Baja California Sur Attractions
Mexican StateHow to get thereBy air from Mexico City and other Mexican airports to Tijuana, La Paz, Mexicali and Los Cabos; by ferry see Practical Information, Ferries; by rail Mexico City to Mexicali (journey time approximately 60 hours); by bus from Mexico City (about 44 hours). From the USA by air, coach (Greyhound) and car.
GeographyThe 1250km/776mi-long, 90km/50.5mi-wide Baja California (Lower California) peninsula, comprising two States, is bounded to the north by California USA, to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Gulf of California, the border between Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur being the 28th parallel. The peninsula is a hot, arid region with mountain ranges and a deeply indented coastline.The principal mountain chain, the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir, runs north-south, reaching 3080 m (10,108 ft) at its highest point, the Cerro de la Encantada. The Río Colorado, flowing into the north-west corner of the Gulf of California, divides Baja California Norte from Sonora State. Completion of the Carretera Transpeninsular in 1974 opened up Baja California by providing a direct road link between the north and the south. As a result, with the exception of a few mission stations, little that could be called typically Mexican now survives. Proximity to the USA, and the consequent influx of North American tourists, has meant that the towns and villages in particular have become largely Americanised. The attraction for the tourist lies more in the desert flora (cacti), the impressive silhouettes of the bare, mountainous regions, and the seemingly endless coastline with its alternating sandy beaches, rocks and lagoons. One or two crowded tourist centres apart, Baja California comprises a generally barren and empty landscape.The indigenous Indians, the Cucapá, Kiliwa, Paipai, Cochimí and Ki-nai, are today reduced in number to no more than 1000.Baja California has an extremely varied wildlife. Puma, coyote, fox, red deer, hare, wild duck, wild geese and many varieties of sea bird inhabit the peninsula, while grey whales (whale-watching in the bay of San Ignacio December to February), sealions, seals, swordfish, dolphins, barracuda and tuna flourish in the waters around the coast.HistoryThere is little of archaeological interest in Baja California apart from a few rock paintings such as those at San Borjita, San Ignacio and Calimalí. One or two archaeological finds have also been made in caves in Caguama, Metate Comondú and on the Isla de Cedros.Archaeologists have found traces of pre-Columbian settlements dating back to about 7500 bc. Almost nothing is known however about the relatively unsophisticated culture of the early Indian tribes who lived on the peninsula.In 1535 Hernán Cortés landed in the vicinity of La Paz, searching for the Amazon paradise of legend, ruled by the black queen Calafia. The Spaniards who followed after him met with strong resistance from the Indians and were unable to gain a foothold. Disillusioned, they christened the area "California" after the queen they had failed to find. It was only later, with the arrival in 1697 of the Jesuit missionaries Francisco Eusebio Kino, Juan María de Salvatierra and Juan de Ugarte, that a part of the region was successfully colonised. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, Franciscan friars assumed the missionary role before they in turn were replaced by the Dominicans. In 1804 Lower California was separated from California. In 1847-48, while at war with the USA, the peninsula was occupied by American troops. The division of the region into northern and southern territories took place in 1931. Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur became fully-fledged states in 1952 and 1974 respectively. Baja California Norte was also the first state to elect a member of the PAN opposition party as its governor (1988).EconomyIn addition to a sizeable tourist industry, which in recent years has expanded considerably the cultivation of fruit, cotton, maize, wheat, alfalfa and vegetables figures large in the economy of those areas with artificial irrigation. Important industries include the processing of agrarian and fish products, as well as gold, copper, iron, silver and salt mining. Although fishing is capable of providing a good source of income, Mexico presently lacks both a sufficiently large fleet and the facilities for processing the catch.Tijuana apart, Tecate, Mexicalí and San Felipe, are among the more interesting places to visit in Baja California Norte.
On the Carretera Transpeninsular from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas Baja California's largest town, Tijuana, on the border with the USA, is the starting point of the 1,700km/1,056mi long MEX 1 (Carretera Transpeninsular), which runs the whole length of the peninsula.After 30km/19mi, the first place you come to is El Rosarito. The next town of any size, after 80km/50mi, is Ensenada (population 225,000). This fishing port, now a favorite tourist spot (water sports, deep-sea fishing), extends along the beautiful bay of Todos los Santos, which was discovered in 1542 by the Portuguese seafarer Rodriguez Cabrillo. After the separation of the northern part of the peninsula from the southern part, Ensenada was the capital of the northern part from 1888 until 1910, when Mexicali took over this position.In addition to tourism, the town lives mainly from fishing and its deep-water harbor.
Centro Social, Cívico y Cultural Riviera
This hotel was opened in 1930 and was shut down in 1938. The exterior has arched window frames and a red tile roof.
Opening hours: 8am-6pm
Museo de Historia de Ensenada
Housed within the former Centro Social, Cívico y Cultural Riviera de Ensenada, the history museum offers visitors a look at the events in Ensenada.
Opening hours: Sep 1 to May 31: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always opened on: Mexican Constitution Day (Día de la Constititución) (Feb 5), Mexico - Benito Juárez Birthday (Mar 21), Mexico - Battle of Pueblo Day (May 5), Mexico National Day (Sep 1), Mexican Independence Day (Sep 16), Mexican Revolution Day (Nov 20), Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec 12)
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $5.00
16km/10mi south of Ensenada, near Maneadera, take the road which branches off north-west to the headland of Cabo Punta la Banda (22km/13.6mi) where "La Bufadora" (from "bufar" 5 to snort) provides a natural spectacle not uncommon on the Pacific coast. Seawater, gushing with enormous force through a blow-hole in the rocks, emits a great roar as it is hurled up to 20 m (66 ft) into the air.Returning to the highway, continue for approximately 175km/109mi to San Quintín. Places of interest along the way include several old mission stations such as Santo Tomás, San Vicente and Vicente Guerrero as well as the Cochimí.
San Quintin, Mexico
After returning to the main road continue along the 175km/110mi stretch to San Quintin; along this stretch you can visit some old mission stations, such as Santo Tomás, San Vicente and Vicente Guerrero, and Orte La Huerta and San Miguel, which are inhabited by Cochimí Indios. The San Quintín farming and fishing village of San Quintín, lying in a fertile valley on the flat bay of the same name has beautiful white beaches.The road to the south leaves the coast near El Rosario and now runs inland. In addition to El Rosario, there are further mission stations along the road, including San Fernando, San Agustín and Cataviña, which lies in the midst of impressive, rocky scenery.
The road proceeds south from San Quintin to El Rosario where it leaves the coast and heads inland. In addition to El Rosario several other mission stations lie along this particular stretch, among them being San Fernando, San Augustín and Cataviña, the latter located in magnificent rocky surroundings.
From Guerrero Negro the road leads inland and, after about 78mi/126km, it reaches the pretty town of San Ignacio. With its Jesuit church, begun in 1728 and completed in 1786 by Juan Crisóstomo Gómez, it possesses the best preserved place of worship in Baja California. For those interested it is worth while making the three or four hour trip from here, under expert guidance, to see the cave paintings of Cueva de la Cuesta del Palmerito. These portray large impressions of animals and men, the origin and age of which have not yet been researched. These rock drawings (100 bc-ad 1300) have been declared world cultural sites by UNESCO. Other caves in the vicinity should be visited only if, in addition to a guide, you have some days to spare and are suitably equipped.On the left, on the road to the coast, stands the still active volcano Las Tres Virgenes (7,150ft/2,180m above sea-level).
Santa Rosalia, Mexico
74km/46mi further on from San Ignacio you come to the little port of Santa Rosalía (population 14,000). The little town was founded in the middle of the 19th century. The French, to whom the copper mines of the region previously belonged, built the church of Santa Rosalía, which was constructed of imported iron sections and was reputedly based on a design by Gustave Eiffel, the constructor of the Eiffel Tower. Further items of interest are the anthropological museum in the Casa de Cultura, and at the northern entrance a mining museum with an old train used for transporting ore. There is a ferry link to Guaymas (Sonora).
El Boleo Bakery
The next place of any size after the Caves of San Borjita is the little town of Mulegé (population 5,000), on the Gulf of California, with the Jesuit mission of Santa Rosalía de Mulegé (1705). This is a copy of the Cananea Prison (Sonora) which has neither bars nor locked doors and which was made famous in folk-songs and street-ballads. There is a lovely walk along the river through the groves of date palms. The town also has several beaches and opportunities for fishing and boating.
About 10km/6mi past Mulegé, in a particularly charming coastal region, streches Bahía Concepción, with beautiful beaches such as Punta Arena, Santiapac, El Coyote, El Requesón and Los Muertos.
135km/84mi from Mulegé you come to the picturesque little town of Loreto (population 11,000; fiesta: 8th September, Dia de Nuestra Senora de Loreto), which was founded by the Jesuits in 1697 when they built the now restored mission church, and is thus the oldest Jesuit foundation on the peninsula. Loreto was the setting-off point for the exploration and Christianisation of Lower California, which is well documented in the mission museum. Between 1776 and 1830 the town was also the capital of Lower California. This coastal town on the Gulf of California is popular as a base for trips to the offshore islands and for deep-sea fishing and diving.
Loreto - San Francisco Javier
A detour from Loreto over 40km/25mi of mainly poor roads (cross-country vehicle necessary) leads to San Javier, where you can visit the well-preserved mission church, dedicated to San Francisco Javier and dating from the first half of the 18th century; it has a fine Baroque façade and guilded high altar.26km/16mi south of Loreto, in magnificent natural surroundings, the new seaside resort of Puerto Escondido is developing.Some 40km/25mi out of Loreto the road again turns inland, and after 80km/50mi reaches the town of Villa Insurgentes. From here, a turn- off leads to Puert A. López Mateos, situated on the long Bahia de Magdalena (Pacific coast). Like that of Sebastián Vizcaíno this bay is the place to watch the mating and breeding of the many gray whales, which winter here every year. An equally well situated place to watch the whales from a boat is the little harbor town of Puerto San Carlos to the south, best reached by going 55km/35mi in a westerly direction from Ciudad Constitución. The Isla de Santa Margarita in the bay is inhabited by numerous sea-lions.If you turn back near Ciudad Constitución onto the Carretera Transpeninsular it is then about a further 210km/130mi to La Paz.
From La Paz the MEX 1 runs via San Pedro and the old mining town of El Triunfo to the fishing village and seaside resort of Los Barriles (104km/65mi), 6km/4mi) beyond which lies Buenavista, popular particularly with yachtsmen and anglers. Forking right off the MEX 1 about 26km/16mi south of La Paz leads alternatively to Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas.
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
From Buenavista, via Miraflores, a former settlement of Pericúe Indians, now known for its beautiful leatherwork, it is another 75km/47mi or so to San José del Cabo (population 23,000; fiesta; 19th March, Día de San José). This old fishing and mission village is now an important agricultural center for the region. In addition, it possesses several beaches, some with strong waves, and good facilities for fishing. In the Culture House is a small museum and a library.South of San José del Cabo there are good opportunities for surfing at various points.In another 35km/22mi you reach Cabo San Lucas, the terminus of the Carretera Transpeninsular.