Steinbeck vs. James on the Sea of Cortez

In 1941, John Steinbeck wrote The Log of the Sea of the Cortez where he describes a beach in Cabo as “the perfect place to hide and from which to dart out in a pinnance on the shipping of the world”. He says “the great rocks are almost literary”. When he was further north in the Sea of Cortez he describes one anchorage as “a fine picture still reflecting water and fringing green mangroves against burnt red-brown of the distant mountains”.
Bahia Concepcion1

There’s no doubt that Steinbeck and many other authors and travelers, including us, have found the Sea of Cortez to be hauntingly beautiful in its own way. On one hand, it’s a sea in the desert where there are isolated beaches, bays and coves and absolutely nothing around for miles. William Weber Johnson in his book Baja California described it as “Ecological Isolation” where terns (small birds) migrate 5000 miles just to lay eggs in the desert sand of a deserted island in the Sea of Cortez and grey whales migrate from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja to breed. He suggests that these species found the safety and freedom they needed in the Sea of Cortez to avoid total extinction.
San Gabriel at Dusk

Ensenada Grande Hike

Sometimes this is a good thing since whenever we are in towns and villages with bars and stores we tend to spend too much money on beer, vodka and tacos and less time on kayaking, snorkeling and swimming. However, since leaving La Paz at the end of May, we’ve had some of our own “isolation” (with friends on boats) in the Sea of Cortez and done some slow cruising all the way from Isla Espiritu Santos to Bahia Concepcion, where we are now.

Auds Snorkel

Highlights along the way include Ensenada Grande where we enjoyed some “redneck waterskiing”; Isla San Francisco with its beautiful crescent shaped beach; Agua Verde where the village is “famous” for its goat cheese; Bahia Candeleros where we had fantastic chocolate clams supplied by divers who got them from just under our boat; Puerto Escondido where we were able to rent a car and do a short road trip; the charming town of Loreto, the objective of our road trip, where we were able to restock supplies and enjoy an awesome lunch at “Tacos and Beer”; Bahia Balandra on Isla Carmen where we got chased away by bees; Isla Coronados where the water was so clear it was like a swimming pool; spectacular San Juanico where the main anchorage is tucked amongst huge pinnacle rock outcrops and where we had wonderful bonfires on the beach; and, of course, Bahia Concepcion (where we are now) with its choice of protected bays and anchorages.

Juanico Pinnacles
Juanico Fire
Road Trip1
Aqua Verde Goats
Red Neck Water Skiing

Now, back to Steinbeck and what one cruising guide calls the “lonely magnificence” of the Sea of Cortez. It really is beautiful, scenic, peaceful and all that but let’s face it, Audrey and I are city folks and every once in a while we need some live music, good restaurants, fine wine and a big modern grocery store where Chef Audrey can find gourmet provisions. With this in mind, it looks like we may be crossing the sea to the resort town of San Carlos, and its neighbor Guaymas, where they not only have bars , restaurants and big grocery stores but there’s also a bus that runs to Tucson and Phoenix – did someone say city fix..:-)

Aqua Verde Tienda

Auds Rich Juanico