The Baja Peninsula of Mexico is 775 miles long, extending from the southern border of the USA south of San Diego right down to Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip. With the Sea of Cortez on one aspect and the Pacific Ocean on the opposite, it has a staggering 1,900 miles of coast land and seashores to explore, not counting the islands scattered round which you could explore by boat or kayak.
The entire thing known as Baja California. Let’s not overlook that the U.S. territory now referred to as California was a part of Mexico before we annexed it in a struggle negotiation in 1848. The peninsula is split into two Mexican states now. The northern state is usually wine nation, some beaches, and Tijuana. The southern part is wilder and, until you resolve it, not very populated.
So this submit is going to cover the more adventure-oriented Baja Sur, which incorporates the prime whale watching areas, Loreto, La Paz, Todos Santos, and Los Cabos. In case you have been coming down in a camper van or RV, you’d in all probability start with the cave paintings or the San Ignacio Bay choices under. In case you are flying into the San Jose del Cabo airport, skip forward to these Los Cabos elements and then think about the far much less crowded places up north after you’ve had enough seashore and pool time in Cabo.
Is Baja California protected? That is the first question from anyone who has by no means been to Mexico, but for probably the most half, sure. The roads are nice, the police are well-organized, and there’s a lot cash at stake for tourism here that the personal sector also retains strain on the federal government to maintain the peace. Hundreds of thousands of People and Canadians travel up and down this area annually with no points, including me five occasions now. Simply apply the standard rules of widespread sense safety and anytime you possibly can avoid it, don’t be driving throughout the desert in the midst of the night time in your flashy car.
Listed here are a number of the prime Baja adventures to think about for an extended weekend vacation or months of travel in Baja California.
- 1 See the Cave Work of Sierra de San Francisco
- 2 Get Near Mama and Baby Whales Part 1: San Ignacio Lagoon
- 3 Visiting The Oasis of Mulegé
- 4 Fish Tacos, Beers, and a Swim in a Good Bay
- 5 Hike Across the Desert Hilltops of Sierra La Giganta
- 6 Hike the Dramatic Mountains Round Loreto
- 7 Go Whale Watching or Kayaking in Loreto
- 8 Get Close to Mama and Baby Whales Part 2: Magdalena Bay
- 9 Swim with Whale Sharks
- 10 Kayak Round a Protected Island
- 11 Swim with Sea Lions Away From the Crowds
- 12 Hike From the Pacific to the Sea of Cortez
- 13 Hike The place Gold Prospectors Used to Get Supplies
- 14 Experience a Camel on the Seashore? What?!
- 15 Journey an ATM By way of the Cacti-studded Desert
- 16 Go Whale Watching Close to the Los Cabos Arch
- 17 Take an Artwork Tour in San Jose del Cabo
- 18 Go Snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo
- 19 The place to Stay in Baja Sur
- 20 Prime Adventure Tour Corporations
See the Cave Work of Sierra de San Francisco
The rock paintings of Sierra de San Francisco are a protected group of works recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage website collectively. There’s an air of secrecy round them because the individuals who painted them had given up and moved on or died out lengthy earlier than the Spanish arrived. (The paintings are from 1300 AD and earlier.) They’ve been well-preserved within the desert local weather and since they’re in fairly remoted areas properly off the tourist monitor, they never suffered any vandalism and are still fairly impressive.
This is not some outside museum that’s 20 minutes from your resort. You’ve acquired to make a particular effort in a automotive or on a tour to get here then hike up to a high cave to see the work. It’s a day’s trip in itself. And that is just probably the most accessible set.
Get Near Mama and Baby Whales Part 1: San Ignacio Lagoon
There are two locations in Baja Sur where gray whales come down from the Arctic Circle annually to breed, spawn, and train their infants how one can survive. From roughly January by means of April, you’ll be able to come stay in a camp on San Ignacio Lagoon and go observe them in a ship. You’ll see mama whales poke their head straight up and do the spyhop factor, you’ll see whales breaching, and the large creatures will typically swim right beside your boat.
Early in the period you may see some mating happening and catch sight of a “pink floyd” in motion. Anytime in the season you could be fortunate enough to work together with a grey whale baby. There’s a big protected area of the bay the place boats aren’t allowed. This other half is their play area. The moms swim around far from the boat often whereas the babies come round and stick their head up. That is like playground time for mama, so yes, you’ll be able to pat the child on the top and no indignant mom goes to go Moby Dick on you. She’s in on the game.
This is among the most memorable Baja adventures you can probably expertise, so for those who’ve received a pair weeks or extra in the region, make this one a excessive precedence.
Visiting The Oasis of Mulegé
After driving by way of the desert and seeing one million cordon cacti, it’s a slightly strange sight to tug up to the Mission of Santa Rosalía de Mulegé and see this oasis stretching out earlier than you.
Filled with date palms, fig timber, and citrus timber, this lush inexperienced place is a serene spot for a picnic in your method north or south on Highway 1 between San Ignacio and Loreto. The stone mission church right here dates again to the late 1700s.
Fish Tacos, Beers, and a Swim in a Good Bay
The Baja Peninsula is certainly one of North America’s greatest leisure car street trip places and each winter plenty of RVers head south in their house on wheels to discover a good spot within the solar. One space where they camp out is about as picture-perfect as you will get: Playa El Burro on Concepción Bay. Park the automotive and be a part of them for a swim or just have lunch on the restaurant where the sign out entrance just says, “Food & Beer.” What else do you want right here?
In case you’re so enchanted you need to stick around for some time however you didn’t convey your personal camper van or tent, you will discover some huts for lease by the night time.
Hike Across the Desert Hilltops of Sierra La Giganta
The Baja Peninsula has more selection than most individuals anticipate and the tourism slogan of “where the desert meets the sea” only scratches the surface. There are areas between the Pacific and Loreto which are nice places for an off-the-cuff hike the place you possibly can see quite a lot of crops and landscapes which are totally different than on the coast. First, there are the kooky boojum timber that seem like something out of a Dr. Seuss e-book.
Additionally, there’s a shocking quantity of fog rolling across this space, which helps the colourful flowers get enough water and creates some dramatic landscapes if you look out from a high point. Maintain your eyes peeled for good stopping points in case you are headed to Loreto.
Hike the Dramatic Mountains Round Loreto
The strategy to Loreto, driving by means of a move between craggy mountains that glow purple in the solar, is certainly one of Mexico’s most lovely drives. This isn’t a time to be swiping and scrolling on your telephone in the back seat. If you want to take it all in with a extra sluggish journey strategy, nevertheless, step outdoors of Loreto and hit some mountaineering trails in those mountains.
You can do these hikes your self in case you convey loads of water and solar protection, however this may be a time to think about having a guide. You’ll have transportation and entry to more trailhead choices that method and you get past the problem that many of those trails aren’t well-marked.
Go Whale Watching or Kayaking in Loreto
Within the bays mentioned earlier you’ll see grey whales, round Los Cabos and Loreto there are many humpback whales. In Loreto you even have a good probability of seeing a blue whale although, the most important mammal on the earth. Nothing is ever assured, in fact, but a nasty day on the water beats a superb day at work, proper? We didn’t see any blue whales on my trip, but we did spot some humpbacks and entire faculties of rays that jumped out of the water. Combined with the dramatic mountain scenery, it was undoubtedly worthwhile.
You can even e-book a kayaking trip around the close by islands and you may see whales and rays from your kayak seat. Or for those who’re staying at a resort like Loreto Bay, you possibly can just take certainly one of their kayaks out and see what happens. There’s no seashore in downtown Loreto, but when you get a few half mile out of town heading north, there’s an extended stretch of sand that goes on and on for miles.
Get Close to Mama and Baby Whales Part 2: Magdalena Bay
I’ll be doing a full function story on this later in Perceptive Travel after a incredible journey this spring with ROW Adventures’ Baja firm Sea Kayak Adventures. In contrast to at San Ignacio Bay to the north, here on Magdalena Bay you possibly can camp on a barrier island seashore and truly watch the whales from the shore. We did exit on a ship a couple occasions a day to see them up close, and we in all probability noticed 50 or 60 whales over three days, including plenty of mamas and their babies. There’s something quite special although about consuming breakfast outdoors, a coffee in hand, and watching whales swim by.
As with the other location, there are areas right here which might be off-limits to boats and other designated places the place individuals and whales interact. Typically the babies come as much as play, although on our trip they weren’t doing this as readily as they did once I visited the extra northern bay of San Ignacio. It’d occur, but contemplate it a bonus fairly than a guarantee.
Swim with Whale Sharks
One of the crucial well-known enjoyable things to do in Baja California Sur is to go snorkeling with the whale sharks near La Paz. Most places where you possibly can swim with whale sharks are robust to get to an are on the open seas. Typically you should be a scuba diver to actually see them up shut. This space in Baja is within reach of the town, nevertheless, and the enormous sharks (with no tooth) are swimming around with their mouths open slightly below the floor.
These aren’t the huge whale sharks which might be the dimensions of a luxurious yacht, nevertheless. They’re juveniles that may hit the open seas after they grow up. They’re still quite huge and spectacular though, particularly once you’re swimming right beside one, wanting it within the eye!
Most excursions embrace a sea lion sanctuary afterwards that’s actually too crowded for snorkeling, however then lunch on a unbelievable secluded bay with seashores. See some native tour options here:
Kayak Round a Protected Island
Espiritu Santo is a large island within the Sea of Cortez close to La Paz and it’s a protected marine reserve. You are able to do an Espiritu Santo Island glamping journey with Todos Santos Eco Adventures and have a very snug trip with nice meals, or you’ll be able to go more primary with one of many different authorised operators that’s allowed to have in a single day stays in the nature reserve. They need to comply with strict guidelines to be able to host friends here, so there are just a few of them to select from.
In the event you don’t need to spend your nights tenting, even full-service camping, then some corporations organize all-day trips out to Espiritu Santo Island with some kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding included plus lunch on the seashore with a view. (For a better trip to La Paz, you can do a multi-day kayaking journey round Isla del Carmen or Isla Danzante.)
Swim with Sea Lions Away From the Crowds
I mentioned before that the majority whale shark swimming tours additionally embrace a cease where you’ll be able to, in concept, swim with sea lions, nevertheless it’s not an excellent spot. The ocean lions are sort of cranky concerning the constant visitors and revving boats.
A better choice is to ebook at trip to the protected Espiritu Santo island talked about earlier. As part of you could swim with sea lions in a secluded cove referred to as La Lobera the place there are often no different individuals around and there’s not so much day by day visitors. Right here you’ve obtained a a lot better probability of interacting with the kids underwater and watching them play.
Hike From the Pacific to the Sea of Cortez
Are you up for crossing the backbone of Baja from one sea to the other? It’ll take you a couple of days, but for those who go together with a very good tour operator they’ll care for all of the logistics. They’ll deliver the provides, prepare dinner meals, set up the tents, and be sure to don’t get lost within the desert with no water. Alongside the best way you’ll study rather a lot concerning the Baja flora and fauna and get some implausible views. See more particulars from one operator here.
Hike The place Gold Prospectors Used to Get Supplies
Simply outdoors of Todos Santos are dramatic cliffs, hidden seashores, and a small bay that performed an enormous part within the California Gold Rush. In the event you stay at Los Colibris, it’s straightforward to set up a half-day climbing trip with company that owns the lodge, Todos Santos Eco Adventures. You’ll depart from close to the casitas and go mountaineering along seashores and cliffs with superb views till you get to a seashore with no street to it at the finish. There you’ve got a picnic lunch earlier than walking out to the closest filth street the place a van is ready to take you back.
One bay you see alongside the best way is where ships coming to and from northern California in the course of the gold rush days used to cease to resupply. There was an entire lot of desert and not a lot else alongside this coast again then, however Todos Santos is an oasis with recent water springs the place they might develop fruit, vegetables, and sugar cane and increase animals.
Experience a Camel on the Seashore? What?!
Typically the reply to why some Baja adventure exercise exists is simply, “Because people will pay for it.” There are lots of places where you possibly can go horseback driving in Los Cabos within the desert or on the seashore. Apparently that wasn’t sufficient for Cactus Adventures in order that they imported some camels from all the best way throughout two oceans.
In the event you overlook the place you’re geographically for a moment, it all is sensible. You’re driving a camel via sand dunes and you then descend down the to ocean and pad along on the seashore. It makes good sense and in fact, nice photograph ops. Hey, there weren’t any horses on this peninsula both earlier than the Spanish arrived, so that’s not “authentic” both if you wish to get technical.
Journey an ATM By way of the Cacti-studded Desert
If spreading your legs broad to journey on a camel isn’t your concept of fun, hearth up the adrenaline with an ATV journey by way of the cacti as an alternative. The desert panorama north of Cabo San Lucas makes for a near-perfect course for four-wheel ATV excursions. It’s thrilling to bounce over hills and whip around turns on the dust paths, sometimes emerging from the cordon cacti fields to get a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
Just be ready to get coated in a layer of dust: you don’t need to go straight out to dinner after this journey.
Go Whale Watching Close to the Los Cabos Arch
“This is the first day of whale watching season,” our guide advised us as we puttered out to sea from the marina. There’s a superb probability we gained’t see something immediately, so if that happens simply benefit from the journey. All but one in every of us had our cameras sitting in our laps after he stated this when not two minutes later, two big humpback whales breached on the similar time, side-by-side, and only one individual within the boat obtained a photograph of it. The remainder of us simply stared with our jaws dropped.
Often through the prime season, the top of the Baja Peninsula is practically a whale freeway. You’ll be able to sit in your lodge balcony with a pair of binoculars and watch all of them day. If you wish to rise up close though, take a whale watching tour that may get out on the water. As part of that, you’ll cruise by the famous Los Cabos arch.
Take an Artwork Tour in San Jose del Cabo
OK, this isn’t actually very adventurous, however at the least it gets individuals away from the resort pool and provides them an opportunity to work off a number of few tacos with a night of walking. Away from the glitz and glamor of the high-end motels and housing developments round Los Cabos, there’s the unique city where the missionaries first arrange their base. Now downtown San Jose del Cabo is a thriving arts middle, thanks partially to all the expat money in this region that creates an actual market for what artists are creating.
The artwork walk occurs every Thursday night from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. between the months of November and June. You possibly can drive and park or take a taxi or bus and simply wander around by yourself, or hook up with an organized tour and a information in the event you’re a critical artwork lover. You’ll have somewhat wine alongside the best way or you can also make a visit to Baja Brewing Firm downtown.
Go Snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo
Cabo Pulmo is a protected national park about two hours north of San Jose del Cabo and a shade much less from the airport. It’s usually acknowledged to be the perfect snorkeling spot within the Baja Peninsula that doesn’t require a ship trip out to an isolated island or reef to get to. It’s also noteworthy as the northernmost coral reef within the Pacific Ocean. It’s additionally a UNESCO World Heritage website.
You possibly can visit the protected space on a snorkeling day journey from Los Cabos, or there are locations to remain simply outdoors the nationwide park if someday of snorkeling and seashore time isn’t enough.
The place to Stay in Baja Sur
In between your Baja adventures, you’ll need a spot to stay. Should you’ve obtained an RV or perhaps a massive tent, you’ll find plenty of locations to crash for low cost. The lodge scene is hit and miss in Baja California Sur. You will get something you need within the Cabo luxury resorts that can value a couple grand an evening, nevertheless it’s exhausting to seek out finances digs there. The selection gets thinner as you head north, but the costs ease up.
In some instances you’re better off renting an condominium. I had good luck with Airbnb last time I used to be there, getting nice flats in each San Jose del Cabo and La Paz for less than $40 a night. (Get a hefty credit at this hyperlink in the event you’ve by no means stayed with them earlier than.) There’s lots of stock on VRBO as properly.
Prime Adventure Tour Corporations
As for tour corporations, I’ve posted a couple of choices along the best way on this article, however ones I have personally traveled with before which have an ideal popularity and are doing good locally embrace RED Travel Mexico, Baja Outside Activities (BOA), Sea Kayak Adventures, and Todos Santos Eco Adventures. They’re all members of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, as I am, and they’re following greatest practices to restrict their environmental impression.
Surprisingly, the large tour corporations like Intrepid and G Adventures aren’t very adventurous with regards to Mexico and don’t operate any excursions in this region. You can find numerous day trip and brief tours obtainable with Viator, nevertheless.
As far as getting there goes, a whole lot of Mexican airlines fly to the Baja Peninsula, so it’s low cost to get right here from the USA or from some place else in Mexico. It’s surprisingly reasonably priced to get to Los Cabos from even throughout the country in Merida or from central cities like Queretaro or Leon/Guanajuato. Southwest flies there too: take that one for those who’re coming from the USA and don’t need to get dinged for luggage expenses.
How about you? What fun Baja adventures did you discover on your trip?