See a side of Baja California Sur, Mexico, unseen in travel guides.
I took a two-day trip this past weekend to the southernmost part of the Mexican peninsula, Baja California Sur. Located south of California, west of the Gulf of California and east of the Pacific Ocean, this long land strip is divided into two states: Baja California (occupying the northern half of the peninsula) and Baja Calfornia Sur, or the south.
Baja California Sur is known mostly for its resort cities — Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and La Paz. I stayed in tourist-driven Cabo San Lucas, notorious for its nightclubs, cruise ships and bachelorette parties. Travel websites are not wrong — Cabo is a place for partiers and the ultimate vacationers. But very little is dedicated to the other actually fascinating areas. To my surprise, the peninsula is made of jagged volcanic mountain ranges and long coastal plains. High mountain peaks are occasionally enshrouded by rolling clouds full of downpours. Desert shrubs and perfectly-shaped cacti sit among palm trees that overlook the vibrant blue ocean. The sand is white as sugar. I’ve never seen such a diverse terrain.
So I rented a car and decided to leave Cabo.
These boat photos were taken on the east side of the city of La Paz, Baja California Sur’s capital. I drove through La Paz on my quest to find Balandra Beach, a place I had heard was the most beautiful beach in Baja, and possibly all of Mexico. I stopped for a quick snack and couldn’t help but walk to the shore to get a closer look. Small fishing boats were wading in the water, tied up to equally tiny anchors. It was quiet and serene, the miniature waves softly rolling onto the beach. I shared a hello with a young boy and his father, who were readying their boat to fish.
A small house on the top of a desert hill, photographed as I was heading east across the peninsula. There are small houses sporadically dotting the land. I loved this one.
I stopped for lunch here, at a small restaurant in El Pescadero. The soft-spoken owner moved to Baja 28 years ago from Los Angeles. He was once a boat captain and, on a ship delivery 30 years ago, he found Baja. He went home to LA, sold everything he had,and moved to this place he couldn’t stop thinking about. Now, he runs a diner, lives in the back of that bus, and spends his free time surfing and fishing. He spoke kindly, while his weathered tan face told silent stories. He smiled with his eyes. There are people you come across in life and, after meeting them, you’re never really quite the same. This is one of those times.
I finally made it to Balandra Beach, pictured above. It’s quiet and isolated, protected by tall cliffs almost all the way around. The water, warm and clear, is only about three feet high. Palapas (palm tree umbrellas) line the beach and cast needed shadows. My swim in the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) would have to wait, due to a passing lightning/thunderstorm. Once it cleared, I spent the rest of my day floating in the warm sea, staring up at the green mountain ranges.
Coming back from Balandra Beach, I stopped in Cerritos, a small surf beach town. I was racing the light, trying to make it to the sand before the sun retired for the night. As I pulled in, pink and orange colors were cast high into the purple sky, bouncing off the wispy clouds. I ran out to the beach, careful to not step on any sand crabs. I walked the beach, unable to control my amazement. It was peaceful and warm, the perfect way to end one hell of a good day.
Baja California Sur, Mexico is a fascinating place with lovely people. I am beyond grateful for my time there.
+Where was the last place you explored and felt connected to?
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