Wondering about the best things to do in Baja California? These activity recommendations will help you kick off your trip planning!
Mexico’s Baja peninsula may seem like it’s worlds away from mainland Mexico, but this area features some of Mexico’s most impressive landscapes, alluring beaches, and offers a plethora of incredible experiences for every type of traveler.
Whether you want to sip vino at a boutique vineyard, relax in a beachfront all-inclusive resort, experience incredible biodiversity on a diving or snorkeling trip, or spot whales in the wild, Baja has a wealth of activities to offer.
For this post, I worked with a group of other travel bloggers to help highlight some of the very best things to do in the Baja peninsula.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it serves as a solid starting point if you’re curious to learn more about this region.
- Best Things to do in Baja California
- 1. Experience local flavors on a food tour of Tijuana
- 2. Visit La Bufadora in Ensenada
- 3. Take a wine tasting tour in Valle de Guadalupe
- 4. Try out glamping in Valle de Guadalupe
- 5. Go whale watching in Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Guerrero Negro
- 6. Visit Isla Espíritu Santo, La Paz
- 7. Enjoy the art scene in Todos Santos
- 8. Surfing at one of Baja’s many alluring breaks
- 9. Sunbathe on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas
- 10. Try diving at Cabo Pulmo
- Continue Planning Your Trip!
When is the best time to visit Baja California?
The best time to visit Baja California will depend on where you’re going and what you hope to do there.
Climate-wise, Baja can be enjoyed all year round. The summers are typically quite hot, with highs between 90 and 94°F (32-34°C) while the winters are quite mild, with highs between 75 and 80°F (25-27°C) and an average low of 55°F (13°C).
August through October is the rainy season, but if you don’t mind risking the chance of a storm, it can still be quite pleasant to visit during these months. This also happens to be the low season, so it’s the perfect time for budget travelers to take advantage of lower prices.
Some activities that are popular in Baja, such as surfing or whale watching, are better done at certain times of the year. If these interest you, you will need to plan your trip strategically to ensure your visit coincides with the right season.
To get you started, here are some generalizations:
The best time to go whale watching in Baja is between January and March.
The best time to surf in Baja depends on your skill level and where you plan to go, but this post offers some helpful guidance.
What to pack for Baja California?
What you pack for Baja will vary slightly depending on your activities, but the following are a few items you definitely shouldn’t leave home without.
- Baja Travel Guide – Mexico is so large that regional travel guides are the way to go whenever possible. This guidebook offers itinerary recommendations for all types of travelers along with cultural insights and suggestions of how to get off the beaten path during your trip.
- Reef Safe Sunscreen – If you’ll be hitting the beaches during your trip to Baja, help protect the local ecosystems by opting for a biodegradable sunscreen. This one by Badger is great, and I’ve rounded up a few more of my favorite brands here.
- LifeStraw water bottle – Since tap water isn’t drinkable in Mexico, having a water bottle with a filter is key. Save yourself from purchasing disposable bottles by carrying a LifeStraw with you.
- Travel insurance – You can’t afford to travel without travel insurance, especially in the current state of the world. Mexico’s healthcare system is often affordable, but why risk it? Protect yourself and your belongings with a travel insurance policy. World Nomads and SafetyWing both offer affordable policies.
Best Things to do in Baja California
1. Experience local flavors on a food tour of Tijuana
Whether you’re just popping across the border for a change of scenery, or planning a prolonged journey through the Baja peninsula, don’t overlook Tijuana.
Tijuana is widely known for its nightlife and party scene, but “TJ” is so much more than a destination for American teens to blow off some steam.
Tijuana has a thriving food and craft beer scene and makes a fantastic foodie escape from California.
Mexico’s well-known beer duopoly between Grupo Modelo (producers of Corona) and Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma (who produce Tecate and Sol) left bars in Tijuana stuck in expensive exclusivity contracts.
A loophole emerged in 2013, enabling bars to serve craft beers without violating their exclusivity agreements, and since then the craft beer scene has grown tremendously and the foodie scene has followed.
Whether you prefer down-to-earth taco stands, fine dining, or a trendy lounge, you’ll find a whole spectrum of tasty experiences in Tijuana.
If you’re not sure where to begin, take a food tour through the city. You’ll stop at some of Tijuana’s most famous sites and experience a range of delicious cuisine and craft beers as you go.
Not one for formal tours? Create your own Tijuana food tour based on your tastes and preferences. Use this article as inspiration.
2. Visit La Bufadora in Ensenada
By Ellie of Ellie’s Travel Tips
Located on the breathtaking Punta Banda Peninsula, La Bufadora is a massive marine geyser known as the second-largest blowhole in the world. It is one of many alluring attractions in Ensenada.
Local folklore explains La Bufadora’s formation as a baby whale entering the underwater cave and becoming stuck over a century ago.
Now that the whale is grown, the spout of water comes from the whale’s blowhole with the faint, thunderous sounds being its cries.
This Baja Peninsula attraction is a fantastic spot to watch the power of the ocean mix with the might of the earth’s crust.
Visitors can expect to stroll through a few blocks of vendors to the impressive geyser. Once arriving, a warm splash of water shooting over 100 feet high welcomes every tourist bold enough to get a close view.
Travelers exploring this fabulous attraction should head straight to the blowhole when they arrive, making sure to glance at the vendors they may want to stop at later.
3. Take a wine tasting tour in Valle de Guadalupe
Located just outside of Ensenada, Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe is an increasingly popular wine tasting destination. According to Wine Folly, the region boasts 150 wineries and counting!
Part of what makes this region appealing is that each winery is unique and unpretentious and offers an array of innovative wines.
If you’re looking for an affordable, down-to-earth wine tasting experience, skip Napa or Temecula and head to the Valle de Guadalupe!
You can read up on the wineries in the region and design your own winery weekend, or simplify your planning by taking a guided wine tasting tour.
This tour will take you through four of the Valle de Guadalupe’s wineries, including the oldest winery in the region. You will have the opportunity to meet the winemakers and ask questions as you learn their processes. You’ll also visit a Wine Museum and enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch before returning to your accommodation.
4. Try out glamping in Valle de Guadalupe
By Shelley of Travel Mexico Solo
Glamping is one of the newest and best things to do in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico. The perfect climate and beautiful nature of Mexico’s west coast make this activity ideal for a Baja California trip.
Wondering exactly what is glamping? You’re not alone! This relatively new word is what you get when you combine rustic camping out in nature, with the glamorous comforts of a resort.
It’s basically glam-meets-camping, and it’s popular throughout Baja California state, but you can also go glamping in Tulum, Mexico. Glamping is gaining in popularity because it’s the best way to connect with the natural surroundings, without having to rough it on your Mexico vacation.
Valle de Guadalupe is just starting to appear on a lot of travel radars, especially those of wine lovers and foodies. Known as Mexico’s Napa Valley, the Valle de Guadalupe vineyards are starting to become their very own tourism destination.
After doing some tastings at the vineyards, and enjoying a gourmet farm-to-table meal, head back to your glampsite and relax under the stars, as you fall asleep to the sounds of nature.
To those looking for a unique yet comfy way to experience Valle de Guadalupe, glamping is the perfect alternative to a hotel stay in this up-and-coming travel destination.
5. Go whale watching in Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, Guerrero Negro
By Nat of NatPacker
A little off the beaten path in Mexico, Guerrero Negro might not have much in the town itself and might not be the easiest place to get to, but if you go between January to March, a trip to this little town is worth it.
There is a lagoon not far from the town called Laguna Ojo de Liebra; here grey whales come to breed every year.
If you take a trip to this lagoon during whale season you are likely to see a wealth of wildlife including seals and dolphins.
Mario’s Tours is a great company to go with. The boats are not supposed to get too close to the whales. However, once the boat has reached a spot with plenty of whales, the boat engine is turned off so you can just sit and watch.
The calves are extremely curious and no one told the calves the rules! They come right up to the boat and they happily let you touch them (they keep coming back for more). Always with the mother’s watchful eye on the boat.
6. Visit Isla Espíritu Santo, La Paz
By Adrienne of The Haphazard Traveler
Adventurous travelers visiting Baja California must be sure to include a popular day trip from La Paz: the uninhabited Isla Espiritu Santo, located within a protected UNESCO biosphere in the Gulf of California.
Also called the Sea of Cortez, the narrow gulf separates mainland Mexico from the Baja Peninsula and was referred to by Jacques Cousteau as “the aquarium of the world.”
A day trip here is only a 45-minute boat ride from La Paz and includes an abundance of sea life, pristine beaches, and stunning rock formations and scenery.
A colony of more than 300 sea lions lives at Isla Los Islotes, a craggy outcropping just north of Espiritu Santo.
A highlight of the trip is snorkeling here with playful juvenile sea lions and seeing the adults sunning themselves on the rocks.
Travelers can also snorkel with an abundance of fish, corals, starfish, sea urchins, and other marine life.
Day trips typically include a fresh picnic lunch at the secluded Ensenada Grande beach, with time for snorkeling from the shore or just relaxing in the sand with views of the colorful desert mountains and clear turquoise waters.
If you’re not in the mood for a tour, rent a kayak or standup paddle board and set out on your own! You can paddle past sea lions and glide over the crystal clear water at your leisure. Balandra Bay is a great place to launch from.
7. Enjoy the art scene in Todos Santos
By Katja of Globetotting
The colorful pueblo magico (magical town) of Todos Santos sits just an hour north of Cabo San Lucas. It was originally founded as a Mission in 1724 and later became a major source of sugar-cand production.
Today, it’s a laidback colonial town, home to historic buildings, sun-warmed plazas, and dozens of art galleries.
Artists have long been drawn to Todos Santos, lured by the colors, the climate, and, in part, the new age spiritualism that has also taken root here.
Visit at any time of year and you can wander the art galleries, stopping to talk to artists along the way.
Visit during February, however, and you can take part in the annual todos Santos Open Studio Tour. This two-day event sees some 40 artists open their doors to visitors.
See the works of painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, printmakers, and more – and maybe even purchase some art to take home!
If you happen to miss this fascinating event, not to worry: you can still visit artist studios and learn about Mexican handicrafts as part of a Todos Santos Workshop and Cultural tour!
8. Surfing at one of Baja’s many alluring breaks
Some of the most popular surf spots in Mexico can be found in Baja California, which attracts surfers of all skill levels. If you’re curious to try out this sport, or just looking to log some time on the water, you should definitely visit one of Baja’s incredible breaks.
Some popular spots for beginners include breaks near Rosarito and Los Cerritos beach, near Todos Santos. You’ll have no problem securing rentals or lessons in either of these destinations.
Keep in mind, the surfing conditions in Baja change seasonally, so if surfing is an important aspect of your trip, you’ll need to plan carefully. This post outlines the best times to go surfing in Baja California.
9. Sunbathe on Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas
By Daniel of Layer Culture
When looking for things to do in Baja California, be open to spending some well-deserved downtime at the beach. With so many beaches to choose from, where do you start?
Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas is a very nice beach with some of the clearest water you have ever seen. But this beach has much more to offer than sea and sand.
From this beach you can get an amazing view of the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas, or, even take a ferry there. Medano is a family-friendly beach that is the epicenter for all the fun and games. If arriving from the airport you can get a shuttle here.
For those chasing sun rays, May is the best time to visit Cabo so be sure to book in advance. Also, try to get to the beach early in the mornings to choose the best spot for the day. Access to the beach is free but if you reserve a sun lounger you can guarantee a more relaxed experience.
The beach gets busy but with all the food options, entertainment, and watersports on offer, crowds are to be expected.
No matter if you’re staying at one of the resort hotels, or backpacking, everyone is welcome. All in all, this is a must-visit to be able to get in on the mainstream action whilst you are in Baja California.
10. Try diving at Cabo Pulmo
By Isabella of Boundless Roads
If you are visiting Baja California and you love the underwater world, you must visit Cabo Pulmo one of the most incredible beach destinations at only 2 hours from Los Cabos International Airport.
This tiny village on the southern coast of Baja California Sur, is packed with amazing things to do for outdoors and nature enthusiasts. Situated within a protected marine park, its coasts are blessed with incredibly rich marine life, a paradise for divers and snorkelers alike.
During winter from December through March, snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo will give you the opportunity to watch humpback whales dancing and flipping in the water with their newborns at a close distance from your boat.
Try out this kayaking and snorkeling day trip, with lunch included. You’ll paddle past sea lions, snorkeling with sea turtles and more!
The downside of this time of the year is that the water is freezing, but it’s well worth the suffering because you will be swimming with turtles, colorful fishes, and the funny sea lions. Just ask for a double wetsuit and you will be (almost) fine.
Surrounding Cabo Pulmo, you can also find incredible deserted beaches, while along the trails at the back of the village birdwatchers can admire many different species of colorful birds, including cardinals and hummingbirds.
Keep in mind that there are no public buses to reach Cabo Pulmo, you must rent a car to get there. Remember to stop at a supermarket to pick up some groceries if you are renting a self-contained apartment.
If you prefer to dine out, the restaurant fare is quite decent, although the range of different dishes is limited.
Have you visited Baja California? Tell us about your trip in the comments!
Continue Planning Your Trip!
Mexico Guide Books
This Mexico phrasebook will help you communicate, even if your Spanish skills are lacking.
This Mexico travel guide is packed with all the info you could ever need.
I use a combination of Expedia, Airbnb, and VRBO to find accommodation throughout Mexico.
Some cities in Mexico have more listings on VRBO than Airbnb (or vice versa), so it’s best to check both to find the perfect place!
Rental cars add tons of flexibility to your travel plans. If you opt to rent one, I recommend using Discover Car Hire to find the best rates!
Skyscanner is my favorite tool for finding the best deals on airfare.
Never leave home without travel insurance.
SafetyWing offers super-affordable policies that cover things like medical expenses, trip interruption, and lost luggage. They even offer coverage for some expenses related to COVID-19.
World Nomads also offers excellent coverage that you can tailor to fit your travel style.
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