Anyone who has been to Baja California Sur knows: it’s addictive. Whether you’re craving adventure, a brush with nature or a new taste sensation, you’ll get your adrenalin kick on the southern side of the magical Mexican peninsula. And it’s ready to teach you its greatest lesson: how to live in the moment.
How often do you dwell on the past? Or fret about the future? Living in the moment and setting your intention on the present can be hard, but it can lead to invigorating consequences that you might have thought impossible. Free of thoughts and judgement, you can start to really live your life and awaken your body to new experiences.
There’s nowhere else in the world quite ready for you to jump feet first than Baja California Sur. The sun-drenched southern Mexican state is at the tip of the second longest peninsula on the planet. Jutting out to meet the Sea of Cortez on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, this wild and untamed spindle of land has it all: in the blink of an eye, the landscape transforms from arid desert outcrops, where towering Cardon cacti rise up like totem poles, to terracotta-toned canyons and pristine beaches.
But it’s not just the magnificent scenery that will inspire you to really value every second of passing time. With breathtaking hiking trails, exhilarating surf and an abundance of marine life to encounter – not to mention a thriving culinary scene – free-spirited Baja California Sur will thrill and surprise, and stimulate mind, body and soul at every turn.
Fiery and fresh cuisine is at the heart of Baja California Sur – home to the succulent fish taco. From road-side taquerias to refined Michelin-starred restaurants, you will be salivating within seconds over bright dishes exploding with flavour and the region’s rich culinary heritage.
With bountiful supply of fresh produce and abundant fishing waters, restaurants have an enviable larder at their disposal – and chefs takes pride in showcasing these sought- after ingredients. No trip to the southern state would be complete without sampling some of the local seafood. At El Farallon, perched on a majestic spot overlooking the Pacific Ocean, fishermen haul their daily catches of red snapper, amberjack, dorado and clams up the mountain to the market-style kitchen. Amongst the visceral noise and salty smells, you can take your pick of the plunder as the waves crash against the rocks below. Once selected and weighed, the fish is simply grilled to release an unadulterated depth of flavour.
From sea to dry land, Flora’s Field Kitchen dishes up crisp, kaleidoscopic salads bursting with sweetness and pizzas topped with homemade fennel sausage. Raw simplicity allows you to focus on the ‘here and now’ at this all-organic restaurant.
Set on a 25-acre farm at the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, a field-to- fork approach means you’ll be munching mouthfuls of only what is made, raised or grown on site or at its neighbouring ranch. The bucolic setting, which is bordered by a vegetable patch, sees the fruits of this labour reach not only plates, but glasses, too. For a memorable toast, try the heirloom carrot Farmarita, Flora Farm’s spin on a classic margarita.
While you are in the area, you can sate your senses some more in the peaceful old Spanish colonial town of San José del Cabo. The art scene here is second to none, and there’s no better way to explore it than with a walking tour from a local expert. As you meander through the palm-tree lined streets with a tamale in hand, you’ll meet gallery owners and street artists with original oil paintings and suss out the best jewellery designers and leather crafts on offer.
Not far along the coast is the organic farm and restaurant Los Tamarindos. Saunter past the free-roaming chickens to take in the rustic charm of this old 19th-century brick farmhouse surrounded by fields of juicy vegetables. From the stone verandas covered by wooden ceilings entwined with lush green foliage, you’ll have an astonishing view of the Mexican agricultural landscape.
Not only that, but you will enjoy one of the best meals in Baja California Sur – and learn how to cook it too. Unearth the importance and value of every petal, leaf, vine and fruit under the guiding hand of local chefs. Using your newfound knowledge, you can select and pick the produce yourself, douse in herb oil and bake it over wood in the old stone ovens to infuse it with a rich, natural incense. Afterwards settle down on the long trestle tables to relish your hard work with a crisp glass of Mexican sauvignon blanc.
Further north is the sleepy village of Todos Santos, placed at the point where the Sierra de la Laguna mountains meet the desert and the Pacific. A good shot of culture is prescribed here as the area’s cobblestone lanes are filled with divine artisan shops overflowing with hand- woven textiles, bohemian kaftans and silver necklaces from local designers. These alluring treasures mixed with the impressive landscape classify this quiet seaside secret as a ‘Pueblo Mágico’, one of only a select few areas labelled to be truly magical by the Mexican government – and you’ll be sure to fall under its charming spell.
Baja California Sur is a playground for those seeking adventure out in the open. Lace up your walking boots and head for the hills. You don’t have to venture far to find yourself in dusty desert territory, where you might spot slithering rattlesnake tracks or be dwarfed in the shadow of a 50-foot cactus. For a route to really get your heart pumping, hike up El Picacho, part of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range. Ascending the summit involves a punishing 15-mile climb to 7,000 feet above sea level, but focusing on each breath and every step will reward you with verdant, sweeping views from the top.
To strengthen your mental agility, a round of golf will have you zoned in on each and every swing of the club. Baja California Sur’s coastal corridor is carpeted in emerald green championship-level courses designed by the most highly skilled golfing glitterati in the world, from Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus to Greg Norman.
Sweeping views of cactus-studded foothills and sparkling seas will have you in awe at every tee, but it’s hard to beat the magnificent backdrops at Quivira Golf Club. Hugging the rugged cliffside, the sprawling course ranks among the most spectacular in the world, and drops from clipped green fairways to rugged rough, revealing dramatic ocean vistas with every putt.
There is simply one reason why every wildlife lover should visit Baja California Sur: the annual grey whale migration. The best way to see these majestic, gentle, barnacle-covered creatures splash through the water is by boat. Hop on to a vessel expertly navigated by a pro skipper for a sea voyage like no other. With the insider track, you’ll stop at places with the best vantage points at the tip of Isla Partida and the rocky Los Islotes.
The waters here act as a winter breeding ground for the whales, which migrate from northern Alaska every year, from December to April, to give birth in the warm, shallow waters. There aren’t many things in life that surpass the enchanting sensation of one of the ocean’s greatest mammals breaking the surface just metres away from your very eyes.
For an even more personal encounter with the mysterious oceanic depths of Los Cabos, make the trip to Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Established in 1995, the almost 18,000-acre protected zone includes the only hard coral reef in the Gulf of California. Home to some 6,000 species of marine life, you will think you are dreaming. Sea lions, mobulas and turtles are happy here and there is plenty to captivate novice and seasoned divers and snorkellers alike.
Watch as schools of fish pass under your belly with their metallic fins flickering in the sunshine. Large grouper can be seen floating along next to impressive rays. Dive near the old shipwreck and you might spot a friendly bull shark at home in the remains.
From beach and sea, to mountains and desert, to cities alive with culture and world-class gastronomy, you’ll rediscover your most innate emotions of childlike delight, awe and wonder in Baja California Sur. Whatever the fix you need, you’ll find it here. In the present.