Graced with tantalizing desert landscapes, lush oases and rich marine life, Baja California is one of the most compelling and popular destinations in Mexico. Its human history is no less enticing, with a legacy of remote cave paintings, crumbling Spanish missions, top-notch beach resorts and fabulous seafood. Yet even today, Baja maintains a palpable air of isolation from the rest of Mexico. The peninsula lies over 1300km west of Mexico City, and the sheer distances involved in traversing its length – it’s over 1700km long – are not conducive to quick exploration.
One of the most magical sights in Baja is the annual grey whale migration from December to April; the best places to see them are the Laguna Ojo de Liebre, just off Guerrero Negro, or the lagoon near San Ignacio, where the town itself is a further attraction. The peninsula is also home to some of the most bewitching and thought-provoking cave art in the world – the Sierra de San Francisco, between Bahía de los Angeles and Loreto, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993 because of its five hundred particularly vivid rock-art sites.
And all along the coast you’ll find turquoise waters and white-sand beaches; most towns in Baja California Sur offer fantastic opportunities for diving, fishing and kayaking, but Bahía Concepción, Loreto, La Paz and the remote settlements on the East Cape are the standouts among them. In complete contrast, right at the end of the peninsula, the booming resort of Los Cabos offers its own special blend of luxury hotels, beach activities, top-notch restaurants and wild nightlife.Read More
The Transpeninsular Highway (Hwy-1)
The Transpeninsular Highway (Hwy-1)
The Transpeninsular Highway stands as one of North America’s last great road trips. Part of the thrill comes from the long spaces separating major towns, the narrow segments of highway that snake along precarious cliffs and the animals and washouts that can block the road. But the biggest draw is the near-constant beauty of the desert, mountain, sea and ocean vistas and their illumination by brilliant blue skies and starry nights. The times here include necessary stops for petrol and army inspections; all cars and buses are searched at military checkpoints stationed between Tijuana and Ensenada (2); north of El Rosario; north of Guerrero Negro; north of San Ignacio; and north of La Paz.
Tijuana to Mexicali 1hr 50min (198km) Mexicali to San Felipe 2hr 15min (195km) San Felipe to Ensenada 3hr 10min (245km) Tijuana to Ensenada 55min (109km) Ensenada to San Quintín 3hr (190km) San Quintín to El Rosario 55min (56km) El Rosario to Cataviña 1hr 50min (123km) Cataviña to Parador Punta Prieta 1hr (103km) Parador Punta Prieta to Bahía de los Angeles 45min (69km) Parador Punta Prieta to Guerrero Negro 1hr 50min (135km) Guerrero Negro to San Ignacio 1hr 30min (146km) San Ignacio to Santa Rosalía 45min (72km) Santa Rosalía to Mulegé 40min (62km) Mulegé to Loreto 1hr 45min (138km) Loreto to Ciudad Insurgentes 1hr 20min (141km) Ciudad Insurgentes to La Paz 2hr 20min (209km) La Paz to Todos Santos 45min (77km) Todos Santos to Cabo San Lucas 55min (77km) Cabo San Lucas to San José del Cabo 25min (32km)
Many Americans and Canadians take their cars to Baja; despite news headlines, this is generally easy and safe. If you intend to go on from Baja to mainland Mexico, you need to apply for a Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit (see
wbanjercito.com). Car insurance is not mandatory but is highly recommended. There are many companies along the USA-Mexico border that sell Mexican car insurance by the day, week or month (most normal US insurance policies don’t provide coverage for driving in Mexico). Note also that in Tijuana, tinted windows are now banned. Other nationalities can always rent cars on arrival – easy enough in Los Cabos or Tijuana.