Baja California Sur – Five reasons why you should visit
Too often reduced to “Los Cabos” or even just “Cabo” the region of Baja California Sur is a Mexican treasure waiting to be further discovered and explored.
Literally translated as “South Lower California”, the state is located at the very bottom of the Baja California peninsula bordered by the “Sea of Cortez” on the west and the Pacific Ocean on its eastern flank.
This area is without a doubt one of the most stunning coastal regions of the country, yet remains rather unpopulated, with visitors favouring the resort of Cabo San Lucas, at its very southern tip. There is so much within arm’s reach; whether you are looking for adventure, empty beaches, culinary delights, a bit of culture or pure luxury, Baja California Sur has it all.
Unlike the Caribbean coast of Mexico the climate of this area is typically dry, warm and sunny with a year around average of between 24 and 33 °C (75 and 91 °F). Summer months (July–September) are typically between 34 and 36 °C (93 and 97 °F) and can be slightly more humid. The winter months (December–February) are the coldest with temperatures dropping below 15 °C (59 °F) at night, but day time temperatures remain very comfortable with an average of 20 to 25 °C (68 to 77 °F).
Regardless of the time of year rainfall is minimal. Despite June being traditionally the wettest month of the year the area boasts an average of 350 days of sunshine a year! Leave the umbrellas and coats at home, just think flip flops, sunglasses, hats and sun-screen!
2. Nature & Wildlife
The area is located in the southern area of an 800 mile long peninsula just south of the Californian border. At the right time of year you can see a greater variety of whales and dolphins in a couple of weeks, than anywhere else on the planet.
The Sea of Cortez famously named by Jacques Cousteau as “The World’s Aquarium” boasts a biodiversity that can only be matched by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This giant ‘fish haven’ is populated by a range of different whales migrating down from Alaska to give birth and raise their calves out of the dangerous open water. This unspoiled setting draws divers, eco-tourists, naturalists and whale watchers from around the world. Giant manta rays, whale sharks, colonies of sea lion, pods of humpback, blue, sperm, fin and seasonal migrating grey whales are all very common sights.
Another obligatory stop would have to be the island of Espiritu Santo. Protected under UNESCO as a biosphere, the island was “sold” to the Mexican government in 2003 through the cooperative efforts of several non-profit organizations. Nowadays, this 23,800-acre desert is one of the most unspoiled ecosystems in Baja.
The beaches you’ll find here are simply marvellous and better yet, empty! As long as you take back every bit of kit, food, drink and rubbish anyone is welcome to enjoy an hour, afternoon or day on this little slice of paradise. The more adventurous visitors can swim with the sea lions, kayak, fish, snorkel, scuba dive, hike desert trails or simply sit in a boat and enjoy the show put on by the leaping dolphins.
From the charming authentic town of La Paz, local experts such as The Cortez Club can arrange a large variety of water based activities including; scuba diving, swimming with whales, sport fishing.
3. Authentic Mexican Charm
For those who are only familiar with the rather “Americanised” Cabo san Lucas we can only recommend venturing slightly further afield to discover the charm and authenticity many of the other cities have managed to preserve.
La Paz is the capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur and an important regional commercial centre. With only 220,000 inhabitants, La Paz remains a tranquil easy-to-love coastal town. It has preserved a nostalgic and provincial atmosphere that makes you think that little has changed here for decades.
If you are looking for big hotel chains and high-end entertainment this is not the right place. Should you fancy a day or two in a real Mexican town, on the shore of one of the most amazing stretches of water, we recommend it. Furthermore La Paz is the gateway to the Sea of Cortez and geared to that slice of the eco-tourism industry. The unspoiled natural environment brings sport fishermen, divers, eco-tourists, naturalists, whale watchers and travellers of all ages to this exquisitely peaceful corner of Mexico.
Todos Santos is located on the Pacific coast about 45 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. The historical centre of the town will delight. The colourful buildings, colonial architecture and shops convey a beautifully romantic and authentic feeling.
At the very heart of the town it will be hard to miss the enigmatic Hotel California. Whether the property has been the inspiration of The Eagles’ global hit is almost irrelevant. This hacienda style property with its roof terraces, rustic rooms, charming restaurant, romantic garden and pool, has enough charm to make you want to believe in this local legend.
Todos Santos being a natural oasis, supplying much of the water for its neighbouring towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose de Cabo, sits in lush surroundings filled with palm and fruit trees. The sun seekers amongst you will be glad to know the town is located next to a miles long pristine, un-spoiled beach.
San Jose del Cabo
With its 18th-century Spanish colonial architecture and laid-back scene, San Jose del Cabo provides an attractive alternative to fun-loving Cabo San Lucas, located 20 miles south.
With its shady main plaza and narrow winding streets this is the place to slow your pace while strolling among the colourful colonial buildings and browsing small art galleries and boutiques. San Jose del Cabo Art Walk has become a popular weekly event held every Thursday evening from 5-9pm between the months of November and June. This event was established, promoted and organized by the Gallery District Association in the hopes of drawing into our colour-filled back streets of the town.
The event has gained momentum in recent years, leading many restaurants and bars to pop up around town, to the great pleasure of locals and tourists alike. We recommend tasting a refreshing Hibiscus flavoured ice lolly or a frosty margarita at one of the alfresco restaurants, while experiencing the laid-back yet sophisticated atmosphere of the town.
4. The foodie scene
Too often reduced to cheese-laden fajitas, the Mexican culinary scene has recently exploded with young, inventive chefs bringing the traditional food offering well and truly into the 21st century. Forget the quesadillas served at your local Tex-Mex and think gastronomy, refinement, as well as fresh heart-warming comfort food.
The food offering is extremely varied. In this area locals have a very close relationship with the sea, it will therefore come as no surprise ceviche and fish tacos are staple items in the local diet. The fish could not be tastier, the tacos straight off the fire and fresh home-made salsa to top it all off. Other Mexican classics (a must try) are, huevos divorciados, tortilla soup, tacos al pastor amongst many other dishes. As long as you are willing to leave the comfort of your hotel and tourist areas you’ll be glad to discover the most unassuming little restaurants offer the most amazing fresh Mexican comfort food. On the other end of the spectrum, luxury hotels are also setting the bar extremely high by creating real “destination” restaurants independently successful from the hotels they are part of.
An excellent example is Manta, at the trendy The Cape a Thompson Hotel. Executive chef Enrique Olvera is at the helm of this incredibly ambitious, Pacific-Rim inspired kitchen. Having earned international acclaim for Mexico City’s Pujol, featuring in the second season of Netflix’s a Chefs table, the chef is highly regarded among his peers as a culinary innovator with a deft hand for forward-thinking Mexican cuisine.
Cocina de Autor
A further restaurant worth mentioning is Cocina de Autor, at the recently opened Grand Velas Resort, Los Cabos. Overseen by two Michelin star Head Chef Sidney Schutte of the Netherlands, guests will have the pleasure of enjoying a playful 8-10 course tasting menu that showcases the finest fresh produce and local meats from the region. This dining experience is further complimented by wine-pairing, of course.
5. World Class Accommodation
With the huge popularity of Los Cabos the hospitality offering is incredibly varied, from holiday rentals, mid-range family hotels to the most stunning, luxurious and cool properties you can imagine. Here is our preferred selection.
One&Only Palmilla – Ultimate Luxury
Revolving door of the rich and famous the One&Only is the epitome of luxury. Situated on a 102 hectares portion (250 acres) of a luxurious community, the lush gardens and views of the Sea of Cortez will win over the most demanding of travellers.
Built in a Spanish, colonial style all of the rooms suite and villas are perfectly poised to take in the glory of the Los Cabos sunrise.
This family friendly property also has the great plus of being one of the ‘only’ properties with direct access to a private swimmable beach. The resort offers 15 different room categories ensuring everyone’s specific requirement can be met. Plus, the spa, restaurants and activities offered will ensure you will probably never want to leave.
The Cape, A Thompson Hotel – Stylish & retro-chic
The clean, contemporary lines of visionary Mexico City architect Javier Sanchez converge in a relaxed 1960s Southern California-meets-Baja chic style at this luxury boutique hotel. Located on Monuments Beach, a spot favoured by experienced surfers, the property harmoniously blends in with its surroundings.
Beautiful sea views, including views of the famous Los Cabos golden arch is visible from all 161 rooms, that all have balconies. The vibe is effortlessly cool. The colour schemes and furnishing all channel a strong retro-chic beach house atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if you see the odd musician, actor making his/her way to their villa here.
Two restaurants, including Enrique Olvera’s incredible restaurant Manta, and four bar/lounges, including the only rooftop bar in town, ensure guests are well fed a watered at all times.
Grand Velas – Los Cabos – “Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond Compare.”
Recently opened, this property brings the standard of the “all-inclusive” offering to an entirely different level. Forget all of the limitations of the concept when you set foot in this property, as you will encounter none of them.
This resort offers ocean views to all, the setting and decoration is distinguished, luxurious and the butler service ensures all your requests will be instantly catered for. The suites are of a min size of 1,180 Sq. Ft. and offer all of the luxury amenities you would expect in a luxury 5 star hotel and more. Should you require that extra bit of care, the millenary rituals and treatments offered at the Grand Velas Signature Spa should do the trick.
The food and beverage offering is incredibly varied, from 10 course tasting menus of a Michelin-starred chef, to fresh seafood on your sun lounger by one of the hotels’ three freeform pools. The sky is the limit, or as they prefer to say; “Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond Compare.”
El Ganzo – A little something else…
There are plenty of hotels in Los Cabos but none quite like Hotel El Ganzo. The property has personality, lots of it! With both an Artistic and Musical director, the property host resident artist and musicians, that in exchange leave their contribution on the walls or in the hotel music studio. With just 69 guest rooms and a keen eye toward style and aesthetics, Hotel El Ganzo is the polar opposite to cookie-cutter hotels.
The rooftop of the property certainly has the wow factor: expect an infinity pool, a glass Jacuzzi, a fresh seafood restaurant, bar and music venue! Should you long for a bit more space a private boat can take you to the other side of the harbour where the hotel has its private beach and beach club.
It’s not hard to see why this property is making waves and attracted big recording artists and business men alike. “To cool for school?” you might ask? I would have to say no. The Hotel prizes creativity and originality, this is however not in detriment of the service and comfort.
From the United Kingdom:
- Although no direct flight are available from London, there are some very good options for the English based traveller. Aeromexico offers very competitive flight options from the UK. Keen on developing these routes, the product received a serious face-lift on board the airline’s new Boeing Dreamliner.
Aeromexico offers daily flights from London to Mexico City. Connecting times for flights to either San Jose de Cabo or La Paz have been adjusted to 2.5 hours for traveller convenience.
- Other options are offered by British Airways and American Airlines both flying via Dallas.
From the United States
- From Los Angeles, American Airlines is the only airline operating direct flights to San Jose de Cabo. Delta (codeshare with Aeromexico) will transit via Mexico City.
- From New York, United operate direct flights out of Newark. Indirect options are available with Delta and Aeromexico, transiting via Mexico City.
- From Melbourne and Sydney, Qantas, Delta, American Airlines and United all operate on this route. Each of these airlines will make the obligatory stopover in Los Angeles.