Looking for somewhere warm to visit this winter? Mexico’s Baja Peninsula offers two oceans, plenty of breathing room and stunning scenery. Catch some rays on a low traffic beach and enjoy the best of Baja.
Winter vacation options are slim for Americans this year. Many borders are closed and travel logistics are flat out complicated. There is, however, one place that is not only close but also easy to visit in a variety of different ways. The Baja Peninsula is bordered by two oceans and features a remote and rugged desert interior. It’s a true paradise and a great winter escape for Americans. The entire peninsula sits in the free zone and is set up perfectly for tourism.
Getting to Baja Mexico
The nice thing about Baja is the geographical proximity to the United States. The shared border means you can actually drive there in your own vehicle. Buy a Mexican insurance plan in advance and you are free to legally travel in your own vehicle and can even tow a camper down in search of the perfect beach. Driving makes it easy to social distance and control your space, especially while camping. It takes about 8-10 hours to drive the entire length of the peninsula, making it a perfect way to explore for a few weeks, or even months in small sections. Bring along a durable duffel as your carry-all while tramping around in your car or van.
Flying is also simple, with Cabo San Lucas being the primary destination. Cabo is located on the southern tip of the peninsula where the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean converge. It also hosts a large concentration of resorts, vacation rentals, and even camping spots. This means it’s easy to catch a flight and then either shuttle or private taxi to your accommodation. If you only have a few days or a week, jumping on a flight with a simple carry on and a low-key neck pouch is ideal.
Resort vs. Vacation Rental
Both options have advantages and disadvantages. All inclusive resorts are convenient and makes it simple to just show up and grab a cold drink on the beach. Resorts also have more concentrated traffic and finding uncrowded areas could be more difficult. That said, the best resort options heavily feature private villas and casitas—you’ll have resort conveniences with extra privacy and space. A majority of the resorts are concentrated in Cabo San Lucas, but every region has options, along with some specific golf course destinations.
The vacation rental option is also very appealing and there are plenty of listings on Airbnb and VRBO. Vacation rentals are often more difficult to reach and may require a personal vehicle or a rental car, especially when located in a remote area. The big advantage, however, is the ability to find a great place that is completely private and custom cleaned just for you. Beachfront rentals are not uncommon and some are found at great prices. If you can figure out the transportation and grocery shopping needs, a private rental is a great way to go.
Pacific Ocean vs. Sea of Cortez
The two bodies of water are very different and both are extremely appealing for those seeking outdoor adventures. If you want a more tranquil vibe with excellent snorkeling, fishing, and crystal clear waters, the Sea of Cortez is a fantastic option. It has far less current than the Pacific and is the ideal place for easy swimming and endless miles of pristine beaches. There are a few windy areas—like the famous La Ventana Beach, which is popular with kite surfers—but the winds and currents are mild compared to much of the Pacific side of Mexico's Baja Peninsula.
The Pacific side comes with crashing waves, excellent surfing opportunities, and great fishing as well. Whale watching is also a popular activity in the Pacific Ocean. Gray Whales rear calves along the Pacific Shores, and taking a tour from Guerro Negro is worth the small investment. The whales are docile and will come right alongside the boats.
Best Things to Do in Baja
Baja has something for just about everyone. You can sit on the beach and relax or charter a fishing boat to chase Dorado, Yellowfin Tuna, Roosterfish, and a ton of other species. Fishing opportunities are abundant and anglers from around the globe travel to test their luck in the rich waters here. Kayak rentals are easy to find and paddling around the bays on the Sea of Cortez is popular for good reason—it’s a joyful way to enjoy the good weather. Commercial outfits like Oars also run multi-day kayaking trips that visit islands and remote areas. These are amazing opportunities and are fully outfitted with guides and gear.
Snorkeling is also popular, especially in the Sea of Cortez, where reefs attract marine life. The water quality is excellent and you just can’t go wrong with a snorkel setup. If you want to get away from the water, the inland desert has hiking opportunities. Trails are also found along different parts of the coastline. Head north-central for a very unique experience and visit the large vineyards in the wine country. Wine country begins just south of the border crossing in Tecate and the region is stunning.
The Baja California Peninsula offers travelers an ideal winter getaway—there’s plenty of space and great adventures right within reach.
Related Links (from the Eagle Creek blog):
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By Zach Lazzari on December 2, 2020
Zach Lazzari is a freelance writer, fly fisherman and explorer. He is currently driving the Pan American highway in an old Astro Van with his dog Shale. Follow his journey at bustedoarlock.com and @zachlazzari on Instagram.