Cabo San Lucas might take all the attention but it’s not the only place worth visiting in Baja Sur. For the purpose of an even division with our Baja North travel guide, this one will start at Santa Rosalia and move south.
Highway 1 – Santa Rosalia to Loreto
There’s a whole lot going on in this stretch and it can quickly eat up a few weeks or months of time. Santa Rosalia is somewhat industrial but is also a great little town right on the water. I’ve had some incredible food here and camped on the beaches without any issues but it’s urban enough so be cautious.
Just south of here, you will hit the charming town of Mulege which has a rare freshwater river. It creates a greenbelt of sorts and the town has great fruit and produce available. There are some nice rentals and the potential to camp on the town beach as well.
South of Mulege, the scenery is amazing as the highway follows Bahia de Conception. Turquise waters that are calm and sheltered make for idyllic campsites and beachside rentals. If you enjoy paddling around and want incredible scenery, there’s a strong Carribean vibe here. Not much in the way of free camping so expect to pay a few bucks.
Keep moving south and the next major destination is Loreto. The town here is fantastic with everything a person could want. They have great food, excellent lodging options, big beaches, mountains with trails, islands and national park lands that protect the land and marine ecosystem.
Book a boat tour to the islands and do some exploring in this area because it’s fantastic. There are also some nice beaches on the highway south of town and a big resort with a golf course.
Highway 1 – Driving Loreto to La Paz
After Loreto, Highway 1 crosses back to the Pacific side with off-shoot roads from Ciudad Insurgentes and Ciudad Constitucion to the Pacific Ocean. Adolfo Lopez Mateos and San Carlos offer great whale watching opportunities. The Magdalena Bay ecosystem is large and great for fishing and exploring as well.
Highway continues a course through the desert with long dirt roads to the Pacific for serious explorers with a few extra gas cans. Stay on the main highway however and you will land in La Paz. The city is full of grocery stores, shopping, mechanics, restaurants and it has a substantial airport.
It’s big but not insanely large and there are beautiful beaches accessible from town, including the city malecon section. If you need to get some stuff done, restock and take advantage of some city services, La Paz is a really neat place.
La Paz to Los Barriles – 2 Ways to Get There
From La Paz, you can take the two lane highway 286 which gives access to La Ventana and Ensenada de Los Muertos. La Ventana is kitesurfing central with schools and wind to make it popular throughout the winter months. It also has mountain biking and hiking trails and some great beaches not too far off.
If you take highway 286 but still want to continue south to Los Barriles, a connector road is available to quickly cut back over to highway 1.
Otherwise, follow Highway 1 to Los Barriles which officially begins what’s known as East Cape. Los Barriles has plenty of shopping, services and like La Ventana, kiteboarding. It’s a nice town that is popular with expats and tourists but still has a small town charm.
The East Cape and Cabo Pulmo
Highway 1 goes straight south from Los Barriles to San Jose del Cabo but the East Cape road leads to La Ribera, another nice coastal town and then south until it turns to dirt and washboard. Eventually, you will reach Cabo Pulmo, a small village in a national marine park. It’s a beautiful, remote area where snorkeling and diving are phenomenal. On the map, the road runs further south, connecting back to San Jose del Cabo but check the conditions first. It can wash out and become impassable for low clearance and 2wd vehicles.
San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas
Highway 1 reaches San Jose del Cabo after passing thorugh several charming inland towns with some nice hikes to explore. San Jose has the major international airport but the town itself is a hotspot for artists and entertainment. It’s a nice stopping point to enjoy without the resort crowds found in Cabo San Lucas.
If however you do crave the resort scene, Cabo San Lucas is a blast with night clubs, swim up bars and businesses catering to tourism. It’s a great jumping off point for fishing as well. Beware of swimming here however. The ocean currents are strong and dangerous around Cabo San Lucas.
Highway 19 – La Paz to Cabo San Lucas
The alternative to the East Cape route is the Pacific Route between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas. This route has some amazing stops to explore with Todos Santos and El Pescadero. Todos Santos is a fun town with art and great culture and El Pescadero is a rugged coastal area that attracts surfers.
South of El Pescadero, the highway follows the Pacific Ocean all the way to Cabo San Lucas. The scenery and stops on this route are amazing and it’s worth doing even for short trips being made to Cabo San Lucas.
This travel guide to Baja Sur barely skims the surface of opportunity. Remote beaches, hot spring hikes, secret desert rivers, mountain peaks and more are waiting to be discovered here. It’s a big peninsula with only a few main roads and some very remote places. Be safe, go find your happy places and enjoy the best of Baja California.