Baja California is filled with natural beauty and has some remarkable (and memorable) natural landmarks. Here are a few of our favorites along the peninsula.
Location: South of Ensenada, BC
Why We Love It: La Bufadora is a natural geyser that shoots water up to 30 meters in the air. The ocean swells come into a sea cave and when the water recedes, the air and water spout upward along with a thunderous noise. The blowhole shoots off about every minute or so, to the delight of bystanders who gather along viewing areas next to it.
How To Visit: La Bufadora is located about an hour south of downtown on the Punta Banda peninsula. The turn off from Mexico 1 is in Maneadero about 25 minutes south of downtown Ensenada where you’ll see clear signs for La Bufadora, taking you southwest. The drive from here features beautiful Pacific views along the windy coastal road. You’ll need to pay about US$2 for parking and then walk about a half mile along the walkway with shops and souvenir stalls to get to La Bufadora at the end. There’s no charge to see La Bufadora, but be prepared to pay a few pesos if you need to use the bathrooms.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you’re hungry, don’t miss the almejas gratinadas (au gratin clams) at one of the stalls near the blowhole for a savory and delicious treat.
Picacho Del Diablo
Location: Sierra de San Pedro Mártir, BC
Why We Love It: As the highest point on the Baja peninsula, Picacho del Diablo (Devil’s Peak) reaches 10,154 feet altitude. Located in the protected National Park of the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir, which is full of fir and pine trees, the majestic mountain is snow-capped in the winters.
How To Visit: To arrive at the park from Mexico 1, turn east off of the highway in San Telmo at kilometer 140. Follow the signs for the “Observatorio” and follow the road for 84 kilometers where you’ll find the park entrance. At the park entrance you’ll stop to pay the park entry fee (US$3.50 per person per day) and can pick up a map of the park and get information. There are plenty of places in the park to view Picacho del Diablo. The National Observatory is an easy spot, or the six-mile round-trip El Altar hiking trail is another opportunity. If you want to summit Picacho del Diablo, it’s normally approached from the eastern side on a three-day trip. If this is your first time doing the hike, the park rangers will require you to be accompanied by a guide since they don’t want hikers to get lost or hurt without the proper knowledge and equipment. SIMA Outdoor (tel. 011-52-664-272-5312, firstname.lastname@example.org), run by Sofia Bautista, is a popular guide for the summit as well as other hikes around the area.
DBTC Insider Tip: This is a great area for outdoor adventures with the pine trees, mountain air and plenty of opportunities for hiking and self-contained camping. Just remember that all supplies must be brought in as the nearest provisions are in San Telmo, two hours away. Don’t miss visiting the National Observatory or spotting the endangered California Condors that are being reintroduced into the wild here in the park. Check out our full Guide to the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir for more.
Location: La Purísima, BCS
Why We Love It: The prominent El Pilón is a large rock relief that was formed from an eroded hill and at over 1,300 feet high, is a memorable landmark. Located in a fairly remote area of the peninsula near the small town of La Purísima, a small village nestled into a palm oasis surrounded by volcanic cliffs.
How To Visit: The easiest way to get to La Purísima is to head directly north from Ciudad Insurgentes (on the spur of Mexico 1 that does not head over through Loreto). Once in La Purísima, you’ll see El Pilón located north east of town. If you want to get some exercise, “Oasis La Purísima” is a marked trail that gives views of El Pilón and other scenic vistas of the area. The trail has informative signs along the way and offers beautiful viewpoints, following the river and up through canyons with cliff walls imprinted with hundreds of fossils. Be aware that the trail is over 20 kilometers, so if you’re looking for a day hike, you’ll likely end up following the trail out a bit and then doubling back.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you visit La Purísima, take the time to visit the local graveyard and the tomb of Loreto de Blackman, locally referred to as “Vampire Blackman.” Local legend has it that Blackman (a European) came to La Purísima and married a woman many years his junior. When she died shortly after of anemia, rumors started spreading that Blackman had been drinking her blood. He’s also blamed for the death of several miners while working at the El Boleo mine in Santa Rosalía. When Blackman died in 1912, no town in Baja Sur wanted his body out of fear that he would curse it. In the end, he was buried in La Purísima, next to his young bride. Residents believe that he will come back to haunt the locals because he was not accepted by them when he was living.
Location: Playa Balandra La Paz, BCS
Why We Love It: Playa Balandra is one of the most popular beaches in La Paz, and for good reason. The white sand beaches and shallow turquoise waters are gorgeous and ideal for enjoying the Sea of Cortez whether swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking. The beach is known for it’s famous mushroom-shaped rock called “El Hongo” that protrudes out of the water. Because the beach is situated on a bay, kayakers will enjoy paddling around the protected waters to see the famous mushroom rock, as well as exploring nearby mangroves. Go early in the day to snag one of the palapa umbrellas and to enjoy the beach in peace before the crowds come in the afternoon. Swimming is also better in the morning as the tide lowers in the afternoon and the water in the entire bay becomes awkwardly shallow—about knee-deep.
How To Visit: Located north of downtown La Paz, you’ll need to drive or take a taxi about 30 minutes to arrive at Balandra. There is parking but it’s limited (another reason to arrive early in the day). There are a few local buses and shuttles that can take you there as well. There are bathrooms and palapas at the beach, as well as kayaks for rent and snacks for purchase. “El Hongo” itself is not visible from the beach when you arrive—it’s tucked around the corner in a little cove.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you can’t make it out to Playa Balandra, La Paz’s central plaza, Plaza de la Constitución (located a few blocks inland from the malecón bounded by Avenida Independencia and 5 de Mayo and Revolución de 1910 and Madero) has a fountain with a replica of the famous Playa Balandra mushroom rock.
Location: Cabo San Lucas, BCS
Why We Love It: “The Drinking Dragon,” “Land’s End,” “Finisterra,” “The Friars,” “The Arch,” “El Arco,” whatever you want to call it, it is by far the most recognizable landmark on the entire Baja peninsula. And how fitting that the very tip of the 760-mile long peninsula has such a memorably strong finish. The natural rock arch dramatically singles out the tip of the peninsula and the point where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez collide.
How To Visit: The arch is visible from various places around Los Cabos (try a sunset drink or dinner at Sunset Monalisa located along the corridor for beautiful views), the best way to see the arch up close is to take a boat ride out to see it up close. A walk along the Cabo San Lucas marina brings you to a number of companies offering glass-bottom boat trips out to see the arch. You could also book a private tour with a company like Roger’s.
DBTC Insider Tip: One of the most popular beaches in Cabo is Lover’s Beach, a small beach out near the arch that is accessed almost exclusively by boat. Most boat trips out to view El Arco will also include a stop at Lover’s Beach. The unique beach is two-sided with one side lined by the Bahía de Cabo San Lucas where swimmers and snorkelers enjoy the calm waters. The other side faces the Pacific Ocean, where the water is too rough for swimming. This rough side of the beach is affectionately called “Divorce Beach.” Water taxis leaving from the Cabo marina go to Lover’s Beach for about US$15 every 45 minutes, granting you the flexibility to return to town whenever you’re ready. Keep in mind there are no services, bathrooms, or shade at the beach. As one of Cabo’s most popular activities, it can get very crowded, so it’s best to go early in the morning.