A road trip in Baja California Sur was a dream come true for me.
In this article, I am going to tell you how I organized it, what I have seen, and the best hotels where to stay during your road trip in Baja
I went to Baja California for a house and pet sit assignment, which is my favorite way to travel now, as I get to stay for a long time in a place living like a local and surrounded by my furry friends.
I was thinking about a Baja California road trip, which would have been the best way to visit the region, especially because there are so many beautiful corners that public transportation is useless.
However, I knew that going on my own, although very appealing, it would be too expensive. As you know I am traveling long term and I need to stay low budget in order to be able to travel longer and see as much as possible.
I believe that when you really want something and that is the right thing to do for you, magic happens, always. And I was right.
In fact, when a friend of mine knew about my stay in Baja California, she didn’t hesitate to join me when my house sitting assignment was over and we would have driven around the island.
The timing was also perfect because we were in full whale seasons, where the gray whales and other spices would be passing by the coast of Baja California. We were beyond excited: we planned it and we did it. A friend of mine joined us last minute.
Things just couldn’t get any better than that, but actually did.
In this post, you will also understand why if you decide to travel to Baja California, a road trip is the best option as it will allow you to reach the best places to visit in Baja California Sur.
Here below is an interactive map for you so that you can check out the locations while reading my Baja California road trip itinerary.
Fast forwards 2 years on March 2020 I came back to Baja on my own and rented a car for 14 days, and, needless to say I had a blast.
RENT A CAR IN MEXICO
I always suggest to rent a car and drive around because you have the freedom to visit in your own terms, without having the pressure of the tight schedules that groups normally have. I love to drive around a place and find new corners to discover, for as long as I want. JUST LIKE I DID ON THIS TRIP
If you are new with driving in Mexico, I have written a useful post with tips and interesting information that might be useful as there are a couple of things you need to know and need to be careful about.
Also, it will be useful to know all the truth about car rentals in Mexico.
PLANNING OUR BAJA CALIFORNIA ITINERARY
We only had one week available and 7 days for a road trip in Baja California Sur would have been a bit tight.
Therefore, first of all, we needed to set priorities and decided what where the best places to visit in Baja California Sur that we shouldn’t have missed.
Luckily we agreed on everything:
- See as much as we could BUT…
- … the whales were an undiscussed priority
- Check out Todos Santos, as we were told about this quaint little town where all the new boho-chic trend of travelers were heading. We wanted to understand why.
- Drive through the winding roads through cacti and desert
- Check out the arch in Cabo San Lucas
- Pass by San Jose al Cabo and check out the organic place Los Tamarindos
- Take things easily and stay open to sudden inconveniences and changes and never lose the cool if things didn’t go as we planned.
We made a plan and then changed it, as usual. But the most important thing was that everything flowed smoothly. We have seen a lot and we have made the most of our time.
BAJA CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP – 7 DAYS ITINERARY
Here is our itinerary with other suggestions on the different places with the hope it will be helpful to make your own. (In case you need help please feel free to contact me)
DAY 1 – LA PAZ – SAN IGNACIO
As the whale watching in Baja California was our priority, we decided to make it our first stop and since it was the farthest point on our itinerary, it turned out to be perfect.
We left early morning from La Paz, heading towards San Ignacio to watch the grey whales.
After the whale watching, we would have made all the relevant stops on the way back.
We have arrived right before the dark to San Ignacio, which was our goal.
Driving in the night is never a good idea, let alone on a deserted road with cows and goats crossing. So please remember to drive only in the daytime not only in Baja California but all over Mexico. (Check out my article, driving in Mexico)
Also, we decided to make it our first stop because if we didn’t make it to see the whales on the first day, we would have had the chance to do the tour in the next one. We hope to have our lucky star watching over us because that would have meant seeing fewer places. But whales were our absolute priority.
We tried to find a place to sleep at the hotel, La Huerta, the most modern and of best standard located in the center of the town, definitely the best options, but they didn’t have room. Therefore we opted for Rice and beans .. a funny name I know.
The room was ok, spacious, and clean. The restaurant was great.
We stayed there for the night and the following day we would have had an 8 o’clock appointment with the agency for our tour.
DAY 2 – SAN IGNACIO – WHALE WATCHING TOUR
The following morning we got up early with the idea to have breakfast before our boat tour to look for the whales, but we had the wrong time as all our phones mysteriously changed to another time zone. So we rushed to the tour agency without breakfast to make sure we had our place on a tour. Luckily that was not a problem. I will explain in another blog post how it works.
We went with a company called Kuyma one of the oldest companies operating there. They have an office in the town where you are supposed to check-in and pay.
They will give you a voucher that you present right at the lagoon. You can reach the lagoon on your own. Even if it is an unpaved road any car can drive there with no issue. The view is surreal and we had a few stops along the way for some due pictures.
Or you can ask for transportation to the company.
It’s about 200 USD for a max of 9 people. The company offers also a camping service, tents, and cabañas right on the lagoon. I would have done at least one night by the lagoon just to try the experience, but we opted to go for the tour only and stay in town.
The highest season is March when the whales already had their babies. In that period make sure you book in advance otherwise you risk getting there and have no place where to sleep. I am serious.
The other thing you need to keep in mind is that you might get to the lagoon and not be able to go out on the boat because of the wind and the rough sea. This is why we kept this tour as first so that in case we didn’t make it the first day we had time to stay longer.
Of course, we hoped for the first option as we were very tight with time and there was so much we wanted to see.
Luckily the sea was as calm as a swimming pool, the sun was shining and we had one boat just for the three of us. We had a blast.
The tour lasted 2 hours which is the maximum time each boat is allowed to stay out. Remember, that is a protected park with rules to follow, among which wearing the life jacket.
By the time we were in the right spot, 2 whales came around our boat and never left us.
They kept swimming beneath the boat going back and forth and coming close to have us scratch their back. It was hilarious. We thought we were attracting them for our good vibes just to find out a few days later that they always do that. We had a serious laugh! How silly of us to think that.
It was really moving though, to see such huge marine creatures being so friendly and letting us touch them. They act like loving pets looking for scratches and cuddling. Such an amazing experience.
The 2 hours allowance went so fast but we went back happy and satisfied to have made new friends. And we were also excited that we had all the rest of our time to do other stuff.
After a well-needed lunch in the main plaza of San Ignacio, we hit the road in order to get as close as possible to the next destination so that the following day we would have a full day to explore and enjoy the beaches of Bahia Conception.
The road on the way back was just surreal, the sun setting at our backs was enlightening the winding road among mountains, cactus, and flatlands, until we reached the Sea of Cortes in the town of Rosalia. From there we started driving all along the coastline.
We stretched our rule not to drive in the dark and decided to get to the lovely town of Mulege where we have arrived right after sunset, found a modest hotel where to stay, and head out to walk around town and had something to eat. It felt like a very long day.
DAY 3 BAJA CONCEPTION
We decided to take it slow and explore all the beaches in Bahia Conception. We didn’t have enough of those views.
It was too cold to swim, but the scene was extremely delightful and the sun warm enough to enjoy laying on the beach for a while.
The coastline around the bay was made of multiple smaller bays, most of them were like little villages made of Motorhomes from retired people, the majority from USA or Canada who decided to spent their time off work driving around Baja or just hanging out there.
Every now and then we bumped into beautiful villas right on the beach. By the sunset, we reached Loreto where we found accommodation for the night and planned for the next day.
On that portion of the road, we also found in the middle of nowhere a real village made of beautiful small houses, a hostel, one hotel and one restaurant.
It was surreal more than real.
It was founded by retired expatriates, who decided to spend their pension in the warm weather on a beautiful beach. It seems the time was passing by very calmly over there.
Even the water in the sea was calm and very shallow with boats anchored offshore looking as if they were sinking.
We had a walk around but decided to move on towards our next destination: Loreto.
DAY 4 – LORETO
The small town is worth staying there for a couple of nights and you can use it as a base for many excursions among which the Blue Whales. We didn’t have enough time to do that, though.
The center offers a few lovely restaurants and a beautiful hotel is located right in the main plaza.
It’s the Posada de Las Flores, situated in a beautiful colonial building with elegant antique furniture and finishing, that’s the place to stay. It’s located in the main plaza surrounded by restaurants and travel agency where you can check out for your tour to see the blue whales. We decided not to do it as it would last from 6 am to 2 pm or more and we didn’t have enough time. The plan was to reach Todos Santos before dark.
Fast forward 2 years I went back to Loreto and stay a few days to do all the tours I wanted to do and didn’t have time. I have written a full guide on all the things you can do in Loreto that you might be interested in reading.
In fact, around 11 am we were on the road. Our friend Maurizio went back to the north as he wanted to explore further that area and see whales again from other locations.
Francesca and I set off to Todos Santos.
In order to do that you need to get back to La Paz and then get on the highway towards Los Cabos, via Todos Santos. It’s just 1-hour drive from La Paz actually. It was a pleasant drive and we reached in time to enjoy the beautiful hotel where we were staying. You can check out my suggestions on where to stay in Todos Santos here.
DAY 5 TODOS SANTOS
We spent a couple of nights in Todos Santos and one full day. We checked out a few beaches, and restaurants. The town is quite pretty although the beautiful beach is not really friendly to swimmers.
Just if you love surfing you are going to have a blast. Here I am happy to give you a couple of suggestions on what to do in Todos Santos.
DAY 6 CABO SAN LUCAS
We left Todos Santos in the morning with the idea to see the south coast of Baja California, starting from Cabos San Lucas. I knew I wouldn’t have liked it and I didn’t. Too many big hotels and too crowded beaches. But we wanted to see the famous arch and we made it.
You need to get to the marina park the car in the main shopping center and get to the harbor where tour reps are waiting for you to sell you the trip. It’s only 200 pesos per person and the fishing boat will take you to see the arch. If you wish, they will leave you on a beach and pick you up whenever you want.
The sea was quite rough and we didn’t think it was worth staying on the beach, with no shade and too many people.
Besides, you cannot even swim because of the big waves and currents and we preferred to explore other places.
We were happy to have taken the tour though and we were happier to get out of there fast.
I saw little of Cabo San Lucas, but enough to say it’s not my type of place. Huge hotels and crowded beaches, expensive shops like tourists traps and touristy restaurants.
We headed to San Jose’ al Cabo where we had the tip for a restaurant, in the premises of an organic farm, Los Tamarindos.
It was indeed worth going. The restaurant was on a beautiful terrace overlooking the rich vegetable garden and the menu was vegetable-based of course. A paradise for me.
After our delicious and fulfilling lunch, we hit the road again towards La Paz via Cabo Pulmo. We wanted to drive along the southern coast and although we didn’t have the time to stop at least we saw what it was like.
It was unfortunate that we couldn’t stay in Cabo Pulmo and enjoy the beach in tranquillity. That is the paradise for snorkellers and divers. You should stay a couple of days there to really enjoy it and take a tour in the sea.
Instead, we had to head to La Paz as the following day early morning my friend would have flown back home.
She had an early departure and needed to be there before the car rental office was open. We advised the day before that she would have been there by 6 am. And so it was. Somebody was waiting for her at the departure and she handed over the car. Everything went smoothly and I had my deposit back :).
It was a perfect road trip – a bit tight compared to how I am used to traveling very slow, but we managed to see everything we wanted to.
If you wish to know more or need any help to organize a more tailormade tour you can always contact me and I will do my best to help you out (it’s free:)