Baja Sur Travel Guide

Cabo San Lucas might take all the attention but it’s not the only place worth visiting in Baja Sur (BCS). The entire southern region is loaded with insanely beautiful coastlines, interior mountains, secret springs, hikes and endless recreational opportunities.

Read on to discover the routes, destinations and logistics needed to visit on a roadtrip through this region. You can fly-in and do segments in a rental car or bring your own rig to explore for longer periods of time. The options are endless and you’ll need more than a few days to enjoy the beautiful expanse of Baja Sur.

Guerrero Negro to Loreto

guerrero negro to la paz driving

There’s a whole lot going on in this stretch and it can quickly eat up a few weeks or months of time. In fact, I’ve landed on a favorite beach thinking it’d be two days of camping and three weeks later I was still there. Time kind of flows easier and it’s nice to plan loosely with so many stopping points along this section.

The Destinations

A few primary towns mark critical supply points. They also serve as hubs to nearby beaches, trails and recreation. The Pacific side is a whale watching paradise with remote bays and the Sea of Cortez coastline is just incredible.

Guerrero Negro

Baja Sur begins just north of Guerrero Negro where you cross a welcome sign and also drive through a quick agricultural inspection station.The town itself isn’t a huge attraction but you will find good options for lodging and for RV parks. It’s a major hub for whale watching tours as well. If you’re driving from the north or south, you’ve just run some very long roads and this town is an important stop for fuel and supplies. 

Ojo de Liebre

ojo de liebre pronghorn antelope
The wildlife in this area is really interesting.

If you prefer a more remote whale camp, head to this idyllic location. You can camp, hangout among the coyotes and jump on tour boats right from the camping area. It’s pretty dang perfect, remote and somewhat popular during peak whale season.

Punta Abreojos

A long and desolate two-lane road leaves Highway 1 and travels to the coast. Make sure you have plenty of fuel in the tank before running this stretch. The road is paved and tends to be surprisingly nice so that’s a bonus. 

When you reach the remote town, it has a great location on the Pacific Ocean, a few places to eat and a gas station. It’s popular for both surfing and fishing.

San Ignacio

Driving southbound on Highway 1, you will pass through a military inspection station. Fair warning, this checkpoint has been problematic with inspectors pushing to get free stuff. Be patient, don’t give away your things and wait them out. I had a long inspection recently and they were really nosing around but it still only lasted about 10 minutes.

The good news is that you will hit a nice little town with great lodging options and a river in the desert. It’s a nice oasis and one of my favorite inland stops.

Santa Rosalia

Santa Rosalia is somewhat industrial but is also an interesting town that was started by the French for local copper mining. I’ve had some incredible food here and camped on the beaches without any issues but it’s urban enough so be cautious.

Mulege

welcome to mulege

The charming town of Mulege is another freshwater river community but this river runs into the Sea of Cortez right at town. 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. We absolutely love it here and make a point to spend a few days on every trip.

Bahia de Concepcion

South of Mulege, the scenery is amazing as the highway follows Bahia de Conception. Turquoise 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. Also, prepare for crowds during the winter season.

Loreto

loreto waterfront baja california sur
The waterfront in Loreto is pleasant.

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 (street vendors and restaurants), 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. 

Driving Loreto to La Paz

driving loreto to la paz bcs

After you leave Loreto, Highway 1 follows the Sea of Cortez for a short distance before crossing back to the Pacific side with off-shoot roads to the Pacific Ocean. The highway itself largely follows a long desert track before jogging east yet again to the Sea of Cortez.

I want to note that while they aren’t popular tourist stops, Ciudad Insergentes and Ciudad Constitución both have services. I’ve found quality mechanics and reasonable hotel prices. If the road is wearing on your vehicle, these are good places for a refresh.

Highlights for the Central Leg of BCS

Again, there are many more stops and beaches than I can lay out here. Part of the fun is discovering them for yourself. These are some of the ecosystems and stops that are very much worth exploring.

The Magic of Magdalena Bay

whale watching pangas baja
Whale watching pangas ready to launch.

Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos and San Carlos are the two main towns on the bay. This is one of the most robust ecosystems anywhere! Plan a whale watching tour or go fishing as it has exceptional inshore and offshore opportunities for a wide variety of species. Most of the fun in these areas happens on a boat! 

Puerto Chale

It’s really a small fishing community that also has some ecotourism crossover. Excellent for viewing whales, camping and staying in a very low key and somewhat off-grid landscape. Perfect for those wanting a very low-key experience.

La Paz

Highway 1 cuts back across the peninsula on a long and desolate desert stretch. I’ve broken down here before and the Green Angels bailed me out. It’s certainly not the best place to have a breakdown but La Paz is close enough to find help!

The city itself is loaded with mouthwatering food and it has everything you could need for supplies. The local beaches happen to be some of the best in Baja and it’s a refreshing stop after the long desert stretches of highway.

The Southern Loop

baja sur driving

From La Paz, you can take the two lane highway 286 which gives access to La Ventana and Ensenada de Los Muertos. There is a cutoff road that takes you to Los Barriles from here. You can also take the El Triunfo road or continue towards the Pacific for this loop.

We are starting from La Paz and migrating through La Ventana, down the East Cape and onward to Cabo before looping back up the Pacific side. It’s an easy way to follow as we transition from sea to ocean, covering both coasts on the very southern end of the Baja Peninsula.

Towns and Destinations in the Far South

The southern loop is a recreation paradise. It also comes with the advantage of having two international airports and car rental options. This makes it more accessible for the fly-in folks who want to see the best of Baja without the 10 hour road days.

La Ventana and Los Muertos Bay

los muertos bay beaches
Say yes to beautiful beaches.

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 right in town. El Sargento is basically an extension of La Ventana that also has sandy beaches, hot springs and trails.

Los Barriles

The East Cape officially begins around here and continues south until the Sea of Cortez merges with the Pacific Ocean. It’s a region defined by long sandy beaches with great drop offs for fishing and healthy marine environments. This town is hopping with ATV’s and the local beaches are fantastic.

La Ribera

Not fart south you will run into a smaller but growing community that is geographically similar to Los Barriles. It’s known for great fishing and also has SENASCO sanctioned beaches that are super clean and maintained. 

Cabo Pulmo and the East Cape

cabo pulmo coastline

The East Cape road quickly turns to dirt south of La Ribera. It twists and turns with washboard but decent surface to Cabo Pulmo National Park. The diving and snorkeling in the protected area is next level and the tiny community is a great place to spend a few days. From here, it’s a long dirt road with sandy washes before you connect back to pavement.

San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas

Highway 1 reaches San Jose del Cabo which has the major international airport. The town itself is also 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 nightclubs, 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 in some areas near Cabo San Lucas.

Los Cerritos & El Pescadero

Catch the toll road northbound and you will follow the Pacific Coast to Los Cerritos. El Pescadero is essentially in the same area and both have great surf breaks. The local bars, hotels and general scene in this area is laid back and it’s easy to find yourself spending more time than planned.

Todos Santos

The loop is more or less complete when you reach Todos Santos. For those wanting to find artisan markets, boutique hotels and recreation on the Pacific, we highly recommend planning at least a few days in or near town. 

El Triunfo

While the coastlines are central to most planning, you might find yourself passing through this small town that was once a mining boomtown. It has some really cool architecture, fun hikes and the drive itself is super scenic.

Planning Your Baja Sur Travels

Baja California Sur or BCS is a very large area with many destinations. It’s tough to cover in a single trip while seeing everything really. I’ve been road tripping through Baja for years and am still discovering new places and hidden gems on each trip.

Here’s how I plan road trips through this region:

  1. Check your seasons – I look at seasonal opportunities like whale watching and swimming with whale sharks to surface priorities on my list of things to-do. Fishing seasons also factor into decision making processes.
  2. Make a list of top spots – This list serves as a general guide and I try to time out stops with plenty of wiggle room to meet the trip dates. Oftentimes, I only reach half of the places but it still serves as a good general guide.
  3. Budget for the miles – Last thing involves building out my budget. Gas tends to run high but camping is often very reasonable. Again, plenty of wiggle room is a good thing for travel budgets.

Now that you know the destinations, have some trip planning strategies and are armed with core knowledge of the landscape, hit the road and have fun exploring Baja Sur!