose Del Cabo, the first thing you are thinking is "wow, is the ground transportation situation there designed to rip off tourists (we pre-booked a suburban at a good price).  The second thing you are thinking is "wow, there are a lot of really great cactus out in those fields!"  I kept meaning to take some photos of them but the resort is landscaped.  One morning I went for a walk to less developed field near by and took some photos of the cactus.  There is a large cactus that catches your eye - the "Mexican Giant Cactus".  These tall cactus often have holes from woodpeckers and woody like lower parts.  You can see some buds near the top where they flower.

 
Mexican Giant CactusAlmost Red Giant CactusMexican Giant Cactus Spines

When I started walking around in the bush and it turns out there is a bunch of different kinds of cactus growing out here.  I found two distinct species immediately - Chain-link Cholla and Galloping Cactus - both species that try to cover large areas.  I wasn't expecting so much diversity - If there was a nature trail and more time, I'm sure there is a lot here to explore.

Chain-link ChollaGalloping Cactus
 
All good trips come to an end and I really didn't spend enough time taking photos of the resort.  Perhaps a reason to go back another time! 
 
Church And Lighthouse From LobbyView From Lobby Looking East
 


View From Lobby Looking East
Altitude: 36m (118 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sand Dunes With Bottlenose Dolphins
Species: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin)
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Common Moorhen In Water Hyacinth
Species: Gallinula chloropus (Common Moorhen)
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sand Dunes Near Sunset
Location: Go To...
Mexican Giant Cactus
Species: Pachycereus pringlei (Mexican Giant Cactus)
Altitude: 31m (101 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: cactus, Mexico
Lazuli Bunting On Frond
Species: Passerina amoena (Lazuli Bunting)
Location: Go To...
American Kestrel In Palm
Species: Falco sparverius (American Kestrel)
Location: Go To...
Beldings Yellowthroat In Tall Grass
Species: Geothlypis beldingi (Belding's Yellowthroat)
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Walking Into Marina Area
Tags: marina, Mexico
Nara Sliding Down Sand Dune
Person: Nara
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Mexico, sand dune
Chain-link Cholla
Species: Cylindropuntia cholla (Chain-link Cholla)
Altitude: 31m (101 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: cactus, Mexico
American Coot With Common Moorhen
Species: Fulica americana (American Coot)
Location: Go To...
Family Of Bottlenose Dolphins
Species: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin)
Altitude: 9m (29 feet)
Location: Go To...
Stilts Getting Airborne
Species: Himantopus mexicanus (Black-necked Stilt)
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Iguana In Sun
Species: Ctenosaura hemilopha (Cape Spiny-tailed Iguana, Baja California spiny-tailed iguana)
Altitude: 26m (85 feet)
Location: Go To...
Claira Returning Ball
Person: Claira, John
Cinnamon Rumped Seedeater
Species: Sporophila torqueola (Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater)
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Three Ibis In Mangroves
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Juvinile Pelican
Species: Pelecanus occidentalis (Brown Pelican)
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Dolphin High In Boat Wake
Species: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin)
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: dolphin, marine mammal
Sunset At The Pool
Person: Claira, Nara
Altitude: 43m (141 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: pool, sunset
Boats At Sunset
Location: Go To...
Tags: boat, Mexico
Almost Red Giant Cactus
Species: Pachycereus pringlei (Mexican Giant Cactus)
Altitude: 29m (95 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: cactus, Mexico
Nara Listening To Broken Shell
Person: Nara
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Mexico, shell
Beldings Yellowthroat Female
Species: Geothlypis beldingi (Belding's Yellowthroat)
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Xantus Hummingbird Female
Species: Basilinna xantusii (Xantus's Hummingbird)
Location: Go To...
Dolphin Exhale Phase
Species: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin)
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sand Dollar Test In Sand Dunes
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Claira With Angel Wings
Person: Claira
Nara And John At Sunset
Tags: Mexico, sign
Xantus Hummingbird Stretching
Species: Basilinna xantusii (Xantus's Hummingbird)
Location: Go To...
Great Blue Heron With Burnt Palm Trees
Species: Ardea herodias (Great Blue Heron)
Pelicans Hoping For Hand Outs
Species: Pelecanus occidentalis (Brown Pelican)
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Turkey Vulture Overhead
Species: Cathartes aura (Turkey Vulture)
Location: Go To...
Church And Lighthouse From Lobby
Altitude: 34m (111 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: lighthouse, Mexico, place of worship
Grey Whale Statue At Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Nara With Angel Wings
Person: Nara
Mature Pelicans
Species: Pelecanus occidentalis (Brown Pelican)
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Galloping Cactus
Species: Stenocereus gummosus (Galloping Cactus)
Altitude: 31m (101 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: cactus, Mexico
Spotted Sandpiper
Species: Actitis macularius (Spotted Sandpiper)
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Cormorants Taking Off
Species: Phalacrocorax auritus (Double-crested Cormorant)
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Bottlenose Dolphins Swimming Towards Us
Species: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin)
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
The Estuary
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Two Lazuli Bunting In Tall Grass
Species: Passerina amoena (Lazuli Bunting)
Location: Go To...
Coyote In Sand Dunes
Species: Canis latrans (Coyote)
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Mexican Giant Cactus Spines
Species: Pachycereus pringlei (Mexican Giant Cactus)
Altitude: 31m (101 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: cactus, Mexico
My Life Jacket Does Not Fit
Person: John, Nara
Location: Go To...
Tags: statue, whale
Kids With Statue On Bench
Person: Claira, Nara
Altitude: 31m (101 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Mexico, statue
Margarita (Virgin)
Altitude: 68m (223 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: drink, Mexico
Gila Woodpecker
Species: Melanerpes uropygialis (Gila Woodpecker)
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Cactus Wren
Species: Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus (Cactus Wren)
Location: Go To...
Stacked Salad
Altitude: 52m (170 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: food porn
Claira With Virgin Pina Colada
Person: Claira
Altitude: 43m (141 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: drink, Mexico
Egrets With Fire Burnt Palm Trees
Species: Ardea alba (Great Egret)
Location: Go To...
Nara Right At Net
Person: Claira, Nara
Turkey Vulture On Beach
Species: Cathartes aura (Turkey Vulture)
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Bottlenose Dolphins In Lagoon
Species: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin)
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sunset At Dock
Dolphin With Lots Of Scratches
Species: Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin)
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Reddish Egret With Seagulls
Species: Egretta rufescens (Reddish Egret)
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Kids With Pirate Statue
Person: Claira, Nara
Altitude: 22m (72 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Mexico, statue
Hooded Oriole
Species: Icterus cucullatus (Hooded Oriole)
Altitude: 19m (62 feet)
Location: Go To...
Gray Thrasher
Species: Toxostoma cinereum (Gray Thrasher)
Location: Go To...
Frigatebird
Species: Fregata magnificens (Magnificent Frigatebird)
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: bird in flight, Mexico
Beldings Yellowthroat
Species: Geothlypis beldingi (Belding's Yellowthroat)
White Ibis In Mangroves
Species: Eudocimus albus (White Ibis)
Location: Go To...
Nara Taking Photos Of Dolphins
Person: Nara
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: dolphin, photographer
Tags: Mexico(17), cactus(5), statue(3), sunset(2), dolphin(2), drink(2)
People: Nara(9), Claira(7), John(2)

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