If your experience of Baja California Sur is limited to Cabo San Lucas, you’re missing out. Mexico’s 31st state is home to a breathtaking array of cultural and historic sites, world-class beaches, gorgeous wildlife and globally renowned cuisine. Book a non-stop flight from Phoenix to Loreto on American Airlines and start working on your Baja California Sur bucket list.
Visit between December 15 and April 15 to see majestic blue whales – the largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth – swimming in the waters of Loreto Bay National Park. These massive marine mammals eat krill and can grow up to 100+ feet in length. View them up-close and personal in a panga, or small boat. The gentle giants make a pilgrimage to Loreto Bay in the late winter/early spring to feed, mate and calve (give birth). Keep the whale-watching adventure going by heading farther north into the municipality of Mulegé, where the UNESCO World Heritage Sites San Ignacio Lagoon and Ojo de Liebre are sanctuaries for the friendly and curious eastern gray whales. You can also watch gray whales in two Comondú areas, Magdalena Bay and Puerto Adolfo López Mateos.
2) Ancient Cave Paintings and Rock Art
History, art and archaeology fanatics will be in heaven as they explore the caves in the northern part of Baja California Sur. On cave walls and rugged outcroppings of rock are prehistoric paintings dating back 7,500 years. Some locations are relatively easy to get to on a day trip from Mulegé and make for family-friendly cultural enrichment. Others are a little more challenging – think following guides, riding mules and camping! The best and most well-preserved sites are more remote and require effort to access, but they reward with their beauty. A journey to the cave paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco is a bona fide Baja adventure and a true bucket-list experience.
3) Historic Missions
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the history and architecture of the missions that dot the Baja California peninsula. Beginning in 1697, the Jesuit and Franciscan orders of Spain founded 17 missions over the span of 70 years. They also built El Camino Real, the “Royal Highway,” to connect the head missions (cabeceras) and satellite sub-missions (visitas) that supported them. The stately Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó was completed in 1744 and still stands in the center or Loreto. About an hour’s drive into the mountains is the beautifully preserved Misión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó, another must-see.
4) Surfing Scorpion Bay
Surfers come from near and far to shred the waters of San Juanico, better known as Scorpion Bay. The small fishing village on the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula has become a classic Baja surf spot, with multiple point breaks that bring epic surf when the conditions are right. When a big south swell hits, the waves break at four points, and rides can last a minute or more.
5) Sea Kayaking Excursions
Baja California is an ideal place to commune with nature in all her marine glory. Sea kayaking options in the Baja Peninsula range from family-friendly single-day experiences to sportier multi-day voyages. Don’t miss the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Islands of Loreto or the nationally protected Loreto Marine Park. Whether it’s a pleasure paddle or an educational excursion, kayaking the crystal-clear, tranquil and turquoise blue waters of the Gulf of California is an exhilarating, life-affirming experience.
To learn more about these destinations and other must-visit attractions in Baja California Sur, head to VisitBajaSur.travel/en