CampOceano

At a Glance

2025 Dates: June 12 – 17

Departs from: San Diego, CA.

Destination: Bahía de los Ángeles, Mexico

Recommended for: Families with a desire to reconnect with nature and one another.

Program Cost:

$1,400 non-refundable per person or

$1550 flexible registration

Inquiries:  CampO @ vermilionseainstitute.org 

Photo by Courtney Baxter

It was so cool breathing underwater while snorkeling. It made me feel like a shark.

Fiona - age 7

Rediscover Your Sense of Wonder!

Adventure with Purpose: CampOceano Family Conservation Vacation

CampOceano: A memorable experience for the whole family!

Escape to the wonders of Baja effortlessly, free from the burdens of arranging transportation, meals, excursions, and activities. Delight in marine conservation, educational experiences, and thrilling adventures suitable for both adults and children. Immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of Baja’s natural world, where tranquility reigns and the vibrant ecosystem thrives, far removed from the crowds of mainstream tourist spots.

Travel with a Purpose:

  • Join beach cleanups and support local communities. 
  • Fees support our local youth program, the Aventureros, and sponsors students to join the boat trips. 
  • Afar Approved for eco-travel commitment! 
  • Minimize environmental impact and learn eco-travel sustainable practices.
  • We encourage you to offset the carbon from your trip using Sustainabletravel.org.  

Learn. Explore. Relax:

  • Learn from educators, Aventureros students, and local conservation experts. 
  • Engage in daily lessons and hands-on activities designed to explore the rich marine life and local ecology.
  • Practice your Spanish in immersion-style settings. 
  • Expect stunning sunrises, delicious meals, and relaxing downtime. 
  • Optional sunrise hike and town exploration trips to learn about local history, conservation and culture.
  • Unlimited snorkeling, paddle boarding, and kayaking. 
  • Customize your adventure by adding on options like SCUBA diving, fishing excursions, or an extra boat trip for wildlife viewing.

Make Memories that Last Forever:

  • Remember the experiences…not the logistics. Skip the hassle of organizing transportation, activities, and meals.
  • Traveling with other families can forge lifelong memories and friendships.
  • Educational programming about wildlife, culture, and conservation has a lasting impact.
  • The open-air “camping” style fosters a memorable connection with nature. For families who have accepted the 1000 Hours Outside challenge, prepare to add over 100 hours to your tally! 

Inclusions

  • Travel to and from Vermilion Sea Field Station (VSFS) from San Diego
  • Lodging at the VSFS
  • Meals at stops during road trips
  • Delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner prepared fresh at VSFS
  • Boat rental fees and permits for access to the Natural Protected Area of Bahía de los Ángeles (Two half day boat excursions included)
  • Wetsuits, fins, life jackets, mask, and snorkel for all participants

Exclusions

  • Travel to and from San Diego from home location
  • Lodging and adventures in San Diego before and after the trip
  • Snacks, sodas, alcohol, souvenirs
  • Travel & Medical Emergency Insurance (mandatory for every participant)

Anticipated Itinerary

Day 1: Meet in San Diego and depart at 6 AM.

Meet your new Baja Family!

Depart from San Diego at 6 a.m. sharp for Bahía de los Ángeles (in two 15 passenger vans), arriving approx. 7 p.m. Stops on the way will include lunch, stretch breaks and scenic views. The road trip is part of the fun and gives opportunities for making new friends, playing car games, and the occasional carpool karaoke.

Arrive at the field station in the evening, tour facilities, and have dinner.

Days 2-4: Boat trips and CampO Activities

Learn. Explore. Relax.

Desert and marine environments create endless learning and exploration for the whole family. Kids gain responsibility (setting up cots, launching paddleboards), while adults enjoy newfound freedom (kayaking solo, sunrise hikes, nap in a hammock).  CampOceano reignites childlike wonder for adults and teaches kids about community responsibility. The open-air “camping” style fosters a connection with nature. Expect stunning sunrises, delicious meals, and a mix of exciting adventures, optional town exploration, and relaxing downtime. Time is dedicated for CampO participants to meet with local students from our Aventureros program for games, activities, and lessons. 

  • Daily CampOceano lessons and activities with science educators. 
  • Unlimited snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking steps from where you stay
  • Lessons about the abundant marine life and local ecology
  • Participate in beach cleanups, citizen science projects, or community service opportunities.
  • Choose from exciting options like optional SCUBA, fishing excursions, or sunrise hikes.
  • Includes 2 boat trips exploring marine life and islands & learning about conservation.
  • Evenings: Free time for optional activities (kayaking, hiking, stargazing, etc.)
Day 5: Choose Your Adventure!

By day 5, members of the trip are settled in and this is the perfect day to “Choose your own Adventure!” Previous participants have chosen to relax at the station, spend another day searching for wildlife, rise early and go fishing with our local expert fishermen, take a final trip to town, enjoy a margarita with new friends, and organize a farewell talent show!

Costs for optional activities (per person)

  • Additional boat day: $60
  • SCUBA: 2-tank dive (for certified divers only): $250
  • Fishing voyage: $100
Day 6: Depart Bahía de los Ángeles arrive in San Diego in the evening.

Important Note: While whale sharks have typically visited the waters off Bahía de los Ángeles each summer, we can not predict that the sharks will be present during this program. Therefore, there is no guarantee that participants will see or swim with a whale shark.

Photo by Tony Mansoor

About the Vermilion Sea Institute

The Vermilion Sea Institute (VSI) was founded in the 1970s at a historic field station in Baja California, VSI fosters a deep connection between people and nature.  They achieve this by bringing together scientists, educators, and students to tackle environmental challenges from all angles – considering cultural, economic, and social aspects alongside the ecological ones.  This holistic approach has led to a rich history of successful conservation projects and solutions for a sustainable future.

Vermilion Sea Institute is located in Bahía de los Ángeles, a sleepy little town unlike other crowded Mexican tourist destinations. The field station is situated steps from the a sandy beach and rocky reef along the shores of the Gulf of California (Bahía de los Ángeles Biosphere Reserve), a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Bahía de los Ángeles is primarily known for fishing and was formerly a mining town. It is authentic Mexico at its finest.

Internet/Telephone

We are in one of the rare few spaces left in the world without cell service. Most visitors to Bahía and the Vermilion Sea Field Station take the rare and special opportunity to embrace being “unplugged” and find they connect more deeply with the incredible local environment because of it. However, if totally disconnecting isn’t possible, there are local restaurants within walking distance with WiFi access.

Lodging

The Vermilion Sea Field Station is first and foremost a field facility for researchers and educators in the environmental sciences with minimalistic and rustic, yet enjoyable accommodations. The field station consists of a central two-story adobe and stone facility with 12 multi-purpose rooms, a large kitchen, outdoor bucket-flush bathrooms and an additional family house.

Most participants at our field station choose to sleep outside under the starry skies, as the nights stay quite warm. This outdoor sleeping option offers a slightly cooler and more immersive experience. However, we understand that weather conditions can be unpredictable, and some individuals may prefer or need indoor accommodations, which are available as needed in shared rooms designed for storing participants’ belongings. It’s important to note that the Vermilion Sea Field Station does not have air conditioning.

Please be mindful that fresh water is a precious resource in our location. While we do provide an indoor and outdoor shower for rinsing, we actively practice water conservation to ensure sustainability. Additionally, we encourage individuals to utilize the ocean for bathing, using eco-friendly products to minimize environmental impact. 

As a working field station, we emphasize a communal ethos where each visitor is responsible for pitching in to clean up after themselves and help maintain the facility. We encourage everyone to leave it better than they found it, ensuring that the station remains a welcoming and sustainable facility for all who use it.

For additional information such as a suggested packing list and other travel-related questions, please review the VSI Stars to Sea Trip Planner which will be provided after registration.

Questions?

Please review our CampOceano FAQs for any questions you may have. Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to email campo @ vermilionseainstitute.org with any questions. We hope to see you in the field!

Contribute to Vermilion Sea Institute

Every contribution is incredibly appreciated and we make sure to stretch every dollar as far as it can go!

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