Welcome to this Baja California travel guide.
Famous for its romantic sunsets and great surfing, Baja California is a region located in the north-west of Mexico and comprises of two different states; Baja California (la Norte) and Baja California Sur.
Together, they make up the long peninsular that jets out into the Pacific, which joins up with California and the USA to the North.
Table of Contents
Things to do in Baja California
Whilst well-known for the passionate hotspots of Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas, there is much more to discover here.
If you dare to look beyond then you will discover a much more beautiful, less touristy region.
Read on to learn more about the hotspots and off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Why Travel to Baja California?
Thousands flock to Baja California every month from abroad, and the list of reasons is staggering.
Many come for the sea and sun, others for the great abundance of surf spots, crazy nightlife that both Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas have to offer.
Not to mention Spring break which attracts herds of students every year.
For residents of the USA, Cabo is not unheard of as a quick-break destination.
There are direct flights to Tijuana and San Jose del Cabo every day from most US international airports, and flights are cheap due to numerous airlines serving the route.
As well as these, you can easily fly from within the country domestically to the regional airports of La Paz, Loreto, Ciudad Constitucíon as well as a few other smaller ones.
Another method of arriving and leaving is the ferry which arrives in La Paz and departs from either Topolobamba or Mazatlán (both across the Sea of Cortez in the Sinaloa region of Mexico).
Is it safe to travel to Baja California?
Mexico is a country with a violent history, so it’s understandable to be worried about what to expect on your visit. Compared to much of Mexico, the Sur region is relatively safe with the most common issue being theft.
You may find in Cabo San Lucas, it can be worse as the more touristy areas tend to attract opportunism, for both robbery and drug trafficking.
If you know the consequences of your actions, then you will be able to expect what kind of experience you will have in this region.
Towards the North and the border of the USA, this rate of crime does increase, especially in and around the city of Tijuana.
Use caution when going out at night and avoid putting yourself in vulnerable situations.
Baja California Cost and Budget
🇺🇸 1USD – 🇲🇽 24MXN
My daily budget:
Up to 900MXN per day
Suggested daily budget:
600-900MXN / $25-38US
Is it possible to travel to Baja California on a budget? Most certainly, yes! I like to travel smartly to keep my costs down.
The table below shows a general rule of thumb for costs in the region.
You can quite comfortably stick to a budget of $30 if staying in a dorm bed, eating local and having a few beers at night.
The only potentially expensive part of the trip will be the transportation, due the region being very long in shape (similar geographically to Chile).
💡Smart Travel Tip
Change this text more careful in this area as its right next to the US border and invites more crime and drugs, unless that’s what you’re going for!
Baja California: 2-Week Itinerary
Below you can find a custom, 2-week itinerary which will see you explore all the region, seeing beaches, deserts and bustling cities in the process!
Map of Baja California
Also, see the interactive Baja California map for navigating to the individual places in this travel guide.
You can check the weather in different regions to work out the best time to go to Baja California. The best time to visit Cabo San Lucas for example can vary from month-to-month.
Flying into San Jose del Cabo, and then make your way up to the north via various pit-stops by either renting a car or by using public transportation.
- [4 Days] in Cabo San Lucas – Enjoy the nightlife and entertainment the city offers. A trip here must include a visit to Cerro de la Zeta and El Arco!
- [3 Days] in La Paz – Take a day trip to Isla Espiritú Santo to immerse yourself in nature with some outstanding beaches. Walk along the Malecon and eat at the beachside restaurants.
- [2 Days] in Loreto – The main crossover between the North and South regions. Visit the Parque Marine Nacional Bahía de Loreto for water sports and guided snorkeling tours. You should also take a horseback ride into the Baja Desert.
- [3 Days] in Ensenada – Whilst here you can take a wine tour in the infamous Guadalupe Valley. Head to some local restaurants and sample classic Baja foods, such as fish tacos and Caesar salad (legend has it that it was originally invented in Tijuana, not Italy!).
- [3 Days] in Tijuana – You will end your trip in Tijuana, where you can enjoy the vibrant nightlife, as well as a visit to the Tijuana Cultural Centre before heading out via the International or Domestic airports.
This 2-week itinerary Baja California is for you to use as a guide.
Feel free to chop and change this itinerary to suit your travel plans 🙂
Places to See in Baja California
Below, I will list some of the places that really interest me in Baja California.
Baja California has plenty of destinations but they’re somewhat spread out as you can see below on the map.
The best way to get around would be hiring a car in either Tijuana or Cabo San Lucas.
It would take you roughly a day of non-stop driving to cover the entire peninsular (roughly 1600km)!
You could also opt for the good old’ reliable public transport which serves the entire route, or even fly from the north to south, but expect to pay a lot more.
Starting at the extreme north of the peninsular, we have the infamous Tijuana.
Located near the US border, this town has international flights arriving daily and could be your starting point for a journey in this region.
Stay in the well-located North Hostel, which is next to the sea in the Playas de Tijuana sector.
While in Tijuana, some great things to do include a visit to the Tijuana Cultural Centre (a place filled with Mexican culture and art).
As well as, the Mercado Hidalgo which is a lively market where you can find great souvenirs.
For nightlife, you will want to head to Zona Norte for more crazy antics and scenes, and Las Chavelas bar is a good place to start.
See this for safety in Tijuana tips before heading out in the evening and ensure you take safety precautions.
💡Smart Travel Tip
Be more careful in this area as it’s right next to the US border and invites more crime and drugs unless that’s what you’re going for!
Another recommendation is Dandy del Sur, a chill bar in the Zona Centro (a little less intimidating than the Zona Norte).
Ensenada is a city that is based on the Pacific coast of northern Baja.
Known for great scenery especially if driving along the Pacific Coast.
The best thing to do here is to head into Guadalupe Valley where you can take a vineyard tour and try some of the best wine in the entire country.
You can do all of this for less than $5!
As well as this, Ensenada has a famous street stall called El Guerrerense which, considered among foodies, is one of the best in the world.
If in the area, then you should definitely visit and try out the seafood tostadas.
You should also head off the beaten path a bit and visit La Bufadora, which is a large blowhole.
You can also rent kayaks and get up and close if that’s your thing!
Amazing activities to try:
Loreto is more off the beaten path yet access here is easy with its own international airport.
If heading north from La Paz, you should expect the bus journey to take around 5 hours and cost roughly $30.
Whilst in Loreto you can head to Coronado Island for some snorkeling, take a day trip into the Baja desert by horseback, or even go on an open bar catamaran cruise!
The latter will cost you around $50 but is a great, worthwhile experience.
You should also head into the Sierra de la Giganta to immerse yourself in a mountainous, desert landscape (perfect for photos).
Whilst in Loreto I recommend staying at the Hostal Casas Loreto, which is well located in the centre.
The only downside is the cost of about $36 for a room per night, however, is one of the only cheapish options in the region.
The capital of the southern region is a quieter, more relaxed alternative to Cabo or Tijuana.
The good news is that it’s very accessible with both international and domestic airports as well as a ferry to the mainland.
A visit here should include a stop at the Cathedral Nuestra Señora de La Paz, and also a walk along the romantic Malecon where many cheap food stalls await you.
Take a day trip to Isla Espiritu Santo where you can lay on deserted beaches such as lsla Partida, or head to the crystal-clear reefs and try to spot angelfish, parrotfish, sharks, turtles, and dolphins!
Regarding where to stay, the Nahuala Hostal near the Malecon is a fresh, unique option which has both dorm beds and private rooms on offer.
About half an hour drive from Cabo and you will reach Todos Santos.
The small town has gained more exposure due to its surf and influx of water sports companies, and as a result, has more accommodation and amenities available.
For beach time head to Playa La Cachora and Punta Lobos (the latter is also a well-known fishing hotspot).
The best and most affordable accommodation from this time in writing is the Todos Santos Hostel, where a dorm bed will set you back around $20.
There are also a few surf camps here worth checking out, especially given that this area has one of the best surfs in the entire country.
Cabo San Lucas
This popular beachside town is located at the most southern tip of Baja California Sur, and geographically is the connecting point for the Sea of Cortez with the Pacific Ocean.
This town is great for chilling out on beaches and snorkeling, and a popular highlight of the area is to visit El Arco, which can be reached by boat.
The area has many options for food and nightlife, with Cabo Wabo and El Squid Roe the best options (open every night until late into the morning).
You can find more information on my guide to Cabo San Lucas here.
My favorite place is the Cerro de la Zeta which can be hiked in about an hour and offers incredible views of the region (also a great place to bring some beers and watch the sunset).
A great place to stay is Cabo Inn, which is a like a peaceful home and includes a decent breakfast.
It is also located very close to the attractions and the cheap eats of the area!
Travel Tips for Baja California
Below are some Tips for Baja California, including books to read to help you make the most out of your experience.
Make sure you’re fully insured when traveling around Mexico, especially when using public transport, i.e., buses and taxis.
I usually recommend backpackers use SafetyWing insurance for a comprehensive cover.
Best Time to go to Baja California
The Baja California peninsula can be best described as an arid climate.
Unless you want hurricane-style weather and scorching temperatures, you may want to avoid the months of July to September.
The recommended time to visit would be between November and June, where temperatures are still hot, and precipitation is at its lowest.
An average temperature gauge for all these months hovers at around at a comfortably warm 21.5°C.
Many come to this region to experience some great nature and wildlife.
Whale sharks can almost definitely be sighted between October and March, and you can spot Gray Whales between January and March.
Another important part of the trip planning process is making sure you are up to date on travel vaccines and medications.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I certified to give medical information in any way.
All the information below is provided solely as a guide, and medical examinations and preparation should be sought by with your doctor.
Here is a recommended list for the area, and as stated by the disclaimer be sure to seek advice from your doctor before heading out!
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Typhoid are necessary, whilst some may need a course of Rabies or Meningitis for those who may be working in less secure environments.
Got Travel Insurance for Baja California?
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Cabo San Lucas is a great city, and some of my best memories were here.
You should include some time to visit the arch and enjoy the nightlife and amenities around.
As a backpacker it’s always good to sometimes just sit back and re-charge!
Some time off the grid in Loreto and La Paz is also great, especially if you want to enjoy more of the nature and wildlife the region has to offer.
Isla Espiritu Santo is an absolute must in La Paz
You’ll receive an authentic Mexican experience, you can opt to take the ferry out of the region when you are ready to head to the mainland.
Baja California Travel Guide
We are coming to the end of this Baja California travel guide folks!
For anyone backpacking Mexico, this article has covered both Mexican states which comprise this region and has given you an insight into what this area has in store.
As well as the destinations, you will have a better idea of budgeting, what to pack, as well as more information about safety, travel, and transport around the region.
With good planning you will have a great trip here, just be sure to use more caution in the more northern areas like Tijuana!
Why not see this guide to Baja California travel safety to get a primer on exactly what to avoid and how to move around this region like a pro?
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