Baja California on the road

Baja California, geographic appendix of the homonymous American state, is the ideal destination for an adventurous road trip.

It offers desert landscapes, paradisiac beaches and crystalline waters, beautiful colonial cities with ancient Jesuit missions a full immersion into real Mexican life!

Baja California on the road
Baja California on the road


San José is the perfect place to start your exploration of Baja California Sur.

Here is one of the main airports of the peninsula, plenty of options in terms of accommodation, food and shopping in general.

The sand is golden and the water is crystalline, and although often the currents are too strong for either snorkeling or swimming, there are a couple of beautiful coves along the coastline such as Playa Chileno and Playa Santa Maria mostly protected from the winds.

Other than that, the coast from San José del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas, offers various spots for windsurfing or just to lay down sunbathing. Sadly, we have to admit that we found quite disappointing seeing how the unscrupulous resorts development has taken all the space, so that you will find yourself driving along a long line of huge (mainly non architecturally attractive) buildings destroying the panorama and covering almost all the view on the sea.

Nonetheless most snorkeling passionates (as we are) come here to visit the National Park of Cabo Pulmo. If this is also your plan, you must consider at least a 2 nights stay in San José as the trip there will take approximately 4 hours return on a normal car. This is because the road is only partially paved and although a 4x4 is not compulsory, certain parts are quite difficult to follow with a standard rental car. Also, once there, currents can be quite strong, so it is advised to check the water conditions (ask your accommodation to call any operator there) before starting the trip.

Playa Las Viudas, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
Playa Las Viudas, Cabo San Lucas


Slightly more than 2 hours drive from San José, is this lovely, slow pace town with a nice sea promenade and a satisfactory choice of restaurants, shops and accommodations. Here you will find more medium sized hotels than big resorts. The list of good public beaches a short distance from town is quite long, but our favourites were the Playa Balandra, El Saltito and the Ensenada de los Muertos. The first one is quite popular, and although the tide is often too low to really swim, it is the perfect spot for sunset pictures.

The other two are our ideal image of a secluded, non touristy beach without any facilities, just amazing waters, calm and untouched nature.

On the other hand, based on personal experience and taste, we would suggest avoiding the El Tecolote and Ventana Bay (due to currents and winds), El Coromuel (unless you love aquatic parks) and El Caimancito (as it is covered by a line of big beach resorts).

Playa Balandra, La Paz, Baja California Sur
Sunset at Playa Balandra


Our favourite stop along the coast of the Sea of Cortez and a 4 hours drive from La Paz, was Loreto, a lively fishing village with a nice and well maintained historic centre and a few colonial buildings. It is home to the the first permanent Jesuit mission in all Baja, established by Juan María de Salvatierra in 1697 and short distance from another strikingly beautiful mission located in middle of the Sierra de la Giganta,the San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó Mission

Shortly south of town, there is a nice black beach with lots of snorkeling at Loreto Bay. To access it you need to enter a big residence complex. There is no entrance fee and although we had been suggested to get a drink at the bar in order to use the beach, the east side, was empty, and if you don't need a chair, you can lay down there.

Nonetheless the best beaches are located north of town, approximately one hour drive north, into the municipality of Mulegé. Here there is a wide choice of beaches but our favourites were Playa Armenta, the first one you will encounter coming from Loreto, and Playa El Burro, a bit further. Excellent snorkeling, no facilities but plenty of relax. Be aware that driving north of Loreto, short distance from town you will find a check point: nothing to worry about, answer to the soldiers' questions kindly, they are just checking for drugs and weapons.

Our suggestion: we stayed at Bugambilias Suites and it was great. The owner and her sister in law were extremely helpful. The place is spotlessly clean and perfectly organised with all comforts.

San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó Mission, Sierra de la Giganta, Baja California Sur
San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó Mission

Sierra de la Giganta, Loreto, Baja California Sur
Sierra de La Giganta


The dusty town of Mulegé lays just north of the Bahía Concepción, less than 2 hours drive from Loreto on a scenic windy road, in an unusual tropical scenery of palms and lush vegetation; an oasis in the desertic land of Baja California Sur.

The town doesn't have much to offer with the exclusion of the Santa Rosalia mission, a beautiful construction dating back 1705.

And although this would be a perfect base to explore the many beautiful beaches of Bahía Concepción, unfortunately, the lack of decent accommodations, restaurants and facilities (only a mini-market in town) force visitors to avoid it. 

Mulegé, Santa Rosalia mission, Baja California Sur
Mulegé, view on the river from Santa Rosalia mission


Mining town halfway between Mulegé and San Ignacio, Santa Rosalia, offers a nice excuse to stretch your legs and walk through the rehabilitated city centre with interesting buildings with an unusual French touch from the beginning of the XX century and the Santa Barbara church argued to be planned by Gustave Eiffel. There is a dark grey sand beach just out of town....but sadly the area is not well kept and the rubbish completely ruins the setting.

Santa Barbara church, Gustave Eiffel, Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur
Santa Barbara church


There are 2 main reasons to visit this small town 1 hour and half drive north of Mulegé: the exploration of some of the cave paintings in Sierra de San Francisco or the experience of whale watching in Guerrero Negro.

However, to be honest, the town is a nice and relaxed stop especially to those who want to live a bit of real Mexican life. The old mission in the city centre is a beautiful building, and a nice canoe tour of the river will give you the chance to see some interesting bird-life.

Nonetheless, from here it is easy to visit the Cueva del Raton, with your own car or to organise a tour of the other caves of the area. Due to limited time we decided to visit the only the Cueva del Raton (we wrote an exhaustive separate post on this visit with all info).

Insider tip: unfortunately there isn't much choice in town for accommodations, but we stayed at the hotel La Huerta, which was a clean, decent and cheap solution with a very good and fairly priced restaurant. 

Cueva del Raton, rock paintings, Sierra de San Francisco, Baja California Sur
Rock paintings, Cueva del Raton

Sierra de San Francisco, Baja California Sur
Sierra de San Francisco, view from the Cueva del Raton


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