Imagine yourself watching 30 marlins striking at a sardine baitball. Marlins swimming under and besides you, speeding up to 50 mph to get the catch of the day! Sea lions come in to take turns and join the hunt. Sometimes other visitors such as sailfish, wahoo, dorado or tuna come join the feast.
Swimming with dolphins or orcas, whale watching and an occasional bryde’s whale appearing out of the blue and feeding on the entire baitball are also part of the surprises that Magdalena Bay can gift us with. Exploring sand dunes and mangroves looking for coyotes and bird watching is also an option.
On the Marlins Sardine Run Expedition we go offshore to look for pelagic marine life. We love that when we go out every day, we never know what we’re going to find. That is part of the magic of this expedition.
Magdalena Bay is located on the Pacific side of the Baja California Peninsula. The diversity of marine and coastal habitats of this area creates unique conditions that makes this place a hotspot for biodiversity.
It all starts with the little beings. The high content of plankton and oceanographic conditions attract sardine baitballs into the area of Magdalena Bay. During the months of October to December, the Striped Marlins take advantage of this aggregation and hunt the sardines, along with other predators like sea lions.
During our stay we have the option of staying in the small town of San Carlos, or go to an established camp in Magdalena Island, you choose!
We’ll pick you up at the airport and drive for 3-5 hours (depending on airport) to San Carlos, where we will be staying and having dinner the first night. A briefing about good practices, marlin behavior & biology, and safety will take place after dinner. The next days we’ll be waking up early and going offshore for 8-12 hours every day. We look for frigate birds who feed on the sardines to localize the baitballs, and we also use the radio to communicate with other captains to find the action.
Once we find the baitballs, we find the marlins and the action begins. You’ll hop in the water with your expert guide and enjoy being on first row for one of the most spectacular feeding events on Earth. Most of the action happens between the surface and 10 m, so you can snorkel and/or freedive to watch.
This is a private expedition, meaning we’ll tailor it to your desires. We suggest to save one afternoon to explore the dunes and mangroves, look for coyotes and have a picnic at sunset.
Oct 18-24 – Full
Dec 3-7 – Full
Dec 11-17 – 2 spaces available, $2,400 usd per person
October to December
We recommend having a minimum of 3 water days for higher probability of finding more animals and having the best encounters. However, our favorite number of water days is 5 to 6. Email us to let us know how many days and how many people, and we’ll send you a quote.
Water temperature: 24-28ºC (74-82 F)
Visibility: 15-30m. Usually very good visibility
High. We have long days offshore, sometimes with wind and waves. Baitballs can be dynamic, meaning they can move fast. We try to find static baitballs where activity level is low, however it is not always the case.
Most of the action is from the surface to 10m, so there is no need for scuba or freediving certification. However it is a requirement to know how to swim.
The most common are sardine or mackerel baitballs, striped marlin, sea lions, dolphinsm turtles and sea birds (pelicans, frigate birds, cormorants, seagulls).
End of November to December we see humpback whales more often.
We occasionally see bryde’s whale feeding on baitball, mobulas and coyotes.
More rare sightings are orcas, sailfish, wahoo, dorado (mahi mahi), blue whale and tuna.
You can fly to La Paz airport (3 hour drive to San Carlos) or San José del Cabo airport (5 hour drive to San Carlos).