Baja California

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in Baja California

Destination Information

Thirty years ago, there was an exhilarating end-of-the-world solitude permeating the subtropical tip of the Baja Peninsula. Today the 25-mile corridor between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas is a scene of continuous hotel and condominium development. Golf has replaced marlin fishing as the premier sporting attraction, with the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones II having crafted championship links out of the desert landscape.

If you are in search of laid-back and unspoiled Old Mexico, drive 90 minutes up the western coast from Los Cabos via Federal Highway 19 to Todos Santos. Home to a growing colony of Mexican and American expatriate artists, this traditional, gentle-paced agricultural town lies just inland from the Pacific Ocean at the base of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains. Clustered near its small historic plaza you will find many art galleries and boutiques tucked within whitewashed colonial buildings trimmed by red-tile roofs and colorful bougainvillea. 

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Whale Watching

Between January and March, Baja offers outstanding whale watching. Large numbers of Eastern Pacific gray whales — 50 feet long and weighing 35 tons — swim down from Alaska each year to give birth to their young, a 12,000-mile round-trip. In the Sea of Cortez, notably in the marine Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto, it is also possible to observe blue and fin whales, two of the largest mammals on the planet.

Fine Hiking in Tropical Dry Forest

Readily accessible by car, the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve, an island near Todos Santos, provides fine hiking in tropical dry forest. Of the 900 plant species that can be found in the sierra, more than 20 percent of them are endemic to the peninsula. The terrain at the base is primarily composed of Baja caducifolia (desert scrub), but lush oak and pine forests are not far off. 

Escape La Paz

If in search of an escape from the city of La Paz, Isla Espíritu Santo, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is just 90 minutes away by boat. Once at the island, we cruised past sea cliffs striped with granite and compressed volcanic ash en route to an islet popular with sea lions. There we had a marvelous time snorkeling with them. Aquamarine bays with deserted beaches indent much of the island, and as we ventured into another bay punctuated with rock stacks, the water was clear enough for us to observe schools of rays swimming along the sandy bottom. Hikes on Candelero trail can be arranged, as can visits to the breakwater of an old pearl farm.

Excellent Golf Courses

Golfers shouldn’t miss the chance to play Jack Nicklaus’ renowned Cabo del Sol Ocean Course, which is invariably rated among the top courses in the world. Though currently closed for renovations, upon reopening in November 2019, two new holes will be revealed. In the meantime, the Tom Weiskopf-designed Desert Course is an excellent alternative. Winding through canyon-like arroyos, this course offers beautiful ocean views from all 18 holes.

Farm-to-Table Restaurants

Just outside the town of San José del Cabo are two farms with notable restaurants serving produce grown on-site. Flora’s Field Kitchen is the classic, with a highly regarded Mediterranean-inflected menu. Vegetables and herbs are sourced from the 25-acre organic Flora Farms, and all meat served comes from a nearby ranch. Cooking classes followed by lunch can be reserved in advance. 

Acre, which opened in late 2015 just down the road from Flora’s Field Kitchen, is larger, with 25 acres of gardens and fields, but quieter. Less well-known than its neighbor, Acre feels chic and contemporary, its rigidly orthogonal concrete exterior a striking contrast to the winding paths and mature palm-studded gardens surrounding it.

Art Galleries Abound

In San José del Cabo, art galleries cluster along Obregón between Guerrero and Hidalgo. Art Walks take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays between November and June, when Obregón closes to cars and galleries offer wine and snacks. I especially recommend checking out Patricia Mendoza’s art gallery, as well as that of Ivan Guaderrama.