The Importance of Protecting the Island
With Mag Bay Expeditions, you have the privilege of staying on Magdalena Island in a tiny fishing village with a shorter distance to the action — we are one of the very few tour operators that offer accommodation in a house on the island. Experience the old Baja lifestyle, you won’t want to miss this unique opportunity.
Magdalena Bay, also known as Mag Bay is located on the west coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Its waters are protected by 4 islands: Santo Domingo, Magdalena, Margarita, and Creciente. The biggest of them, Magdalena Island, has an approximate length of 45 kilometers and is where most of our expeditions happen and where our operation base is located.
Within the island, on the bayside is Puerto Magdalena, a small colorful town of about 50 inhabitants. If you join one of our expeditions you will be one of the few lucky visitors in town and get a taster of the original Baja California Sur lifestyle. Our expeditions encourage you to break the routine and reconnect with nature and the local culture.
Right in front of Mag Bay, currents of cold water coming from the north and tropical waters straight from the south merge, bringing with them a great number of nutrients. The protection that the bay provides is the perfect environment for mangroves to grow, which, in turn, provide shelter for birds, crustaceans, and a variety of fish in their early stages of life. All these elements make the area the perfect ecosystem for birds and help in the development of many species of sea life like tuna, sardines, groupers, snappers, clams, crabs, stingrays, shrimp, sea basses, flounders, and lobsters among others.
Magdalena Bay is not only a paradise for fishermen and nature lovers. It was inhabited by Aboriginal tribes for thousands of years, then later Spanish explorers, pirates, whalers, and even a U.S. navy fleet! The islands are full of history, legends, and vestiges.
The bay is part of the hemispheric network of beach bird reserves Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) and the location enjoys near-perfect weather. Throughout most of the year, the island has warm days and cool mornings and nights. The rainy season is in summer and when tropical storms happen.
During the winter months, the weather reaches a maximum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) and a minimum of 40s (4-9 degrees Celsius). These are the coldest months with chilly mornings and nights but sun in the middle of the day. Summer through autumn, the weather tends to be on the warmer side with highs of 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) and low in the 60s (15 Celsius), but most of the days are warm with cooler nights.
Walking through the infinite beaches on the Pacific side of the island we will encounter hundreds of sand dollars, a range of seashells and the bones of sea lions, birds, turtles, dolphins, and whales. The beaches of Magdalena Island are made of fine compacted sand and they are ideal to walk on foot or by bicycle.
There are thousands of hectares of mangrove forest in Magdalena Bay. This ecosystem is one of the factors that make the bay such a rich environment and it allows a large number of fish and birds to take refuge in its waters. We invite you to explore the channels of the mangrove forests either on a boat, kayak, or SUP so you can learn about the different kinds of mangroves and the species of birds that live there. Or you can simply enjoy the peace and tranquility that emanates from them.
An ever-changing natural scenery, where the great sculptor is the wind. In this type of environment, the vegetation has a very important place as it allows the sand dunes to temporarily fix themselves. These plants have adapted to live in such an arid and hard place, they have bright colors that will attract little animals that, in turn, attract bigger animals like coyotes. Sand dunes behave like rivers as they flow continuously, as a result, the scenery around them is constantly changing.
Being protected by the peninsula and the islands, the waters of the Bay tend to be calm and shallow, creating the perfect place for watching gray whales during the winter months of January to March. These conditions also make the bay an excellent place to kayak, paddleboard, swim, and the perfect way to make the most of its waters.
Leaving the mouth of the lagoon and looking into the Pacific Ocean, it’s common to find sea turtles, marlins, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, humpback whales, and orcas. Here is where the expeditions to swim with marlins, sharks, and sea lions take place.
During the whale season (January to March), the majority of the local ﬁshermen set aside their ﬁshing activities and work with the tourism industry associated with whale watching. They focus on protecting the whales and their environment, giving the commercial species a break and a chance to replenish their numbers. The same concept is now being applied to the marlin and shark season, little by little tourism is increasing and helping the ﬁshermen realize these species are worth more alive than dead.
Throughout history, the inhabitants of Bahia Magdalena have been ﬁshermen. Although in the last few years, with the growth of tourism around whale watching and bird watching, lots of ﬁshermen have changed their way of life. One of the aims of our expeditions is to keep this momentum going by offering more activities for them to participate in throughout the whole year, making tourism permanent rather than just a seasonal activity.
By participating in our expeditions and hiring local ﬁshermen you not only contribute to the local economy but also help diversify their activities. Aside from our specialized guides, we always have with us a local guide from San Carlos or Magdalena Island. The house we stay in(opens in a new tab) belongs to a local fisherman, who together with his brothers, has been working more and more with the protection and conservation of the areas where they work.
Waste Management Project
A percentage of what you pay towards the excursions is donated to a solid waste management project in Magdalena Island. This project helps to keep plastic out of our ocean and stop it from threatening sea life and habitats.
Solid waste management is a critical and complex challenge for small island communities. In particular waste management on Magdalena Island is complicated due to its isolated location, fishing industry, and tourism-dominated economy. We seek to address this long-standing issue through a collaboration between the community, a newly created non-governmental organization (Audax), and government agencies. Initiatives include source separation, development of collection and disposal services, education and awareness initiatives, and enhanced planning.
After our first expeditions in November 2021, Magbay Expeditions along with Discoversharks donated 1000 USD each to start the waste management project. We are working along with the locals to use those donations in the best way possible to start cleaning the island and trying to implement a new way of waste management.