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Mexico Insider’s 23 things to do in Baja California Sur

Baja California Sur is the third most visited state in Mexico. Just in 2021 alone, San Jose del Cabo International Airport recorded 1,069,834 foreign visitors.

There are many direct flights from the US to Los Cabos which is one of the reasons it is still the best weekend destination in Mexico.

While we have many guides and tips about the Baja Peninsula, we’d love to focus on today’s articles about the things to do in Baja California Sur, Baja California attractions, Baja California points of interest, and lists of places you can add to your itinerary.

baja california sur

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???? Baja California vs Baja California Sur

Also known as Baja California Norte, Baja California is on the border of the United States (San Diego, CA) and Mexico (Tijuana). The capital city of Baja California state is Mexicali.

Baja California Sur‘s (BCS) capital is La Paz and you may know BCS because of Los Cabos. It used to be part of the Baja California state but became an independent state in 1974.

???? What are the best things to do in Baja California Sur?

Most of the things to do in Baja California Sur in this article include water activities, desert expeditions, whale watching activities, cultural activities, and many more. Baja California Sur is a region that is very different from the rest of Mexico because of its pristine beaches and desert combination.

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????️ 23 Baja California points of interest

#1: Espiritu Santo Island

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What is it: Espiritu Santo Island is a UNESCO protected site and is one of the most important eco-tourism sites in La Paz, Baja California Sur. Here, you will see animals like the blue-footed boobies, which are commonly found in the Galapagos in Ecuador. You will also see a colony of sea lions in their natural habitat.

Why go here: It is one of the best Baja California points of interest where you board a boat for 4 hours, swim with sea lions, have a nice lunch at Espiritu Santo Island, snorkel, paddleboard, and hike!

Details: We collaborate with local fishermen for Espiritu Santo Island tours as part of our #SupportLocal project. You can see the details of the tour here. For clarifications about this boat trip, you can also check our complete guide to visiting Espiritu Santo Island.

things to do in baja california sur

#2: Baja California Sur Missions (Loreto, Todos Santos)

What is it: Missions started in the 18th century to convert people to Catholicism. It was big in California (USA) and as we all know, California used to be a Mexican territory so those missions can now be seen in many parts of Baja California (from north to south).

Why go here: The missions are a big part of Baja California Sur’s history. These Missions are well-maintained up until today and have writings and historical records of how they began during the Spanish rule.

Details: The most visited is mission is the San Javier Mission in Loreto. The tour costs US$69 and includes lunch in a restaurant – order the machaca, a Baja California iconic dish!

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#3: Old salt mine on Isla del Carmen

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What is it: Isla del Carmen is an uninhabited island that used to be a salt mine in Baja California Sur. It was accidentally discovered by the Jesuits in 1698 when they founded the missions of Loreto. It has been the salt producer of the country until 1875 when the Viosca brothers from La Paz took over the salt mines.

Why go here: It is located in the beautiful Sea of Cortez (about 15 km from Loreto) so expect to see spectacular wildlife, landscapes, mountains, desert, and sea. It is definitely one of the most uncommon and less-visited Baja California tourist attractions.

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#4: Cabo Pulmo National Park

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What is it: A UNESCO World Heritage Site (2005), Cabo Pulmo National Park is home to the great wildlife and waters of Baja California Sur. This is where you’ll find one of the three oldest coral reefs in North America (Bahia Pulmo). It is also a destination for kitesurfers and surfers.

Why visit: You can do many activities in the park-like kayaking, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. Cabo Pulmo is just a 2-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas but it is not as crowded so you’ll enjoy a full day of outdoor activities here! Alternatively, there are a few good resorts and hotels in Cabo Pulmo if you want to stay a few days.

Details: There are many options to visit Cabo Pulmo but the admission to the park is free. Below are the best tours from Cabo San Lucas:

things to do in baja california sur

#5: Balandra Beach

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What is it: Balandra is a big area in La Paz consisting of deserts and oceans but the busiest attraction is Balandra Beach. Every day, people from all over the world fall in line as early as 3:00 AM to visit Balandra Beach. They limited the number of daily visitors during COVID but now they are open again to the public.

Why go here: Well, it’s just the most beautiful beach in Mexico awarded by different travel channels like Lonely Planet and Conde Nast. Here, you can do activities like hiking, swimming, snorkeling, etc. The highlight of Balandra is stand-up paddleboarding in the mangroves.

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#6: Bésame Mucho Bazaar

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What is it: A place where designer and artist Rouss Ramirez sells objects that he found through traveling Mexico and all over the world. You will find interesting pieces here like clothes, jewelry, and decorations for the house.

Why go here: This is a great place to shop in Todos Santos and not all people know about this yet. They also do special events like Moroccan night. You can also rent this place for weddings and special occasions.

things to do in baja california sur

#7: Cabo San Lucas Museum

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What is it: A museum that houses many different scientific collections such as remains of marine animals. There are different rooms to learn about the history of Cabo San Lucas and how it came about to what it is today – the top 3 most visited destinations in Mexico.

Why go here: You won’t even think of museums when it comes to planning your Cabo weekend getaway so come check out the museum for a change! There are also occasional exhibitions here from local artists.

things to do in baja california sur

#8: Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace (La Paz)

What is it: A neo-classical church in La Paz, Baja California Sur built in the 19th century. It is founded by the Jesuits and built by the order of Bishop Juan Francisco Escalante.

Why go here: Many paintings from the 19th century are kept here. This area of La Paz is also great to explore museums, parks, and plazas, all within walking distance.

Local tip: Go to Doce Cuarenta Cafe near the La Paz Cathedral for brunch and great coffee!

#9: Todos Santos Cultural Center

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What is it: A cultural center that houses the history of the Baja California Sur where you’ll get to see photographs, art pieces, and works donated by local artists.

Why go here: Todos Santos is a small town and not all people know about this cultural center. There is a lot to learn here in terms of Baja California’s history and culture. Support our local community of artists and swing by the cultural center!

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#10: Lover’s Beach (Cabo Arch)

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What is it: The arch of Cabo San Lucas is one of the top Baja California attractions. These are impressive rock formations and there are secret beaches within this area like the Lover’s beach and the Divorce Beach.

Why go here: This is the most popular thing to do in Los Cabos. Many tourists enjoy boat trips, booze cruises, and sunset dinners with a view of the arch. You can also spend the whole day on the beaches of the arch.

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#11: Magdalena Bay

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What is it: MagBay, as locals call it is the best whale watching spot in Baja California Sur. It is only open during the whale season (from November to March) as this is the time when the whales flock to the bay. There is no other place in Mexico where you’ll see this many whales but Magdalena Bay.

Why go here: Compared to other whale watching spots in Mexico, Magdalena Bay is a whale’s favorite because of its shallow waters. Mommy whales give birth here and they stay here longer than in any other area of Mexico. The whales here are friendlier and they will come to your boat!

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#12: El Faro Viejo

What is it: A lighthouse built in 1890 that is in a deserted area. It is located within the Quivira golf course and it is the oldest lighthouse in Cabo San Lucas.

Why go here: You can sign up for an ATV tour around the El Faro and drive around the dunes. The view here is very impressive and it is not as touristy as other ATV spots in Cabo!

Details: The access to El Faro Viejo is closed and has been privatized by Quivira, which is not good because this is one of the oldest cultural emblem of Cabo San Lucas. Cabo has turned into a resort area and as someone who lives here, I feel like this historical landmark should not be privatized. 

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El Faro Viejo has been temporarily closed. | Photo: Joseph Tyson

#13: Frank Arnold Gallery

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What is it: Frank Arnold is an international abstract painter and sculptor. He built this gallery to display (and sell) his abstract oil paintings and cast bronze sculptures based on his paintings.

Why go here: Art lovers can wander around and learn about Frank’s work. You can also buy artworks from his gallery – they wrap them properly (flight-proof) so you can bring them home!

baja california points of interest

#14: Sierras de la Giganta and Guadalupe

What is it: These mountain ranges are preserved biospheres with spectacular volcanic landscapes. These mountains are home to the bighorn sheep, a type of sheep known for their large horns. Some animals that you can see here include the golden eagle and the peregrine falcon.

Why visit: This is one of the best things to do in Loreto where you can hike, bike, and do outdoor activities. You can hike to the canyons where there is an oasis to see the bighorn sheep! You will also see petroglyphs and cave paintings during the hike.

Details: It’s best to sign up for a Tabor Canyon tour (US$45 per person) to get to know the area with an experienced guide.

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#15: Wirikuta Botanical Gardens

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What is it: A Botanical Garden in the desert where you can see over 1,5000 species of cacti from around the world. Baja California is known for its cacti species and this garden has them all! You will also see sculptures from artists like Manuel Felguerez and Leonora Carrington.

Why go here: It is not a popular tourist destination yet and you won’t often see this Baja California attraction in the guidebooks. After walking around the botanical garden, you can go on a path to the beach and hang out. 

Details: The Wirikuta Botanical Gardens is temporarily closed. We will update this post once it opens again!

things to do in baja california sur

#16: Manuel Marquez de Leon Theatre

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What is it: The Manuel Marquez de Leon Theatre is a mid-19th century theatre built in 1944. This is a place of celebrations, events, and concerts in Todos Santos. The best time to come here is on the week of October 12th, the founding anniversary of Todos Santos where they hold many events all week.

Why go here: Todos Santos is an artist’s favorite destination. Many expats who live here are artists so expect a big artistic community! There is also an old movie theatre inside where they do regular film showing.

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#17: Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere Reserve

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What is it: Sierra de La Laguna is a region with the richest and most unique biodiversity in the area. It is the site for hummingbird species reproduction of Mexico and Latin America. Xantus hummingbirds are endemic to this region. It is home to 70% of the mammal species in Baja California Sur.

Why go here: It is only 25 km (16 miles) away from Los Cabos and you can do many outdoor activities at the Sierra de La Laguna. Hiking and canyoneering are the top things to do. This biosphere reserve is a UNESCO-protected site.

Details: You can book your Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere tour with a local guide here. The hike can last up to 7 hours and hike prices start from US$120.

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#18: Jesuit Missions of Loreto Museum

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What is it: Located in a Jesuit convent, the Jesuit Missions of Loreto Museum opened in 1973 to record the history of Jesuit missions in Mexico. The museum has 6 showrooms that record the history of the 18 missions in Baja California Sur.

Why go here: Learn about how the missions extended from California to Mexico. Here, you’ll see tools, weapons, archaeological remains, paintings, religious art, sculptures, bells, and many other things that were preserved by the Jesuits.

Details: The entrance fee to the Jesuit Missions of Loreto Museum is US$3. The museum is open from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays).

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#19: Whale Museum

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What is it: The Whale Museum (Museo de La Ballena) in La Paz is a museum where you will see big skeletons of whales on display in their garden, different rooms where they see whale history in the peninsula, and many other interactive activities to get to know about our whale history in Baja.

Why go here: Baja California Sur is a famous diving destination spot in Mexico. Many tourists who go here are divers (part of their diving trips). There will be overwhelming information about the seas of Baja California but there will be an experienced guide who will take you around the museum.

Details: The entrance fee to the Whale Museum is US$8. You can visit from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

things to do in baja california sur

#20: San Ignacio Lagoon

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What is it: A gray whale sanctuary in Baja California Sur, San Ignacio Lagoon is a nursery and breeding ground for the Pacific gray whales (during the season).

Why go here: This area of Baja California Sur is probably the only place in the world where whales go close to the boats. You can pet them, kiss them, and take pictures of them up close. They are very friendly here because the San Ignacio Lagoon is a safe place for them.

Details: Whale season in Baja California Sur is from November to March. We have yearly expeditions in Magdalena Bay (Puerto San Carlos). Get in touch if you want to join our group tour next year!

things to do in baja california sur

#21: Sea of Cortez

What is it: The Sea of Cortez is in between Mexico’s mainland and Baja California. There is a diverse marine life here including beautiful beaches, impressive geology, and remote areas you can enjoy for yourself. It is referred to as the “Aquarium of the World” with the many species that you can see here.

Why go here: All the water expeditions and outdoor things to do in Baja California Sur are here. Diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, yacht cruises, and many other water activities can be done in the Sea of Cortez.

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#22: Isla Coronado

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What is it: Coronado Island (Isla Coronado) is the most beautiful island in Loreto where you can see a rich marine life. The island is part of the Bahia de Loreto National Park and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Why go here: If you want to avoid the touristy spots in Baja California, Isla Coronado is the place! Spend the whole day exploring the island, hop on boats, and go snorkeling. The boat ride from Loreto is about 30-45 minutes.

Details:  The best way to visit Coronado Island is to go on a full-day tour with lunch. One full day (6-8 hours) is enough time to get to know the island. This costs US$125 per person and includes lunch, drinks, snacks, and water gear.

things to do in baja california sur

#23: Ojo de Liebre Lagoon

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What is it: Ojo de Liebre (translates to “hare eye”) is a coastal lagoon in Mulege (about 3 hours from Loreto). This lagoon is a Ramsar wetland site and is part of the Vizcaino Biosphere UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with San Ignacio Lagoon. Additionally, it is the biggest commercial salt plant site in the world.

Why go here: This is one of the best whale-watching spots in Baja California during the season. We have a big whale expedition next year – send us an e-mail for more information!

things to do in baja california sur

✈️ Ready for your trip to Baja California Sur? If you need more information about the best things to do in Baja California Sur, I’d be happy to update this post – just leave your questions below!

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Darlene

Sunday 12th of June 2022

Where can we get current road maps of the Baja?

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