Stars to Sea

      22980 Bahía de los Ángeles, Baja California, Mexico

      Vermilion Sea Institute
      • Email address verified
      Duration: 6 days
      Group size: 1 - 20
      Stars to Sea
      22980 Bahía de los Ángeles, Baja California, Mexico

      Vermilion Sea Institute
      • Email address verified

      Duration: 6 days
      Group size: 1 - 20

      About this trip

      Immerse yourself in adventure, wildlife, and nature with our “Stars to Sea” program, offering a unique opportunity to engage in genuine community science focused on one of the world’s most elusive and captivating creatures. This expedition unites individuals from diverse backgrounds to support the scientific community in unraveling the secrets of this endangered species and contributing to global conservation efforts.

      Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are the largest fish on Earth, reaching lengths of 40 feet. Lack of knowledge about habitat and migration patterns makes experiencing these amazing creatures a challenge. Fortunately, The Vermilion Sea Field Station, located in Bahía de los Ángeles, has been fortunate enough to host these magnificent fish and a rich variety of marine life year after year. Our Stars to Sea community science program brings together individuals from a variety of backgrounds to help the scientific community uncover the mysteries of this threatened species and aid in world-wide conservation efforts! 

      Whale sharks, known for their friendly and approachable nature, have become ocean ambassadors and a key focus of the growing ecotourism industry in Bahía de los Ángeles, Mexico, the home of the Vermilion Sea Field Station. These majestic creatures congregate in the waters here during the summer and fall months, drawing numerous visitors and serving as a vital economic catalyst for the local community.

      At VSI, our mission is to forge meaningful connections between marine wildlife, the community, and you—our valued participants—to work towards a sustainable future for all.

      Please note that we have limited space for just 20 participants. Reservations are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, and they will be confirmed only when we receive your completed reservation form and payment. 


      No prior research experience is necessary on this trip. You will become a trained community-science researcher, photographing whale sharks and uploading data that are shared collaboratively with researchers all over the world. The distinctive spot patterns of these marine giants are unique to each individual—just like fingerprints are to humans—and can be used to identify and track the sharks we encounter. The Sharkbook for Whale Sharks project uses innovative technology that applies spot pattern recognition algorithms used by astronomers to recognize celestial patterns in the night sky to identify individual whale sharks via these unique, behind-the-gill spots. 

      This is an educational program. Participants are not required to have previous experience with field studies. Also, participants need not be SCUBA certified, but should be able to swim independently and be comfortable swimming in open water. Finally, given the nature of field-based education programs, a go-with-the-flow attitude is a must!



      Situated along the shores of the Gulf of California within the Bahía de los Ángeles Biosphere reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Vermilion Sea Field Station (VSFS) has hosted scientists, conservationists, educators, and students since the 1970’s. Bahía de los Ángeles is a sleepy little town unlike other crowded Mexican tourist destinations. It is primarily known for fishing and was formerly a mining town. It is authentic Mexico at its finest.


      We are in one of the rare few spaces left in the world without cell service. Most visitors to Bahía and the Vermilion Sea Field Station take the rare and special opportunity to embrace being “unplugged” and find they connect more deeply with the incredible local environment because of it. However, if totally disconnecting isn’t possible, there are local restaurants within walking distance with WiFi access.


      The Vermilion Sea Field Station is first and foremost a field facility for researchers and educators in the environmental sciences with minimalistic and rustic, yet enjoyable accommodations. The field station consists of a central two-story adobe and stone facility with 12 multi-purpose rooms, a large kitchen, outdoor bucket-flush bathrooms and an additional family house.

      Most participants at our field station choose to sleep outside under the starry skies, as the nights stay quite warm. This outdoor sleeping option offers a slightly cooler and more immersive experience. However, we understand that weather conditions can be unpredictable, and some individuals may prefer or need indoor accommodations which are available as needed in shared rooms designed for storing participants’ belongings. It’s important to note that the Vermilion Sea Field Station does not have air conditioning.

      Please be mindful that fresh water is a precious resource in our location. While we do provide an indoor and outdoor shower for rinsing, we actively practice water conservation to ensure sustainability. Additionally, we encourage individuals to utilize the ocean for bathing, using eco-friendly products to minimize environmental impact. 

      As a working field station, we emphasize a communal ethos where each visitor is responsible for pitching in to clean up after themselves and help maintain the facility. We encourage everyone to leave it better than they found it, ensuring that the station remains a welcoming and sustainable facility for all who use it.

      For additional information such as a suggested packing list and other travel related questions, please review the VSI Stars to Sea Trip Planner which will be provided after registration.

      What’s included

      • Travel to/from BDLA
        Round trip travel from San Diego to Bahía de los Ángeles, Mexico
      • Lodging
        Lodging at the Vermilion Sea Field Station (VSFS) for 5 nights
      • Meals
        Meals at stops during road trips and delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner prepared fresh at VSFS
      • Boat Rentals
        Boat rental fees and permits for access to the Natural Protected Area of Bahía de los Ángeles
      • Partial Snorkel Gear
        Wetsuits and fins

      What’s not included

      • Travel to/from Home
        Travel to/from San Diego from home location
      • Lodging before/after
        Lodging in San Diego before/after the trip
      • Snacks and Alcohol
        Snacks, sodas, souvenirs and alcohol (alcohol available with an additional purchase)
      • Travel Insurance
        Travel & Medical Emergency Insurance (mandatory for every participant)
      • Snorkel Masks
        Snorkels and masks (available for rent for $15/set)

      Available Packages

      Non-refundable Registration
      Sold Out

      This is a discounted option for people who want to save some money and are completely sure that they will be there! Registration is not refundable for any reason at any time

      Deposit: $300
      Flexible Registration
      Sold Out

      Perfect for participants who understand that life is unpredictable and sometimes plans change. While it comes at a slightly higher cost, it offers the freedom to cancel with a refund, (excluding deposit). Sign up with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have the flexibility to adapt to life's surprises.

      Deposit: $300

      Available options

      Mask and Snorkel

      Rental with unlimited use for the duration of the trip (fins and wetsuits included with the trip purchase). 

      SCUBA Diving
      5 left

      Two 1-tank dives with all equipment provided for certified divers. 

      Beverage Package

      Unlimited beer or soda at VSFS. 

      Donation to Aventureros Program

      Provides food and supplies for youth participation in marine science activities.

      Washington Resident +6.5% State Tax

      Unfortunately, the state of Washington requires us to collect this from WA residents. Required for WA residents.


      Road Trip to BDLA
      Day 1

      Depart from San Diego at 6 a.m. sharp for Bahía de los Ángeles (in two 15 passenger vans), arriving approx. 7 p.m. Stops on the way will include lunch, stretch breaks and scenic views. The road trip is part of the fun and gives opportunities for making new friends, playing car games, and the occasional carpool karaoke.

      Your Organizer

      Vermilion Sea Institute
      At the Vermilion Sea Institute, we engage our local community alongside visiting students, scholars and researchers in science-based programs that strive to build a more sustainable future. Our interdisciplinary approach to research in ecological, cultural, economic and sociopolitical aspects of environmental issues inspires and educates our future leaders.