February 21, 2020 – When I came to Yelapa almost three years ago with my dear friend, Constance, I learned that there are two islands out at the edge of the bay that are a national marine park. I have frequently found national marine park to mean cool and previously unseen wildlife, live and in the flesh.
The islands, called the Marietas, are about 16 miles out from the point – where I am staying in Yelapa – and about five miles out from the northern end of the Bay of Banderas. Three years ago I scoured the internet and any local I could to get my hands on a sea kayak, PFD, spray skirt, and decent paddle. I came up empty handed. The only kayaks available in this region are sit on tops. When you can find them, PFDs are optional and are the lite foam, single strap type that are great for when you are in a motorboat.
Then there is the issue of getting all of the national park permits necessary to go anywhere near the islands. A number of determined, committed boat captains have persevered through this expensive and difficult process so they may take folks out to the park while helping to keep it and the wildlife safe from the damage we can do to it all, most often unintentionally. Once I found out how challenging it would be for me to try to obtain the pemits and admitted defeat in acquiring the appropriate equipment to make my own way to the islands, I gave up on that idea.
This time I decided right off the bat to get on an organized motorboat group trip out to the islands. Once I found someone who organizes these trips, I waited patiently for him to tell me when and where to “get on the boat”. Today was that day. There were two guides and three participants. I liked how professional the guides, Marcos and Eddie, were about making sure we all followed the park rules while still making it the experience we all wanted.
All week long from the casa I have been watching the humpback whales out in the bay, and now they were much closer as we made our way out toward the islands.
We also saw flying fish and bottlenose dolphins. The boat was comfortable and it felt great to be flying across the water with the wind and the sun… and then we slowed down when we got to the park. The waves were not huge, but big enough to rock the boat. Every. Which. Way. Constantly.After checking in with the park officials, we went around the first island which didn’t appear to have as many birds, but did have a cool arch.
We then got out for a swim in the one area where it is allowed.
After the swim, we got back in the boat and slowly made our way around the second island. I was already starting to feel queazy before the swim and I felt much better after it, but it did not take long for the sea sickness to get worse once I got back in the panga. I did ok as long as I looked out at the horizon. One of the other passengers was sea sick before we even slowed down, poor thing. So after we got a little over half way around the island, we voted to head back to Yelapa. Of course, once the boat was back up on plane I started to feel better.
There were hundreds of birds in the park, several new life species for me, and it was worthwhile. This experience has given me the ambition to keep an eye out for a deal on a folding sea kayak, like an Orukayak that fits into a case the size of a carry on, take that, a PFD and spray skirt with me when I come back to Yelapa, and just keep it here for the day I figure out how to get all of the permits together and then kayak out to the islands and back. From the north tip of the bay it would only be 10 miles round trip. After averaging 20+ miles per day this past summer, I am confident in my abilities to fully enjoy paddling out and around the islands and back in a day. There is a surfing camp there where I could camp the nights before and after, and who have access to pangas if I need backup.
Back at the casa after the boat ride I still had a case of the upsy downsies until I took a brief nap. Then one of the other people staying here noticed a hummingbird nest just outside the entrance to her room. I went down to take a very quick look at it and, once I had a good feel for where it was, held my camera over where I thought it would capture it and took this photo. I didn’t want to draw the attention of other birds to the nest. The eggs are each just a bit larger than a tic tac.
This will be the last blog for awhile as my Yelapa visit is about over. There is still so much more here to experience. I will come back. Now comes new Pacific Northwest adventures, a new kayaking season, growing food, and exploring this thing called life.