Describing Baja California in a few words is simply impossible. The peninsula on the Mexican Pacific coast is too diverse, too multi-layered – and utterly different from other travel destinations. Find out about the best sights, experiences and my personal highlights in this blog post.
Mexico has a very special place in my (travelling) life. I’ve been travelling there on a regular basis since 2011 and always try to discover new places. My first visit to Baja California dates back a few years and after my trip this year, many moments and memories are still very fresh. Nevertheless, the itch to return is burning – and the next trip there is already being planned. Let me share with you a few of my favourite places that are ideal for a road trip:
The best experiences and places in Baja California
Desert, sea, beach, oases, towns and cities – Baja California is a real treasure trove. One that keeps revealing new – and unknown – treasures. Of course, I can’t withhold my personal highlights and favourite experiences from you.
Scuba Diving in Cabo Pulmo
As a passionate diver, Cabo Pulmo had long been a place I desperately wanted to visit. Quite remote and only accessible via gravel roads, the small fishing village is located a good 100 kilometres from Cabo San Lucas in the Gulf of California. This nest is famous among divers for its huge schools of fish – and of course the bull sharks.
Tip: Be sure to visit Cabo Pulmo at the beginning of the month, as there are only limited slots for the different dive sites. If you are planning to visit in high season, you should definitely book your accommodation and diving trips several months in advance, as they tend to fill up.
Foodie Festival Todos Santos
The annual Todos Santos & Pescaderos Culinary Experience is a food festival par excellence. Over several days and usually at the beginning of June, culinary happenings take place in and around Todos Santos that are truly something special. I ended up there by chance and tasted and experienced two of the experiences. If you want to delve deeper into Mexico’s varied cuisine, you shouldn’t miss this event.
Art Walk in San José del Cabo
Every Thursday from November to June, the so-called Art Walk takes place in San José del Cabo. Between 5pm and 9pm, countless artists exhibit a wide variety of artworks on Plaza Mijares. From paintings to photographs, small souvenirs and snacks to sculptures – everyone will find something to suit their taste here.
Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s low-key touristy and a wonderful way to end a Thursday in Baja.
Tip: While you’re at Plaza Mijares, take a look at the large letters in front of the Misión San José del Cabo church. With the right app – instructions are available on site – they come to life.
Cañon de la Zorra (Sol de Mayo)
When people think of Baja, they tend to think of the sea and the cuisine. Many people don’t realise that you can also go on great hikes here. One of the most beautiful tours is the one in the Cañon de la Zorra – also known as Sol de Mayo. The hike is diverse and not too long. The highlight awaits you at the end: jump into the cool water and enjoy the marvellous natural surroundings.
Recommended reading: Looking for tips on planning your trip to Baja California?
Mobulas in La Ventana
Among my absolute highlights are the aquatic adventures in La Ventana. The small fishing village is home to surfers from all over the world in the winter season and underwater enthusiasts in early summer. Devil rays – also known as mobulas – gather here in large schools between May and June. This natural spectacle should be at the top of the bucket list of photographers and sea lovers.
Tip: I was travelling with Dive Ninjas myself. Click here for the current dates of the Mobula tours.
Tip: In addition to mobulas, you can also observe whales, fish and turtles up close on the tours. I have published a very special encounter in my travel anecdotes.
Recommended reading: Want to learn more about mobulas (or devil rays) in Baja?
Cooking Class at Monte Cardón
If you are looking for an exceptional culinary experience, you can’t go past Ubaldo and Ourem. The two have created their paradise on a hill in the middle of the desert: Monte Cardón. This place stands for farm-to-table, slow food and a cosy atmosphere. Believe me, once you’re here, you won’t want to leave this place any time soon.
Important: Monte Cardón is not a traditional restaurant and only works with reservations.
Ice Cream in El Triunfo
Again by chance, I stumbled across one of the best ice cream shops around. There isn’t much in the small village of El Triunfo – but there are two ice cream shops right next to the through road. The ice cream at El Camino Real is simply surreally amazing and a stop – or even a diversion here – is always worthwhile.
Museo del Vaquero
The history of Baja is complex and not always that simple. The Museo del Vaquero de las Californias in El Triunfo gives you a good insight into how the peninsula developed and how important the vaqueros (cowboys) were for this.
Strawberries bei Agricole
Located just outside Todos Santos lies the Cooperativa Agricole. Not only do they grow fruit and vegetables in the surrounding fields, they also turn them into delicious dishes on site or sell them in the farm shop. Everything on the menu is truly delicious. If you’re short on time, you should either rethink your itinerary or at least pick up the famous Fresas con Crema (strawberries with whipped cream) in the shop.
Sunset Tour Cabo San Lucas
On my last evening in Baja, I treated myself to a sunset tour to the Arco in Cabo San Lucas. Despite the strong winds, the trip was a real success. If you’re lucky, you can see mobulas or even whales from a sailing boat or catamaran.
There are several providers – I travelled with Cabo Adventure myself. However, I believe that all tours are similar. The dinner was definitely not a culinary highlight, but the evening hours on the boat were a lovely end to my trip.
Tip: If you go diving in Cabo San Lucas, there is a good chance that you will make a detour to the Arco during the surface interval.
Zai Sushi in La Fortuna
Culinary delights play a very special role in Baja. Nothing I tried was bad (except the food on the Sunset Cruise) and there were always unique highlights that catapulted me to cloud nine. Especially the ones that I discovered unexpectedly. For example, Zai Sushi in La Fortuna. Savouring delicious sushi creations with a view over the sea and fully indulging in the explosion of flavours – simply amazing!
Starry Sky in La Ventana
If you are in Baja at the right time and there is no bright full moon, you should definitely plan a trip to La Ventana – or to the desert. This is because there is little or no light pollution in many places on the peninsula. Ideal for observing the starry sky or trying your hand at night sky photography.
Tip: If you would like to combine the night sky with the Mobula experiences in La Ventana, Jay and Stan’s Above and Below workshop might be something for you.
Sea Lions and Whale Sharks in La Paz
Depending on the time of year and season, you can dive and snorkel with sea lions or swim with young whale sharks in La Paz. Both experiences are great and even if you don’t want to get into the water, you can still see a lot from the boat. Cortez Club is a lovely dive shop and I highly recommend them – even if they are a bit out of the way.
Freediving in Cabo San Lucas
Freediving has been high on my wish list for several years now. And in June, the time had finally come. I did two courses with the amazing instructor Donna and absolutely fell in love with this sport. So if you’re interested and would like to try it out in Baja – or do an advanced course – then Donna in Cabo San Lucas is definitely the right choice.
Street Art & Promenade in La Paz
La Paz completely captivated me again on my second visit. Especially the promenade with its many sculptures inspired by the sea. There are also really many murals to discover throughout the city, giving the place something very unusual.
Hotel El Ganzo
If there was one hotel that really blew me away this year, then it was El Ganzo in San José del Cabo. The boutique hotel is located right on the water and invites you to relax and unwind. Every single room is unique and has been designed by various national and international artists. The infinity pool on the roof with a view over the sea rounds off the experience perfectly. Another bonus point: it is an adult-only hotel.
If you enjoyed this blog post, how about these?
Travel Tips for Baja California – What you should know before your trip
Mobulas: Here’s what you should know about the devil rays in Baja California
On the same wavelength – Travel anecdote from Baja California
Why you should give freediving a try
Scuba Diving in the Florida Keys