Kayaking article by Brian
A variety of kayak options exist in the San Carlos area for all experience levels. You can drop a kayak hopefully into glass calm conditions in front of your beachfront rental, to traveling or kayaking up the coast to remote locals. Conditions and time of year can be a factor for where you choose to go. Lastly, maybe you're just in it for the group experience or something to do.
El Estero Soldado y Isla Blanca y Leon (a.k.a. Window Rock/Isla Ventana):
The protected Estero Soldado, or the estuary, is one of the largest estuaries in the state of Sonora. It is home to a variety of birds, a few mammals, and aquatic life. There is a new visitor's center on the eastern side off the scenic bypass road. The area may soon attain a national park designation. In the winter up to 123 species of migrating birds have been recorded to visit the estuary and surrounding beach area. Even during summer though a number of resident herons, egrets, and other birds can be found among the mangroves. High tide is the best time to enter the estuary, but on low tide a number of the muddling birds will be found feeding on the flats. There are a number of access points to enter the estuary which can always be done in glass calm conditions. It is often also protected from any strong winds that deter kayaking along the coast. Next to the Estuary is situated Condominiums Pilar and Bahia Delfin. The beach there is often calm in the morning and beach launching is easy. Get there early, or anytime, and you may run into the local resident pod of dolphin. It is an easy paddle from the condos to the mouth of the estuary. Be careful of breaking waves on either side of the mouth of the channel and entrance. Sometimes the tide is running strong in or out, but that can be half the fun. Time it right and you can drift in and get pulled back out. An island just inside the entrance makes for a nice loop around the mangroves. About a 45 min. to an hour trip out to Isla Blanca can provide excellent snorkeling or shell collecting. Make sure to beach your kayak high enough! The Blue Footed Boobies can often be found there where they nest. On one note, you might want to bring a nose plug. The Island hasn't been harvested for its guano since World War I. About a half mile farther out is Isla Ventana, with no beach landing but excellent snorkeling and fishing. Usually the winds will push you back in from these locations, but be careful of winter days where a northern front crossing the Southwest will produce an initial blast of strong north winds. If this happens, the wind usually shifts or dies mid-morning allowing one to return to shore easily. For the true athlete, fishermen, or adventurer, launches and paddling down the coast to Miramar and all the way to Guaymas is possible. Dramatic shorelines will be sure to make the trip memorable.
Kayaks rentals and estuary tours can be found through San Carlos Aquatic Adventures. Contact Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org he'll get you or your entire group out on the water. He also has charter boats that could take your kayaks to Isla San Pedro or elsewhere for a unique experience.
San Carlos: Honeymoon Island, Punta Doble, Piedras Pintas/Zoro Beach
Entering the town of San Carlos the two mile long San Francisco Beach from the estuary turns into rock. There still are a number of small beaches to launch from, but surge from summer southern swells can become more of an issue. Easily visible is nearby Honeymoon Island (Isla Raza). Thousands of brown pelicans and seagulls breed on Honeymoon in the spring. It is a nice paddle around the Island which is about a half mile from the Creston Beach. The beach on the north side closest to shore may be one of the better shell collecting beaches. The snorkeling is decent and the fishing can be excellent. The coastline out to Punta Doble contains a number of beach launches. One could even pull into the Posada beach to the Palapa Griega for a bite to eat or a drink. The marina extends back a half mile with multiple restaurants and bars to visit. Outside the entrance to the marina is the popular Martini Cove inside Isla Catalan where you can often find a summer party. You can even pull into and camp on the beach there. This is also a popular snorkeling area, just be careful of the aguamala (jellyfish) at times. Farther out on Doble Point are two small sea caves carved from the swells. Wait for a calm day to go far inside. Around the point towards the landmark Tetekawi, or Goat's Tits, is Eagle Rock with great snorkeling and fishing. Past Tetekawi is Piedras Pintas and Zoro Beach. There is easy public beach access and protection from many swell directions. The fishing and snorkeling is good here, and farther out you may run into an occasional seal or other mammals.
Algodones Beach: Catch 22 Beach, The Soggy Peso, and La Manga
A popular summertime area is the stretch of Algodones Beach where the movie Catch 22 was filmed. Fine white sands are on this 1.5 mile long beach that also has some large sand dunes. The bay is often protected until strong ocean winds fill in. Good snorkeling can be found along the rocks and there are many places to beach a kayak. A favorite spot to beach is the Soggy Peso Bar and Bonafacio's Cotton Club. Careful that you don't beach yourself for too long, or the waves might not be what's making your kayak so tipsy. Separating the beach bars and the Paradiso resort is a small estuary and several islands. Deer Island is about 3/4mi. to the point with good snorkeling and fishing. Beyond that and to the fishing village of La Manga I,II, and III are a couple beaches and a small point. Good seafood can be found here straight from the ocean. The public roads pretty much end at La Manga III, but the points and beaches do not. One could kayak all day, or multiple days up the coast exploring into secluded palm lined beaches and canyons. Barajitas Canyon may one day be open to eco-tours, but at the moment don't plan on pulling in to load up on any water or go exploring. There are plenty of ways to win over most anyone along this coastline though. You might run into an occasional panguero fisherman along the coast, but expect to go ten miles of so before finding any fishing shacks. You're on your own, and maybe you like it that way.
About thirty miles or an hours plus drive up the coast is the little village of Punta Colorado. Kayaks can be rented there to explore the area. Plenty of seafood can be found in the fishing village. Bring your sunscreen, as you might be the only gringo around. The people are friendly and glad to have you there. If you don't know spanish then a few words and sign language will most likely get you around. You're really off the beaten path now.
If in San Carlos for an extended winter stay, check for planned group trips through the Seafaring Kayaker's group to various locations. Beginners are always welcome and they are never too serious. Access their website at http://seafarinkayakers.com/ for information on upcoming trips.
Article by Vince Radice
Here is the skinny on kiting in San Carlos. The best time of year is gonna be spring winter and fall. Starting in October, the nicest month of the year in my humble opinion, and ending in April. The very end of September or beginning of October is when the wind will start to blow out of the northwest which is the wind we all want. A perfect side on shore breeze at most of the beaches in the area. Wind usually starts late morning or early afternoon and can blow until sunset. Wind speeds during winter are usually 15 to 25 knots. February tends to be the windiest time of the year with January and March close behind. What causes our northwest winds to blow is essentially a pressure differential with high pressure up in the four corners area and lower pressure in the southern Baja. We almost always get a good blow after a storm has passed through southern Colorado followed by a strong high pressure system.
Summer time is also kite board-able. The wind is going to change direction and blow mostly out of the south. The wind starts late morning and will last until early afternoon. Wind intensity tends to be less so 12 to 17 knots would be considered a decent south wind. Just be careful of the jelly fish that come with our south winds. I have produced a custom map on the web site with most of the spots were we launch for kite boarding at this link. San Carlos kiteboarding info
Visit this link to read a blog by a local kiteboarder, Don Gray. http://kiteboard-mexico.blogspot.com/
And here is the link to his fantastic photo album San Carlos Kiteboard Report