The second longest peninsula in the world, Baja California is a fabulous adventure playground of unblemished beaches, magical desert landscapes and stunning mountain ranges, where you can swim and play with sea lions, go whale watching, hike the terrain, indulge in a wide range of land and water-based sports, or simply enjoy relaxing under beautiful blue skies.
Sitting between the cool blue and green waters of the Sea of Cortez, often referred to as the ‘world’s aquarium,’ owing to the abundance of marine life found swimming in its waters and the pounding surf of the Pacific Ocean, Baja California enjoys a privileged location.
The peninsula is divided into two states: Baja California in the north and Baja California Sur in the south. The pace is slow, the locals friendly and helpful, but while the north is sprinkled with small Spanish colonial towns, rustic simplicity and long-abandoned missions, most people head to the southern state for the beautiful beaches, vast desert plains dotted with cacti, magnetic mountain ranges and a chance to discover and enjoy the abundant marine life.
During December to March there’s also the opportunity for whale watching. Visitors to La Paz, the state capital of Baja California Sur, on the east coast of the peninsula, can take a boat to the offshore islands, which include the UNESCO-protected Espiritu Santo Island and slip into the water to swim with Mexico’s largest colony of sea lions. We’d also recommend the snorkelling and diving here to explore the colourful coral reef. Much further up the coast, Loreto, the site of the first Jesuit mission in Baja, offers the same opportunities for marine exploration and this attractive town will appeal to those looking for a quieter and more off-the-beaten-track Baja experience.
On the opposite side of the peninsula on the Pacific Coast, Todos Santos, one of Mexico’s Pueblo Magicos, has a real Mexican flavour and this small bohemian beach town is increasingly popular with both artists and artisans.
But for luxury and glamour by the beach, we’d suggest staying in Los Cabos at the southern tip of Baja. Known as the Baja Corridor, the stretch of stunning beaches between the two main towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo offer a huge variety of adventure activities including game fishing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, snorkelling and diving, along with some world-class golf courses. What’s more, for luxurious hotels, spas, fine dining, night life and shopping, Los Cabos is hard to beat. Popular with the Hollywood elite and affluent Americans, this region is more influenced by Western tastes than other areas of Baja and you may find that some prices here are expressed in US dollars.
For nature and wildlife lovers, Baja also holds much appeal. Along with the ample marine life, bring your binoculars to spot the many different species of bird including cardinal, oriole, quail, heron and egret. Hike, bike or horse ride into the foothills of the mountains, through the desert oasis to see palms, cacti, waterfalls and hot springs and look out for coyote, raccoon, deer, jackrabbit and chipmunk. We’d also suggest visiting Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, around 80-kilometres northeast of San Jose del Cabo to snorkel the incredible coral reef found there.
Baja California is one of our favourite places to holiday in Mexico and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to couples and families looking for relaxation, natural beauty, amazing marine life and a chance to indulge in a huge variety of both land and water-based sports and activities. The flight time from Mexico City to San Jose in Los Cabos is two-hours 15-minutes.