We believe that Baja is paradise and aside from an inviting climate and incredibly friendly people, the peninsula offers all sorts of great activities. It is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts who seek to do everything from surfing and kiteboarding to hiking and horseback riding.
These are a few of the top reasons many people consider visiting Baja.
Surfing is popular throughout Baja along the western, Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula. In fact, you’ll find that one out of every 2-3 RVs and campervans will be carrying surfboards.
Some of the more popular places to surf are along the beaches between Tijuana and Ensenada, which are within a short drive from the US border, and along the beaches around San Juanico and Todos Santos in the southern part of the peninsula.
However, there are lots of other places where you can find great surf – often in mostly secluded beach spots that may or may not be accessible without 4×4.
Standup Paddleboarding & Kayaking
While the Pacific coast of Baja offers a surfer’s paradise, the eastern coast along the Sea of Cortez tends to attract those people who enjoy flatwater activities such as standup paddleboarding, snorkeling and kayaking.
The water in the Sea of Cortez tends to be calm and there are lots of sheltered bays and coves where you can spend endless days exploring the landscape and the underwater world. One of our personal favorite activities is to pack our snorkeling gear on our SUPs and head out to find our own tropical reefs to observe.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Although snorkeling and scuba diving may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you picture the ruggedness of Baja, if you enjoy exploring the underwater world then Baja has a lot to offer. Informally, you can snorkel virtually anywhere you camp along the Sea of Cortez.
Some of our favorite places are along the Bay of Concepcion and further south in Cabo Pulmo along the East Cape. In both places, and many in between, you can often walk a few feet from your campsite to the water’s edge and find yourself on a reef within minutes.
Cabo Pulmo has some of the most pristine reefs in the world and attracts snorkeling and diving enthusiasts from everywhere. And if you are looking for a more formal experience, particularly in La Paz and Cabo Pulmo you can hire guides to take you on half, full or multi-day snorkeling and diving trips.
One of our favorite tours takes you snorkeling with whale sharks in the morning and then with sea lions and a variety of reef fish along the La Isla Espirito Santo.
Mountain Biking & Hiking
Several mountain ranges run through the Baja peninsula creating a great opportunity to get off the beaten path to enjoy some unique mountain biking and hiking. Whether your goal is to hike to the top of Pichacho del Diablo, the highest peak in Baja, or to simply wander through a nearby arroyo (dry riverbed) to see how far it goes, hiking is a great way to see parts of Baja that many people miss.
In fact, some of our favorite trails begin at our favorite beachside camping spots and take you on a meandering path along the coast that offers spectacular views that only birds can capture!
There is also great mountain biking that you can do, particularly in the southern state. The areas around Todos Santos and La Ventana have attracted avid mountain bikers who have helped to create extensive trail systems that continue to attract more and more riders.
By definition, the Baja peninsula is surrounded on 3 sides by saltwater. This makes it an ideal destination if you enjoy fishing. Sportfishing is very popular on both the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean sides of the peninsula.
Depending on the time of year and location, you could expect to catch everything from dorado (Mahi Mahi) and roosterfish to a variety of tuna, mackerel, snapper, grouper and, of course, the prized marlin.
Cabo San Lucas is the marlin hot spot and mecca for most sportfishing. However, there are pockets of fishing activity in places like Los Barriles, Loreto and Mulege along the Sea of Cortez and several bays and estuaries along the Pacific Ocean. Some of the most successful fishing charters we’ve come across have been out of San Carlos along Magdalena Bay.
Marine Wildlife in Baja
Wildlife in Baja is one of the main attractions for many visitors to the peninsula. Although the land is mostly desert, marine life abounds in every direction and season.
You can swim with whale sharks and sea lions in La Paz during the winter months. And grey, humpback and fin whales migrate along the coast during early spring in such abundance that you can watch them spout and breach from the shore.
And a variety of sea turtles also come ashore in several places where turtle sanctuaries and hatcheries provide both an educational and unique hands-on experience for visitors to release baby sea turtles into the sea.
The Mexican government is quite protective of marine species and you will be limited in what you can and should experience on your own. However, there are plenty of reasonably priced tour operators in every destination where you can interact with the marine wildlife of Baja.
Baja California has been inhabited for the past 9,000-10,000 years. As such, there is a tremendous amount of history documented through everything from primitive cave paintings to colonial towns lined with cobblestone streets and that house beautiful Spanish missions.
You can explore many pieces of history on your own, particularly if you have an ATV or 4×4 vehicle. And there are several places, such as the idyllic oasis town of San Ignacio, where you can sign up for multi-day mule rides to get into the heart of ancient history in Baja.
Whether you want to stroll the streets of Todos Santos or Loreto, two quintessential colonial towns credited as “Pueblos Magicos” by the Mexican government, or find yourself exploring more remote and less-visited areas such as the Comondus, if history is your thing you’ll not be lacking in Baja.
In fact, some of our favorite historical locations are so intertwined with the present that you may not realize that you are walking where John Wayne and other movie stars used to spend their time or that you may find yourself paddling along the shoreline to discover handpainted rocks visible only from the water.
Along with a rich history comes a layering of culture that is unique to the Baja peninsula. It has been related to us over the years that Baja is looked down upon by mainland Mexico in part because of its geographical separation from the rest of the country but also because things are so much different in Baja than on the mainland.
Baja has developed its own identity and even between the two states of Baja California, you will find cultural differences that make each place unique. From different foods found only in certain areas to a faster or slower pace of life, Baja has plenty of culture to immerse yourself in while there.
Art lovers fall in love with Todos Santos, which teems with creatives, and spills over into places like El Triunfo and San Antonio in the nearby Sierra de la Laguna mountain ranges in the south.
And food aficionados can enjoy everything from a remarkable breakfast at Dona Esthela’s Kitchen in Valle de Guadalupe, which has drawn the critical acclaim of the likes of Anthony Bordain, to the most delicious carnitas at Asadero Dany’s in Mulege or papas rellenos in Los Barriles or La Paz.
If you’re looking for nightlife, music and entertainment you’ll find everything you’re looking for (and quite a bit you may not!) in Ensenada and San Felipe in the north and in La Paz and Cabo San Lucas in the south.