It is mountainous and stands high and sheer from the blue water – John Steinbeck SOC
Established as a national park in 2007, the archipiélago de Espíritu Santo is made of nine islands. Espritu Santo, the largest island and the smaller island to the north, Isla Partida, are the two main islands used by eco tourists. La Ballena, El Gallo, y La Gallina are three small islands on the western side of Espíritu Santo, and there are four promontories. One promontory, Los Islotes, supports a colony of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). The protected area includes all nine islands as well as the surrounding waters, covering an area of 105 km² (CONANP – 16).
Espíritu Santo stands out among the islands in the Gulf of California for its unique coastline. Instead of geometrically-formed rocks, Espíritu Santo forms a series of finger-like bays along its western edge, with a backbone along the east. White sand beaches and high cliffs decorate the islands and several species of bird use the land as breeding grounds. Frigatebirds and yellow-footed sea gulls are common. Six-hundred and eighteen species of flora and fauna call the islands and surrounding waters home and thirty-eight of those species are found nowhere else on Earth (CONANP 17, CONANP 18).
The islands supported human habitation as early as 11,000 year ago and the Pericú, the aboriginal inhabitants of the cape region, survived on the natural resources of the islands (CONANP 19). They used narrow canoes to fish and gather invertebrates like the notorious pearl bearing oyster (CONANP 19). When the Spanish arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries, the exploitation of pearls began.
A panga, a local type of fishing boat, will reach the island from La Paz in forty-five minutes, making the island a popular eco-tourist destination for visitors to the city. Professional guides offer a variety of activities such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and hiking. Los Islotes is a popular snorkel spot where adventurers have the chance to swim with the sea lions.