Pacific Mexico,  Voyage

Isla Isabel, the place of birds

Yesterday, we arrived at Isla Isabel. We tucked in on the east side, just as the winds were picking up, protected by the island. The anchorage is small. At first, it was only us and local fishing pangas, but then three other boats came. That’s close to the limit of how many can fit here.

A larger and more protected anchorage on the east side of the island

The island is a Mexican National Park and is inhabited by thousands of seabirds of various species. The most famous are blue-footed boobies. They are goofy-looking birds with funny blue feet and a funny way of walking. There are also other types of boobies, frigates, pelicans, gulls, and many others. Today, we went ashore to experience it ourselves. The birds are completely unafraid of people, and you can walk among them through the whole island. It’s quite an incredible experience. It is a nesting season, so we saw birds nesting eggs, small chicks, and bigger “teenager” birds of all shapes and sizes. Some boobies’ mothers are very protective and were forcing us to change our path to stay a bit further. We felt like we were on a National Geographic expedition.

You can see one of the close encounters with the fearless boobie mothers below.

We went all the way to the other side of the island, where there was a small fishing camp inhabited by local panga fishermen and their families. They live in quite rustic conditions but seem to be happy. I’m not sure if they spend the whole year there or just a season. We witnessed them leaving and some coming back with a catch, then cleaning it up in their pangas, to the great enjoyment of all the birds around. Free buffet!

About the anchorages around the island. There are really only two possible places to anchor. One is on the south side of the island, in a rocky cove. That’s the picture below. This has been traditionally the anchorage recommended by most guidebooks. But it is a difficult one. It is exposed to the south, so any swell from that direction makes it very uncomfortable. Dropping an anchor there requires careful navigation, as there are many rockheads underwater waiting to catch the chain. We, and many other cruisers, think that a better spot is on the east side, right behind the two small rocky islets that are adjacent to the main island. In about 15-20 ft of water, there are a few sandy patches where an anchor can be placed. They are well visible in the clear sea surrounding the island. We anchored with a 4:1 scope to avoid wide swing. Overall, we like that anchorage as it is protected from many sides. If there are boats there, it is possible to anchor a bit further out, just in deeper waters.

A single boat anchored on the south side of the island

The waters around the island are finally very clear. Quite a change from what we’ve seen in Banderas Bay. Great swimming and snorkeling. We enjoyed beautiful views from all sides of the island. There are many well-marked trails over the island, and we enjoyed hiking around it.

We are just resting now and enjoying the view from the boat. The island is in front of us, and all those birds are just flying in and out and above it. We have truly never seen a place like this. Tomorrow, we will leave on the next leg of this trip over to Mazatlán.

Watching the sunset over the island

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *