Baja California Sur in Mexico is the southern half of the Baja California Peninsula. The Pacific Ocean to the west, the Gulf of California to the east and a mountainous strip running down the middle. This combination allows for a whole range of adventures through the state. From sand, surf and Spanish learning; tequila tasting and baby turtles. There are so many things to do in Baja California Sur. We tried out a whole assortment of activities in order to compile the following list… the best of Baja Sur!
Learn Spanish in Cabo
We believe that it is imperative to at least learn the basics of the native language of the country you are visiting. This is a mark of a culturally appreciative and respectful traveler. A ‘por favor’ and a ‘gracias’ goes a very long way. And let’s face it – us native English speakers have it pretty easy when it comes to traveling.
Spanish in Cabo is the perfect place for your Spanish learning needs, with classes for all levels and end goals. They are a small yet growing operation, with a real family feel. More than 20 years of experience teaching languages and history, as well as their multicultural diversity helps them achieve their mission, “to spread the use of Spanish and to provide an idea of some aspects of the complexities of Latin America with professionalism and an open intercultural approach.”
Courses on offer: multi-week, super intensive, online Skype lessons, cooking classes and basically any length you require!
We were at the start of a 2+ month trip around Mexico, so we opted for a 3 day crash course to get us set up with a good foundation to continue our learning as we travelled. Going in with a Spanish level close to 0, we were confidently introducing ourselves, discussing hobbies, interests and pass times, ordering at restaurants and starting to grasp the do’s and don’t’ of Spanish grammar. Loaded with a fresh bag of verbs in our vocab, we immediately noticed an appreciation from the local people as we tried our best to speak in their language.
Our teachers were Malena and Arabela. Their passion and patience creates a really comfortable learning environment. We not only learned some of the language, but the culture and history also. We were then taken on a culinary journey with Alan, as he showed us a simple recipe of enchiladas verdes, perfectly complimented with margaritas as we recapped our last few days of learning.
Spanish in Cabo can be found in both San José del Cabo and San Lucas. This area is at the southern-most tip of Baja, where the main airport is, and is a great starting point for your trip.
Cuervo’s House Tequila Tasting
Here’s an absolutely fantastic way to experience a history lesson of Mexican culture, whilst enjoying an evening out, sipping Tequila.
I really didn’t know a whole lot about tequila previously, other than its ability to quickly end my night. However, after an evening with Jorge Cuervo, I have a huge respect for the craft of making tequila and of course its place in Mexican culture. We were so inspired, we went to the town of Tequila in which the drink is named after in order to continue our learning (drinking).
The evening is hosted by Jorge Cuervo, a direct descendant of José Cuervo, whose name you will see on bottles in every drink store. José Cuervo is known for bringing tequila to the world. He is not the inventor, as tequila/mezcal was already being drank by the indigenous people of the area long before his arrival. What he did do, was bring in the distillery practices from Spain as well as distribution, sharing this drink with the world. Hence the drink being named after the town, not the other way around.
Nowadays it is being celebrated as an example of multiculturalism between the Spanish and indigenous people. Profits were reinvested into the local community, pathing streets and generating income.
This is just a snippet of information provided by Jorge’s encyclopedic knowledge of tequila. I left wishing I had brought a note book. The evening starts off with a short video about the history to quickly bring you up to speed. After that, Jorge explains how to actually drink tequila (hint: it’s not with salt and lime), how to taste it and taking you down the path of deciding what type of tequila is for you.
The tasting is accompanied by delicious canapés that pair with each type of tequila being drank.
The experience at Cuervo’s House, located in San José was incredibly well put together and I would highly recommend fitting this into your schedule.
Where To Stay in Baja California Sur
Cerritos Surf Town
The best surf in Baja Sur will be found in the area of Todos Santos. This is a quaint town with them good beach vibes. If you head just 15 minutes further south, you’ll find Playa Los Cerritos. This long crescent shaped beach has a point break at the top end, consistently pumping out peelers that can challenge more intermediate – advanced level surfers. The waves mellow out as you move down and in shore, offering something for everybody. Even brand new beginners.
Cerritos is everything you could ask for from a surf spot. It’s much less crowded than other areas due to being slightly out of town, as well as being less developed. This allows for a great community feel on the waves, where everyone is encouraging one another. Rather than the infamous ‘locals only’ surf culture you may find in some places.
We stayed at Cerritos Surf Town in their beach front studio. With an unobstructed view of the ocean and the beach merely a few paces away – how much better could it get! Cerritos Surf Town offer a taste of the surf life, with the luxuries thrown in. Beach showers, swimming pool, hot tubs and a pool bar. There is also wellness program with massages and yoga, if you needed any more help mellowing out in such a beautiful location. The staff are incredibly friendly and will stop and nothing to ensure you are comfortable.
Mayan Village Resort
If you are on a tighter budget and are looking for a beach shack get away, then the Mayan Village Resort is the accommodation option for you. Owned and operated by Cerritos Surf Town, these huts strip back to just the necessities. With that being said, they still have a swimming pool and you still have full use of the rest of the resort.
CRT Surf School
Once in Cerritos, you should learn from the best. And the best are at CRT Surf School. This is their beach, they are the locals and they are surfers through and through. They have spent their lives playing at the break on Cerritos as well as chasing waves around the country.
The instructors are fully certified in surfing and first aid, as well as having the long running state champion and national competitor in their ranks. CRT also put themselves forward as volunteer lifeguards. This goes to show how much they love this beach and their passion for the waves – they want every body visiting to experience it safely and to have a good time.
We had a lesson with Juan on our first day and then continued to rent boards for the following 5 days. Their lessons are structured to a number of different levels. Level 1 starts from the complete beginning and getting you up to foam master. Once you are king of the foam they will take you out to the line up and explain how to read the waves and finding the right one for you. They can assist you onto the waves, before moving up a level again to flying solo. Even when you are confident enough to get yourself onto the waves, Juan’s guidance and expert knowledge will have you up and catching almost every wave that rolls through.
This was my first experience of a surf lesson and I can honestly say I wish I had taken one years ago.
By renting from CRT, you have access to all of their boards any time. This means you can start on a long foamy and as your skills increase you can swap out to shorter, more challenging boards. They are stationed on the beach every single day, meaning you can avoid the hassle of taking boards back to your accommodation. Just rock up in the morning, grab what you need and hit the surf!
Sea Kayak Baja Mexico
Kayaking is one of the finest pursuits of the marine natural environment. It allows you to share the waters with wildlife in a way that causes least disturbance. The lack of engine noise gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the serene landscape with all of your senses.
The Sea of Cortez is known as the ‘Aquarium of the World’, due to its rich diversity of marine life. Migratory species such as humpbacks, grey whales, killer whales, manta rays, leather back sea turtles and the 1.5m Humboldt squid can be found here during the right seasons. There are huge varieties of fish and of course dolphins in these waters.
Sea Kayak Baja Mexico is located out of Loreto, a city with mountains backing one side and the Bahía de Loreto National Park in the water on the other. SKBM offer a range of trips for the complete beginner to the expert paddler. One thing they all share in common is a guarantee of quality equipment and professionalism.
Trips range from one day, to multi-day camping expeditions covering different islands. If you have the skills and knowhow to safely carry out a trip yourself, then there are different levels of rental options available, from all food, equipment and guides included; to bare bones with just the boating gear and safety devices.
Whale Sharks & Espirit Island
La Paz is fast becoming one of the worlds best destinations for swimming with whale sharks. This is due to the predictability of the whale sharks heading to a nearby bay in order to feed. As the northerly fronts bring plankton and krill down, they pool in the bay areas. Animals always follow the food, meaning during the right time of the year (oct-feb), the whale sharks can be found in this area.
The world has gone through many changes in the last 10 years. What is acceptable in animal tourism has developed as we have learned from these animals. Certain countries are leading the charge when it comes to regulating viewings and interactions. Canada for example, has made it a federal crime to harass marine mammals, with clear guidelines for whale watching boats and pleasure craft alike. Washington State has followed suit in order to protect the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.
La Paz has also gone through changes in the last few years, with increased government regulation on whale shark tours in order to protect the natural behaviors of the whale sharks and ensure they are not being negatively affected. For starters, the ‘opening day’ of the season is decided by the government. There needs to be at least 5 whale sharks in the area before any tour can begin. Once it’s open, each boat going out must purchase permits for all passengers, to be shown to officials before being allowed to leave the harbor. There are restrictions of distances for motorized vehicles and of course absolutely no touching of the animals.
It is great to see local communities taking steps to not only promote their environment and the wildlife that lives within it, but to protect it for generations to come. These changes can be brought out in other areas too, by people realizing the power of the tourist dollar. As a community of travelers, we need to ensure to only spend our money on ethical and sustainable tourism, creating a demand. If you are unsure, ask!
“What steps are taken to protect these animals?”
“How is it regulated?”
“Is this animal acting naturally or is it being forced to change its behaviour?”
“Does this animal want me to do this?”
side note – sometimes animals don’t know what’s best for them i.e. feeding wild animals
As well as whale sharks, a snorkel tour around Espirit Island is a huge must in La Paz. On this tour you will be able to swim in the ‘Worlds Aquarium’ – the Sea of Cortez. Again, I urge you to do your research into your choice of tour provider. Be sure you are happy with their practices of not only this tour, but other areas in which they operate. The good far outweigh the bad, and I am confident you shall make the right choice.
Global Shenanigans – Expeditions
If you want an action packed Mexico adventure, whilst removing the hassle of researching and booking each aspect yourself – a guided trip with Global Shenanigans – Expeditions could be the best option for you. Specializing in multi-day, multi-sport adventure packages – let the experts do the work whilst you sit back and enjoy the trip of a lifetime! Keep an eye on their website to see upcoming trip dates and book your on a wild ride across the globe.