An interesting sound explodes out of a snorkel when one squeals underwater. The sea lion pup cocks his head quizzically while gazing at me with his curious, dark eyes. Likely wondering what odd and noisy playmate has come to swim with sea lions of Los Islotes.

swim with sea lions

Photo courtesy Nichols Expeditions

Twenty five miles from La Paz, Mexico dozens of adult sea lions lounge on the jagged rocks of a tiny rock island. With no disembarking allowed on the shores they show no fear. At best a raised head as the giants roll over in the warm sun.

los islotes sea lion colony

On the other hand the pups, or yearlings, busily perform underwater acrobatics. Like toddlers rushing about on the playground, these young sea lions put on an impressive show of their sleek aquatic maneuvers.

With schools of colorful fish and rambunctious sea lions, Los Islotes is a snorkeling paradise.  Grab your flippers while we take a break from our kayaking adventure. Click on the video below to see for yourself.


Tips and cautions for a swim with sea lions

The sea lions of Los Islotes colony are not aggressive. Should you be underwater for a swim with sea lions and get too close for comfort you will receive a flurry of bubbles blown in your direction. Above water, a sharp bark advises if you are too close for comfort.

The pups are very playful and show great interest in swimmers. If wanting to nibble on your hand or tug at your face mask our guides suggest you raise your flippers  to their face.

Do not touch the sea lion. Remember these are wild animals and a sea lion bite can be like that of a dog. We did not encounter any seal pup nibbling. Just a great deal of frolicking.

Snorkel with sea lions

In spring you will find the largest population of sea lions at Los Islotes. Rutting season is typically mid April. While the pups romp and twirl about like kids on a sugar high, the bulls are more protective of their herd.  Always consult with your guide about where to swim and heed the advice. The bulls may want some extra space.

Never go on shore. Landing on Los Islotes is prohibited. Respect that this is a wilderness area. Our guides strictly enforced a ‘no closer to the shore than’ 30 meter (100 feet) policy. Besides you may not want a half ton sea lion to use you as a pillow.

Sea of Cortez los Islotes

What is the best swimming or snorkeling spot you can recommend?

Thanks to Nichols Expeditions for their contribution of photo#1 and several photos within the video. This post was facilitated and sponsored in part by Nichols Expeditions. All snorkel squealing and opinions are my own.