Besides sharing my list of the best things to do in Baja California, I have also included a full guide with practical information and all the things you should know before getting to this amazing region that is Baja California Sur.
If you are planning a trip or you just would like to know some interesting facts about Baja California, please read on.
MAP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
CURRENCY: Mexican Pesos 1 USD = 24 MXN (as I am writing this post)
WHERE TO EXCHANGE MONEY: Avoid exchanging your currency at the airport or in your hotel. The best place to do it is a bank or an exchange bureau.
ELECTRIC SOCKET: In Mexico, there are two associated plug types, types A and B. Plug type A is the plug that has two flat parallel pins and plug type B is the plug that has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin. Mexico operates on a 127V supply voltage and 60Hz. Make sure to pack a universal travel adaptor so you can still use all your electronic devices.
Working in Mexico is more complicated and you should put yourself in the hands of a good lawyer that can look after all the paperwork for you and spare you all the hustle and headaches.
IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO BAJA CALIFORNIA?
I consider Baja California quite a safe place to travel and live.
I would always use lots of common sense and a vigilant eye every time I am traveling.
I put together a very detailed guide on how to stay safe while traveling in Mexico which will offer great guidelines on being smart when you travel anywhere in Mexico, besides some helpful Spanish vocabulary.
Also, I would always have travel insurance. Being in a foreign country far from your family you want to make sure you have all the necessary assistance in case anything happens, either if you get sick or have an accident, having insurance will help you cover the expenses in the best hospitals, not to mention if you miss a flight or lose a bag.
I specifically recommend these two travel insurance companies:
World Nomads have the one of best adventure travel coverage, covering activities like snorkeling, hiking, etc. And if you upgrade to explorer status, it’s a little more expensive but it has more extended coverage, including diving and you can also include your laptop and devices.
Safetywing is been specifically recommended by different travel companies and professional travelers, especially for their user-friendly website and fast response. Safetywing has many advantages especially for nomads, one of which is being able to pay on a monthly basis and cancel at any time.
You can check out their site as well and compare the two companies to chose what works best for you. It’s also one of the few companies that are covering for the Covid-19 treatments.
The official language is Spanish, or better said, “Castellano”. Most people, especially those who work in tour activities and hotels will speak good English. If you are like me and love to explore rural areas, there are chances that you will encounter people who don’t speak English at all. Worry not!
Mexican people are very hospitable and warm and with a smile and gestures you will be able to get along very well with locals and it’s the best way to get to know them.
Smiling is a great way to get through language barriers.
In any case, it’s always good to know a few words.
In this post, you will find some words and phrases to help you out.
Knowing a few words and have a basic understanding of the language is always helpful especially in unwanted circumstances or to be able to interact with locals.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO BAJA CALIFORNIA
Despite in Baja there are 2 very different seasons, winter and summer.
Although warm and sunny most of the time all year round, winters can be chilly and the water cold.
There are a couple of things to consider:
- Summers are much hotter and humid
- Nights can be chilly all year round (colder in winter)
- December through March is the whale season
- May through October water is warmer and if you love diving, there is much more visibility.
GETTING TO BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR
Los Cabos International Airport
Uber is also working well.
La Paz International Airport
La Paz International Airport receives direct flights from Los Angeles and the most important Mexican Hubs.
I took both ferries, on the way to La Paz from Mazatlan. It was a night trip and very uncomfortable if you don’t book a cabin, but for one night it can work.
From La Paz, I took the ferry to Topolobampo because I went to the Copper Canyon so it was perfect for my itinerary.
It is a shorter trip and it’s during the day so you get to enjoy spectacular views.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND IN BAJA CALIFORNIA
Local Busses in Baja California
Autobuses Aguila offers transportation all around Baja California connecting the major cities. Their service has been improving over the years and it’s a comfortable way to travel if you are not in a hurry.
I always vouch for a car rental and even more in Baja California where you can drive freely and safely around and reach spectacular remote areas where local transportation won’t go.
You can rent a car, and you will find a lot of car rentals agencies around, but you should be careful of the very low rates that are advertised but will inflate significantly when you need to add insurance and all the extras, which you will need.
For what I have understood, your credit card insurance is not valid when you rent a car in Mexico. Please check well before renting. More on Driving in Mexico in this post. I use discover car rentals to check the different prices from different companies.
Please note though, that if you wish to purchase the full insurance it’s more convenient if you do it directly with the car rental company instead of a third party.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT MY POST ON
THE TRUTH ABOUT RENTING A CAR IN MEXICO
WHAT TO PACK FOR TRAVELING IN BAJA CALIFORNIA
There are a few items that I always carry with me when I travel:
Travel water bottle – this is also part of my sustainable travel checklist. Having a refillable water bottle will save some plastic. Small actions altogether make the difference.
Sand-free beach blanket – you will get beach towels in your all-inclusive hotel, but it’s useful if you go visit other beaches, and you should
RFID travel wallet – always good to keep your money safe
Plug adaptor – if you are coming from the US you won’t need it as the sockets are the same
Travel sandals – that are fancy and comfortable at the same time depending on the kind of trip you want to have.
Hiking shoes – there are many hiking trails that you will want to explore.
Windbreaker – as I mentioned nights can be chilly and windy.
Light Fleece Jacket – if you are in Santiago for your hike to sierra de la Laguna, you will definitely need this.
Hiking t-shirt – a technical t-shirt is recommended as you will be sweating during your hike and regular cotton material is not the best choice.
Swim suite – always 🙂
Mask and snorkel – you will always be able to rent it but I prefer to have my own, you know… especially after the recent outbreak.
Ecological sunscreen – the sun is strong but we need to protect the reef as well as our skin. Choose wisely.
Ecological mosquito repellent – in summer especially it can be handy
THINGS TO DO IN BAJA CALIFORNIA
Baja California is a fascinating region to explore for its variety of ecosystems and landscapes.
The contrast between the blue ocean and the red rocky desert with the green cacti conquers the heart of many and makes it a playground for photographers and nature lovers.
Here in this post, I will share all the most amazing things that you can do in Baja California and I hope you will fall in love with this region as I did.
Snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo
Snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo has been one of the most amazing snorkeling experiences I have had, also because we saw humpback whales (mother and son) jumping right in front of our boats and while we were snorkeling.
The organization of the tour was just perfect.
I couldn’t recommend it more.
Click here to check out my full adventure and practical information.
Grey Whale Watching in Magdalena Bay
During my last visit to Baja California, I rented a car and drove around in search of all the places where to see the whales, and Magdalena bay was my favorite, as I explain fully in my complete guide to whale watching in Baja California.
There are many different spots from where you can see the Grey Whale but my favorite is Adolfo Lopez Mateos.
The Grey whale encounter in Baja California is something special as you can get so close to them and touch them without harming their natural behavior.
They are the ones who actually get close. I get so emotional when I see them. It’s a beautiful and rare connection with wildlife.
Humpback Whale Watching in Los Cabos
There are different whale watching tours from Los Cabos. Here you can see more often the Humpback whales, sometimes even from your hotel room as they come so close to the bay. It’s an amazing show to watch them. The tour costs around 50-70 USD depending on what’s included and how much time you spend on the boat.
Swim with whale sharks in La Paz
One of the most exciting encounters with marine life in the water. You don’t even have to be a diver.
Fins and snorkel will be enough to be able to swim with the gentle giants of the sea, the whale sharks.
Tours are available from La Paz but if you are in Los Cabos it’s also possible to join a tour that includes transportation from La Paz.
Tours enjoy one full day in Balandra Beach
Balandra is one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico and a must-see if you go to Baja California.
Located at about 25 km from La Paz. Buses go back and forth quite frequently from La Paz every day or you can rent a car, especially if you wish to stay for the sunset. It’s memorable.
During the day you can rent a kayak or a paddleboard and enjoy the quiet bay and the stunning views.
Hike in Sierra de la Laguna
Sierra de la laguna is a spectacular green oasis in the rocky desert in the very South of Baja California.
You can enjoy different hikes for any level or length.
You will enjoy spectacular landscapes, natural lakes, and hot springs, completely immersed in nature.
You can also choose the multiday trek and camp in the desert.
You can contact Edgardo from Baja Sierra Adventures to book your tour.
Kitesurfing in Las Ventanas
Baja California is a paradise for surfers and kitesurfers. If you are a pro Kitesurfer Las Ventanas is your place.
There are also lots of kite schools but winds are always quite strong. Be careful! I only enjoyed watching those colorful kites flying in the air.
Sand surfing at El Mogote
Baja Desconocida is a local tour agent that will take you to El Mogote at only 20 minutes from La Paz.
El Mogote is a small sand barrier that protects La Paz Bay, there you can face up to 100 feet sand dunes to perform this activity.
Besides trying a new fun adventure you will also enjoy beautiful sunsets from the top.
Snorkeling with Sea Lion in Espiritu Santo
Espíritus Santo – It’s a one-day boat tour – 1h 1/2 ride in the beautiful bay in the Sea of Cortes to the island of Espíritus Santo so popular for its funny inhabitants, playful sea lions that would swim with you and bite your fins or your go pro.
The time you spend with them is short but totally worth it.
You will need to wear the life jacket for security reasons as you are entering a marine park.
If you go in winter from October through April it is advisable to wear a wetsuit since the water gets quite cold at that time.
Those are not included in the tour price but are always available for rent at 150 pesos with the tour providers.
The tour costs from 800 to 1100 pesos depending on the tour company.
The tour leaves from La Paz around 12 pm and ends around 5.30/6.00 pm.
You will stop at a nice deserted beach to have your lunch which is included and it is normally based on ceviche and crackers, sandwiches, and some fruit.
To book this tour you can either go the previous day on the Malecon and speak to the boat captain directly, they will find you.
Or click here to prebook your tour.
Kayaking around Espiritu Santo
There are many kayaking tours around the bay in La Paz up to Espiritu Santu Island.
Although some time ago it was possible to do a self-guided tour it’s now mandatory to be with an authorized guide as a marine park rule.
You can check out Sea and Adventures company, which is one of the most reputable and popular in the area.
Blue Whale Watching in Loreto
If you visit Loreto from January through March, you cannot miss this boat tour to see the blue whales, the biggest animal on the planet.
From 7 am through 2 pm you will reach Isla del Carmen where the blue whales are known to hang out.
Once you get there the boat stops and you stay still silently waiting for those graceful giants to appear.
They come, in and out of the water at a regular interval, they are many and you will never get tired to see them.
As a bonus, a gift from nature, you will probably see an incredibly huge pod of dolphins flipping around the boat. It was an amazing surprising sight.
There are many tour companies in Loreto that can organize the tour. They cost pretty much the same (around 105 – 115 USD) and with the same itinerary as they need to follow the park rules.
Scuba dive in the Sea of Cortez
The sea of Cortez has been named the world’s Aquarium by Jacque Custeau for a reason. Loreto Bay National Marine Park only is home to 891 fish species, including 90 endemic fishes, a third of the world’s cetacean species (found in the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez) and 695 vascular plant species, more than in any marine and insular property on the World Heritage List. Cabo Pulmo also has one of the richest
Right in front of LosCabos’s coasts, the Sea of Cortez meets the ocean which makes it a unique location where many marine mammals and other animals entering the area will pass by.
Many divers go to Cabo Pulmo just for diving and they consider it one of the best destinations in Baja to dive.
Diving in Cabo Pulmo is suitable for both beginners and advanced.
While beginners remain closer to the coast where water is calmer, advanced divers can venture out towards the open ocean where major currents are normally present for a good drift diving adventure.
The marine park has a shape of a C which forms a protected area within the bay whereas just outside the C shape it is more common to find heavy currents.
Because it’s a marine park, all visitors must be accompanied by a local, approved guide.
La Paz is also an excellent place for diving since the bay is rich in nutrients and small critters attracting whales, dolphins turtles sharks, and whatnot.
Join a Liveaboard to Socorro and Guadalupe Islands
Baja California is also the departing point of liveaboards, the best way to explore the most remote areas and reach to the most amazing diving spots.
But not only for divers. Also, nature lovers can experience the beauty of the sea of Cortez from a liveaboard experience.
Socorro and Guadalupe islands are the most popular destinations to find big pelagics such as giant manta rays and sharks, but also Jacks and Tuna, although there is not much coral reef to see.
Closer to the Baja California in the Sea of Cortez, the area between Cabo Pulmo and La Paz is particularly popular for spotting hammerhead sharks.
There are also amazing naturalistic cruises for non-diver to explore the sea of Cortez and its rich marine life by snorkeling.
I partner with Liveaboard.com, a trustworthy company that offers more than 500 liveaboards all over the world with a great customer service that will assist you all through your booking process.
You can check out their boats and rates on their site Liveaboard.com once you find the boat you are looking for you can place a reservation without any commitment on your end.
This is just for you to receive information on availability and confirmation of the rate and then you will have normally around 5 to 7 days to decide if you want to finalize your booking.
You can also write to the customer service for any questions you might have.
In this post on Scuba Liveaboard in Mexico you can explore the liveaboard options in Mexico and read more about the liveaboards diving sites.
Visit Coronado Island
A relaxing boat tour from Loreto to explore Coronado Island.
You can join an organized tour or you can go to the marina and ask the fishermen there if they can take you.
In the three islands, the biggest in the Loreto Bay Marine Park, you can enjoy snorkeling around their jagged coasts or basking in their deserted beaches.
I chose Coronado Island, the most popular one.
It was a spectacularly sunny day although the water was chilly, not to say freezing.
We saw many dolphins along the way, snorkeled with sea lions, spotted some goofy blue-footed boobies, and enjoyed the white sand beach on the island.
The crystal clear turquoise water was inviting me to swim but it was too cold and I had rather spend time staring at it.
If you are not interested in whale watching and want to enjoy the water you should come in summer for warmer temperatures.
Check out the Cave Paintings
Put on the Explorer hat and check out the ancient cave paintings discovered in the Sierra de La Giganta. Both from Loreto and from San Ignacio you can join guided hiking tours.
Hike in the Sierra de la Giganta
Stretching from La Paz up to the Municipality of Mulege where it continues up north with the name of Sierra de Guadalupe, this spectacular mountain chain is the backbone of Baja California.
Explorers and biologists have walked through its valleys and peaks to learn more about its local inhabitants and natural resources.
For us, humble tourists with maybe less courage and physical strength, it’s still possible to have a taste of this world with hiking trips.
There are many hiking trails for all sorts of levels of fitness and capabilities.
You will walk through boulders and discover a refreshing oasis in the rocky deserts, and spectacular sceneries.
Tours are available from Loreto and San Ignacio.
Camp at San Ignacio Lagoon
Among all the places where you can see the Grey Whales San Ignacio is the best for camping and spending a few days watching whales. There are different companies that offer this option. In this post, I speak in more detail about it.
Take a mountain bike tour in the desert
From La Paz, you can rent a bike for 50 pesos per hour and bike around the city or venture out along the coast. For the boldest and adventurers, there are lots of mountain bike trails in the surrounding hills. There are also biking tours organized by the local bike rentals shops.
Katun MTB day adventures offer a variety of biking hiking tours around la Paz.
In Los Cabos as well it’s possible to book <a rel=”nofollow” href=”https://bit.ly/2WRZ4kW” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>biking tours or take a beach tour on Eco-bikes.
Paddleboard in the bay of La Paz
From La Paz it’s very easy to rent a paddleboard and just paddle around the calm bay. There are local shops on the Malecon where you can rent it for an hour or more.
Paddleboard in Loreto Bay
In Loreto bay as well you can have amazing paddleboard adventures as well. Hotels like Villa del Palmar offer paddleboards for their guests, or you can check out at the Marina itself, where they rent paddleboards and Kayak.
Walk around the historical Center of Loreto
Loreto is a pretty town that has been declared Pueblo Magico for its charm and cultural interest.
It was one of the first Jesuits’ settlements when the Spaniard arrived in Baja California during their expansion of the Mexican territories.
You can now visit the Mission Nuestra Señora de Loreto, previously called “Cocho'”, the nearby Archeology Museum, check out the local art and craft shops and enjoy a coffee or a beer from the brewery in the plaza.
Loreto is a cute and safe little town with a lot to offer and a nice community of expatriates and locals committed to preserving the natural environment and the cultural heritage.
Surf at Los Cerrito beach
Todos Santos is the place where you want to go if you love surfing and Cerrito beach is the real mecca.
Here you can practice your skills on your own or take some lessons.
In the surrounding areas, you can also find amazing hotels and comfortable bungalows.
Even if you are not a surfer you will enjoy hanging out on the beach and just watch and relax.
Spend a weekend in Todos Santos
This once known as a quiet fishing town has been nominated Pueblo Magico ( Magic Town), definitely not sleepy anymore, it’s now the mecca for the new wave of bohemian style-conscious travelers looking for a swanky place to relax, eat well and be in the sun.
It’s actually becoming a valid competitor to the now saturated and insanely over-priced Tulum.
The colonial architecture, the cobblestone streets, the elegant shops, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, organic farms, and the unforgettable sunsets altogether are what makes this town so special.
The tiny historical center is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation contrasting the dry desert just a few miles away.
You can read in my full guide to Todos Santos about all the amazing things you can do the best places to eat and the trendiest hotels where to stay.
Take a yoga retreat
Todos Santos is also popular for hosting different yoga retreats. It might be a good opportunity for a rejuvenating week far from the daily routine to boost your energy and get back to your life brand new.
You can read more about Yoga retreats in Todos Santos here.
Enjoy the artsy nights in San Jose al Cabo
The vibrant historical center of San Jose al Cabo opens up every Thursday night with a local art exposition, music, and food.
It’s a joyous and festive atmosphere with a very local feel, not to be missed.
Go bird watching
Both along the estuary in San Jose del Cabo and in Cabo Pulmo there are many bird watching trails for the experts and beginner birders.
You can either check them out on your own or ask for a local guide to take you to the best spots.
Rent a car and set off for an adventure around Baja
During both times I came to Baja I rented a car and went off for an adventure.
I believe renting a car is the best way to discover a place, as you can reach secret corners where local buses don’t go.
You can read my itineraries by clicking on the below links:
Visit the mission of San Javier
San Javier is an oasis in the rocky desert, at about 30 km of winding roads from the main coastal roads, the views you get while driving there only are worth the trip.
It’s an authentic village in a lush and green valley surrounded by the red rocky mountains of the Sierra.
You can visit the old mission, take a walk in the surrounding nature, and taste local delicacies.
Take a trip on a sailing boat
Sailing from Cabo San Lucas or from La Paz, it’s an amazing experience, especially if you take a Sunset tour.
They normally include snorkeling before the sunset, the perfect way to end your day.
Take a boat tour to see the arch and the love beach
In Los Cabos from the Marina, you can find fishermen boats that will take you on a tour to see the iconic arch.
You have the option to spend some time on the beach and let them come back and pick you up later.
You can either book the tour directly at the Marina or you can pre-book an organized full-day boat tour if you’d rather enjoy the sea all day long
Visit Chileno Beach in Cabo San Lucas
Chileno Beach is one of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in Cabo San Lucas. You can just enjoy the sun or snorkel around the bay.
Enjoy a walk around Los Cabos Marina
Have a lovely walk around the Marina, among the spectacular yachts shops and bars.
At sunset would be even more magical.
Watch the sunset from La Paz Malecon
One of the things La Paz is renowned for is its breathtaking sunsets like you don’t see anywhere else.
The sky above the sea gets of such an intense orange and yellow and pink it seems unreal.
Every night at sunset it’s like all the people from La Paz gather on the Malecon to watch a new miracle. It never gets tired.
Enjoy the local art galleries in Los Cabos
Los Cabos is a very touristic place but you can catch up with some of the authentic art, browsing around the art galleries and shop spread around Cabo San Lucas and San Jose’ al Cabo and enjoy some local art and craft.
TOURS IN BAJA CALIFORNIA
If you don’t feel like renting a car and traveling by yourself, it’s understandable. I love traveling on my own, with the freedom to do whatever I want and at the time I want, but there are certain situations in which I prefer to have a guide to take me around so I don’t have to think about anything, other than enjoying the place.
Also in Baja California there different daily tours that will take you to wherever you want to go but you will be “free” again at the end of the day.
This is the ideal solution if you really don’t feel like renting a car, or you have limited time and want to visit many places and/or you wish to have a professional guide that gives you information on the area.
Here below I will include some of the available tours for you to consider. Please bear in mind that you can also book it directly once you arrive in Baja, unless you are traveling in Easter or Christmas time or March for the whales where it’s high season and it’s advisable to pre-book your tour.
TOURS FROM LOS CABOS
TOURS FROM LA PAZ
WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT IN BAJA CALIFORNIA
Baja California specialty is seafood, and you can find many restaurant options for any budget.
Also, vegans and vegetarians find it easy to eat out.
Since it would be tedious to read the long list of Restaurants available in all Baja Sur, I am sharing the link to my posts for each destination.
WHERE TO STAY IN BAJA CALIFORNIA
The growth of tourism has impulsed the need for more hotels and locals have responded in a very interesting way offering the most exquisite hotel options.
Todos Santos is where you will find the richest choice of trendy and stylish hotels.
However, all around Baja, there is a great choice for the most sophisticated traveler.
Also, Airbnb offers great accommodations for those who prefer the privacy of a homestay.
See more hotel options for San Jose del Cabo
See more hotel options in my dedicated post on Cabo Pulmo.
See more hotel options in my Todos Santos complete guide.
See more hotel options in La Paz in my La Paz full guide.
BEST HOTEL IN LORETO – Posada de las Flores Loreto
You can explore more options on my guide to Loreto.
See more options for San Jose del Cabo
I hope you have enjoyed my full guide to Baja California and the list of the things to do in Baja California was useful.
Please feel free to get in touch should you have any further questions.