Archive for February, 2012

Isla Danzante

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Danzante isn’t the biggest island in the Marine National Park, but it’s popular for its rugged good looks and its accessibility. Our friends Leif and Susan, paddling out for a look from the beach near the new timeshare development, happened upon it almost by accident — it’s that close. So when Leif said that he was willing to try camping as part of a trip around Danzante, I scarcely hesitated.

We watched the weather forecast until we saw two days in a row that looked good, then headed to the Park office for a permit. Since we would be approaching the island from the south, efficiency suggested camping at the north end, helping to equalize the distance for the two days. A beach on the western side, away from the fetch across the Sea of Cortés, seemed sensible. We asked for the famous Caleta Luna de Miel, Honeymoon Cove, and there was no objection. That was Friday. Sunday night we loaded kayaks atop Leif’s car and Monday morning shortly after eight he and I paddled out from Ensenada Blanca (the one south of Ligüi), breezed by a couple of the little islands (Isla Las Tijeras, Isla Primera), and soon we were gliding along Danzante’s steep eastern coast. Reaching Bahía Honda with plenty of time on our hands, we would stop for an early lunch. But it was here that we were passed by a big pod of dolphins. We saw at least a dozen of them east of us, traveling rapidly south, but there were a couple of smaller groups, and a pair of the sleek creatures passed between us and the shore, causing the surface of the bay to boil with frightened fish.

There was breeze and noticeable swell as we rounded the north end and we kept well away from the rocks, but we found smooth paddling after that. We went to check out our beach and found a group preparing their lunch there. After talking with them a bit we got back in the boats and set off to explore our part of the coast, stopping for a while on the spit that separates the big northern headland from the rest of the island.

The saddle near the north end of Danzante

Looking north. On the far right you can see some of the island's east coast. To the left of the point, if you look closely, you can see Punta Nopoló. We could have paddled from home!

There was a small group from Tofino Expeditions on the spit with their guide Sergio and we chatted for a bit and Leif headed up the coast to have a look at the hill. Around four o’clock we drifted back to our campsite. There are three coves in this fine bay, and ours, the northernmost, DZ-15 on the map, is the coziest. It’s the perfect size for honeymooning all right but the beach lacks privacy — there’s nothing to hide behind. The stunning setting attracts boaters and we shared the cove with a trimaran; but they were good neighbors and on our way out Leif talked with the skipper for some time about fishing. Here is the Google Maps version of our cove.

From the hill above Honeymoon Cove.

Caleta Luna de Miel. Our campsite is on the shore this side of the sailboat.

Camping was a success, but cooking without Alex did not go as well as I had remembered. Freeze-dried food has come a long way, but it’s most useful in a camp where fresh water is available. We carried all our water with us, and so it would have been no less efficient to carry canned food instead and heat it. Also, we have decided that if we are going to be able to make an early start we may need to eat a cold breakfast, allowing us to pack the cooking gear away the night before. For a really long trip we may try to desalinate seawater along the way and freeze-dried food might again become essential.

One other note on accessibility:  before retiring we walked up the nearby hill and were able to call home by cell phone to talk to our mates and get a weather update.  Later, in the middle of the night after the half moon had set, I visited the shoreline and was rewarded with a view of a seemingly limitless number of phosphorescent creatures among the rocks.

We had beautiful weather on Tuesday, inviting us to spend time on a couple of Danzante’s other beaches.  We joined in a discussion with two gulls, two vultures and a heron about who would get to eat a fairly large fish with a yellow tail and a green stripe on its side.  We saw ospreys, on the nest or lugging surprisingly large fish through the air.  We watched as a panga delivered two kayaks, several boards, camping equipment and a guide to a spot at the mouth of a nice little canyon. As we left the island on our way back south the breeze came up and there was some chop; but we slowed nonetheless at each of the three small islands on the way.  The last of these, Isla Pardo on the map, is a bit further down the coast and we had not really looked at it on the way outbound.

From there, deciding that we had some energy left, we aimed for a beach still farther south on the peninsula, and landed for another snack and more exploration of coastline and caves.  From that beach,  Ensenada Blanca is just around the corner and we had plenty of time to cruise by the new development, land, talk with some tourists, rinse and load the boats, drive home, and get the kayaks back on their storage rack by the hotel before dark.