Hiking · Travel

Exploring The Arroyo of Isla San Francisco

Isla San Francisco is a tiny island in the Sea of Cortez, in Baja California Sur. It is 1.6 miles by 1.6 miles, but it holds so much to see. It sits about 47 miles from La Paz.

It’s highly visited – and very popular with massive yachts who anchor here. Our ship had to anchor quite farther out to safely anchor. But…it’s just a longer zodiac skiff ride over is all.

The island is mostly rippling hills with a flat section between the ridges. The flat section holds salt pits!

Approaching the island – with calm seas and my stomach settled once again. Though I did this hike on a mostly empty stomach after a night of wondering if I’d make and not barf from the rough seas. Getting on land really helped, as did soaking up the sun.

The sand is glorious here…and yes, this island is protected. it is in the national park system for Mexico. It’s also where sea turtles lay their eggs in the winter.

The ridge at the end of the island is host to many trails up the spine. Some are straight up, others are more gentle. So be sure to look all the way down to find the easiest hike.

Walk carefully on the beach here, as plants do grow in the sand. We picked our way over the short dune to the interior part.

Those yachts? Yes. Plenty of them and a few small boats. But there wasn’t anyone else actually on the island. Instead the yachts were full of people on jet skis….oh yay.

Fruit/berry happening. I forget what they were of course. I was so busy looking I wasn’t remembering. And that is OK.

For a desert island it was pretty green.

We walked out through the Iodine Bush growing thickly, with Black Sparrow birds everywhere.

Iodine Bush – it’s edible btw. And pretty tasty.

Purslane. Different than the PNW version, but vibrant with life.

In this section, the flat area of the island, if you tread carefully you can cross the island easily. It’s also home to salt pits.

Take a chunk off the edges, and try it. It’s briny. It tastes alive. It encourages you to drink water. This island encouraged me a lot. I could feel myself dehydrating.


A desert that is more alive than it looks at first.

On the grey trees, life is ready to burst out.

Hidden under a thorny bush/tree were edible cacti.

Walking across the desert.

It was a simple hike but easy to wander and get lost looking at all the life below me.

Or lack of life. A sea turtle that ended up inland.

Sunset for the wealthy. One of the bigger yachts had slipped away a few minutes before, as the sun was settling.

Sunset on the Sea of Cortez


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