It’s no secret that the Baja peninsula is a fantastic and beautiful place to explore. Here are a few of our favorites drives for getting off the beaten path and seeing something new. Because when it comes to your travels in Baja, or life in general, it’s all about the journey.
Location: From the town of La Rumorosa east toward Mexicali
Road Condition: Paved, highway driving. Passable for all vehicles.
Why We Love It: Heading east from La Rumorosa on highway Mexico 2 winds you down the mountains through scenic rock formations until you reach Mexicali. There are various lookouts along the windy road to take advantage of the impressive views.
DBTC Insider Tip: The tolls on the roads from Tecate to Mexicali are the most expensive you’ll find on the peninsula, so be prepared with cash for tolls if you plan to take this route.
Location: About an hour south of Ensenada on the Punta Banda peninsula. Signs for the turn off from Highway Mexico 1 will be around Km. 21 in Maneadero.
Road Condition: Paved, passable for all vehicles.
Why We Love It: This road leads to one of Ensenada’s most famous attractions, a natural geyser that shoots water up to 30 meters in the air. But we love this route for the beautiful road that winds along the coast and out around the Punta Banda peninsula with views reminiscent of Big Sur. There are a few pull outs along the way to stop and enjoy the views.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you don’t want to deal with the crowds and the vendors at La Bufadora, check out nearby Arbolitos Beach, a locals’ favorite. The beautiful bay beach is great for diving, snorkeling, and kayaking among the natural caves.
Location: The turnoff for San Javier is south of Loreto on Mexico 1 at kilometer 118 on the west side of the highway. From the turn off it’s a 34-kilometer road to get to the town and mission of San Javier.
Road Condition: Mostly paved. Generally passable for most vehicles but there are multiple arroyos that can fill up high with water after rains so inquire locally about recent conditions.
Why We Love It: A trip to Loreto isn’t complete without taking a day trip to explore the small town and mission of San Javier. it’s a beautiful drive into the lush and craggy Sierra de la Giganta through scenic valleys and lava flows that are covered in green vegetation after rains. Glimpses of the Sea of Cortez can be caught in the distance between the mountains. The sleepy village of San Javier is a small agricultural town, with one of the most well-preserved missions on the entire Baja peninsula.
DBTC Insider Tip: Don’t visit the mission at San Javier without taking some time to walk around the back to explore the old gardens and stop to see the large gnarled olive tree that’s over 315 years old. There’s an even older olive tree in town behind a row of buildings on the main street that leads up to the mission. Ask at the artisan shop Vigeé Biandó Arts & Crafts to have them point you in the right direction of the olive tree.
Location: Turn off for Agua Verde from Highway Mexico 1 is 45 minutes south of Loreto just south of kilometer 65 on the east side of the road. The drive from the turn off is just over 40 kilometers and takes about 1.5-2 hours.
Road Condition: Dirt, high clearance 4WD required
Why We Love It: For those with a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle and a sense of adventure, the off-road drive out to Agua Verde offers some of the most scenic views on the peninsula. With the ocean views of the Sea of Cortez and islands juxtaposed against the mountain views of the Sierra de la Giganta, it’s a stunningly beautiful—if harrowing—drive. The road hugs mountain curves with sharp drop-offs into deep canyons. Agua Verde is a very small town with just one mini market, abarrotes Miguelito. If you want to stay in Agua Verde, you should be prepared to self-contain camp for a few days.
DBTC Insider Tip: Many people prefer to camp on the picturesque Agua Verde isthmus, which is near the town but not accessible from the main beach where the town is. The turn off for the isthmus is on the right off of the main road a quarter mile before reaching the town of Agua Verde. Drive for a mile to reach the beautiful beach isthmus. The last part of the drive is very steep.
Location: From San José del Cabo up to Cabo Pulmo and La Ribera where it meets back up with Highway Mexico 1 at Km. 93
Road Condition: The road is paved for a few kilometers along the northern part until La Ribera, and for a few kilometers out of San José del Cabo along the southern part but dirt for the most part. 4WD not required but high-clearance vehicle recommended. Inquire locally about recent conditions as the southern part between San José del Cabo and Boca de la Vinorama can be in rough condition.
Why We Love It: The Camino Cabo Este, as it’s known in Spanish is a gorgeous coastal road that winds along the Sea of Cortez on the East Cape from San José del Cabo up to Cabo Pulmo area. This stretch of coast is home to a number of great surf breaks, gorgeous empty beaches, some beautiful boutique hotels, and a few services along the way. For the most part, you’ll have the beautiful views and the road to yourself.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you’re really looking to get away and enjoy a special treat, book a stay at the remote Villa del Faro, located along the East Cape Road about 15 miles south of Cabo Pulmo. You’ll feel like you’re enjoying a retreat at a coastal Italian villa.