In the dawn’s early light, we weighed anchor and began steaming south through the ‘unnavigable’ (according to the navigation charts) Canal de Soledad. This navigation was possible because of the skilled 3rd generation pilot onboard and the small size and draft of National Geographic Sea Bird. As was the case during our northbound passage two days ago, we viewed magnificent mangroves, soaring frigatebirds, high-diving pelicans, and numerous other birds. Occasionally, bottlenose dolphins briefly rode our bow wave. After our mid-morning arrival at El Berril, we enjoyed leisurely voyages by kayak, paddleboard, or Zodiac along the magnificent mangroves. As it was an exceptionally high tide, it was possible to view the amazing underwater maze of red mangrove prop roots. It was easy to understand how and why the area serves as a critical nursery for fish and shellfish, many of which are a commercially important fishery once mature. Egrets and herons flew among the mangrove canopy and at the water’s edge.

After El Berril, we enjoyed lunch while sailing to Sand Dollar Beach. We made another wet landing, but it was well worth the slight discomfort. We walked about a mile over fine-sand dunes spotted with dune vegetation and prehistoric middens of clamshells. We walked from the landing beach, which faces Magdalena Bay, to Sand Dollar Beach, which faces the open Pacific. Tracks of coyotes, birds, and lizards provided an interesting history of the recent past. Sand Dollar Beach must be one of the ten best beaches in Mexico and is certainly the most isolated. Several miles long, it was an ideal spot for ‘no-take’ beachcombing and solitary or naturalist-led walks. The soothing sounds of the gentle surf, the slight breeze, a clear sky, and perfect temperature burned a memorable experience into our minds.  And yes, there are lots of sand dollars on Sand Dollar Beach, but all are sun-bleached skeletons.

After returning to the ship for a bit of ‘freshening-up,’ we enjoyed cocktail hour, highlighted by recaps and a special birthday celebration for a young guest. A traditional piñata revealed a treasure trove of goodies when ‘disassembled’ by the young Global Explorers. A Mexican-themed dinner capped off another perfect day onboard National Geographic Sea Bird.