A sun destination is about more than just the sun: Baja California (Mexico)

One of the many March Break getaways we’ve taken that stands out for me because of its unexpected offerings other than warm weather and sun was a week we spent in the southern Baja. For easterners, the Baja isn’t top of mind compared to the Caribbean, so I had no preconceived notions of what the Baja had to offer. I just knew I wanted to go.

Most tourists who go to the Baja either go to Cabo San Lucas or La Paz; that’s where the planes fly regularly and that’s where almost all the resort and vacation infrastructure is waiting. But, not always wanting to follow the crowd, we opted for a smaller place up the east coast of the peninsula, Loreto, with a smaller offering of hotels. It provided all the amenities we could have asked for, plus, being a bit further north, it presented the opportunity to check out some places that are (even) a bit more off the beaten track.

bajamap1a

Things we learned:

1.     Southern Baja California is really remote. Apparently, most mainland Mexicans consider it the end of the earth!

2.     Baja California is wonderfully dry and mountainous. [I is one of the driest places in the world.] If you like the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona and environs (think Phoenix and Tucson), you will love the Baja. And don’t worry, you’ll get sun!

From our hotel. Loreto

From our hotel. Loreto

Inland from our hotel, Loreto

Inland from our hotel, Loreto

3.     There is no major highway. If you look closely on the map above you will see that there is a road that goes from the U.S. border to the southernmost tip (1200 kms), but it is one road and it is decidedly not major. When you are here you are getting away from it all!

4.     The gray whale nursery at Santa Rosa, at the entry to the Bahia Magdalena where the gray whales come to calve each year, is a bucket list destination in itself. Being amongst these giants – so close – is enchanting, awe-inspiring, and humbling. These enormous animals complete one of the longest annual migrations of any mammal, making a round trip of 10-12,000 miles. They summer in the cold waters of the Bering Sea off the west coast of Alaska, eating what those nutrient-rich waters have to offer, and then mate and give birth in the waters off the west coast of Baja. The coastal barrier islands that form the Bay (Bahia) of Magdalena provide a safe haven for mothers to calve and raise their young before heading north again.

Floating with a gray whale momma in Bahia Magdalena

Floating with a gray whale momma in Bahia Magdalena

Meanwhile, the babies frolic

Meanwhile, the babies frolic

5.     The story of the building of the missionary and commercial (agricultural) activity up the east coast at Mulegé (pronounced Mool-eh-hey), is fascinating. Mulegé is an oasis, with an abundance of water not found anywhere else on the peninsula due to a significant river there. Indigenous people had lived in that region because of the water supply for thousands of years (apparently there are cave paintings in the mountains). As we know, for better or worse, populations of indigenous people in the Americas tended to attract missionaries looking for people to convert. Following that pattern, missionary activity arrived in this oasis town in the early 1700s. Aside from building the mission itself, the priests had the foresight to introduce the planting of date palms and other fruit trees such as citrus and mangoes, taking advantage of the special local conditions to develop new industry.

Mission Santa Rosalia de Mulegé

Mission Santa Rosalia de Mulegé

A landscape of date palms and citrus trees at Mulegé

A landscape of date palms and citrus trees at Mulegé

6.     Not surprisingly, the varieties of cactus are amazing.

baja9

baja5a

7.     Kayaking, bird watching, and deep sea fishing are popular pastimes for tourists.

8.     There are some magnificent strips of beach just south of Mulegé where people from the western provinces of Canada and northwestern states of the U.S. winter in their RVs. It was one of the most peaceful spots I’ve ever seen. The local village trucks in water for the RVers, and they just set up their “homes” on these sparkling beaches overlooking the Sea of Cortez (aka Gulf of California) and chill out for the winter months. Go for a kayak ride, read a book, write a book, …, fly a kite, day dream. For those who are happy making their own entertainment, this is a little piece of heaven.

Coast of Sea of Cortez just south of Mulegé

Coast of Sea of Cortez just south of Mulegé

If you’re looking for a new and different place to spend a week in mid-winter in the sun, a week in Baja may be just what you’re looking for.

 

Photo credits: Jane Fritz

This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A sun destination is about more than just the sun: Baja California (Mexico)

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    Looks idyllic Jane, especially if (like me) you can deal with the isolation. Ideal story-writing country.

  2. jennypellett says:

    This looks lovely, Jane, and with so much diversity in terms of things to do, there surely is something for everyone. What sort of temperatures are we talking? And dare I ask – any mosquitos?

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Hi Jenny. The average daily highs in the Baja is in the low 30s(C) and the average lows are in the low 20s. But the water on the Pacific side is relatively cold, so the breezes across the peninsula are cooling. And it is so dry that mosquitos don’t have much chance. So as long as you stay away from scorpions you’re OK!😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s