There is something extraordinary about the raw extension of the Golden State. It lies beneath the California line, and gives you a bold taste of what our southern coast must have been like hundreds of years ago. Baja has been on our radar for a long time; from our early teenage years to our adult lives, we have been migrating south to chase swell. We live to explore, and Baja is the perfect place to escape from the California summer swarms. We wanted to share some visual imagery to stimulate your eyes and motivate you to DRINK COFFEE. STAY WILD.
Whale sharks ignited the flame of this particular adventure. Our lovely friend Helen Grace @saltwaterthreads informed me that whale sharks were going to be migrating through the region around this time, so I was keen on trying to go photograph them. I recruited another friend, Cleo Maggiore, who is always down for an adventure. Cleo and I met up with Helen and her man Luke (the fishing king) at 3 A.M. in Topanga, CA, and started our caravan down to the Sea of Cortez. We drove all day through the desert heat and stopped only to photograph some Dr. Seuss looking cacti, eat some tacos, drink a michelada and get gas. We arrived in the evening and went for a swim to cool off from the desert sun. Tecates were immediately in hand, which set the tone to slow everything down into “Baja Mode”. We all went to bed fairly early, due to our next day 4 am wake up call to hit the water to slay some tuna. It was a rare celestial evening where the full moon and summer Solstice brought us the strawberry moon who glistened majestically above the calm sea.
The next thing I remembered was Luke fired up, knocking on my van door pre-dawn and all I could think about was making coffee. So I whipped up a French Press with some Flying Hare and hooked up the crew with some cups. Our local friend Pedro picked us up and we drove over to the dock. Sitting in the boat, we were sipping coffee, relishing in the sunrise as Pedro towed us down to the waterside. The sky was exploding with vibrant color and sun rays. It was almost as if it was a fortelling to the day we were about to have.
We motored out to an area right off where we camped, and fished for some live bait. In about a 1/2 hour, we had filled up the bait tank and headed out to some islands off of the shore where they had been fishing some big Yellow tail. Within the hour, we hooked about eight tuna that were about the size of a small child. The abundance of sea life in the area was breathtaking. Jacques Cousteau dubbed this area of the ocean as, “The Worlds Aquarium” and that statement couldn't be more accurate. We saw everything from Turtles, Seals, Fin Back Whales, Orca’s, schools of Dolphins, Starfish, groupers to sharks. It truly is “Sea World” in its most raw form. After we filled a cooler full of Yellow Tail, we headed over to one of the islands nearby to go diving. The water clarity wasn’t the best for shooting photos underwater or diving, so I swam to the island with Cleo and Helen to explore a bit more. The raw features of the island had so many treasures on the rocky shoreline. We found everything from Seal teeth, Dolphin skulls, whale vertebrae and some magical seashells. It was such an untouched coastline. Meanwhile, Luke was out in the water and we saw a pod of nearly 100 dolphins swimming right towards him. We watched from the shore while they dove all around him, swimming under and above him for about 3 minutes. Watching these incredible creatures thrive in their natural habitat was a moment that we will all keep in the memory bank forever. I shot some photos of the girls on the island, and then swam back to the boat with some of the treasures we had found on the beach. The mid day sun was beating down on us, and we asked our boat driver if he had any idea where we could look for Whale Sharks. He was on a radio with another boat that had spotted them earlier that day, so we headed off to search for the beautiful creatures in another bay nearby.
Helen, the vibe creator, had built a little shade with a blanket off the front of the boat and we were sipping Tecates and eating chips and salsa when the boat driver started yelling that we had come upon a massive Mama Whale Shark and her baby.
At this point, everything started happening very quickly. We were all scrambling for our masks and flippers. I grabbed my waterhousing that I thought was ready, and jumped straight into the water. The visibility wasn’t super clear, but I swam up along side of her and was in complete awe of how beautiful and majestic she was. She passed me from eye to tail. She was about the size of a school bus, and I have never felt so tiny in my entire life. I looked up and saw Helen swimming right above her while Luke was swimming back by the tail. I tried to shoot an image, only realizing that my camera battery was dead, and knew that this was just going to be a bucket list moment that we would all share. The whale shark was very calm, cruising along the ocean, going about her daily life. I decided to swim up towards her front, as she turned towards me. I immediately realized that I didn’t want to be that close to a mouth in the ocean that I could potentially live in, so I kept a bit of distance and admired from afar. It was such a magical moment that I will never forget. We followed her for a few minutes and said our goodbyes.
As we all piled back into the boat and headed to another sandy beach nearby to dive for clams. The sun was beating down on us and the super intense mid-day heat made us call it a day and head back to the harbor. It was only 1 pm, but the amount of stoke we had from all the inexplicable moments of the day had us all buzzing (No coffee needed).
We went back to our camp site and had a full afternoon A.C. session. Helen and Luke travel in style, and rented a room for all of us so we could hide out from the desert sun. We had planned on spending 3 days out in the region, but with everything we experienced in a matter of one day, Cleo and I decided to not get greedy with the magic, and decided to leave the next morning to greet the south swell that was coming through. I found some wifi and shot a text out to my brother telling him to meet us. I told him we were headed out and would be there the next day. He said he was going to try to book it down.
We left the next morning and started the journey off right with some BentPenny cups, huevos rancheros and a michelada. We cruised back through the "land of the cacti” jamming out to Tinariwen. If your in the search for a new desert sound; they are the band to check out. We stocked up on some goodies from the main town and headed out to the long dirt road that lead to our secluded break. We showed up when the swell had just started to fill in that evening. I ran into a friend of mine that I always keep bumping into all over Baja when the waves are good. His name is Gabe Whorley and he’s about as stoked of an individual as they come. We surfed that evening and rode some really fun waves. We camped right on the point and fell asleep to the sound of building swell. The next morning was foggy with a touch of South wind, but the swell had arrived. We obviously surfed all day.
Around noon I looked up from the water to the camp sight, and I saw my brother and a friend pull up. I was so stoked. Surfing with my brother is the absolute best, he is among the few guys that I would travel anywhere in the world with and know that the vibes will be at an all time high! I ran in from the water, and realized he had driven down with Nathaniel Curran (another one of my really good friends that I would travel anywhere in the World with). We cracked a celebratory Tecate, and they set up camp in our zone! We took turns surfing and shooting. Watching Nathaniel surfing empty points down in Mexico, really is something to witness. The guy surfs so well, and I still think is one of the best to come out of the Ventura area. My brother was ripping too.
The next morning, Helen and Luke arrived at our camp after their day three fishing adventure. The whole crew was back together and then the party really started...
Having fabulous coffee mornings, surfing our brains out, building campfires under the stars, going to bed salty, sunburnt and sore from paddling was the main agenda.
This is what Summer is meant to be...
Live it up guys.. Life's a precious little gem and it’s gonna pass before we know it-
DRINK BENTPENNY coffee, be adventurous, go somewhere you’ve never been before and pass a smile on to everyone you meet.
DRINK COFFEE. STAY WILD.
PHOTOS BY: kylemacvisuals