One Week in Baja California Sur

A land of contrasts, Baja California Sur has both lonesome desert landscapes dotted with date palms and deserted missions and the raucously popular beach resort towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, collectively known as “Los Cabos.” The variety of things to do is just as striking: whale watching, snorkeling with whale sharks, sailing, and discovering deserted coves and beaches are just a few of the adventures that await you in Baja California Sur.

Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico
The ocean churns as a 36-ton mammal swims up to the boat. With your arm plunged into the cool water, you await the touch of a California gray whale. Like a house cat craving a scratch on the head, the whale pushes its rubbery skin, rough with barnacles and battle scars from boats and orcas, against your palm. From January through March, hundreds of gray whales settle in Magdalena Bay, on the southwest coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. From their feeding grounds off the coast of Alaska, they’ve made one of the longest animal migrations—more than 5,000 miles—to mate, give birth, and raise their young here. Visitors who join local fishermen and outfitters in the bay are practically guaranteed to see whales, and the luckiest will encounter “friendlies,” including proud mothers who nudge their wrinkly black calves toward the surface. Sea Kayak Adventures offers a new trip that combines gray whale sightings in Magdalena Bay with blue and fin whale watching in the Sea of Cortez. From $1,495. (800) 616-1943, This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue.
La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico
The one-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos is dotted with tempting detours. Chief among them is Playa Cerritos, one of the few Pacific-side beaches safe for swimming. Of course, it’s not the swimming conditions that attract legions of surfers each year, but the wonderful swells and breaks, which invariably make for an excellent outing on the waves. You can rent a board or sign up for lessons at Mario Surf School, and otherwise there’s plenty to support a day at the beach. Grab a bite at the Cerritos Beach Club, pick up a trinket or two from one of the local artisans, and treat yourself to a shoreline horseback ride or an oceanfront massage.
Cerritos Beach, Baja California Sur, Mexico
The most rugged, sketchy roads always seem to lead to the best surf breaks. This photo captures the early morning drive over the hill to Cerritos beach in Baja Mexico. Down below I discovered perfect, glassy rights and only a few early risers in the water. In the distance at the point is Hacienda Cerritos, a boutique hotel from which you can stumble out of bed and down to the surf. Mario Beceril, a Baja native, runs a great surf school from the beach for anyone who needs a lesson.
Calle Álvaro Obregón 23300, Centro, Todos Santos, B.C.S., Mexico
This abacus-inspired device tracks how many beers you take from the honor bar located next to the rooftop jacuzzi at Casa Tota ( Located in the heart of Todos Santos, this new hotel is outrageously affordable (rooms start at around $85) and its restaurant serves a dangerously good margarita. Margaritas are on the house if you can out arm wrestle Casa Tota’s buff waiter, Raul.
San Pedrito Beach road San Pedrito Beach, 23310 El Pescadero, B.C.S., Mexico
Just down the beach from the dreamy Rancho Pescadero hotel is Baja’s popular San Pedrito surf break. I paddled in just in time to get this dreamy shot of the clouds melting into the horizon.
Calle Francisco I. Madero 1240, Zona Central, 23300 La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico
In 2013, adventure company Todos Aventura (now known as The Hub) opened 15 miles of amazing mountain bike trails over dunes and around cacti and through dreamlike landscapes. Nothing beats a few hours of this kind of kickin’ around right before dusk. And it makes that cerveza afterwards taste so good!
Transpeninsular Highway, 5 Cabo Real Km. 19, Tourist Corridor, 23400 San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico
Las Ventanas al Paraíso represents the epitome of luxury, with gorgeous, gigantic rooms featuring traditional crafts, handmade mosaic headboards, and classy furniture and accents. Balcony railings are awash in pink blossoms of bougainvillea. Some rooms take amenities further still, with private kitchens and wine cellars, as well as personal butler service. The property is set between the desert and the sea, and common areas, such as pools, have exceptional ocean views. Service is ultra-attentive, as one would expect at this price point, and guests rave about on-site restaurants and dining, especially in La Cava, the resort’s private wine cellar. Concierges can assist with planning a host of excursions and experiences, from cooking classes to whale-watching trips.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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