Gulf of California


The Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California is a serial property including 244 islands and oceanic marine zones, described as "the world's aquarium".

This site in north-eastern Mexico is home to 39 percent of the world's total marine mammal species and a third of the world's marine cetacean species.

The protected area is located between Baja California and the Mexican State of Sonora. It encompasse the following protected zones:

- Upper Gulf and Colorado River Delta

- Islands of the Gulf

- Isla San Pedro Mártir

- El Vizcaíno Reserve

- Bahía de Loreto National Park

- Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park

- Cabo San Lucas Reserve

- Islas Marías Biosphere Reserve

- Isla Isabel National Park

- Islas Marietas National Park

- Archipelago de San Lorenzo National Park


Community Reviews

Nancy Graham - June 2016

Where I am on the Gulf of California is a perfect example of why this is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In Kino Bay (Bahia de Kino), the desert meets the bay, forming a fascinating juxtaposition of habitats. This area is Eco-oriented, has a full-time Marine Science Center where classes for college students and community members are taught and research data has been being gathered on sea birds, whales and more for years now. The diversity of marine and land life is unique and it is so important to maintain this habitat for current and future generations. The Seri (Comcaac) Nation is just a bit north and this beautiful and talented group of people who have resided here for so long is In the process of passing on their unique language and songs. It is vitally important that this fishing village keeps its focus on the natural world, enhancing the surrounding habitats and providing education about the unique gifts this land offers. The value of this area lies not in being a vacation land and resort for those who wish to escape and play, but, rather, in standing in representation of all that is beautiful, mysterious and pristine on this Earth of ours. Thank you UNESCO. Now, let's the rest of us follow through to make sure this designation is honored.

Ashley Waddell - June 2006

Visit the Gulf of California's crystal-clear waters and you'll thank God you learned to swim. You won't know which way to look as hundreds of fish species swim around you, going about their day in this sunny stretch of water.

Bring your sunscreen -- we were sunburned even through the t-shirts we wore snorkeling -- and watch out for sharks; this is prime habitat for both hammerheads and great whites. You'll be grateful you took the plunge, though, and we recommend camping on one of the islands rather than staying in La Paz or (God forbid) one of those tourist traps like Cabo San Lucas.

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Site Info

Full name: Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California

Site History

  • 2007 - Extended

    To include the Islas Marietas National Park and the Archipelago de San Lorenzo National Park
  • 2007 - Boundary change

    To include the Islas Marietas National Park and the Archipelago de San Lorenzo National Park
  • 2005 - Inscribed

    Reasons for inscription


The site has 12 locations. Show all

  • Archipelago of San Lorenzo
  • Bah
  • Balandra Zone of Ecological Conservation and Community Interest
  • Cabo Pulmo
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Isla Isabel
  • Isla San Pedro Martir
  • Isla San Pedro Martir
  • Islands of the Gulf of California
  • Islas Marias
  • Islas Marietas
  • Upper Gulf of California - Colorado River Delta (marine portion)


The site has 19 connections.


  • Prison Gulf of California Maria Grande Isle has had a penal colony since 1905



Individual People


  • Miocene The Gulf of California came into existence approximately 16.5 to 9.2 million years before present, when tectonic forces rifted the Baja Peninsula from the North American Plate. (EOEarth)

WHS on Other Lists

  • Ramsar Wetlands Humedales del Delta del R?o Colorando, 1996; Laguna Ojo de Liebre, 2004; Parque Nacional Bah?a de Loreto, 2004; Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo, 2008
  • World Biosphere Reserves Islas del Golgo de California (1995)

World Heritage Process