CampOceano

Photo by Courtney Baxter

~Registration is OPEN!~

Register before 10/31/22 for Early Bird Pricing!

At a Glance

2023 dates:

CO 1: June 18 – 23:
Departs from and returns to Loreto, Mexico.

CO 2: June 25 – 30:
Departs from Loreto, Mexico. Returns to San Diego, CA.

Destination: Bahía de los Ángeles, Mexico

Recommended for: Ages 6 to 106

Program Cost: Adults & Kids 15+: $1,900
Kids under 15: $1,100

*Early Bird Pricing for $100 off per participant for anyone who makes deposits before 10/31.

Programs Coordinator: Angela Yeager

Inquiries: We welcome any and all questions or inquiries at: [email protected] 

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

Fiona - age 7

A Baja Conservation Vacation

CampOceano is a unique family experience that makes adventure travel easier for families. Most CampOceano participants start the journey as strangers and end as “One Baja Family.” If you are returning to Baja or this is your first time visiting, CampOceano is a great way to experience Baja without the hassle of planning transportation, meals, and activities. 

We encourage our guests to try out new roles on this trip. You will see kids taking on more responsibility, such as setting up their own cots or working together to launch paddleboards before 6 AM. Adults have the freedom to have deep conversations with others, kayak without their children, or wake up early to join a sunrise hike without the worry about what happens when their kids wake up. We encourage adults to remember their childlike sense of wonder and encourage kids to be in charge of their own materials (and messes). Participants often report habits that continue when their kids return home, such as pitching in for dishes or packing their own snacks for days out.

Part of the magic of CampOceano is the open-air “camping” style of the trip. We sleep outdoors on comfortable cots and 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 adventures in nature, optional trips to town and activities, and downtime at the Vermilion Sea Field Station. 

Adults and kids will both learn about marine biology, conservation, and local culture on our CampOceano trip. Time is dedicated on most days for children to join local students from our Aventureros program and 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.

A note about Aventureros and your trip fees:

The trip fees support, in part, participation in CampOceano activities for local children participating in our Aventureros program. Aventureros students will join us on our two included boat trips, creating space for visiting and local students to make friends and practice new languages. We encourage you to read more about our Aventureros program with your children prior to our trip and get them excited about this unique opportunity.

Space is limited to 18 participants. Reservations are first-come, first-serve and are NOT finalized until the initial reservation form is complete and payment is received. This program is recommended for families and open to anyone looking to rediscover their sense of wonder. We also offer community science research programs, including the Stars to Sea program.

Equitable access to nature is a core value of VSI. We never want money to be a barrier to making a trip, so we have created a scholarship fund to bring the Baja experience to people who would otherwise be unable to visit. You can donate to our scholarship fund here. Email us at [email protected] to learn more or if you are interested in applying.

Inclusions

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

Anticipated Itinerary

Day 1: Meet at Hotel Oasis at 5:30 sleepy-eyed and maybe a bit uncomfortable, as we don’t all yet know one another. After a quick hello we load our luggage, find a cozy seat in a van, put our backpack under the seat and we are off for our epic road trip adventure. We depart from Loreto at 5:45 AM sharp for  Bahía de los Ángeles, usually arriving before 7pm. We like to say, we start the trip with the sun rising on our right and when the sun moves to our left side, we are close!

We stop for breakfast in a couple of hours, where we have our first group huddle and introductions. Stops on the way may vary but include breakfast & lunch (included in the price), sightseeing, 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. We arrive at the station in the evening, receive a tour of the facilities, and have our first dinner all together overlooking the Gulf of California. After we set up cots, many choose an early bedtime while others may engage in quiet conversation with others.

Day 2-5: Each day kids can participate in daily CampOceano lessons from science educators, while parents have an opportunity for optional activities including kayaking, snorkeling, or relaxing on the private beach just steps away. Daily boat trips (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. One day we will remain at the Vermilion Sea Field Station and explore local ecosystems and the town. Most evenings are free to relax, explore the town, or enjoy the following optional activities: kayaking, hiking, exploring wetlands/mangroves, reading, beachcombing, tide-pooling, stargazing, night snorkeling, and more! During many of these activities, we will integrate with several of the local youth of similar ages from the Aventureros program for incredible collaborations and sharing of knowledge. If you have particular interests, please reach out to your Trip Leader or Program Coordinator at least one month in advance. For example: if we know that you are a cactus enthusiast we can arrange a botanical excursion or if you are fond of history or archaeology, we can arrange a tour of nearby sites with local experts (may incur additional fees for optional tours).

On Day 5 of the trip, there is the opportunity to add a 3rd additional boat day for $50/person. Optional activities include a fishing trip, SCUBA ($250/person), or a wildlife/snorkel excursion, depending on the interest level of the group. 

Day 6: Depart Bahía de los Ángeles at 7 am for Loreto (CO 1) or San Diego (CO 2), arriving approx. 7 pm-9 pm (please do NOT schedule returning flights on Day 6 as arrival time cannot be guaranteed). The drop-off location in Loreto is Hotel Oasis. The drop-off in San Diego is Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport – Old Town (1955 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA 92110.

Remember to book your inbound flight into Loreto no later than the day before your trip begins and your outbound flight from Loreto or San Diego no sooner than the day after your trip ends. 

Also, consider joining our CampOceano Facebook group as a way to meet your field mates in advance and plan for shared rooms, adventures, etc. It’s a closed group but ask to join and we will approve you!

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.

Travel

Flying/Driving In, Hotel, & Day 1 Meet-Up

As our day begins early on Day 1 of your itinerary, you must book your inbound flight no later than the day before your trip begins and your outbound flight no sooner than the day after your trip ends. Domestic and international travel has experienced many cancellations in recent months and we highly recommend giving yourself an extra day of travel to ensure you do not miss your trip should your flight be canceled or delayed. 

Our journey begins on your trip’s Day 1 at 5:45 AM at Hotel Oasis, Loreto, Mexico. The trip leaders will be arriving several days early and will create a group for us all to communicate and meet up earlier in Loreto if desired. 

Flight Information:

With recent flight price increases, we recommend booking flights as far in advance as possible. Remember to book your inbound flight no later than the day before your trip begins and your outbound flight no sooner than the day after your trip ends. We are offering two different options so that participants can choose which itinerary best fits their needs. 

We welcome your itinerary questions at [email protected]

A note about flying into and out of Loreto, Mexico:

  • The major airlines flying to LTO are Alaska and American
  • They typically fly into LTO on Sat, Sun, Mon, and Thurs (you might see a Tuesday on Alaska)
  • American typically flies out of LTO on Thursday and Friday. Alaska flies out Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun.
  • Do not be confused with another airport in Texas with a similar name, use code LTO
  • You may have to split your flights between two airlines. Direct flights to LTO are out of the following hubs:
      • Alaska flies to and from LAX to LTO
      • American flies to and from DFW or PHX to LTO

Scenario 1: Participants live in Seattle

CampO 1: Loreto, Mexico – Bahía de los Ángeles – Loreto, Mexico

    • 6/17: Fly on Alaska Airlines: SEA to LTO, stay overnight at Hotel Oasis.
    • 6/18: Meet at Hotel Oasis. Van transportation included to Bahía de los Ángeles.
    • 6/23: Van transportation to Loreto, Mexico included. Drop off at Hotel Oasis.
    • Flights by Alaska Airlines are available on  6/24, 6/25, 6/26, 6/29

Scenario 2: Participants live in San Diego

CO 2: Loreto- Bahía de los Ángeles – San Diego

    • 6/24: Fly on American Airlines from SAN- LTO, overnight stay at Hotel Oasis. Alternatively, you may fly in earlier and enjoy time in Loreto. Flights are typically available to LTO on Sat, Sun, Mon, and Thurs.
    • 6/25: Meet at Hotel Oasis, van transportation to Loreto, Mexico included.
    • 6/30: Van transportation to San Diego included. Arrive at Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport – Old Town (1955 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA 92110. 
    • 7/1: Arrange transportation home on your own.

Scenario 3: Participant lives in Cleveland

CO 1: Loreto, Mexico – Bahía de los Ángeles – Loreto, Mexico

    • 6/13 Fly on Frontier from CLE to PHX, stay overnight
    • 6/14 PHX to LTO, stay 4 nights at Hotel Oasis, enjoy Loreto
    • 6/18: Meet at Hotel Oasis. Van transportation included to Bahía de los Ángeles.
    • 6/23: Van transportation to Loreto, Mexico included. Drop off at Hotel Oasis.
    • Flights by Alaska Airlines are available on  6/24, 6/25, 6/26, 6/29

Hotels in Loreto

We recommend two hotel options in Loreto: Hotel Oasis and La Mision Loreto Hotel. Hotel Oasis has basic accommodations, a nice pool, excellent beach access, and free breakfast (for 2 adults). La Mision Hotel is slightly more expensive, has nice accommodations and a lovely pool with a restaurant on site (for an extra fee). Both hotels are within walking distance from one another, making them close to the drop off/pick up point at Hotel Oasis. Both hotels are within walking distance of restaurants, shops, the town center, and the marina. Hotel Oasis has offered us a group rate of approximately $144 if you mention VSI when you call or email to book.

Airport Transfers in Loreto:

Cabs and hired vans are available at the airport in Loreto and typically cost around $10 per person to Hotel Oasis or La Mision Loreto Hotel. Confirm your trip price before leaving the airport.  An airport shuttle may be available from your hotel. Inquiry at the time of booking. This website is a good source of taxi information. 

Bahía de los Ángeles

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.

Internet/Telephone

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.

Lodging

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.

If you’re looking for hotel-like accommodations, this is not the spot for you. If you’re the Create your Own Adventure type who would like to interact with other adventurous folks, this will certainly be your next great adventure.

Spending Money

Once we depart from Loreto, all of the basic trip expenses will be covered including transportation, lodging, meals, water, and van snacks. You will only need to spend money for additional snacks, drinks, and souvenirs which tend to be inexpensive. The amount of money you bring is up to you but we highly recommend bringing a variety of denominations. Most of the stores we visit will take US dollars but usually can’t break anything over a $20 bill. Please inspect bills that you bring from home for marks, rips, or tears as they will not be accepted. When using money exchanges in Mexico, we recommend you inspect all bills given to you for rips or tears and ask for replacements before you leave the money exchange. Many establishments accept credit cards. You may pay cash for optional boat days.

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.

Registration

Registration is OPEN!

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR ALL TRIPS

 

  1. Registration will occur in two parts. Initial registration will require contact information and a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $400. Secondary registration will be submitted prior to March 17, 2023. It will require passport, insurance, medical and dietary information, and the remainder of your payment in full. We are offering $100 off the final cost per participant for anyone who submits a deposit before 10/31.
  2. You will need a valid passport for all members of your party.
  3. You will also need proof of travel insurance to cover any medical expenses or emergencies while abroad. 
  4. With secondary registration, VSI will offer optional and strongly recommended trip cancellation insurance. This $100 insurance will protect payments made to VSI after initial deposit. 
  • Example 1: Book in August and decide to cancel in February, you will forfeit your non-refundable deposit
  • Example 2: Book in August, purchase VSI’s optional cancellation insurance ($100) at secondary registration, and decide to cancel just a week before your trip. You forfeit your non-refundable deposit, but the remainder of your registration payment is refunded.
  • Example 3: Book in August, choose to decline VSI’s optional cancellation insurance ($100) at secondary registration, decide to cancel in April. You will forfeit your full payment.

While we understand that the COVID situation is ever-evolving. It is VERY UNLIKELY that VSI will cancel trips. If you cancel for ANY REASON the cancellation guidelines above will be followed. We strongly encourage you to register when you are confident you will be able to attend and feel comfortable attending while recognizing that trips may fill.  We strive to make all of our stakeholders happy and comfortable, and we maintain careful COVID protocols to keep our participants and community safe. By registering you agree to follow our COVID protocols; these can and will update as necessary. 

COVID-19

Our team is committed to the wellbeing and safety of all program participants and to those of the Bahía de los Ángeles community. We are so grateful to continue our field programs and we strive to provide a safe environment for all participants, staff and our community members.

All participants in a Vermilion Sea Institute program will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before beginning any trip. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding in helping us create a safe environment for all.

During this time of widespread pandemic, we are committed to using the best available science and resources to maintain our COVID-19 operations plan.

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.

Questions?

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

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