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Vamonos to Mexico » Travel Guide » Baja California Sur: Top 15 Places to Visit Along the Baja Peninsula

Baja California Sur: Top 15 Places to Visit Along the Baja Peninsula

  • Joel CZ 
  • 15 min read
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The peninsula of Baja California Sur, surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, is the perfect destination for relaxation, natural life observation, aquatic adventures, and tasting some of the best seafood in the country.

The following are the 15 best tourist spots on the entire Baja, from north to south, where you will relax with beaches and natural beauties and engage in excellent adrenaline-packed activities.

1. Visit the Arch in Cabo San Lucas

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Source: emperorcosar / shutterstock.com

Let’s start this list with Cabo San Lucas, a fantastic Mexican seaside resort in the south of the Baja California peninsula.

The Arch is the landmark and main tourist postcard of Baja California Sur, a beautiful rock formation that, from one angle, looks like a huge dinosaur drinking saltwater.

It is the point of separation between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Nearby is the spectacular Playa del Amor, one of the most famous beaches in Mexico, which can be reached by boarding a “panga” (the local boats).

Beautiful multicolored fish swim in its waters, and cacti flourish in the desert near the beach.

2. Balandra Beach in La Paz, Baja California Sur

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Source: jorgejaramillomx / shutterstock.com

Balandra is a beautiful beach with calm, flat, and transparent waters, where you can walk dozens of meters out to sea without the water exceeding your waist. It is easy to reach from La Paz because it’s only a 30-minute drive.

Balandra beach was declared a Natural Protected Area in 2012.

More recently, it received worldwide recognition as a Ramsar Site, especially for its mangrove swamp and the varied biodiversity it harbors.

The sentinel of the beach is a natural monument similar to a mushroom known as the Balandra Stone, one of the favorite places for tourists to take pictures.

La Paz Boardwalk

On a walk along the Malecon of La Paz, you will see some of the most famous sunsets in the world. Along its length of more than 10 km, there are cafes, bars, and restaurants for you to sit and chat and contemplate the horizon.

Paceños and visitors walk and jog among the large sculptures, with the rich sea breeze caressing their faces.

La Paz Cathedral

The main religious building of La Paz is a sober temple with twin towers built in the mid-nineteenth century. It was erected on the site of a mission founded by the Jesuits in the 18th century.

The cathedral of neoclassic style keeps several interesting baroque altarpieces in its interior, which were taken from other abandoned missions.

Regional Museum of Baja California Sur

The museum on Ignacio M. Altamirano Street in downtown La Paz opened in 1981 to disseminate anthropology and regional history.

One of the four rooms is dedicated to natural history and peninsular geology. In contrast, the second room recreates life in pre-Hispanic times and the first Spanish explorations of the territory.

The third room refers to the formation of the first towns, the viceroyalty, independence, and life before the Revolution.

The fourth and last room is dedicated to the Mexican Revolution and the episodes that led to the political confirmation of Baja California Sur.

La Paz Serpentarium

In the deserts and mountains of Baja California Sur live, among other snake species, eight types of rattlesnakes with potent venom.

These snakes have an urban habitat in La Paz at the city’s serpentarium, Brecha California street, in the Benito Juárez neighborhood.

The exhibit also includes other animals of the regional fauna, such as turtles, fish, crocodiles, lizards, spiders, and exotic birds.

3. Explore San Jose del Cabo

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Source: Matt Gush / shutterstock.com

The head of the municipality of Los Cabos is entirely focused on tourism. The city’s heart of a little more than 70 thousand inhabitants is the central square with the colonial church in front.

There are many points of sale for Huichol handicrafts and other pieces of South Californian and Mexican folk art in the streets downtown—the ideal place to buy a souvenir.

The restaurants on this tourist strip serve the best seafood and international cuisine.

The tourist corridor that connects San Jose del Cabo with Cabo San Lucas has beaches with beautiful hotels, offering land and sea entertainment, including sport fishing, golf, and marine species watching.

The patron saint festivities of San Jose del Cabo are celebrated on March 19, with all the shows and entertainment typical of Mexican fairs.

4. Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur

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Mountains and islands at the entrance to Magdalena Bay – Source: Hank Shiffman / shutterstock.com

The Magdalena bay is a wide inlet of 50 km of coastline facing the Pacific, sheltered by the natural barriers of Magdalena and Santa Margarita islands, one of the most charming tourist spots in Baja California Sur.

Magdalena Bay is perhaps the best site for gray whale watching on the peninsula. It is also one of the Mexican emporiums of coastal and industrial fishing, the former concentrated in shrimp, clams, crabs, mullets, soles, groupers, and corvinas.

Industrial fishing is focused on sardines, billfish, swordfish, and marlin.

Its marshes and mangroves are teeming with animal life, and there are several bird sanctuaries nearby.

Magdalena Bay is so unique that Germany and Japan were interested in buying it shortly before the First World War.

5. Santa Rosalia

Although the first community of Santa Rosalia arose with the founding of the mission of the same name in the early 18th century, the town came to national prominence in 1868 with the discovery of copper mines.

Several companies exploited the copper-rich boleite ore, mainly a French company that began operating in 1885, with Porfirio Díaz in power.

The company closed in 1954 when the copper ran out, but work in the mines continued until 1972.

The French features of Santa Rosalía are noticeable in the houses, buildings, and churches, especially in the Mesa Francia neighborhood.

The prosperity of copper made it the second Mexican town with electricity after Mexico City. It was also one of the first towns to have a telephone, although almost all of them rang for the mining company.

On your visit to Santa Rosalia, try its famous bread prepared with secret recipes, especially in the old bakeries, El Bachicha and El Boleo.

6. Asuncion Bay

Bahía Asunción is increasingly becoming a tourist destination in northern Baja California Sur, in the municipality of Mulege, with beautiful beaches such as Los Arcos, Los Jurjos, Los Pinos, El Vigía, and La Ensenadita.

Although its restaurants are simple, the dishes they serve, such as lobster and abalone, are exquisite.

The inlet is part of the El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, a huge Natural Protected Area of more than 2 million hectares that includes the El Vizcaíno Whale Sanctuary, also a World Natural Heritage Site.

The reserve is home to several species of flora and fauna at risk of extinction, including the American antelope or pronghorn.

7. San Luis Gonzaga, Baja California

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Source: Anamaria Mejia / shutterstock.com

In the Gulf of California, the beaches of San Luis Gonzaga Bay are a paradise for relaxation. It is located about 260 km from Ensenada.

Its main tourist activities are sport fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, with boat trips to nearby islands that allow you to admire the marine fauna.

This inlet was discovered in 1746 by the Jesuit missionary of Croatian origin, Fernando Consag. It became a strategic place for the reception of supplies during the construction of missions and evangelization of the Baja California peninsula.

The mission of San Luis de Gonzaga was founded in 1740 by the missionary Lambert Hostell, of which the church is still preserved, the only structure that was not devastated by time and treasure hunters.

One of the pieces that managed to survive was a stone statue of the Virgen de Los Dolores, which probably came from the mission of the same name.

8. Coronado Island, Baja California Sur

Also known as Smith Island, it is 14 km northeast of the Magical Town of Loreto and is a destination for diving, snorkeling, and nature-watching enthusiasts.

Excursions depart from Loreto to its crystalline beaches, where visitors can camp, swim in the clear waters, sunbathe and kayak.

The island, mainly rocky, has a length of 5 km and is home to the Coronado Volcano, whose last activity occurred in the sixteenth century.

9. Explore the Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve

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Source: Elizabeth Caron / shutterstock.com

Sierra La Laguna was protected as a biosphere reserve in 1994. It has the only pine-oak forest in Baja California Sur, with more than 112 thousand hectares.

Seen from the air it is an island of greenery on the desert peninsular carpet.

72 of its 586 species of flora are endemic, and it is the habitat of pigeons, quails, caracara hawks, kelele, woodpeckers, lizards, and rattlesnakes.

From El Picacho, at 2200 meters above sea level, you can see both the Pacific and the Gulf of California on clear days. Small streams run through the mountain valleys.

10. Ciudad Constitucion

Ciudad Constitucion is the gateway to Magdalena Bay. It is also close to the Baja 1000 route, the famous all-terrain vehicle race run in the peninsular desert since 1967.

Unlike most tourist-oriented cities in Baja California Sur, Ciudad Constitución has been oriented towards agricultural production, especially in the Santo Domingo Valley.

It currently produces wheat, alfalfa, cotton, and other vegetables, with irrigation water from deep wells. Its greenhouses produce more than one million boxes of tomatoes exported to the United States.

11. Sierra de la Giganta

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Source: TravelNerd / shutterstock.com

If you are fond of hiking and trekking in semi-desert environments, you must go to Sierra de la Giganta, a mountain range that runs parallel to the Sea of Cortez between the bays of Concepcion and La Paz.

Its highest point is the hill or peak of La Giganta at 1680 meters above sea level.

Although its dry environment and the flora consist mainly of cactus and shrub species, Sierra de la Giganta is still very popular for ecotourism and biodiversity observation activities.

This reserve is home to birds such as the peninsular or Belding’s mascarita, the peregrine falcon, and the golden eagle. Two mammals that live here are the desert squirrel and the badger.

12. Los Barriles, Baja California Sur

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Source: VG Foto / shutterstock.com

This fishing town in front of the Sea of Cortes is about a two-hour drive from Los Cabos that integrates a tourist corridor with other towns, such as Piedras Gordas, Buena Vista, Agua de la Costa, and Buenos Aires.

Its beaches are white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, with high profile hotels and entertainment such as sport fishing, ATV rides, and horseback riding. Other popular sports in the area are kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Los Barriles is the site of international competitions to capture dorado, marlin, tuna, and other species.

Forty-four percent of its 4,200 inhabitants are foreigners who have settled here to enjoy its beauty and natural comfort.

13. Ecotourism sites in Baja California Sur

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Aerial view of Cabo Pulmo National Park – Source: Leonardo Gonzalez / shutterstock.com

In the more than 140 thousand km2 of the surface of the Baja California Sur peninsula and its extensive coastline facing the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) and the Pacific Ocean, there are splendid places for the practice of ecotourism.

Cabo Pulmo National Park

The Cabo Pulmo National Park is located about 60 km from San Jose del Cabo, with the best reefs in Baja California for diving. The underwater structures of corals are strongly protected after being declared a national park in 2000.

The impressive biodiversity of these waters attracts divers from all over Mexico and the world.

Whale Watching Bays

Gray whales seek the warm waters of the Gulf of California to mate and give birth to their calves, starting in November.

The bays of Magdalena, San Ignacio, and Ojo de Liebre are among the favorites of these colossal cetaceans, which arrive from the Gulf of Bering in one of nature’s longest migrations.

14. Visit the Magical Town of Todos Santos

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The Hotel California in Todos Santos – Source: rhfletcher / Shutterstock.com

Todos Santos is a South Baja Californian town belonging to the municipality of La Paz. It has a temperate climate with an average annual temperature of 23 °C without extreme variations.

The town was founded in the 18th century by Jesuit monks who built the Mission of Santa Rosa de Todos Los Santos in 1733. In 2006, Todos Santos was declared a Magical Town by the Ministry of Tourism.

The main square is a cozy place adorned by coconut and palm trees, surrounded by the most emblematic buildings of the Pueblo Mágico.

In front of the plaza is the church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Todos Santos, the General Manuel Márquez de León Theater and the municipal building.

Hotel California

It is believed that Hotel California, a famous song interpreted by The Eagles, was written in 1977 in this establishment. It then became the place of pilgrimage by fans of the band.

The supposed ghost of a woman who invites you to have a drink at the bar also attracts tourists.

Los Cerritos Beach

A pacific beach a few minutes from Todos Santos is top-rated for surfing. It is in front of El Pescadero, an agricultural community with little commercial infrastructure.

15. San Felipe Baja California

The small town of San Felipe (in northern Baja) is very popular among North Americans. It has quiet and extreme entertainment, both in and out of the water, such as golf, sport fishing, jet skis, banana boats, ultralight flights, and off-road races.

The sea of San Felipe recedes dozens of meters due to a particular tidal phenomenon, exposing extensive sandy beaches.

Baja California Sur Gastronomy

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Baja is known to have the best clams – Source: Emily Marie Wilson / shutterstock.com

The culinary art of the state of Baja California Sur revolves around fresh fish, shellfish, and mollusks, caught in the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean.

Although it is the majority, not all Baja California’s food is seafood. Southern Baja Californians also prepare delicacies such as machaca and other meat dishes, contributing to a varied, balanced, and exquisite diet.

Stuffed and roasted “chocolata” clams

Because of their large size and defined flavor, chocolata clams are Baja California’s favorite bivalves. They can reach 15 cm in diameter, being the largest on the coast of Baja California.

Chefs prepare the “chocolata clams” in a recipe that includes serrano and güero chiles, tomato, onion, cilantro, and good cheese.

Breaded shrimp

This dish is prevalent in Baja California Sur due to its exquisiteness, ease of preparation, and low cost.

Fresh shrimp are dipped in wheat flour, beaten eggs, and breaded with bread crumbs before being fried. They are served with a salad of lettuce and cucumber. The dressing can be a sauce based on mayonnaise, chipotle chili, and cream.

Fish Tacos

Southern Californians are fortunate to have fish species found both in the inland sea of the Gulf of California and in the open ocean.

Any type of fish is good for making tacos in Baja California Sur.

A typical recipe consists of cutting up some good fillets and frying them after bathing them in a sauce based on wheat flour, beer, eggs, pepper, and salt. The rest is to put this delicacy on hot tortillas and serve with vegetables.

Ceviche

Cooking white fish in lime is another standard recipe throughout the Baja California peninsula. Ceviche is also prepared with shrimp and other seafood.

Machaca Burritos

Machaca, or dried beef, shredded and stewed, is a typical peninsular dish. Red chiles provide spiciness, and the flavor of the meat is enhanced by oregano, marjoram, and pepper.

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