Blue Baja: Where Desert Sun Meets Blue Sea

Sea lions, whale sharks, and mobula rays during our underwater photo workshop to La Paz in heart of Baja California

Baja California is a landscape of contrast. Hot, desert sun shines on lime-green Giant Cardon Cactus. An arid landscape is surrounded by the salty, azure waters of the Sea of Cortez. Pelicans and cormorants fly high above the sea, searching for shimmering sardines below. As the sardines maneuver around aerial avian assaults, sea lions charge at them from below, blowing bubbles along the way. Majestic, cerulean whale sharks congregate to feed on the abundant plankton that cloud the water into shades of turquoise. And in the dark of night, attracted by the lights of divers, mobula rays preform the same aerobatic stunts that occasionally break the waters surface under tropical sun. 

The Sea of Cortez is an ocean lover’s paradise and a sea less-traveled. Although the destination doesn’t garner the same recognition among divers as South East Asia and the Caribbean, the Sea of Cortez is home to a host of charismatic creatures that make it one of the world’s best locations for wide angle photography. This year, Bluewater Travel and the Underwater photography Guide hosted an underwater photography workshop to La Paz, Mexico in search of sea lions, whale sharks, and mobula rays. Our 23 enthusiastic guests were not disappointed! In fact, it was one of those experiences that left each individual in awe, thankful for witnessing maritime beauty that few ever get experience. 



Book at Trip with Bluewater Travel and the Underwater Photography Guide

Join us for a workshop to La Paz Mexico, and the adventure of a lifetime!




The Playful Sea Lions of Los Islotes

La Paz is one of the best spots in the world for playing with Sea Lions. One colony in particular, the Los Islotes colony, is renowned for sea lions with a gregarious, sociable dispositions. Los Islotes is a small, rugged island an hour’s boat ride from La Paz. The water is crystal clear with large schools of sardines and other fish swirling among jagged rocks below steep reliefs. Sea Lions chase fish with effortless precision and swim right up to any being they deem interesting. The trick to sea lion photography is to stay shallow (almost at the surface) and play with sea lions when they play with you! Sea lions will often mimic you movements while summersaulting through the water column, playing tug of war, and blowing bubbles. During our last workshop, our guests were so enthralled with these interactions, that we went back three times! 




Reefs, Rays, and More! 

When it comes to reef diving, the Sea of Cortez is not the first locale that comes to mind for many divers. When compared to the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, or the Red Sea, it is less diverse and prolific. So why go to the Sea of Cortez for the reefs? Because they are special, filled with endemic species (found nowhere else), and if you know where to go, you can find life that does indeed rival other tropical destinations. One of our favorite reef sites was El Bajo – a submarine sea mount with dramatic topography, colorful coral, and lots of hammerhead sharks! One guest saw over 50 hammerheads on one dive! Baja reefs have unique schools of fish, curious puffers, lots of moray eels, and amazing visibility.

Another highlight of the trip was snorkeling with whale sharks that congregate in La Paz Bay. These whale sharks are usually juveniles who have not yet ventured off into deeper, pelagic waters. But “juvenile” for a whale shark can still mean a 20 ft shark! At one point during the trip, some of our guests found themselves in the middle of two large sharks. 

Bluewater Travel’s workshops are unique in that guests often get to experience special dives that only locals in the region know about. The final highlight of our La Paz trip was the mobula ray night dive. Mobula rays, or devil rays, are medium sized rays that are known for leaping out of the water and doing acrobatic flips. Little is known about them and they can be quite elusive underwater. But during our final night dive, our experienced guides set up lights at a special location to attract the rays. It was an amazing experience to watch these agile creatures zip around divers as the milky way shown bright above the water. Neither words or photos can illustrate the magic of the moment. 


Beautiful weather, pleasant accommodations, noble crew, and awesome guests

Our workshop was held in October, 2019. October is one of the best times to travel to the Sea of Cortez. The weather for the entire trip was sunny, dry, warm, and beautiful. Ocean conditions were almost always great, though there was some wind that limited conditions from time to time. Visibility ranged from 50-130 ft, but most importantly, the sea lions were out and ready to play!

Our accommodations were at the Hyatt in La Paz Mexico. They were everything you could expect from a Hyatt – clean, organized, trendy, and with beautiful views of La Paz Bay. The hotel is a mile or two from the town center which keeps it quiet, while being a short uber/taxi ride from town. The hotel staff was very accommodating and kind. They even helped some of our group organize a land excursion to search for hiking trails in the area. Most importantly, there were large conference rooms available to teach classes, which large projectors and tables for guests wanting to learn Lightroom. 

We would like to send out a special shout out to the guests on our La Paz trip. We couldn’t have hoped for a kinder and more enthusiastic group! Everyone was very willing to listen, learn, and improve their underwater photography. We certainly saw the results! It’s always great to be among people where you can share your love for the art of underwater photography and they share it right back. 

And finally the crew – we spent the week diving with Fun Baja, a top-notch operation with intelligent and dedicated dive guides. Their name says it all. These guys were just plain fun to be around! They worked extremely hard every day to make sure our experience in La Paz was seamless. Everyone on the crew was extremely kind, drive, and great at what they do. 


Featured Underwater Camera Gear

During our La Paz underwater photography workshop, we decided to take the Nikon Z6 in an Isotta Z6/Z7 underwater housing and the Sony A7R IV in an Ikelite A7R IV underwater housing. The Nikon Z6/Z7 and Sony A7R IV are two of the top underwater cameras on the market for wide angle. Check our thoughts on shooting with the Sony A7R IV vs the Nikon Z6/Z7 in La Paz and which camera we like better for shooting macro




Book at Trip with Bluewater Travel and the Underwater Photography Guide

Join us for a workshop to La Paz Mexico, and the adventure of a lifetime!





More Underwater Photos From Our October 2019 La Paz Workshop!








Nirupam Nigam is the Editor-in-Chief of the Underwater Photography Guide and the President of Bluewater Photo - the world's top underwater photo & video retailer. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. After receiving degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, Nirupam worked as a fisheries observer on vessels in the Bering Sea and North Pacific. Since then, Nirupam has been a full time underwater photographer and photo gear head. Check out more of his photography at!


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