With warm weather, beautiful beaches and top-notch resorts, Baja California, Mexico is the perfect vacation destination for west coast residents.
While most people spend a few days in Cabo or Ensenada, we decided to travel the entire peninsula and all of its best points of interests over 3 weeks.
With over 55,000 square miles in Baja California, it can be tough to choose where to go and the best places to visit in this area.
To make it easier for any first-time visitors like us, or returning Baja travelers, we compiled a list of the 15 top places to visit in Baja California, Mexico from our trip through the peninsula.
15 Top places to visit in Baja California, Mexico:
1. Valle De Guadalupe
Located just a 20-minute drive outside of Ensenada in Baja California Norte, Valle De Guadalupe is the new cool spot to visit. With infinity pools overlooking the wine valley below, modern $300/night eco-resorts and wine tasting tours, Valle De Guadalupe is quickly rising as the desired weekend destination for American millennials.
Valle De Guadalupe produces 90% of the wine from Mexico and for around $5-$15 USD it’s easy to find a great bottle to take home with you. The valley attracts visitors with beautifully landscaped wineries complemented with great restaurants, all at a cheaper cost than the Napa, Sonoma or Temecula competitors in the US.
The wine tour guides are well versed in wine pairings and offer tours of the local wineries, all in Spanish or English. If you are a wine lover, Valle De Guadalupe is a great place to spend the weekend, especially if you want to experience something a bit different than the well-known wine regions of the US.
2. Bahia De Los Angeles
Bahia De Los Angeles is a great place to get away for a few lazy days on the beach, take a whale watching tour or go kayaking in the ocean. At Campo Archelon, visitors can rent a palapa (beach hut made out of leaf’s) right on the waterfront, camp on the beach and enjoy life “off the grid”.
It’s a friendly vacation spot where it’s easy to meet your camping neighbors, hang out around a fire pit at night and play some beach volleyball during the day.
3. Ojo de Liebre Lagoon
A popular place to go whale watching in Baja California is at the Ojo de Liebre whale breeding area. The bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which means visitors can’t swim in the water, but there are plenty of other things to enjoy in this bay area like the palapa-style camping, a walk on a pier for sunset and a casual restaurant located by the beach. Located away from any city life, this bay is a nice quiet spot to relax after a whale watching tour and star gaze at night.
Mulege is a small town nestled in between the mountains of Baja California Sur. Although most of the Baja landscape is desert-like and dry, Mulege is a little oasis with palm tree groves and a river passing through.
One of the highlights of Mulege is the mission located on top of a hill overlooking the city below. The town of Mulege is quiet, filled with narrow cobblestone streets and local stores, appealing to passing travelers as a fun day stop and a place to hang out for a few hours before heading on.
5. Bahia Conception
If you’re on a mission to find the perfect beach in Baja California Sur area, nothing will get you more excited than seeing the turquoise blue waters of Bahia Conception peeking through the mountains on Highway 1 as you approach the bay.
Bahia Conception is a cluster of secluded beaches and all of them are equally amazing with clear blue water and plenty of sea life to observe. Santispac beach in this bay is a great place to camp for a few days, go kayaking, snorkeling, watch sunsets or just lay out on the beach.
These beaches are so great that some people come for a few days and end up staying for a few months. With nearby stores and restaurants, it really feels like you could stay there forever.
Loreto is one of the cutest small towns in Baja California Sur with colorful restaurants, beautiful Spanish style hotels, and an adorable downtown. The highlight of the downtown area is its plaza, a popular tourist spot for lunch and dinner.
While Loreto plaza has many amazing restaurants to choose from, it also offers something you don’t find often in Mexico – a local brewery serving cheeseburgers and IPA beers. If you are craving a taste of the US, stop by the El Zopilote brewery to fulfill that craving for a juicy cheeseburger and a hoppy IPA.
7. Todos Santos
Todos Santos is one of the most up and coming yet under the radar vacation cities in Baja California. Full of outdoors brunch spots, coffee roasters, juice bars and yoga studios, it is a blissful city with a laid-back, upscale vibe.
The local restaurants are filled with green tropical decorations creating a jungle-like feeling and the menu options are plentiful. The downtown area is known for its art galleries and beautiful hotels. If there is one place you should add to your “must visit” place in Baja California, Todos Santos belongs on top of that list.
8. Tortugueros Las Playitas
Tortugueros Las Playitas is a beach on the outskirts of Todos Santos and it’s a known area for rescuing and releasing endangered sea turtles into the ocean. Local volunteers comb the beaches daily for new turtle nests, transport them to a sanctuary for monitoring and release them into the ocean upon hatching.
We drove to Tortugueros Las Playitas to watch the popular turtle release at sunset but little did we expect to actually participate in the rescue efforts the next morning. The volunteers at the turtle rescue are super friendly, will gladly explain more about the process and if you are lucky like us, even let you participate in the rescue process.
9. Cerritos Surf Town
If you are looking for a different type of experience, a unique vacation spots in Baja California Sur is the Cerritos Surf Town. Filled with unique hotels like the Eco Bungalows and beachfront resorts, this area is a fun place to get away from the busy city life and enjoy a relaxing weekend on the laid-back beach strip.
Surfing schools are located along the beach for those who want to give surfing a shot, but other fun options are also available like beach-front restaurants and swim-up bars in pools at the local resorts. Day passes to some resorts are available for those who want to come hang out in this area for the day.
10. Arch of Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas attracts many tourists with its beautiful beaches and a fun party scene. But while most people head to Cabo to enjoy a margarita on the beach or go out dancing at night, there are some amazing nature attractions located in Cabo as well.
A glass bottom boat tour out to the Arch is one of the most popular tourist activities to do in Cabo and costs around $10 USD per person. For travelers that are looking for a fun budget activity, a great hike is located through Mt Solomar that leads to both Divorce and Lovers Beaches right around the corner from El Arco. The panoramic views of the Cabo bay from this hike are hard to beat and are also free to enjoy for everyone.
11. San Jose Del Cabo
San Jose Del Cabo is a fun resort area along the Baja California Sur coast with white sand beaches and perfect blue water. While most of the beachfront in this area is lined with mega-resorts like Hyatt Ziva and Royal Solaris, San Jose Del Cabo also has a very cute downtown area with amazing restaurants and fun bars.
The downtown area is best explored by foot since many hotels and restaurants can’t be spotted from the car but will stand out to by-walkers with their inviting entrances and colorful Spanish interiors.
12. Cabo Pulmo Marine National Park
Cabo Pulmo is a National Park located on the southeast corner of Baja California Sur and is home to the oldest coral reef in North America. While the roads leading out to Cabo Pulmo are pretty rough and out of the way from main highways, it’s a great area to spend a few days camping on the beach and enjoying snorkeling through the Cabo Pulmo marine park.
One of the most popular beach destinations in Cabo Pulmo is Playa Los Arbolitos. Many visitors are known to spot turtles swimming in the ocean along with a variety of fish, crabs, and birds hanging around in the bay. Snorkeling gear is available for rent for those who wish to go snorkeling through the reef.
13. Los Barriles
Los Barriles is a popular winter getaway community in Baja California that’s known for its windsurfing and kitesurfing activities. Although La Ventana is another up and coming windsurfing area, the more experienced windsurfers prefer Los Barriles with its faster winds and challenging waves.
Los Barriles is a town where many people head to retire and enjoy casual beach lifestyle. Compared to the simpler town of La Ventana, Los Barriles is more upscale and filled with beautiful beach front rentals.
14. El Mogote Peninsula
El Mogote is a long, narrow, and sandy peninsula located across the bay from La Paz that is known for frequent whale shark sightings. Within minutes, we spotted a few whale sharks hanging out in the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula. It’s basically one giant sand dune so a 4WD vehicle is recommended to explore this area. Day tours are also available from La Paz to go swimming with the whale sharks and can be arranged through local touring companies.
15. Balandra Beach
Balandra in La Paz is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Baja California. With clear blue water and mountains as the backdrop, Balandra is the perfect place to spend an afternoon kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or hanging out under a palapa.
The water in Balandra is so clear that sea life can be spotted through its pristine water. The bay area doesn’t get too deep and at low tide, beachgoers can walk across the entire bay on foot.
For those who stay until sunset the best place to watch the sunset is from the top of a hill overlooking the bay as the fading sun colors the sky. Visiting the beautiful Balandra beach is as close as it gets to a tropical paradise and one of the top things to do in Baja California.
Before heading to Baja California we had our doubts and concerns about this area. Traveling through Mexico has an undeserved bad reputation in the US but after the first few days in Baja, we quickly realized that we don’t have much to worry about and safety was not an issue in this area.
Instead of wondering what areas to avoid, our only concern was “How much can we see in this short time?” With a laid-back beach lifestyle and amazing food, my only warning to you is that you may not want to leave.