A Closer Look at Cedros Island

Map of Baja California with yellow circle indicating location of Cedros Island off the Pacific Ocean coast.

The Land

Located 310 miles from the Mexico-US border, off the western coast of Baja California, Cedros Island stretches 24 miles along its north to south axis. Characterized by rugged terrain with steep slopes, the island’s vegetation includes coastal scrub, chaparral, pine forest, juniper scrub, and sand dune scrub.

The two towns, Cedros Town and El Morro, are home to most of the island’s 4,500 inhabitants. Fishing for lobster and abalone in Cedros Town, and salt transportation in El Morro comprise the only industries.

Tourism brings a much-needed addition to the local economy. Cedros Outdoor Adventures and Baja Magic Lodge creates a rustic yet comfortable space with great food, stunning views and a hard working crew of friendly locals.

Creature comforts aside, the real reason to visit Cedros is simple: its spectacular and unspoiled natural environment. Many people know the fishing here (especially yellowtail and calico bass) is world class. But there are also desert plants, including some endemic cactus and dudleya, found only on this island. In the mountains (highest point 3,950 ft), aggregations of endemic Cedros’ pine and oak trees make up small forests that survive mostly from the regular fog-borne moisture.

Endemic species of animals include Cedros’ mule deer, Cedros’ brush rabbit, Cedros’ horned lizards and Cedros’ Pack rat, among others.

Four people fishing in a white panga in the Pacific Ocean with seagulls in distance.

The Sea

The surrounding waters teem with Pacific marine species that have been reduced or eliminated near more populated areas off the coast of California.

For this reason, the waters off this island are a preferred destination for most of the San Diego fleet for long-range fishing trips.  Of course, the Cedros locals know this better than anyone: the co-op Pescadores Nationales de Abulon takes an impressive quantity of abalone, lobster and fish each year, in accordance with quotas set by the Mexican government.

The source of this area’s abundant fish and marine mammal populations is the combination of intensive upwellings that emerge at Punta Eugenia and Punta Baja and feed Bahia Vizcaino. An upwelling is cold water brought from the depth of the ocean. This water, particularly rich in the nutrients, creates a ripple effect all the way up the food chain to the big predators, including game fish. During summer, water temperatures are warmer and even more tropical species move into the area to seek prey.