Exploring Isla Isabel

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Nayarit, Mexico

021-50.510 N
105-52.923 W
Marine forecast for this location

The crew of the BlueJacket wishes you a hearty ahoy from Isla Isabela!

Isla IsabelaWe spent a wonderful day anchored at Isla Isabela, which is known as the "Galapagos of Mexico" due to its distance from the mainland and the abundance of birds and iguanas. Even when we pulled into the anchorage at night you could tell that there were lots of birds due to all of the noises that they were making. At sunrise that was confirmed by the site of thousands of sea birds circling the high peaks which surround the anchorage. Clearly this was going to be a fun place to explore!

After a wonderful breakfast of banana pancakes, sausage and scrambled eggs,we cleaned up the boat, stowed gear and fired up the water maker. I was thrilled to have the water maker run perfectly right away and make high quality water at 37 GPH. Once again, it's always nice to have things work correctly right from the start. After that we dropped the dinghy and explored the bay that we were anchored in. This is a volcanic island and we were anchored in a narrow bay which faces S. The SW Pacific swell wraps around the western point and crashes into the cliffs on the E side of the anchorage, creating huge spray plumes and occasional thundering booms.

Blue Footed BoobiesAfter lunch we headed into shore to explore the island. What amazed me was that this is a national park as well as a World Heritage site, yet there are permanent fishing camps located there with lots of fishermen. Based upon how many birds there are in the area, I know why the fishermen are there. It just seems a little incongruous. There's also an abandoned research facility which was used to study the area.

The island is home to many, many thousands of Frigate birds and Blue Footed Boobies, all of whom were nesting. We're not talking just a few nests, we're talking every tree was covered with birds and you had to be careful where you walked on the ground! What was amazing was how indifferent they were to us. Clearly they didn't consider us as a threat as we could walk right up to them and they would rarely fly away. The Boobies that were nesting would make squawks or this "I'm just learning to whistle and don't do it well at all" type of sound and the Frigate birds would make a clicking sound.

As the photo shows, the Blue Footed Boobies are truly blue footed, although most of them have greenish-tan feet. The babies are pure white balls of fluff, but as they get older they grow black feathers, which provides quite the contrast. The Frigates were also nesting and the males were proudly inflating their bright red air pouch under their necks. It was really cool to see, but you really had to watch out for falling guano...

Young BoobieWe started out by climbing to the light tower on the SW peak of the island. This have a great view (top photo) of the cove that we were anchored in as well as the fishing village. You also got a good view of the open Pacific and we were glad that we were anchored as it was blowing pretty hard and there were good sized seas. After descending we found another trail which took us to the cliffs overlooking the anchorage and then we hiked another trail which took us into the caldera of the extinct volcano which formed the island. All in all a pretty cool day.

Right now we're underway to and area known as San Blas and we're impressed by the huge mountains that we're just starting to see. But, that's a story for another day...

-- Geoff, Sue & Garret

For the cruiser:

The anchorage is deep almost to the forward edge. I measured 12' right up to where rocks appear coming out of the water on the N end. My suggested anchoring location would be 21-50.600N 105-52.923W. Visually this is the middle of the beach looking forward and with the gap between the rocks directly on your right. You'll be in about 20' and better positioned to be out of the swell. Note that the bottom is rocky, so holding in questionable. Use a trip line in case you anchor gets stuck.

I measured the depth of the pinnacle and found it to be about 6.5' mlw, as compared to 12' shown in the Shawn & Heather guide book. Subtract some swell and it could be a lot shallower. My position is also slightly different: 21'50.552N 105-52.971

Be prepared to listen to your anchor chain drag across the rock bottom while listening to the surf crash onto the surrounding rocks.

Be very cautious of the submerged reef extending 200' SW into the bay from the SE side of the bay. This is just below surface level at low tide.

Wear good hiking shoes if you hike up to the light tower, as it's loose dirt/grass. To find the trail that takes you to the cliffs overlooking the anchorage, find the bathrooms behind the fishing shacks on the E side and look for concrete steps taking you up and then down into a bowl. Then look for blue tape marking the trail leading S. To go to the caldera go N from the bowl and look for orange (and some blue) tape and follow that trail.

Log ID: 2145

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Photos/Video: Photo Album Isla Isabela, Nayarit, Mexico 

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