A Baja Conservation Vacation
Rediscover your sense of wonder and dive into marine science on this unforgettable family-friendly conservation vacation to Baja California, Mexico! Swim with curious sea lions, search for whale sharks (the gentle giants of the sea), discover tidepools, learn to snorkel, participate in community science conservation research, immerse yourself in local culture and language, and so much more!
The expedition starts in Loreto, Mexico* and ends in San Diego, CA and includes an epic road trip through changing desert and ocean landscapes. Camp outside on cots under the stars at the Vermilion Sea Field Station in Bahía de los Ángeles, Mexico. Wake each morning with the sun rising over the Gulf of California to a delicious breakfast and prepare for a day full of activities. A typical day includes a boat trip around the bay or channel on pangas used by local fishermen, optional trips to town and activities and down time at the Vermilion Sea Field Station.
CampOceano is an adventure designed to engage families but also provides for unique experiences tailored for children and adults individually. Time is dedicated each day for children to join licensed science educators on discovery journeys along the shores of the sea while adults are free to kayak, hike, or socialize during relaxing seaside happy hours.
Space is limited to 18 participants. Reservations are first-come, first-serve and are NOT finalized until the reservation form is complete and payment is received. Reservation and payment details can be found below. This program is recommended for families but is open to single travelers. We also offer other community science research programs, including the Stars to Sea program.
*Please note that in 2021 the trip begins in Loreto, Mexico and ends in San Diego, California. Participants will need to plan their flights accordingly.
“It was so cool breathing underwater while snorkeling. It made me feel like a shark.” – Fiona (age 7)
At a Glace
Tentative 2022 dates:
CO 1: June 10 – 15
CO 2: June 17 – 22
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CO 1: Loreto, Mexico
CO 2: Loreto, Mexico
Destination: Bahía de los Ángeles, Mexico
CO 1: Loreto, Mexico
CO 2: San Diego, California
Recommended for: Ages 6 to adult
Programs Coordinators: Angela Yeager
Inquiries: Angela Yeager welcomes any and all questions or inquiries emailed to her at: [email protected]
Photos by Tony Mansoor
- Travel from Loreto to Vermilion Sea Field Station (VSFS) and from VSFS to 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
- Wetsuits and fins for all participants and life jackets for children
- Travel to Loreto from home location
- Lodging and adventures in Loreto before the trip
- Lodging in San Diego after the trip
- Travel from San Diego to home location
- Snacks, sodas, alcohol, souvenirs
- Snorkels and masks (available for rent for $10/set)
- Travel & Medical Emergency Insurance (mandatory for every participant)
Day 1: On the morning of the first day of the trip we’ll depart together from Loreto and travel by land, enjoying breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez, on our way to the Vermilion Sea Field Station. 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.
Day 2-5: Each day kids and kids-at-heart can participate in daily SeaCamp lessons from licensed science educators, while parents and older kids-at-heart have an opportunity for optional activities including kayaking, snorkeling or relaxing on the beach just steps away. Boat trips on 2 of the 4 days include searching for whale sharks and marine mammals, collecting data for citizen science research, exploring unique marine and coastal habitats and learning about oceanography and conservation. There is also the option to add SCUBA diving (certified divers only) or an additional boat trip to your itinerary. Most evenings are free to relax, explore the town, or enjoy any of the following activities: kayaking, hiking, exploring wetlands/mangroves, reading, beach-combing, tide-pooling, stargazing, night snorkeling, and more!
Day 6: Depart Bahía de los Ángeles at around 8am for San Diego, arriving approx. 7pm-9pm (please do NOT schedule returning flights on Day 6 as arrival time cannot be guaranteed).
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.
Situated along the shores of the Gulf of California within the Bahía de los Ángeles Biosphere reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Vermilion Sea Field Station (VSFS) has hosted scientists, conservationists, educators, and students since the 1970’s. Bahía de los Ángeles is a sleepy little town unlike other crowded Mexican tourist destinations. It is primarily known for fishing and was formerly a mining town. It is authentic Mexico at its finest.
Most visitors to Bahía and VSI 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 a handful of internet cafes in town. There is no cell service in town, but there are usually pay phones available at the internet cafes.
Additionally, if on-site WiFi is needed for specific administrative or academic needs, arrangements can be made at the time of reservation. If you have a specific need you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to reach out.
The Vermilion Sea Field Station is first and foremost a field facility for researchers and educators in the environmental sciences with rustic yet enjoyable accommodations. The field station is comprised of a central two story adobe and stone facility with 12 multi-purpose rooms, a large kitchen, in door shower and changing room, outdoor bucket-flush bathrooms and an additional family house.
Sleeping is typically dormitory style, with cots available for sleeping either inside the field station or outside under the stars.
For additional information such as a suggested packing list and other travel related questions, please review the VSI CampOceano Trip Planner which will be provided with registration confirmation.
Our top priority for field station operations is the safety and well-being of all program participants and to those of the Bahia de los Angeles community. During this time of widespread pandemic, we committed to using the best available science and resources to maintain our COVID-19 operations plan. We ask that each program participant carefully review our Safety Commitment and agree to the participant pledge on the last page.
You can find those VSI Safety Commitments HERE. We will periodically update as needed.
Please note that the information on this page is subject to change. If you have any urgent questions or concerns, please contact us at [email protected] or reach out to your trip leader directly.
So far, there has been no known transmission of COVID-19 at VSFS.
Since June 2020, VSFS has been running in-person courses, apprenticeships, and the Aventureros program, all in addition to hosting independent researchers and scholars. As of May 2021, we have had no known cases of COVID-19 transmission. We credit this success largely to our visitors, participants, and team members following the protocols outlined in our Safety Commitments and Participant Pledge. We are thankful to everyone for continuing to do their part to keep the field station COVID-free!
Please don’t hesitate to email [email protected] with any questions. We hope to see you in the field!