My boyfriend and I drove up to La Paz from Todos Santos to check out the beaches on the Sea of Cortez. There are a series of three as you drive north up the little peninsula next to La Paz. The last beach is Tecolote, where we found Azul Tours and the Azul restaurant. The staff were all very friendly and accommodating (strong margaritas and great sea food). Because there were only two of us, we made a reservation for a few days later to join another family for a panga tour out to Espiritu Santos for a snorkel and lunch trip to get a cheaper rate. The more people on a boat, the easier it is to spread out overhead costs like fuel among the passengers.
We came back on our reserved date (on time at 10:30). We were very excited and got all geared up, but the other family never showed. The staff felt really bad about the unexpected no-shows and offered to either help us get a trip with another company on the beach or give us a discounted rate if we preferred to charter the boat for just two. We went ahead and just paid a bit more money since we had already been talking to our guide, Jose, and he was really funny, had a hilarious giggle, and was super approachable. Jose took us around the island and pointed out neat coves and jumping rays/fish. We then checked out and swam with the sea lions at Isla Partita (wow!). Next we had a relaxing lunch of cerviche and sandwiches. Because we had food and beer for 6 people thanks to the no-shows, the three of us ate like kings! Jose showed us that the best way to do up a ham and cheese sandwich is to take a tostada smothered in cerviche and slip it between your slices of bread. Ohhhh so, so good. Jose then took us to a secluded reef and let us snorkel until my lips were numb with salt. It was nice taking the panga out of Tecolote because it gave us more time in the water since boating in from La Paz is a longer commute to the island. Overall, Azul Tours isn't the polished La Paz American-style big company tourist experience. (I've done my time as a white water rafting guide on a busy tourist river and can tell the big dogs on the water from the small). I would have given them 5 stars if we hadn't had the snafu with the no-shows, which understandably increased our tour price a bit for a private charter. Azul Tours is instead, the Mexican - hey lets go have fun for the day experience. For the price, Azul Tours is definitely cheaper than most of the other tour companies, just be prepared to go with the flow. You will have a great/amazing time though!!!
Final notes: please, please, please bring biodegradable sunscreen - check the label - the cheap stuff frequently has a certain ingredient that bleaches coral. Also, bring an underwater camera and come prepared with layers or a jacket in case it gets breezy on the water. Don't forget to tip your guide too, that is customary practice in the tourism industry so be gracious if you had a good time.
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