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 on the southern tip. With the Sea of Cortez on one aspect and the Pacific Ocean on the other, it has a staggering 1,900 miles of coast land and seashores to discover, not counting the islands scattered round which you can explore by boat or kayak.
The whole thing is known as Baja California. Let’s not overlook that the U.S. territory now referred to as California was part of Mexico earlier than 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 seashores, and Tijuana. The southern part is wilder and, until you resolve it, not very populated.
So this publish is going to cover the extra adventure-oriented Baja Sur, which includes the prime whale watching areas, Loreto, La Paz, Todos Santos, and Los Cabos. In the event 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 options under. In case you are flying into the San Jose del Cabo airport, skip ahead to these Los Cabos elements after which take into consideration the far much less crowded places up north after you’ve had sufficient seashore and pool time in Cabo.
Is Baja California protected? That is the first query from anybody who has never been to Mexico, however for probably the most half, sure. The roads are great, the police are well-organized, and there’s so much cash at stake for tourism right here that the personal sector also keeps strain on the federal government to maintain the peace. Tens of millions of People and Canadians travel up and down this region annually with no points, including me 5 occasions now. Simply apply the standard rules of widespread sense security and anytime you possibly can keep away from it, don’t be driving across 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 trip or months of travel in Baja California.
- 1 See the Cave Paintings of Sierra de San Francisco
- 2 Get Close to Mama and Child 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 Around the Desert Hilltops of Sierra La Giganta
- 6 Hike the Dramatic Mountains Round Loreto
- 7 Go Whale Watching or Kayaking in Loreto
- 8 Get Near Mama and Child Whales Part 2: Magdalena Bay
- 9 Swim with Whale Sharks
- 10 Kayak Around 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 Experience an ATM Via the Cacti-studded Desert
- 16 Go Whale Watching Near 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 Paintings of Sierra de San Francisco
The rock work of Sierra de San Francisco are a protected group of works acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage website collectively. There’s an aura round them because the people who painted them had given up and moved on or died out long before 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 relatively isolated areas nicely off the tourist monitor, they by no means suffered any vandalism and are nonetheless fairly spectacular.
This is not some outside museum that’s 20 minutes out of 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 journey in itself. And that is just probably the most accessible set.
Get Close to Mama and Child Whales Part 1: San Ignacio Lagoon
There are two locations in Baja Sur the place gray whales come down from the Arctic Circle annually to breed, spawn, and train their babies the way to survive. From roughly January via April, you possibly can 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 proper beside your boat.
Early within 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 sufficient to interact 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 space. The moms swim round a long way from the boat often while 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 mother goes to go Moby Dick on you. She’s in on the sport.
This is among the most memorable Baja adventures you possibly can probably expertise, so for those who’ve received a couple weeks or extra in the region, make this one a excessive priority.
Visiting The Oasis of Mulegé
After driving by way of the desert and seeing one million cordon cacti, it’s a quite unusual sight to tug as much as the Mission of Santa Rosalía de Mulegé and see this oasis stretching out before you.
Filled with date palms, fig timber, and citrus timber, this lush inexperienced place is a serene spot for a picnic in your approach north or south on Highway 1 between San Ignacio and Loreto. The stone mission church here dates back to the late 1700s.
Fish Tacos, Beers, and a Swim in a Good Bay
The Baja Peninsula is one among North America’s greatest leisure car street journey places and each winter numerous RVers head south of their residence on wheels to discover a good spot within the sun. One area the place 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 the place the signal out front simply says, “Meals & Beer.” What else do you want here?
For those who’re so enchanted you need to stick around for some time but you didn’t deliver your personal camper van or tent, yow will discover some huts for lease by the night time.
Hike Around the Desert Hilltops of Sierra La Giganta
The Baja Peninsula has extra variety than most people anticipate and the tourism slogan of “the place the desert meets the ocean” solely scratches the floor. There are areas between the Pacific and Loreto which might be nice places for an off-the-cuff hike where you’ll be able to see quite a lot of crops and landscapes which might be 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 throughout this space, which helps the colorful flowers get sufficient water and creates some dramatic landscapes whenever you look out from a high point. Maintain your eyes peeled for good stopping factors in case you are headed to Loreto.
Hike the Dramatic Mountains Round Loreto
The strategy to Loreto, driving via a cross between craggy mountains that glow purple within the solar, is one in every of Mexico’s most lovely drives. This is not a time to be swiping and scrolling on your telephone in the again seat. If you want to take all of it in with a more sluggish travel strategy, nevertheless, step outdoors of Loreto and hit some climbing trails in these mountains.
You are able to do these hikes your self for those who deliver plenty of water and sun protection, but this could be a time to think about having a information. You’ll have transportation and access to extra trailhead choices that approach and also you get past the problem that many of those trails will not be well-marked.
Go Whale Watching or Kayaking in Loreto
In the bays talked about earlier you’ll see grey whales, around Los Cabos and Loreto there are lots of humpback whales. In Loreto you even have a fair probability of seeing a blue whale though, the most important mammal on the planet. Nothing is ever guaranteed, in fact, but a nasty day on the water beats a very good day at work, right? We didn’t see any blue whales on my trip, however we did spot some humpbacks and entire faculties of rays that jumped out of the water. Mixed with the dramatic mountain scenery, it was undoubtedly worthwhile.
It’s also possible to ebook a kayaking journey around the close by islands and also you may see whales and rays out of your kayak seat. Or for those who’re staying at a resort like Loreto Bay, you’ll be able to just take one in every of their kayaks out and see what occurs. There’s no seashore in downtown Loreto, but once you get a few half mile out of city heading north, there’s an extended stretch of sand that goes on and on for miles.
Get Near Mama and Child Whales Part 2: Magdalena Bay
I’ll be doing a full function story on this later in Perceptive Travel after a implausible journey this spring with ROW Adventures’ Baja firm Sea Kayak Adventures. In contrast to at San Ignacio Bay to the north, right here on Magdalena Bay you’ll be able to camp on a barrier island seashore and truly watch the whales from the shore. We did go out 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 numerous mamas and their infants. There’s something fairly special though about eating breakfast outdoors, a coffee in hand, and watching whales swim by.
As with the opposite location, there are areas here which are off-limits to boats and other designated places where individuals and whales work together. Typically the infants come as much as play, though on our journey they weren’t doing this as readily as they did once I visited the more northern bay of San Ignacio. It’d happen, however think about it a bonus somewhat than a guarantee.
Swim with Whale Sharks
Some of the famous enjoyable things to do in Baja California Sur is to go snorkeling with the whale sharks near La Paz. Most places where you’ll be able to swim with whale sharks are robust to get to an are on the open seas. Typically it’s essential to 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 round with their mouths open slightly below the surface.
These aren’t the huge whale sharks which might be the dimensions of a luxury yacht, nevertheless. They’re juveniles that may hit the open seas after they develop up. They’re nonetheless fairly massive and spectacular though, particularly if you’re swimming right beside one, wanting it within the eye!
Most tours embrace a sea lion sanctuary afterwards that’s really too crowded for snorkeling, but then lunch on a implausible secluded bay with beaches. See some native tour choices here:
Kayak Around 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 can do an Espiritu Santo Island glamping trip with Todos Santos Eco Adventures and have a very snug trip with great food, or you possibly can go more primary with one of the other accepted operators that’s allowed to have overnight stays within the nature reserve. They need to comply with strict rules as a way to host visitors right here, so there are just a few of them to select from.
In case you don’t need to spend your nights camping, even full-service tenting, then some corporations organize all-day journeys out to Espiritu Santo Island with some kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding included plus lunch on the seashore with a view. (For a better journey to La Paz, you can do a multi-day kayaking journey around Isla del Carmen or Isla Danzante.)
Swim with Sea Lions Away From the Crowds
I mentioned before that the majority whale shark swimming tours also embrace a cease the place you possibly can, in concept, swim with sea lions, however it’s not a very good spot. The sea lions are type of cranky concerning the fixed visitors and revving boats.
A greater choice is to e-book at trip to the protected Espiritu Santo island talked about earlier. As a part of you could swim with sea lions in a secluded cove referred to as La Lobera the place there are often no other individuals around and there’s not so much day by day visitors. Right here you’ve acquired 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 opposite? It’ll take you a couple of days, however in case you go together with a very good tour operator they’ll deal with all of the logistics. They’ll convey the supplies, prepare dinner meals, arrange the tents, and ensure you don’t get lost within the desert with no water. Along the best way you’ll study quite a bit concerning the Baja wildlife and get some incredible views. See extra 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 in the California Gold Rush. For those who keep at Los Colibris, it’s straightforward to arrange a half-day mountaineering trip with firm that owns the lodge, Todos Santos Eco Adventures. You’ll depart from near the casitas and go mountaineering along beaches and cliffs with superb views until you get to a seashore with no street to it on the end. There you’ve a picnic lunch before walking out to the closest dust street the place a van is waiting to take you again.
One bay you see along the best way is the place ships coming to and from northern California in the course of the gold rush days used to stop to resupply. There was an entire lot of desert and never much else alongside this coast back then, but Todos Santos is an oasis with recent water springs where they might grow fruit, greens, and sugar cane and lift animals.
Experience a Camel on the Seashore? What?!
Typically the reply to why some Baja adventure exercise exists is just, “Because individuals can pay for it.” There are lots of places where you’ll be able to 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.
When you overlook where you’re geographically for a moment, it all is sensible. You’re driving a camel by way of sand dunes and then you definitely descend down the to ocean and pad along on the seashore. It makes good sense and naturally, great photograph ops. Hey, there weren’t any horses on this peninsula both earlier than the Spanish arrived, so that’s not “genuine” either if you wish to get technical.
Experience an ATM Via the Cacti-studded Desert
If spreading your legs large to experience on a camel isn’t your concept of fun, hearth up the adrenaline with an ATV experience 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 tours. It’s thrilling to bounce over hills and whip round turns on the filth paths, sometimes rising from the cordon cacti fields to get a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.
Simply 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 Near the Los Cabos Arch
“That is the first day of whale watching season,” our information advised us as we puttered out to sea from the marina. There’s a great probability we gained’t see something immediately, so if that happens just benefit from the journey. All but one among us had our cameras sitting in our laps after he stated this when not two minutes later, two large humpback whales breached at the similar time, side-by-side, and just one individual within the boat received a photo of it. The remainder of us just stared with our jaws dropped.
Often in the course of the prime season, the top of the Baja Peninsula is virtually a whale freeway. You possibly can sit on your lodge balcony with a pair of binoculars and watch all of them day. If you want to rise up shut 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 really 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 an evening of walking. Away from the glitz and glamor of the high-end inns and housing developments around Los Cabos, there’s the original 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 cash in this area that creates an actual market for what artists are creating.
The art walk occurs each Thursday evening from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. between the months of November and June. You’ll be able to drive and park or take a taxi or bus and just wander round by yourself, or hook up with an organized tour and a information should you’re a critical art lover. You’ll have just a little 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 nationwide park about two hours north of San Jose del Cabo and a shade less from the airport. It is usually acknowledged to be the perfect snorkeling spot within the Baja Peninsula that doesn’t require a boat trip out to an isolated island or reef to get to. It’s additionally noteworthy as the northernmost coral reef within the Pacific Ocean. It’s additionally a UNESCO World Heritage website.
You possibly can visit the protected area on a snorkeling day trip from Los Cabos, or there are places to remain just outdoors the national park if at some point of snorkeling and seashore time isn’t sufficient.
The place to Stay in Baja Sur
In between your Baja adventures, you’ll want a place to remain. In the event you’ve acquired an RV or perhaps a huge tent, you’ll find plenty of locations to crash for reasonable. The lodge scene is hit or miss in Baja California Sur. You will get something you want in the Cabo luxurious resorts that may value a pair grand an evening, nevertheless it’s exhausting to seek out finances digs there. The selection will get thinner as you head north, but the prices ease up.
In some instances you’re better off renting an house. I had good luck with Airbnb final time I was there, getting nice flats in each San Jose del Cabo and La Paz for less than $40 an evening. (Get a hefty credit at this link in the event you’ve by no means stayed with them earlier than.) There’s a whole lot of stock on VRBO as properly.
Prime Adventure Tour Corporations
As for tour corporations, I’ve posted a couple of options alongside the best way on this article, but ones I’ve personally traveled with before that have a terrific fame 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 Journey Journey Trade Affiliation, as I’m, they usually’re following greatest practices to limit their environmental impression.
Surprisingly, the large tour corporations like Intrepid and G Adventures will not be very adventurous in terms of Mexico and don’t function any excursions in this area. You can see a lot of day journey and brief tours obtainable with Viator, nevertheless.
So far as getting there goes, plenty of Mexican airways fly to the Baja Peninsula, so it’s low cost to get 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 when you’re coming from the USA and don’t need to get dinged for baggage fees.
How about you? What enjoyable Baja adventures did you discover on your trip?
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