If you love Cabo San Lucas for its stark ‘desert meets the sea’ beauty, clear water and delicious seafood try a Baja road trip and explore the areas around La Paz, Loreto, Mulegé and Santa Rosalía. Baja California offers a combination of national marine parks in the Sea of Cortez, ancient cultures and slow moving village life.
Why Now: Mexico has been investing in parks and infrastructure. Those notorious roads are in great shape and the marine parks and historic sites all have excellent interpretive information, but the region still feels undiscovered.
Don’t Miss: Visiting at least one historic Spanish Mission. Between 1683 and 1834 some 28 Catholic missions were established on the Baja peninsula. Spain’s goal was to gain control of the frontier-but the rugged region won out and most of the missions were abandoned.
Missión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó was one of the earliest Baja missions to be established-founded in 1699 its isolated location outside of Loreto brings to mind early Baja life.
Be Sure to Try: Snorkelling with whale sharks outside of La Paz. Having a huge shark (which despite its cheery polka dots, still looks like a shark) swim directly for you is, umm, invigorating. But the only real hazard is being hit by the gentle creature’s massive tail. The sharks only reach a whopping 5 km/hour in speed but their big tail swings through a large powerful arc.
The season is December through April and it’s best to go first thing in the morning. Check with the pangas on the beach for prices (typically $20 – $40 per person depending on group size). Look for operators that follow responsible practices for visiting whales and sharks.
Keep an Eye Out for: Black Pearls. From 1500 to 1800 Mexico was the world’s main source of black pearls. Catherine the Great and Marie Antoinette both sported jewels that came from the Sea of Cortez. But ‘pearl fever’ outstripped the ability of the “Sea of Pearls” to naturally produce. A
nd as supply dwindled, the fabled black pearls of Tahiti (which are not as luminous or colourful as Cortez pearls) took their place in the market. But a new sustainable version of the pearl industry is back in business and the iridescent gems are Baja’s newest keepsake.
The Mazatlan Post