Baja is not easily encapsulated. It stretched 1240 kilometers / 771 miles from the US border to Cabo San Lucas and "Land's End." On one side, you have the endless expanse of the Pacific, on the other side, you have the fecund, marine life rich Sea of Cortez, and 368 kilometers/230 miles south of Land's End, you have the unique rocky islands and pelagic wonderland of the Revillagigedo Islands. Most of Baja is remote and uninhabited. The Sea of Cortez is one of the richest marine environments in the world. Whale sharks, whales, rare sea turtles like leatherbacks, sea lions, mobula and manta rays, Humboldt squid, and dozens of endemic species, keep this body of water lively year-round. Off Cabo San Lucas, which is probably more famous for its time-shares, bars, chic resorts and legendary nightlife, you have a surprisingly vibrant undersea world and the pinnacle off Land's End should be on everyone's hit list. Then, there's the other list, the bucket list, and that's where the Revillagigedos are well-established. These remote, liveaboard-access-only rocky islands are almost guaranteed for extensive giant manta ray encounters, schooling hammerheads, huge pods of dolphin, pelagic sharks, and whales in season. Topside, the remote surreal desertscape will inspire with its austere beauty. Near Cabo San Lucas you can golf, go on ATVs in the sand dunes, or explore the mountains by foot or bike. And, if you love nightlife, this is a place that helps keep the term alive. The rest of the peninsula is mostly comprised of sleepy fishing villages and great local eateries.
Cabo Pulmo and El Bajo Seamount and Gordo Banks are accessed from La Paz. The Cabo Pulmo reef system flows with huge schools of snappers, butterflyfish, and dozens of other species. El Bajo Seamount and Gordo Banks are typically washed by strong currents, but that's what brings in the hammerheads, mantas, sharks, dolphins and other pelagics. On a good day, either dive will achieve iconic status in your memory.
The Revillagigedos, 368 kilometers/230 miles off the southern tip of Baja, are a series of uninhabited, rocky, seabird-filled islands whose ascetic countenance belies an undersea Disneyland for big animal aficionados.
When to go:
Visibility is best in summer, and lowest between December and April. Storm season is July to October.
Marine Life Seasons:
Pilot whales are sometimes seen between December and April. Whale sharks are most abundant from August to October. Hammerheads school here in the spring.
When to Get the Best Deals:
June to November.
What to Pack:
A 5 to 7 mm wetsuit, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and DAN card.
Seasonal averages: 22°C/72°F
Seasonal averages: 10-26°C/50-80°F in winter and 21-37°C/70-100°F in summer.
Valid passport; check with local immigration office for visa requirements.
Included in most airline tickets.
None required .
What to Eat:
The waters that surround Baja provide much of the ingredients for the local cuisine, which includes the infamous Baja fish taco. Fish, lobster, shrimp, squid and clam dishes fill restaurant menus along with all the favorite Mexican specialties, including pork carnitas and burritos de machaca.
What to Drink:
You'll find popular Mexican beers, like Corona and Pacifico, readily available and, of course, lots of tequila. In Baja, the local liqueur is Damiana , which has a sweet, honey-like flavor, and is often mixed into refreshing margaritas. El Squid Roe and The Giggling Marlin are icons of Cabo's nightlife scene, but they're joined by lots of other options for live-music, dancing and overall good times.
Hit the desert on an ATV; Jeep tour into the mountains; golf until you can't stand the it then go diving again; jet skis are everywhere; learn to surf; the local markets bring in crafts from all over Baja.
Customs and Culture:
This part of Mexico is steeped in culture. Local customs include the same things you're in Cabo for: sun and fun.
Lot's of fishing tournaments are held in October and November.
Electricity and Internet:
The electricity is 120 volts and 60 Hz. There is good internet availability in most of the hotels and in internet cafes.
Drink the water?
Bottled water is recommended.
Spanish, but English is widely spoken.
Amazing Marine Life
While the "whale" reference in its name refers to its mammoth size (up to 12 meters/40 feet), this spotted goliath is actually the world's largest fish.
Jeweled Moray Eel:
This brown snake-like fish sports bright yellow polka-dots .
Remarkable for their wide-bladed heads and quick maneuverability, these large sharks are breathtaking icons of the deep.
These playful and curious mammals cavort in the water, rest on the rocks, and occasionally get inquisitive about divers.
These elegant giants grace the waters off the Revillagigedos year-round.
A smaller relative of the manta (and the shark), these rays often hang out on sandy bottoms, but can also be seen swimming around the reefs. Keep your distance from its venomous barbed tail.
Distinctive bands of white and orange mark these fish, which are often found sheltering among the tentacles of an anemone.
The familiarity of these large spiraled shells makes for a particular thrill when you encounter one still inhabited and living on the reef.
"Naked" or shell-less mollusks, these frilly, brilliantly colored invertebrates are found throughout the region.
Wily and secretive, the octopus is often found in holes and crannies of reefs and wrecks.
Top Dive Spots
El Bajo Seamount:
This underwater mesa attracts schooling hammerheads, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, swirling clockwise around the seamount. Look for Panamic green morays in the seamount's small canyon.
A small rock islet topped by a lighthouse, this site near Cerralvo Island features brain coral, gorgonians, giant Pacific manta rays, zebra and jeweled morays, and an array of tropical fish. Look for giant sea horses in the summer, and whales during winter months.
Noted for its striking rock formations, archway, and caves, this site churns with schooling sardines. Look for king angelfish, yellow surgeon fish, cup corals, and the resident colony of sea lions.
This ferry sank in 1976 and now rests on a sandbar in 18 meters/60 feet of water. In addition to the automobiles that sank with the ferry, divers can view the wide array of marine life shelters in the wreck.
Named for the island's shape rather than its residents, this site features swim-through caves and crevices, as well as a sand shelf housing a garden of swaying conger eels. Schools of rays and pods of dolphins are regularly sighted here.
At the convergence of the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez, divers find sea lions, turtles, huge sea bass, schools of game fish brought in by large schools of bait fish such as sardines, and green jacks, as well as the occasional manta or whale shark.
Sea Lion Colony, Los Cabos:
Among the 800 tropical and pelagic marine species found along this ledge, you will likely see large groupers, manta rays, bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks, and (of course) sea lions.
Drop down this wall to 27 meters/90 feet to view the deep hidden pinnacle rocks, fan corals and gorgonians. The base of the main pinnacle is home to Mexican parrotfish, porcupinefish, box puffers, Mexican clownfish, octopus, goatfish, surgeonfish, yellow snapper, buttercups, as well as possible sightings of eagle rays, mantas, sea lions, white-tip reef sharks, sea turtles and an occasional whale shark.
Noted for rock formations and unique topography, this site (whose name translates to "Fisherman's Point") boasts scorpion stonefish, Cortez stingrays, schooling surgeonfish, conch, octopus, and nudibranchs.
Gently sloping to a depth of 27 meters/90 feet, this site harbors schooling amberjack, ladyfish, Cortez stingrays, nudibranchs, garden eels, and a wide variety of sea stars: chocolate chip sea stars, tan sea stars, panamic crown-of-thorns sea stars, yellow spotted stars, and spiny stars.