Cabo San Lucas is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico. When picturing Baja, nearly everyone envisions this city at the peninsula’s southernmost tip, but there is much more to the state of Baja California Sur than tourist resorts and a party scene.
With many enticing spots to discover in the southern part of the Baja California Peninsula, one of the safest regions in Mexico, instead of planning your next trip to Cabo and spending all your time at a resort, rent a car and enjoy some fun exploring.
Located along the west side of the peninsula, the colonial town of Todos Santos has become one of the most popular places to visit (and for expats to live) in the state. It’s only about an hour’s drive from Cabo San Lucas offering a lush oasis with lots of palm and fruit trees while a long, stretch of powdery golden sands is just minutes from downtown.
A Pueblo Magico, or “magic town,” for its importance as a cultural landmark, it offers a quirky mix of artists, surfers, New Age spiritualists, and fishermen. Explore a thriving art scene with many galleries and street murals along with a foodie haven. Between December and March, it’s a whale watcher’s haven with gray whales that come so close to shore you can look them in the eye while humpbacks breach in the distance.
Located on the east side of the peninsula, about an hour’s drive from San Jose del Cabo Airport, Los Barilles is located on a white sandy beach and is renowned for kitesurfing, windsurfing, and fishing. Snorkeling, swimming, horseback riding, and ATV tours are all popular too. While the small, charming town itself is no longer a hidden gem, there are a wealth of fantastic eateries and fun shops to explore.
Located about two hours north of Cabo San Lucas, La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur. It’s a sprawling city, but hang out around the malecon (waterfront promenade) and you’ll enjoy more of a small town atmosphere. On one side, you can watch the fishing boats and peer down into the bay to view all sorts of colorful fish. One the other, there are many cafes, bars, restaurants, and shops to explore. You’ll see sculptures dotted throughout, most of which have a sea theme.
La Paz, which translates to “the peace,” offers 340 days of sunshine a year for enjoying a wide range of outdoor adventures. Discover white sandy beaches edged by water that looks and feels like a big natural swimming pool, including famous Playa Balandra, often named as the most beautiful beach in Mexico. There are many excursions available from here, including boat tours that offer swimming with whale sharks and trips to Espiritu Santo Island, a UNESCO-listed nature reserve, to snorkel with sea lions.
Loreto is a small town along the Sea of Cortez in the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains, about a 4 1/2-hour drive from La Paz. It was the original capital of the Province of the Californias with lots of history to discover as well as being an ideal destination for nature lovers. Enjoy its authentic Mexican feel with several impressive colonial buildings in town, including the 17th-century Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto. There are lots of art galleries and shops to explore, and fantastic eateries with outdoor patios where live music is often hosted, while the malecon offers spectacular views of the bay and pelicans hoping to catch a feast when the fishing boats return.
Loreto Bay is arguably the crown jewel, a natural reserve that provides the opportunity to marvel at blue whales, fin whales, humpback whales, orcas, and large pods of dolphins. Mobula rays roam the waters too and sometimes massive schools of them put on an incredible show as they leap out of the turquoise bay.
Find out more about Loreto in my article on Trips To Discover here.