Baja California Sur Mexico Roadtrip- Ultimate Travel Guide 2022
Want to visit Baja Sur and make an unforgettable trip? This guide shares all you need to know about visiting this amazing region of Mexico!
About Baja sur
Located in the northwest region of Mexico, Baja California sur has some of the most incredible and unique landscapes you can find in the country. This corner of Mexico has an exotic landscape that includes remote islands and secluded beaches, mountain ranges, desert and even mangroves. With the Sea of Cortez named as ‘the aquarium of the world’ by Jacques Cousteau, Baja Sur is an ideal place to enjoy nature, adventure tourism and water activities which vary during the time of the year. It definitely is a nature lover’s paradise!
Where to start
The easiest and fastest way to get to Baja California Sur is by plane from mainland Mexico. Many airports within the country connect with the two main airports in Baja Sur: San Jose del Cabo (SJD) and La Paz (LAP). It is roughly a 3 hour flight if you fly from Mexico City to San Jose del Cabo and you can generally find very accessible airfares all year long from this and other major airports in Mexico.
Renting a car at the airport is the best option if you are planning to explore more than one location in Baja Sur— there are hardly any options on public transportation between towns so you should definitely rent a car for more freedom. I encourage you to rent it as way ahead as you can before arriving at the airport, as it will be much cheaper than a few days before or of course than at the counter. We were able to rent a small car (KIA Rio) for 480pesos ($24USD) with a third party insurance included—have in mind that if you plan on having an insurance that covers more than that, the price will go up. Even though the car we rented was not 4×4, it did take us anywhere we wanted to go, but if you plan on going more off road, then a 4×4 may be a better idea for you.
How long to stay
The Baja sur peninsula is huge! And so I recommend planning for minimum a week for your road trip if you only plan on visiting a small part of the state. We were here for 10 days and really felt there was still too much to see and so little time even though we only stayed in the east coast!
Best time of the year to visit
Baja Sur has amazing weather all year round, but there are definitely certain times of the year that are much worth coming on if there specific activities that you can to do.
My favourite all time season would be whale season, where many kinds of whales arrive to the coasts of Baja. This happens between December and April, although it varies year by year, so your best bet is to probably head there between mid-January and end of February.
We visited during the beginning of February and we saw Blue & Fin whales in Loreto, as well as had an amazing experience swimming with whale sharks in La Paz!
There are many animals in both sides of the peninsula throughout the year, such as Mobula rays that visit southern Baja in two distinct seasons, the late spring/summer (late April-July) and the late autumn/winter (November-January). It is a great nature spectacle and one worth seeing when visiting during these months.
If your main reason to visit Baja is to be underwater, diving or snorkelling, then visiting from July to November will give you the best visibility for these activities, where you can dive with sharks, sea lion and see many other wonderful sea creatures.
The water is generally very cold during the winter months and very warm during the summer months. So if you are planning on having a more relaxing holiday by the ocean, the best months between would be April and June, and August and September.
It is important to note that Hurricane season in the pacific coast of Mexico runs roughly from June 1st to November 30th, so keep in mind that if visiting during these times, there is a chance of having heavy rain and foggy waters.
This region of Mexico has its own magic during each season, so plan accordingly if there is something specific that you would like to see or do.
ROAD TRIP ROUTE
Here is the route that we ended up taking for our 10 day road trip, it can give you an idea for planning your own!
Day 1. San Jose- Ciudad Constitucion.
We arrived to San Jose del Cabo airport (SJD) during the afternoon and headed straight towards Ciudad Concepción, a city 5 hours north of San Jose, to sleep for the night.
- We do not recommend driving at night because of the cattle that walks very close to the highway and can definitely be dangerous as there are no lights in the road at night. It’s better to sleep at La Paz and then continue your way north the next morning.
Day 2. Ciudad Constitucion to Mulege.
We woke up early and headed straight to the northernmost part of our trip: Mulege, a small town in an oasis in the middle of the desert. We explored the town, ate some amazing fish tacos at ‘Asadero Dany’ in the city centre and then went to spend the afternoon at one of the nearest beaches: Santispac Beach. This beach is stunning, with very clear turquoise waters but can get very windy during the afternoons.
If you come during the winter months, you will see many camper vans in all the beaches in Baja so space on some of the beaches may be limited.
Day 3 & 4. Mulege & Bahia Concepcion.
We stayed two nights in Mulege in a camping ground very close to the city centre named Huerta Don Chano RV Park, where we pitched our tent for $250 pesos the night. We spent our days hiking, visiting the mission church that has outstanding views of the valley and the oasis & also going to the beaches in Bahia Concepcion. And we visited a wonderful local craft beer shop called ‘Mulege Brewing Company’.
Our favourite hike around the area was definitely at Playa Escondida. In between Los Cocos Beach and Concepcion Beach, there is a trail that leads to Escondida Beach (Playa Escondida). Its very easy to miss it, so if you are driving from Mulege towards Bahia Concepcion, after 20 minutes, right after you pass Santispac Beach and Posada Concepcion you have to get off the highway into a dirt road on your left. Once you are on this dirt road you will spot an old sign on your right that says Playa Escondida, now all you have to do is drive towards the hidden beautiful beach. The very easy for so rewarding hiking trail on the left of the beach will show you stunning views of the bay once you reach the top.
We ended up only staying only two nights in Mulege because of how cold it was during the night, and we were not very prepared for it, so we left a night earlier and headed early towards Loreto. As Mulege is in the desert, it’s important for you to have that in mind, it gets VERY cold during the night!
We stopped at a couple of beautiful beaches along the way on our way to Loreto: El Requeson and Armenta. If you would like to know about this area and its wonderful beaches and prices, hikes and restaurants you can check it on the detailed post about Bahia Concepcion here.
If you plan on going all the way to Loreto from Bahía Concepción, keep in mind that there are no gas stations, so you need to fill up in the town of Mulege. There are also very few restaurants on the road, such as Las Palmas that sells mostly burritos and sodas, located on your left 30 minutes after you have left the bay area of Bahia Concepcion and Armenta beach.
We arrived to Loreto in the afternoon and pitched out tent at Riviera del Mar RV Park which is just a few blocks away from the city centre. There is one that is much closer to the main square called Romanita RV Park, but it was full when we arrived, so I highly recommend to reserve your spot ahead of time if you can on either one to avoid dissappointment. We spent a chilled afternoon and ate some amazing tacos and burritos at Asadero Super Burro and went to slept early to be ready for our Blue Whale tour the next day.
Day 5. Loreto.
We woke up early and drove 25 minutes to the Marina of the nearby town of Puerto Escondido where our Blue Whale tour with Sea and Land Tours would start.
We highly recommend booking a tour with them, as they have the required permits that you need to go out and look for blue whales, their operators are very knowledgeable and will explain to you all you need to know about this amazing animals, as well as having a big respect for the ocean. We saw two blue whales during our trip as well as a mother and a calf mink whales! It was a truly magical experience. You can check the post about the Blue Whale tour and our experience in more detail, here.
On our return, we strolled around Loreto and ate fresh clams for lunch at La Palapa restaurant. They have fresh seafood and a very chill ambiance for you to have a relaxing afternoon after any of the tours you take.
DAY 6. Loreto.
Waking up early to see the city centre of Loreto is a must! The sunrise illuminates the town beautifully and there is hardly anyone around so you can explore at your own pace very calmly, even if for us it was a Saturday. After taking a nice walk around some of the downtown area streets, we visited the Loreto Mission church and explored the main plaza.
Photography tip: if you head towards Salvatierra Plaza where there is a native’s monument, you can get a beutiful picture of the Mission surrounded by palm trees!
There is also a small farmer’s market on Saturdays that pops into the main square (Where Loreto’s white building is) where you can find many arts and crafts and fresh produce.
There are also little cafes around the area if you are looking for something to nib on or drink while strolling the town.
Late in the morning we hit the road for an hour going up the mountains through Sierra La Giganta to visit the Mission of San Javier. The road has stunning views of the red coloured stoned mountains that is worth stopping along. We actually took more than an hour to get to San Javier because of the multiple stops we did, trust me, they are so worth it! The Mission of San Javier is a beautiful restored 1700’s stone Spanish mission that has a small museum and ancient olive trees, you can easily spend an hour walking around the place and learning about its history.
We did not end up eating here but there is a restaurant called ‘Betty’s Kitchen’ that supposedly has delicious burritos, so if you’re hungry, head there.
Back in Loreto, we went out for a drink and ceviche in town to a place called ‘Zapata’. Their ceviche was very good as well as nice cold beer after a long day.
Day 7. Loreto to La Paz.
We headed early towards La Paz and stopped a few times along the road to admire the beautiful cactus of the region: Saguaros. It is worth a stop for adventuring into the wild areas and getting some wonderful photos especially on this road where there are so many and most importantly, here there is no fence preventing you to get in (which we later found out getting closer to Cabo).
It is approximately a 4-hour drive, so be sure to take some snacks and water for the road, though there are many places you can stop along the road on this one. You will pass through the towns of Ciudad Constitucion and Insurgentes, but there isn’t much to see, so we just kept going.
We arrive to our Airbnb very close to the city centre of La Paz and went walking to the pier where we ate at a seafood restaurant called ‘Los Laureles’. The food is very good and has HUGE portions, we had one kilo of fish ceviche for $210 pesos/$10USD!
We strolled along the city, went to the Art Museum of Baja California which is free and opens from 11am to 7pm every day except for Mondays. We headed back to our accommodation for resting after a long drive.
Day 8. La Paz.
There are plenty of local restaurants all around offering tacos and burritos that you can have breakfast at and there are a very affordable option and in my opinion the best food you can get.
We headed towards ‘El Mogote’, a sand barrier peninsula which is opposite of La Paz city and has sand dunes that you can visit. You have the possibility to do sand boarding if you wish so too. Just right next to the dunes you can see the ocean and a few islands, and it is right here where the juvenile whale shark congregate during these winter months.
We then headed towards Playa Balandra, a beach that has been considered one of the most beautiful in Mexico, but were refused entry because of the limited capacity due to covid, so I recommend heading there as early as possible to avoid this. There are two entry times, one at 8am and one at 11am that are tightly controlled but you can also get there before 8am if you wish to. Another way to be able to visit this beach is by coming with a boat tour, as they do not control the access by water.
We were very disappointed that we couldn’t make it so we headed to a close beach called El Tecolote, and after speaking to a guy in a restaurant he advised us to hike the hill on the left side of the beach to have amazing views of the bay. We did, and after half an hour of hiking we found secluded beaches practically all to ourselves as well as incredible views of the ocean and a part of Balandra beach!
The hike takes around 40 minutes to complete and it is quite steep with stunning scenery at the end.
Day 9. La Paz.
At around 7:30am we headed towards the La Paz Marina to our snorkelling tour with whale sharks! We were extremely excited to finally be able to do this, as it was one of the reasons why we booked our trip to the Baja. If you want something for breakfast before the tour, around the corner of the Marina there is a small coffee shop that sells burritos and there is also a coffee shop inside the marina.
We went with a group of 5 other people and the guide and captain and had a wonderful experience. We spotted a whale shark not long after we were inside the protected marine reserve and spend a little bit more than an hour snorkelling besides it. What a majestic animal! If you don’t know, (like we didn’t) they actually swim extremely fast so it can be very hard to keep up, so we had to hop into the boat again and then jump in to be able to take a look underwater again.
Whale shark snorkelling tours have very strict guidelines in place, so it’s important to do it with an official tour operator. I have made a detailed post about the experience and the operator we did it with in here, that you can check out for getting informed and inspired to come check this awesome place and be part of this amazing experience!
We visited the Whale Museum and it is totally worth your time, you can see many full skeletons of different types of whales, dolphins and other sea creatures. They rely solely on visitors so it’s a great way to support local businesses, especially one that is so important to the region.
It is open every day from 9am to 6pm except for Sundays.
We visited Tecolote Beach again to watch the sunset and were not disappointed. Visiting nearby beaches in La Paz are very close and the water is so clear and beautiful, so it’s definitely worth spending the afternoon in one of your choice. Tecolote has wonderful views of the islands and clear waters for a perfect sunset afternoon.
On our final night at La Paz we went by the water to the ocean front stroll. There is a delicious ice cream store called ‘La Fuente’ that has so many flavours- if you like nuts, I recommend getting the pecan ice cream, it was delicious! We also went to a little local store called ‘Casa del Artesano Sudcaliforniano’, a place where many local artisans sell their creations, so you can find amazing sustainable and mindful souvenirs that support the local economy- I found some beautiful earrings made from local stones and silver for $450pesos/$22USD and a stunning handmade bookmark for $60pesos/$3USD, definitely a great place to visit for getting unique souvenirs.
Day 10. Todos Santos & Los Cabos.
Because we had missed Balandra Beach days earlier, we drove there very early and spend an hour after the sunrise. Though I recommend trying to visit after midday to see the different tones of blue that the tide creates, we spent a beautiful morning hiking to the top of the boulders for a spectacular view of the bay.
We headed towards Todos Santos, a place that my boyfriend really wanted to visit. It is a very small town that has its charm, with pastel toned houses and a plenty art galleries and coffee shops. We ended up eating at a local fish taco place called ‘El Santo Chilote’ where we had one of the best fish tacos of our entire trip! If you ever go, get the grilled and the crunchy fish tacos with the flour or corn tortilla, you can thank me later. It is also so cheap, $30pesos/ $1.5USD each yummy taco!
After spending a few hours visiting Todos Santos, we passed through Los Cabos to have a final beer with a nice view before heading back home. ‘Baja Brewing Co’ is a local brewery that sits on the seventh floor of the Corazon Cabo Resort and has incredible views of the bay. A great place to end up the wonderful 10 day road trip along the east coast of Baja Sur peninsula.
We skipped the East Cape Peninsula this time, but would highly recommend it if you have more time to do so. A great place to visit is Cabo Pulmo, just two hours away from San José del Cabo, Cabo Pulmo is a Protected Natural Area designated a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO, one of the most important achievements in ocean conservation and the only hard coral reef area in the Gulf of California and also has a charming laid back town.
Visit beautiful beaches along the bay. My favourite are: Santispac, El Coyote, El Burro, El Requeson, and Armenta to take a nice dip in the ocean if you do not mind the water being a bit cold and enjoy the beautiful clear turquoise water while relaxing at the beach. There is a small fee for each of the beaches ranging between $100-$300/$5-15USD, you can check the more detailed guide on Bahia Concepcion here.
Hike in Escondida Beach for amazing sunrise and sunset views. Here is the map reference for you to get there more easily: Escondida Beach Hike
Blue Whales tour. You can book a tour with Sea and Land tours to go at 8am. The cost per person is $2,000pesos/$100USD. It is an incredible once in a life experience that I cannot recommend enough! Blue Whales Sea and Land Tours in Loreto
Visiting one of the nearby islands such as Coronado. Twenty-five minutes from Loreto Marina, you can swim with the Sea Lions, explore bird colonies, and look for dolphins. In the cooler months, you can take a walk inland to explore the fascinating dunes. Price per person is $1,300pesos/$64USD.
Grey Whales. You can book a tour with Sea and Land tours to go see the grey whales in San Ignacio Lagoon and Magdalena Bay. A truly unique experience that we were not able to make is to visit the Grey Whale winter sanctuaries in these destinations. There are eco camps in both places: Magdalena Bay Island Whale Watching and Glamping Camp in San Ignacio Lagoon, where you can get up close to the whales and even able to touch them. The interaction is entirely on the whale’s terms—they come very close to the boats and it is the only region in the world where this happens so it is a truly unique experience, we can’t wait to be able to experience it ourselves someday!
Snorkelling with whale sharks. If you visit La Paz during the winter months, this has to be one of the activities you make. Swimming next to a gentle giant is such an awe inspiring moment. It costs $2,000pesos/$100USD per person with Tuna Tuna tours: Whale Shark: Tuna Tuna Tours
Hiking Tilimbrije- next to Tecolote Beach. A 40 minute hike on a hill at the left side of the beach that takes you to stunning views of the ocean and the nearby islands and to a secluded beach with turquoise waters: How to get to Tilimbrije Hiking Trail
Balandra Beach– visit the beach with a local boat tour that can be mixed with the whale shark experience and/or Espiritu Santo island. It is definitely a must place to see and is mostly accessible through boat as there are land restrictions on access due to limited capacity and opening times. You can also make this tours with Tuna Tuna, as they offer whale shark, Espiritu Santo Island and Balandra beach: Balandra Beach Tour
Espiritu Santo Island– in this beautiful island very close to La Paz, you can snorkel with friendly sea lions and marvel at the coral reefs full of marine life. It is a great destination to practice sustainable tourism and appreciate the rich flora and fauna in the area. It costs $2,300pesos/$115USD per person and you can also book it through Espiritu Santo Island Tour
We found that in general, prices in Baja California Sur were a bit more expensive than prices in mainland Mexico. Probably because of how remote it is from the heart of the country and also because in some areas that we visited there were not many options on restaurants, shops or accommodation.
It is however a place that accommodates all budgets. There are plenty of upscale restaurants as well as food stalls or small local restaurants mostly everywhere. In cities like Loreto and La Paz, you can find hostels and cheaper accommodation but also amazing boutique hotels.
For our trip, we spent on average $900-$1,100 pesos a day for food and drinks for both of us, as we were not going to any fancy restaurants and mostly eating at local eateries.
Tours are definitely the most expensive part of the trip. For many of the whale watching activities, expect to pay $2000 pesos or $100 USD per person.
Seafood is widely available throughout the coast as expected. You will be eating many fish and shrimp tacos, fresh clams and oysters and a variety of delicious seafood.
There are also a lot of burritos everywhere, mostly filled with beef or beans and cheese. There are also plenty of vegetarian options if that’s what you’re looking for.
In Mulege we ate delicious fish tacos at Asadero Dany, a local and very simple restaurant in the centre of town for a couple of times, and had tasty pizzas and beer at Mulege Brewing Company.
In Bahia Concepcion there is a restaurant called Bertha’s Restaurant and Bar aka Pepe’s at El Burro beach. I had some of the best shrimp I’ve ever tasted, their tacos are to die for and the drinks are so refreshing. Definitely eat there if you are visiting Bahia Concepcion’s beaches.
In Loreto we ate huge burritos at Asador Super Burro, a local eatery with all types of burrito fillings. We tried the vegetarian and the chicken one and they were really good and filling. We also had a delightful Mexican breakfast at Orlando’s, with big portions at a beautiful place to start your morning. I had the Ranchero Omelet and it had a yummy sauce on top of the eggs with red chilaquiles on the side (If you do not know what chilaquiles are, then you are missing on life!)
In La Paz you have a wider variety of cuisines, but I believe that the best are the ones that focus on local produce. We absolutely loved Mariscos Los Laureles, the best seafood at amazing prices.
We actually ate pretty often during our tours where they normally give you burritos of different fillings and fruit, so it was perfect for us. Remember you can always let them know in advance about any dietary restrictions or allergies so that you won’t have any surprise when you are on the boats or tours and extremely hungry.
There is a charming little place called ‘Indie Park’ where you can sleep in a motorhome or bungalows that is located in a great spot between Mulege and the beaches.
If you are camping, we recommend staying at Don Chano Rv Park very close to the city centre, with a restaurant inside the camping area.
For camping I would not recommend staying at any of the camping grounds in town, the sound is too loud during the night and you can hardly sleep, so it’s better going out beach camping if it’s nice weather. We ended up at nice place called Posada San Martin with rooms at $500pesos/$25USD for a very modest room with hot showers and hot coffee in the morning, we absolutely loved it!
Other good options depending on your budget are:
With private rooms from $800pesos/$40USD depending on the season, it is located right in the city centre and has hot showers and clean rooms.
Right in the main square, this beautiful hotel has a rooftop pool and beautiful rooms. The prices start at $2,000/$100USD for a standard room.
We stayed at an Airbnb called ‘El Hotelito’, which is 6 blocks from the oceanfront city centre and it was a nice place to be based at. The studio rooms have their own bathroom and a small table. The only downside was walking here at night as there is hardly any light on the streets. We payed $400pesos/$20USD per night.
If you are flying from San José del Cabo in the early mornings, I recommend staying at Hotel Aeropuerto, which is just in front of the Airport. We spend $1,750 pesos/$85USD for the night and had a wonderful sleep that got us ready for our next morning flight.
*We actually wanted to save on accommodation for that night and initially booked a place a bit further and cheaper but highly regretted it. So much that we ended up moving to Hotel Aeropuerto in the middle of the night. It was very sketchy, so definitely avoid getting caught in a similar situation and opt for Hotel Aeropuerto instead.
Gas stations in Baja are mostly located near the main cities, so if you plan on driving long distances make sure to fill up whenever possible. There are a few roads where for more than 100km there will be no gas stations (for example the road from Loreto to Mulege).
As already mentioned earlier, avoid driving at night because it is very dark and there is a high danger of cattle being very close to the roads.
You can have a better price on accommodation if you reserve your stays outside the platforms, such as Airbnb. The locals mostly prefer to do it this way, as the money goes directly to them, so don’t hesitate to reach to them if you can find the name of the accommodation through somewhere else if you would like to save on this.
WIFI and internet in general do not work very well throughout many areas of the east coast of Baja Sur, so if you want to have good reliable internet it is definitely not the best place to be unless you are in certain areas of Loreto and La Paz.