Sea of Cortez Anchorages

Provided by Al & Cathy Winn on the MV Oso Negro

I have used some drawings of anchorages that were originally published in Gerry Cunningham's chart packages. Don't use this guide as a substitute for his fine books on the Sea of Cortez, his books cover many, many more anchorages than the few we have been to. This is a copyright infringement but I think his wife would OK it in this case.

You should note that any decision made by you using this guide is solely your responsibility. This is true whether you use Charlie's Charts, Gerry Cunningham's books and charts, this guide, or any other book or chart of the Sea of Cortez.

I have only covered anchorages that we have actually stopped at. That way you know that the information is fairly accurate. All drawings are for reference only and should not be used for navigation.


Balandra is a favorite spot for many cruisers and it is the site of the famous mushroom rock. At about 12 miles from Marina de La Paz, it is an easy run.

 

Club Cruceros Note: As of 12/2016 portions of Balandra have been closed to anchoring.

 

 

Lobos is one of my favorite spots as not too many cruisers go there. It is easy to find as it is directly across from Lobos rock. As you enter Lobos the water depth will come up to around 20 feet and then get deeper again as you go in until it shallows out. Good holding can be found in 20 feet of water. Don"t try to go into the little bight on the left as it is shoal.
Lobos is 10 miles from Marina de La Paz.

Club Cruceros Note: As of December 2016 Lobos is closed to anchoring.

I have only anchored in Playa Pichilinque once for lunch so I don"t know too much about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bahia Falsa is another favorite of mine. If things get busy and you can'\ get out of La Paz until late then this is a great place to spend your first night.


The islands of Espiritu Santo and Partida are popular spots north of La Paz.

Ensenada Grande is a great place if you don't have winds from the north or west.

Ensenada Cardonal is a deep bay with good protection from the north & south

 

Caleta Partida, formed by the juncture of the two islands is a favorite spot with good protection from the north, east, and some from the south.

Bonanza beach is a great anchorage in north or westerly winds.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Lots and LOTS of no-see- ums!!

 

 

 


When going from Isla San Fransisco to Evaristo or points north be careful and steer well clear of these rocks! Sometimes there is a light on the rocks, sometimes it even works!

 

 


A lot of people love Isla San Fransisco, but I don"t. Every time I have been there overnight I have been eaten alive by no-see-ums. You have never itched so much. Other people have had no trouble, so I guess I am just unlucky.

I'm going to try the north anchorage this year. Maybe I"ll be lucky?

A good spot to anchor in Southerly winds is here. Not very good tho in NE winds.


Amortajada lies at the South end of San Jose Island and is a fun place to spend a day.


Take your dingy and make the trip into the lagoon during the day but be sure to leave before sunset!

I WOULD NOT recommend anchoring here overnight as the no- see-ums are unbearable!

Evaristo lies about 8 miles to the NE from Isla San Fransisco.

 

There is a small village here and there is even a grocery store with basic stuff just about where I have an X drawn. I usually anchor just inside the hook where the light is in about 15-17 feet of water.

A nice walk is up the road to the salt pans. You go by the school and there are usually several burros to keep you company.

 

 

 

 


Puerto el Gato is a great place to spend a night or two if the weather is calm and not too much swell from the South. As you approach Gato, look for a red bluff with a sand dune to the left of it. Wait until the bluff is about 240 magnetic from your position and then turn in and head right for the bluff. The reef on your left comes out much further than the one on the right. Most of the time the reef on the left is hidden while many times the one on your right is visible.

Once you are in about 18 feet of water, turn toward the North and find a good place to drop the hook. Puerto el Gato lies about half way between Evaristo and Agua Verde.

This is a photo we took of Gato.

Agua Verde is one of my favorite places and it has good anchorages if the wind is blowing from the North or the South.

There is a village here and it has a nice tienda with all the kinds of stuff you will be looking for.

Going further North, it is OK to pass between Roca Solitaria and Punta Pasquel.

I took this picture showing the East anchorage across the bay. The West anchorage is in the foreground.

The next anchorage North from Agua Verde that we visited was Candeleros Bay. This lies just after you make the turn around Punta Candeleros and go between that and Isla Pardo. The water depth in the channel between the point and the island is about 60 feet.

Escondido has changed a lot since we first visited here in 2003 for Loreto Fest.

The Inner Harbor is now controlled and they have moorings. The last time we were here they were charging about 5 pesos per foot per day for anchoring or a mooring in the Inner Harbor. There is also now a fuel dock that is operating where I have put an X.

You can anchor for free in the Waiting Room in about 50 feet or in the Elipse, in 15 feet, which is just opposite the fuel dock.

Escondido is also known as the hidden harbor because from the outside it is almost invisible.

There is a nice little store about a mile up the road toward the Tripui trailer park.


Just across from Escondido is the island of Danzante (The Dancer).

The anchorage at Honeymoon cove consists of three bights, North, Middle and South. We have anchored in the middle bight in about 20 feet and in the South bight in about 30 feet, but the bottom dropped away very fast until after letting out 150 feet of chain I was in 50 feet of water!

 

 

The rock formations in Pyramid Cove make you think of a south sea island. The holding is good in 20 feet with room for 2 or 3 boats.

 

 

 

 

A picture of Pyramid Cove

Going North from Isla Danzante and to the East is the large island, Isla Carmen.

 

 

The first decent anchorage here that we have used is Bahia Marquer. Tuck in here to avoid the southerly winds that blow in the summer. The bees sometimes like to hang out here and my wife has been stung a couple of times at this spot.

 

 


Ballandra is the next anchorage to the north and gives good protection from the north or south. Note that this drawing has the name spelled wrong. The name is spelled with two "L's" and is pronounced with like a "Y".

A nice thing about Ballandra is that it is only 8 miles from the town of Loreto.

As you enter Ballandra it is pretty deep until you get just to the edge. Also the NW area has a very rocky bottom.

Take note of the marked positions of rocks and just in front of the tan lenticular cliff there is a submerged wreck where I have put an X. Know what the word lenticular means?

The bees seem to really like Ballandra so be prepared to deal with them. My wife has been stung here also and I have too!


Other places on Isla Carmen include:

La Lancha is a great place to hide
out from strong South winds

V-Cove is a great anchorage with
good protection from the South

At both of the above places you need to keep a sharp lookout for developing chubascos as being caught here in one can be very bad news.

Bahia Cobre is a beautiful spot but
again, watch out for those chubascos!

Punta Perico can be good is calm weather or North winds,
it was a bit rolly for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Loreto is where we usually get provisions for going further north in the sea.

We anchor right off the breakwater is about 18 feet sand, good holding. I have my wife go into town to the market while I watch the boat.

Anchoring here is OK but it is wide open and I have only spent the night here once.

If the wind is light, I go with my wife into town.


Our next stop is Isla Coronados. We have anchored on the North and South sides of the arm that sticks out depending on wind.

On the North side, we have anchored both where the anchor symbol is and where I have marked an X. Nice sand bottom in about 18 feet. There is excellent snorkeling at the point to the North of the anchor X symbol.

In North winds anchor on the South side where the anchor symbol is furthest from the point with a light on it. The island gives excellent protection from wind and waves.


San Juanico. We usually spend several days here as the fishing and sight seeing are good.

Stay well clear of Punta Mercenarios as you approach from the South.

There are several places to anchor here depending on weather but we have only anchored near the pinnacle rocks and the rock they call Prudential.

Be very careful here as the reef shown between the pinnacle rocks and shore comes further West than shown in this drawing.

There is a make shift cruisers shrine just about where it says "photo" in the drawing but on the beach.

When southerly swells made it uncomfortable here we went around to the North to La Ramada and had a good night there. La Ramada has good holding in 20 feet and great chocolate clams near the beach and room for 2-3 boats.

Another option in southerly swells is to anchor on the South side of San Juanico. Be very careful of the reef that is shown as it really does come out a long ways.

From San Juanico going North you might want to stop at Punta Pulpito or Antonio to break the trip to Conception Bay up.

 

The anchorage just south of Punta Pulpito is small but a good place to hide from North winds. It used to have a sand beach but after hurricane Marty all the sand washed away.

 

We have also anchored at Bahia San Antonito which is just around Punta San Antonio at the place where I have an X. Here is good holding and good protection from summer"s South winds. The bottom comes up to 20 feet when you are still 300 yards from shore.


Santo Domingo is just as you enter Conception Bay. Look for the light first on the point then turn south into the bay.

Stay at least 1/2 mile off the points as you come into Conception Bay as rocks are present at several places.

After you pass a light tower on Punta Aguja, on your left you will see some red cliffs, then a beach and then some grey cliffs, when you are abeam of the beach turn in and anchor in about 17- 20 feet. It is less than 30 ft pretty far out and it gets shallower very slowly. This spot is wide open to the North but in the summer, with the prevailing wind from the South, it is better than going 10 miles further into the bay and a lot cooler too. In the fall months we go further into Conception Bay and anchor off of Santispac, El Burro or Coyote.


10 miles from the entrance to Conception Bay is where most of the anchorages start. As you go into the bay from the entrance, stay well to your port as the other side is very shallow. I saw as little as 9 feet one time I was going in.

 

We have anchored off of Playa Santispac, Playa el Burro, and Playa Coyote. We have also ridden out a major hurricane in Santa Barbara cove.

 

Be careful navigating here as there are a lot of reefs and rocks. Most of them are shown in this drawing.


 

Our next stop North was Isla Marcos. While this drawing shows you anchoring north of Punta Piedra Blanca. I have never anchored at either of these places.

 

The first of these places just north of the point with the light I have explored with a dingy and found lots of submerged rocks but if you knew the area you could find a spot to drop your hook.

 

 

We usually anchor just to the South of the light tower at Punta Piedra Blanca in a spot known as Sweet Pea Cove to the cruisers.

From here it is about 10 miles to Santa Rosalia.


Santa Rosalia is a small harbor but now there are two marinas here, the old Santa Rosalia Marina and the one operated by Singlar. There is also room for about 7-8 boats on 50 feet of chain to anchor just off the old marina. Santa Rosalia is a good place to provision and you should note that if you are going further North in the sea, Santa Rosalia is the last place to get money. We usually stay here about 4 days and hit the ATM each day.

The water in Santa Rosalia harbor is very dirty with a thick mud bottom. Put a trip line on your anchor for there are also several old cables lying on the bottom that you can hook on to. The water is 30 feet or less and your boat at anchor will be fine with only 50-60 feet of chain out. The history of this town is very interesting and there are some exceptional pictures of the old sailing ships that used to come here in the hotel on the hill.

From here it is about 80 miles to San Carlos and Bahia San Francisquito .


Bahia San Francisquito lies about 80 miles north of Santa Rosalia and is the next place we head to moving North. There is an anchorage half way (Trinidad) but we have never used it. Those who have say it can be very rolly.

The Inner bay has room for around 6-7 boats in 12-8 feet of water. There is a path from the inner bay to an air strip near Santa Teresa Beach.

Bahia San Francisquito is a large bay and there is good fishing and snorkeling to be had here. One note is that as you come in around San Gabriel Point, there are strong tidal rips here that can dramatically affect your boat. I usually stay a mile off before I make my turn into the bay.


From here on North you need to be aware of tidal flow and tidal height. The tides at Bay of Los Angeles can be 9-10 feet at full moon. Also because you are at the narrow point in the sea of Cortez the tidal flow can be significant.

From this point on I am going to just describe the anchorages we have gone to not in order of our last trip. Makes it easier.



At the NW end of Isla Animas is a very nice anchorage with a sand beach. We have stayed here several times and had good luck. I have written in the GPS coordinates to make finding it easier.

 

Isla Salsipuedes ("Leave if You CAN!") has not been good for us. We nearly went on the rocks while anchored in the South lobe here and a chubasco came up at 1AM!


The cruisers call the midriff island of Partida, Partida Norte to distinguish it from the one north of La Paz.


We anchored just about where the GPS position is. This Crescent bay is large enough to hold 40-50 boats easily. I have noted that there is a little sand beach on the West side and the beach in front of the crescent is rocky.


The fishing and snorkeling here is good


Pescador is about 12 miles from Bay of Los Angeles. We anchored between the small island and the beach in sand.

Quemado is another great anchorage lying just about 8 miles from Bay of Los Angeles. We anchored just about where the little anchor symbol is. There is a nice sand beach here.

In the bay of Los Angeles area the cruisers use channel 68 as a hailing channel as the fishermen are quite active on channel 16.

Puerto Don Juan is also shown in this drawing. Puerto Don Juan is an all weather anchorage and the best hurricane hole in the northern sea. There is room for around 30 boats on storm anchors. Don Juan is about 5 miles from the town of Bay of Los Angeles.

Puerto Don Juan is almost hidden if you don"t know where to look, but as you go by Punta Quemado, there is a black rock cliff, then around the next point is the entrance to Don Juan. Be careful of the rocks right at Punta Don Juan.

Some cruisers go here when any significant wind comes up and then their fellow cruisers call it "Puerto Pollo".


The Bay of Los Angeles and the town with the same name is the northern destination of most cruisers who go North of Santa Rosalia. From here it is not more than 25 miles to many anchorages. The town, located just to the SW of Punta Arena has several good tiendas, motels and other cruiser friendly sites. The whole area between Punta Arena and the town is a good anchorage. A few of the great anchorages close to BLA that we have been to are La Gringa, SoBLA, La Mona, and Ventana.

Isla Coronado, which the cruisers call Isla Smith to not confuse it with the one further South, has several good anchorages. We have anchored in Los Rocas bay but be aware that just about where this drawing shows an anchor unfortunately there is a rock just below the surface.

We have anchored at the Mitlan Anchorage and we enjoyed ourselves there also. We did not go as far in as what is indicated here we dropped the hook about here.

This drawing shows a passage here but I would not do it in my boat!


On the 40+ mile trip to Refugio you might want to break it up with a stop at Alcatraz. We have anchored in the South anchorage and it was very nice.


Swing around the islet off the point and anchor in about 20 feet, sand.


   

The West entrance to Refugio can be tricky but if you come in close to Sail rock which although not on this drawing, I have marked with an X. Then sight across to Fang rock which is shown in the next drawing and make your turn in. Now keep a heading of about 058 magnetic and Fang rock will guide you in.

You can anchor just about anywhere in the West bay as the water depth is about 30-40 feet.


In the East Bay we have anchored in the West Bight but you should note that the rocks on the west side that this drawing originally showed as one rock is really a string of rocks that come quite far out, as I have drawn in
pencil.

Remember that tides in this area can be 11-13 feet at the
full moon.

Al & Cathy Winn
M/V Oso Negro