Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Good Times at Cabo Pulmo Eco Palapa

Casabuena Bed and Breakfast in La Paz
February 8 we arrived by boat to LaPaz after motoring/sailing 300 miles from Guaymas.  Back in June 2010 when all this Mexico boating adventure started, Connie and I (and four friends) rented an old Morgan 41 for ten days out of LaPaz. After that trip we all unwound at a Bed and Breakfast named Casabuena.  Remembering that place, we walked over there and talked to Milton and SuSu who set us up with a nice room at a very good rate.  Connie and I went back to the boat, packed up
our gear, and grabbed a taxi to take our SIX bags of luggage to the hotel.

Oh the extravagance of a shower,  the luxury of standing upright, arms outstretched, the indulgence of walking around the block, the treat of a big soft bed, the lavishness of a lawn chair in the sun. We slept like babies.

Connie's Maraichi band: three violins, two trumpets, a guitar, and a bass.

After repacking our six bags of luggage down to four bags we hired a taxi to the bus terminal on the Malecón. When we checked in with Ecobaja Tours, the company that runs vans back and forth from LaPaz to Los Cabos International Airport, we were told that the van had broken down and we'd been rerouted onto the Aguila Bus, a cheaper option but a longer ride.  I changed some more dollars for pesos and we boarded the bus heading south.  Instead of charging right down Hwy 1 to the airport, the bus traveled down the west side of Baja on Hwy 19.  South of Todos Santos we saw whales breaching just offshore of the road, incredible!

The Aguila stopped in Cabo San Lucas then continued on to San Jose del Cabo where we piled into a van sent by Ecobaja Tours that whisked us to the airport where our goal was not to get on a plane but instead, to rent a car at Ace Rent-a-Car for $5 USD a day.  The rental price on cars is extremely cheap at the Cabo airport but the catch is that the optional insurance is five times the price of the car.  I hate all insurance companies (and most banks) so it gives me great pleasure to just refuse the insurance offer on rental cars.  If I wreck it, I'll pay for it.  To me, buying extra insurance is like placing a bet that I will drive recklessly and crash the car.  So off we went in our fancy Seat Toledo (not available in the US), up the highway back toward where we started in the morning.  This time we took the turn on Camino Cabo Este, the East Cape road.

A few miles east of La Ribera the road turned to gravel (Ha ha, the car rental contract said I was not to drive off the pavement) and soon arrived at Cabo Pulmo Eco Palapa.  This place is on a narrow tract of land that runs from the road down to the beach.  Near the beach is a cluster of buildings of all shapes and sizes surrounded by palms and flowering bushes. Bill White runs the place and has been the owner for about ten years. He showed us around the property touring the big Papagallo palapa, the Eagle's Nest and Sunset rooms, and the four cabanas which are actually tent trailers set up with views of the beach.

Outside our little tent trailer cabana "Blanca" at Cabo Pulmo Eco Palapa
We selected the Blanca cabana and settled in, stashing our refrigerator items in the communal kitchen.  Our cabana was on the slight knoll that looked down on a wide beach; facing the rising sun over the sea.  Over our one week stay at Eco Palapa we often visited the beach and always had it to ourselves north and south as far as the eye could see. And, it just so happened to be a full moon during our visit. Nice.

Bill checked the weather and wind for us and found that over the next couple of days the north wind was lying down so we drove south down the rough road to the village of Cabo Pulmo and the dive center where we made arrangements for the next day's dive. Then we drove further down the not-paved (Ha!) road to Los Arbolitos (little trees) where there is a nice beach for swimming and snorkeling.  It's a managed area with showers and palm woven shade umbrellas.  The snorkeling was good, lots of colorful fish.  What a relaxing place!

Day two we showed up at the dive center early and did a refresher course in the pool.  I think the instructor was disappointed in our skills, especially mine. It had been about three years since I got my diving certification and I was pretty rusty.  We then got together with three other people, suited up, and walked to the beach were they were putting in the boat.  On the way out to the La Cantil dive site we spotted a juvenile humpback whale breaching.  We switched off the engine and watched the youngster flipping out of the water.  Soon, the mother arrived looking huge in the water next to our little boat.

On the count of three the six divers flipped over backwards into the water and we descended to about 35 feet for a view of the coral reef structure and glimpse of a sea turtle.  The reefs at Cabo Pulmo are quite extensive, running in a north-south direction.  We swam south alongside and above the reef for the one-tank dive.  I had problems controlling my buoyancy sometimes drifting up then drifting down.  The instructor had to stay close and occasionally grab me.  I know I was pissing him off and was trying my best but all that was accomplishing was me using up my air too fast.  Connie did much better but did have a couple of non-neutral buoyancy moments like me.  45 minutes later we surfaced.
Papagallo at Eco Palapa

As we waited around to board the boat I got a good leg cramp that I was able to stretch out.  We flopped into the boat and everyone chatted excitedly about the dive.  Our instructor gave me a little lecture and we zoomed down the coast to find another site more protected from the wind by the cape at Los Frailes.  Connie and I have anchored many times in Los Frailes and often wondered how we could dive around the corner at Cabo Pulmo.  We didn't know there was a nice reef there just south of the anchorage.  I realized that my fun factor was waning so I stayed up top while Connie went down with the rest of the team.  I actually fell asleep lying on the dive boat bench in the sun.  It was quite nice. And you know, that's what's nice about being in charge of your own life.  Like they say in Southpark, "I do what I want."

After everyone surfaced we sped back five miles to the launch, huddling together as the wind on wet suits chilled us.  We hopped into the water at the beach while the crew floated a wheeled cradle out to the panga dive boat.  The driver ran the boat up onto the floating cradle and our dive master strapped it in place.  Then they ran a stout rope from the cradle to a four wheel drive truck and hauled it up the beach.  They removed the rope and backed the truck to the boat tying the two together with a long metal tongue so they could haul the rig back to the dive center.  I love how creative they are in Mexico getting boats in and out of the water without a boat launch.

For the remainder of our week at Cabo Pulmo we took a day trip to Los Barilles, did more snorkeling at Los Arbolitos, took a drive up to the hot springs near Santiago, and did more beach walking.  It was a wonderful, relaxing week in the sun and, aside from the dive trip, the costs were minimal.  Bill, at Eco Palapa was a fountain of knowledge and was able to direct us in our activities.

I rinsed the dust off the rental car and we returned it to Ace where they found no damage and sent us on our way.  Connie bought some Havana Club in the duty free store at the airport, we boarded the plane then flew to L.A. where customs was a breeze.  We spent a fortune on sandwiches while waiting for the Alaska Air flight to SeaTac, hoping our checked bags were making the connection along with us.  Now we are back home, house sitting for friends and enjoying the lush green that is Olympia, Washington.

At the hot springs

Note on the status of Traveler:
She was not happy that we ran off to Mexico without her so she pitched a little fit.  When we arrived the shore side charger had switched off, the refrigerator ran down the batteries, the bilge pump was running, and the MPPT solar charger ... wasn't.  You gotta love a boat!



  1. Looks like you had a great time!! Happy you have four ~ at least ~ 8ft wall in which to stretch those long limbs! The hot springs aren't as natural ~ but hot!

    See you soon. Unless something changes, we have a ride but love that you're our back up plan. Aloha!

  2. A few years ago Rick and I tried to drive a rental car to Cabo Pulmo and chickened out halfway there. I'm impressed you made it!

  3. Excellent and very exciting site. Love to watch. Keep Rocking.
    Diving in Cabo