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Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: February Events in Baja

Valentine’s Day and Carnaval (AKA  Carnival, AKA Mardi Gras) are big events almost everywhere, not least of all on the Baja California peninsula. 

Sunset da Mona Lisa, a restaurant annually ranked among the most romantic restaurants in the world, celebrates Valentine’s Day this year with Champagne, a multi-course feast, live music and breathtaking sunset views of Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas.  

Two peninsular cities – Ensenada and La Paz – are particularly famed for their Carnaval celebrations. Both will carry on the tradition again this year, with a series of public festivities that reach their crescendo on “Fat Tuesday,” the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.

There are hundreds of local events that can be found on Baja.com. The following represent some of our favorite February events in Baja.

Event dates and details are subject to sudden change and cancellation. Please confirm with the event organizers before booking your trip.

 

 February Events in BajaTodos Santos:  Todos Santos Writers Workshop

When:  Feb. 5 – 11

The 4th edition of this literary themed workshop will include five days of intensive sessions, and for the first time will be held in collaboration with the local Writing Ranch. Daily sessions will be led by Jeanne McCulloch, Gordon Chaplin and Rex Weiner, with seminars featuring speakers such as Jonathan Penner (“On Language”) and Nick Triolo (“Psychoscapes of Love and Revolution”). Literary agents Meg Thompson and Mark Gottlieb will head discussions at the Publishing Roundtable. 

Cost:  $900

 

 

February Events in Baja

Todos Santos:  Artists of Todos Santos Open Studios Tour

When:  Feb. 11 – 12

The peninsula’s southernmost pueblo magico draws hundreds of people each year curious to see its many working art studios. Participating artists include painters, sculptors, photographers, muralists, plein air painters, encaustic artists, jewelers, printmakers, collage artists, potters and wood turners. All proceeds benefit the children’s art programs at the Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C.

Cost:  $10

 

 

 

 

 

February Events in Baja 

Cabo San Lucas Valentine’s Day at Sunset da Mona Lisa

When:  Feb. 14

When it comes to romance, no Los Cabos restaurant comes close to Sunset da Mona Lisa. Perched seemingly atop the Sea of Cortez, with spectacular views of the granite monuments at Land’s End,  Mona Lisa offers the ultimate al fresco dining experience. The addition of the Taittinger Champagne Terrace in recent years has only added to the romantic allure of a place that already witnessed wedding proposals on an almost daily basis.

Cost:  $125

 

 

 

 

February Events in Baja La Paz:  Carnaval

When:  Feb. 23 – 28

Forget Rio. The world’s best Carnaval celebration takes place in Baja California Sur’s capital city, La Paz. This year’s theme is El Juego de la Vida (The Game of Life), with six days of pre-Lenten festivities – parades, costumes, live music, dancing in the streets, the crowning of a king and queen – culminating on Fat Tuesday (in French, Mardi Gras), February 28, 2017. Performers include Teo Gonzalez, Angeles Azules, Ha*Ash, Napoleon, El Tri, and Banda Carnaval. 

Cost:  Free admission

 

February Events in Baja

East Cape:  Los Barriles Dog Show

When:  Feb. 26

The Los Barriles Dog Show returns after a one year hiatus to the Hotel Palmas de Cortez in the beautiful East Cape town of Los Barriles. Canines are eligible to compete in up to nine categories, including best costume, best trick, best looking for pure and mixed breeds (above and below 40 pounds), cutest pair and dog that looks most like its owner. The family-friendly day in the sun will also feature an agility event, food and drinks, arts and crafts vendors, and special appearances from the Disc Dogs of Mexico, and the Schutzhund Association of La Paz. 

Cost:  50 pesos per human aged 10 and over; 40 pesos per dog.

 

 

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants,  hotels  and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, call toll-free (US/CAN) at 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

Baja Makes National Geographic Best of the World List for 2017

National Geographic Traveler magazine has announced its annual Best of the World list, which highlights 21 must-see places to visit in 2017. The destinations were all chosen by the Traveler editors and fall into one of three categories- Cities, Nature, or Culture. The full list can be found in the December/January 2017 issue of Traveler magazine, and online now at NatGeoTravel.com/BestTrips2017.

“This special issue takes readers on a globe-spinning journey to 21 of the world’s best destinations,” said George Stone, National Geographic Traveler editor in chief. “We think this year’s list represents a carefully curated selection of forward-leaning places that reveal the bright future of travel. This list is all about exploration and discovery. It’s not just about where to go, but why to go now and how to make 2017 a year of enlightenment through travel.”

Baja Makes National Geographic Best of the World List for 2017

The 2017 Best of the World destinations are (in alphabetical order):

  • Anchorage, Alaska, USA
  • Baja California National Marine Parks, Mexico
  • Banff, Alberta, Canada
  • Canton Uri, Switzerland
  • Cartagena, Colombia
  • Central India’s National Parks
  • Chengdu, China
  • Cradle of Humankind, South Africa
  • Ecuador’s Cloud Forests
  • Finland
  • Georgia, USA
  • Guadeloupe Islands
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Kauai, Hawaii, USA
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Malta
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Seoul, Korea
  • Via Dinarica, Western Balkans

The online hub includes an immersive visual experience with 360 videos along with helpful tips and facts for planning trips to each locale. Visitors will also find inspiring illustrations to download and share. National Geographic Travel will be hosting a Best of the World-themed Twitter chat on Friday, November 18, from 2-3:00 PM EST. Join the conversation with @NatGeoTravel and #BestTrips2017.

National Geographic Traveler (six issues per year) is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and has 15 international editions. The National Geographic Travel digital group shares its inspiring and authoritative digital content such as trip ideas, photo galleries, blogs and apps with its @NatGeoTravel community of over 20 million.

To learn more about each destination, visit: NatGeoTravel.com/BestTrips2017

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants,  hotels  and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, call toll-free (US/CAN) at 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Baja Year in Review 2016

Baja Year in Review 2016

In the second installment of our year-end feature, we put a bow on the year in Baja with a review of our favorite stories, headlines and videos from 2016.

We hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane, and wish you and yours the very best during this special time of year.

Headlines to Remember

Sometimes the headlines tell you pretty much all you need to know. Here are five that made us smile in 2015.

Alien City: UFO Hunter FInds 80-Mile-Long Underwater Structure Off Baja California Coast 

Did aliens build the strange structures seen by satellites along the ocean floor of the Gulf of California, AKA the Sea of Cortez? Probably not, although the tube shaped structures that stretch for over 70 miles bear some resemblance to the famed Nazca Lines, the ancient geoglyghs in southern Peru with enormous, evocative designs that can only be apprehended via aerial views. But as Ernest Hemingway once wrote:  “Isn’t it pretty to think so.”

Rare Baja Plant Named After Rock Guitarist Jimi Hendrix

It seems rather strange that a rare Baja succulent with an enormous lifespan would be named after a virtuoso guitarist whose life was cut tragically short, but that’s exactly what happened earlier this year when a small plant with pinkish-white  was named for rock star Jimi Hendrix. The story goes that former San Diego State University graduate student Mark Dodero discovered the plant while listening to the Hendrix classic Voodoo Child. The severely circumscribed habitat of the newly dubbed Dudleya hendrixii is threatened, but hopefully the plant, like its namesake’s reputation, will live forever.

Mexico Protects Vast Marine Reserve Off Baja California

In a move that drew rave reviews from regional conservationists, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto recently established the Pacific Islands Biosphere Reserve. The new wildlife preserve comprises over 2.7 million acres, includes 21 islands and 97 islets – including the Coronado Islands and the famed surf island of Todos Santos – and offers permanent legal protection for many important seabird and marine life habitats off the coast of Baja California. It also complements the Pacific Biosphere Reserve, which protects, among other things, the Revillagigedo Archipelago south of Baja California Sur.

Baja Year in Review 2016

Photo courtesy of C.apperti at Wikimedia Commons.

Playa Balandra in La Paz Voted Best Beach in Mexico in USA Today Readers’ Poll

Although reader contests and editorial lists offer purely subjective rankings, it says something about the beauty and allure of the peninsula’s beaches that in a recent USA Today reader’s poll an astonishing six of the top 10 beaches in Mexico were judged to be found in Baja California Sur. Playa Balandra in La Paz was voted number one overall, but neighbor Playa El Tecolote, Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante, the East Cape’s Playa Cabo Pulmo, and Lover’s and Medano Beaches in Cabo San Lucas also made the cut.

Three Los Cabos Golf Courses Make Cut for the World’s 100 Best

Los Cabos has a remarkable golfing history. The first course wasn’t built until 1987, yet despite this late start the region has quickly established itself as one of the world’s most desirable golfing destinations. Golf Digest gave a glimpse into the reasons for this success in January 2016, when it rated three of the 14 area loops among the 100 best in the world. The Davis Love III designed Dunes Course at Diamante, the Jack Nicklaus designed Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol, and Tom Fazio’s Querencia Course were all honored in the annual ranking. A 15th Los Cabos based course, a truncated par-3 layout from Tiger Woods, has since opened at Diamante.

Our Favorite Stories

Many thanks to our contributors around the Baja California peninsula for another great year of stories. Here are five of our favorites, and judging from the response we got on social media, three of yours as well.

Baja Year in Review 2016

The Best of Baja’s Attractions:  Why the Baja California Peninsula is World-Class in More Ways than You Think

Why Baja? In one of our most popular articles this year, we examine the world-class food, wine, accommodations and attractions that can currently be found throughout the Baja California peninsula, and trace how these signature draws developed over the past few decades.

“The old Baja of dirt roads, ranches and rustic resorts still exists, but in recent decades the region has increasingly marketed itself to travelers as a more sophisticated vacation destination, touting not only sport fishing, stunning natural settings and a sunny year-round climate but luxurious modern conveniences and brand-name accommodations.

“Nowadays, the peninsula offers a multitude of world-class pleasures, from fine food and elegant wines to chic boutique hotels showcasing  upscale amenities like expansive spas and championship-level golf courses.

“This evolution–most noticeable in larger areas like Tijuana, Ensenada, La Paz and Los Cabos–has resulted in an ever-expanding collection of accolades and encomiums from major media sources.

Restaurants

“Baja’s booming dining scene–buoyed by international acclaim for its Baja Med and Pan-Pacific fusion cuisines–hit a new high in May, when The Daily Meal released its annual list of the best restaurants in Mexico. Mexico City traditionally dominates such rankings, and did so again in 2016, accounting for 10 of the top 25 eateries. But the Baja California peninsula provided its strongest competition to date, placing eight entrants, seven of which are located in the state of Baja California: Mision 19 and La Querencia in Tijuana; Laja and Manzanilla in Ensenada; and Corazon de Tierra, Deckman’s en El Mogor, Finca Altozano and Silvestre in the Valle de Guadalupe. Not mentioned by The Daily Meal, but honored elsewhere was Valle de Guadalupe’s La Cocina de Doña Esthela, which was given the “Best Breakfast in the World” award by culinary website FoodieHub in 2015.

“Farm-to-table standout Flora’s Field Kitchen was the only Baja Sur based restaurant to crack The Daily Meal rankings, although that may change in coming years thanks to a host of up-and-coming young chefs, and the presence of celebrated restaurateur Enrique Olvera. Chef Olvera, whose Mexico City based Pujol is rated as the best in the country and one of the top 20 in the world, opened his first restaurant in Los Cabos, Manta at The Cape: A Thompson Hotel, in June 2015.”

Read more

Baja Year in Review 2016

Boom Times in Los Cabos

No less an authority than the New York Times recently reported on the enormous boom in hotel construction currently taking place in Los Cabos. Our Cabo correspondent, Chris Sands, reported on this phenomenon and its remarkable backstory back in May. This was his local’s take on what’s happening, and what it means for the future of the area.

“Construction projects are booming throughout Los Cabos, from the Pacific Coast north of Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Los Cabos, the luxury development located just outside San Jose del Cabo. Even the East Cape – a 70 mile stretch of coastline known for its pristine beaches and off-the-grid communities – is not immune, with at least two new high-profile projects in the offing.

“One need only drive the 20-mile tourist corridor which connects cape cities San Lucas and San Jose to see the incredible changes that are underway. Enormous building sites teeming with workers rise up every few miles, while the intervening highway lanes are littered with orange cones – for rerouting, and also for the additional entrances and exits needed to accommodate the ambitious new resorts that are transforming the coastline.

“Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Nobu, Hard Rock, VieVage, Montage, Solaz and Le Blanc are among the many brands moving into Los Cabos, pushing maximum hotel capacity from 14,000 to 18,000 rooms in the space of a few short years (2015 – 2018). That’s an increase of about 22%; a massive leap. And of course resorts in Los Cabos promise an impressive array of amenities, which means more new golf courses. Already home to 14 impressive courses, including three of the world’s 100 best loops (per Golf Digest), new Los Cabos layouts are on the way from major champions Fred Couples and Greg Norman, among others.

“Whether this meteoric growth is sustainable or not is a very good question. There are many reasons to believe it is:  steadily rising tourism rates in Mexico, increased numbers of flights and tourists to Los Cabos, and beefed up infrastructure most prominent among them.

“Los Cabos saw a 14.7% rise in tourism in 2015, and Mexico as a whole has seen a similar jump in 2016. Flights to Los Cabos were up significantly in 2015, and more gains are expected as carriers take advantage of new liberalized aviation agreements between the U.S. and Mexico. Southwest Airlines, in particular, has ramped up flights to Los Cabos from destinations around the U.S., and is currently seeking permission to expand its Mexican service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). A new toll road from the Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) to Cabo San Lucas has helped alleviate some of the traffic congestion in an area that is now home to almost 300,000 people.

“But it is debatable how much these new developments help local merchants, who have suffered in the wake of the new trend towards all-inclusive resorts. One good storm or incidence of cartel related violence could set the area back substantially, and it still remains to see how a desert area with a limited water supply is going to cope with rapidly rising demands. Yes, desalinization is a requirement for new properties, but desalinization brings its own problems, including harmful impacts on local fish populations. You know, the reason tourists came here in the first place.”

Read more

Baja Year in Review

Sabor de Baja Hits New Heights in 2016

Each August, columnist Tom Gatch takes  a break from fishing to don his finest white attire and journey to the Rosarito Beach Hotel, host of the annual Sabor de Baja culinary competition.  The finest chefs, vintners and brewers from Baja California gather at this end of summer affair, where they showcase their delicious creations for appreciative attendees. By  popular demand, here is Tom’s recap of this year’s gala edition.

“Over numerous decades, the Rosarito Beach Hotel has played host to a myriad of Hollywood celebrities, international dignitaries and discriminating visitors from around the globe.  As a matter of fact, as the years have passed, some of its regular guests even began referring to it simply as ‘the legend’; paying homage to the fact that the hotel has remained one of the top properties of its kind on the Baja coast since the days of the early 20th Century.

“As it turns out, during the past several years, the hotel along with Chef Bo Bendana of the Mi Casa Supper Club have worked together to create yet another legend, which now draws throngs of eager epicureans and wine lovers to the annual Sabor de Baja that features delightful samplings of our region’s finest wines and craft brews pared with gourmet cuisine from top local restaurants.  Without a doubt, the 2016 event set a new standard in that regard.

“This year’s affair was also upgraded with a new VIP section, which offered reserved table seating that was situated adjacent to the main stage.  Guests who took advantage of this option enjoyed easy access to the wine and food along with a close up view of the featured entertainment and presentation ceremonies.

“An increase in onsite staffing ensured that the general admission attendees were also well accommodated with additional chairs for their tables whenever necessary.  As always, however, it was the exceptional performance of the many vintners, brewers, chefs and restaurateurs taking part in this annual event that elevated it to its new apex in 2016.”

Read more

Baja Year in Review 2016

Golden Ghosts: El Triunfo and the Soul of Baja California Sur

The occasion of the 9th annual El Triunfo Arts and Crafts Festival provided an excuse, as if one were needed, for a deep dive into the history and culture of the two oldest secular communities in the Californias:  San Antonio and El Triunfo. The two were prominent mining communities as far back as the 18th century, and 300 years later remain at the center of controversy over the future of gold mining in Baja California Sur.

“The two-lane stretch of Highway 1 between San Pedro and Los Barriles is one of the most beautiful on the Baja California peninsula. After climbing several thousand feet into the Sierra de la Laguna, the mountain range which dominates the center of Baja California Sur between La Paz and Los Cabos, the road curves perilously through a breathtaking panorama of peaks and valleys, the views of cactus, scrub and tree strewn slopes made more piquant by the specter of wandering goats and cows.

“Traffic along this portion of Highway 1 is almost always sparse, limited to the occasional pick-up truck or dust-covered SUV.  In the rare event where traffic backs up, there are pull-off overlooks located between the winding mountain passes, and once in awhile a small town will appear, offering refreshments and a chance to rest one’s nerves.

“El Triunfo (pop. 321) and San Antonio (pop. 463) are the most notable of these small towns. They’re located 35 and 40 miles south of La Paz, respectively, straddling the highway at altitudes close to 1500 feet.  Although each has a few tourist attractions, it is only on special occasions, like the El Triunfo Arts and Crafts Festival – the 9th edition of which took place on a recent Sunday – that people ascend en masse to these sleepy mountain hamlets.

“On festival days like this one, El Triunfo glows. A kaleidoscopic profusion of cars pull off onto every conceivable shoulder of the road and its downtown arteries, while clusters of brightly dressed people file through the slowed traffic along the highway towards the sounds of music and the smell of grilled meat. The dominant color motif, as always, is gold. The traditional costumes of the women swirling with their dance partners around the plaza principal are accented in gold. Many of the large, well-preserved homes that sit south of the highway are painted white but trimmed in gold. The old church, whose profile looms above the modest skyline, boasts a golden coat with royal red piping, its golden bell towers glinting in the afternoon sunlight.

“Once upon a time, El Triunfo and nearby San Antonio were the wealthiest and most famous towns on the Baja California peninsula. This legendarily prosperous period occurred during the latter part of the 19th century, but in truth the two were mining capitals and historical anomalies long before post San Francisco gold rush fever put the small Sierra de la Laguna communities on the international map in 1862.”

Read more

Baja Year in Review 2016

Photo courtesy of Marlin Harms at Wikimedia Commons.

10 Plant and Animal Species Only Found in Baja

Some of the Baja California’s most famous flora and fauna aren’t necessarily confined to the peninsula;  surreal Boojum trees and giant Cardon cactus, for instance,  can also be found in the mainland state of Sonora. In this long overdue article, we introduced our readers to some of the rare plants and animals that are uniquely and utterly “Baja.”

“The Baja California peninsula is like no place else on earth, a fact reflected in the peninsula’s distinctive and often unique flora and fauna.

“Much of the fascinating diversity in Baja California Sur is due to what is called island endemism, a process by which plants and animals develop independently in specific isolated environments. The unique island endemism of the Galapagos, for example, famously helped to inspire Darwin’s theory of evolution.  Coastal islands off Baja California Sur like Magdalena and Espiritu Santo are hotbeds for endemic species, which have necessarily evolved over time in order to survive in their geographically circumscribed environments.

“But the peninsular mainland – “almost an island” in Bruce Berger’s felicitous phrase – boasts its own collection of strange and wonderful creatures, with many specifically adapted to the central or southern sierras, or to low-lying desert areas. Some are indigenous but not endemic, meaning they can also be found in other regions. Others are sui generis, found only in Baja.

“Here are 10 of our “only in Baja” favorites.”

Read more

Videos We Loved

We didn’t make any of these videos, but we’re happy to share them, since they show off the spectacular natural beauty of our favorite place on earth, as well as the special character of its inhabitants.

Baja Diver Trapped in Cage with Great White Shark

To date, over 20 million people have watched this frightening video, in which a great white shark bursts through the bars of an underwater diving cage as crew members look on in horror. Luckily the diver, who was enjoying the incredible underwater scenery near Isla Guadalupe(a volcanic island some 250 miles southwest of Ensenada), lived to tell the tale.

Women of Billabong Surf Todos Santos

“When wanderlust strikes,” writes Billabong, “we pack our bikinis and set our bearing for the Tropic of Cancer.” In this exquisitely shot video, several of the Australian lifestyle apparel company’s models head for the beaches of Baja’s first pueblo magico, Todos Santos, where they soak up local color and take advantage of the Pacific Coast community’s outstanding surfing conditions.

Audi Test Drives New Model in Beautiful Baja California Sur

Forget the Autobahn. If you really want to test out a new model, hit the highways and byways of Baja California Sur. That’s what German automaker Audi did with its new Q5 2.0 TFSI, and the beach, desert and mountain scenery is every bit as breathtaking as the luxury hybrid SUV’s high-powered performance.

Skateboarders Showcase the Charms of La Paz

Luis Humberto leads viewers on an unconventional tour of Baja California Sur’s capital, as he skateboards along the beautiful three-mile-long malecon, at signature attractions and through the city streets of downtown La Paz.

In Search of Painted Caves

Baja’s incredible and mysterious cave paintings date back thousands of years, and have exercised a profound fascination for writers like Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner and historian Harry Crosby. In this introductory video from the Bradshaw Foundation, Crosby offers a captivating introduction to these ancient masterpieces.

Thanks again for all your support this year. Happy Holidays!

 

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants,  hotels  and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, call toll-free (US/CAN) at 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: January Events in Baja

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas:  January Events in Baja

2017 begins with a bang in Baja California Sur, with some of the state’s standout cultural and outdoor competitions scheduled to take place this month: most notably, the Tropic of Cancer Concert Series and The Lord of the Wind Showdown.

The former is a more than adequate fill-in for the currently in limbo Todos Santos Music Festival (founded by former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck), and brings some of the finest bands on the contemporary music scene to perform in Baja’s first pueblo magico. The latter is one of two outstanding windsports competitions held each January on Baja Sur’s gorgeous East Cape (the La Ventana Classic is the other).

There are hundreds of local events that can be found on Baja.com. The following represent some of our favorite selections.

Event dates and details are subject to sudden change and cancellation. Please confirm with the event organizers before booking your trip.


January Events in Baja

San Jose del CaboThursday Night Art Walk

When:  Jan. 5, 12, 19, 26

Every Thursday evening between the months of November and June, fine arts galleries in San Jose del Cabo’s historic Distrito del Arte invite guests to sip wine, stroll the downtown neighborhood’s cobblestone streets, and view paintings, sculptures and other pieces from some of Baja’s finest artists. 

Cost:  Free admission

 

 

January Events in Baja

Cabo San Lucas9th Annual Los Cabos Pro-Am Golf Tournament

When:  Jan. 16 – 20, 2017

The most notable golf tournament in a region famed for its spectacular courses–three of Los Cabos’ 14 links are currently ranked among the 100 best in the world–returns as Sheraton Hacienda del Mar and Cabo del Sol’s Ocean and Desert Courses play host to the 9th annual Los Cabos Pro-Am.

Cost:  Stay and Play packages start at $3595

 

January Events in Baja

Todos SantosTropic of Cancer Concert Series

When:  Jan. 12 – 21

Never fear, music fans. Former REM guitarist Peter Buck’s Todos Santos Music Festival may be on hiatus, but Todos Santos will once again host a series of great bands to kick off the New Year, and the historic Hotel California will once again be the primary host and sponsor. The Tropic of Cancer Concert Series features bands and performers such as La Santa Cecilia, Langhorne Slim, Las Cafeteras, Joan Osborne, The Autumn Defense, The Jag, Cordovas, Daniel Donato, Matt Haeck, and many more.

Cost:  $75 – $100

 

 

 

 

January Events in Baja

East Cape7th Annual Lord of the Wind Showdown

When:  Jan. 17 – 22

The coastal town of Los Barriles is home to one of the world’s most famous windsports competitions: The Lord of the Wind Showdown. The annual event is sponsored by the local Rotary Club, and features multiple days of world-class kiteboarding in categories like slalom and big air, with the overall winner walking away with thousands of dollars in prize money. There are also plenty of affiliated fiestas, like the traditional tamales cook-off. 

Cost:   $75 – $150 for competitors; free admission for spectators

 

 

 

 

January Events in Baja

East CapeLa Ventana Classic

When:  Jan. 25 – 29

Just as Los Barriles hosts its annual Lord of the Wind Showdown, La Ventana hosts its “Classic” windsports competition, with windsurfers, kiteboarders and SUP (stand up paddleboarding) enthusiasts battling the breezes to earn cash and glory in various categories. Proceeds from this year’s event are earmarked to benefit local schools. 

Cost:   $15 – $310 for participants; free admission for spectators

 

 

 

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants,  hotels  and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, call toll-free (US/CAN) at 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: December Events in Baja

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: December Events in Baja

December ushers in the long holiday season in Baja California, with a wealth of traditional observances interspersed with secular events like fundraisers and culinary festivals.

New Year’s Eve bashes are the biggest event attractions, however. The annual midnight fireworks show over Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas is a highlight of fiestas at area resorts like Breathless and Casa Dorada, while the Rosarito Beach Hotel’s yearly dinner and dance party continues to be the celebration of choice for those crossing the border from Southern California. 

There are hundreds of local events that can be found on Baja.com. The following represent some of our favorite selections.

Event dates and details are subject to sudden change and cancellation. Please confirm with the event organizers before booking your trip. 

 

December Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo11th Annual Sabor a Cabo Food and Wine Festival

When:  Dec. 10

Yearly food and wine fest Sabor a Cabo brings together chefs from over 40 Los Cabos restaurants for a full-day fiesta of eating, drinking and dancing. This year’s main event takes place in the sculpture garden at Puerto Los Cabos, a luxury development just outside San José del Cabo. Grammy Award winning Mexican rock band Mana headlines the musical lineup.

Cost:  $200; VIP $350

 

December Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo20th Annual Liga MAC Christmas Fiesta

When:  Dec. 10

Enjoy a casual evening at the beautiful Shoppes de Palmilla plaza with a glass of wine or soft drink while listening to Los Angeles – “The Angels” – Liga MAC’s ACE student choir, along with live music from local performers. The Shoppes sidewalk fashion show and generous donations of raffle items show the true spirit of Christmas. It’s a fun evening of holiday cheer and a wonderful way to brighten the holidays for less fortunate children in Los Cabos.

Cost:  Unwrapped, non-battery operated toy for a child 1-12 years of age.

 

December Events in Baja

Cabo San LucasCasa Dorada Luau Hawaii Party New Year’s Eve 2017

When:  Dec. 31

Casa Dorada throws the best New Year’s Eve parties in Los Cabos, with past celebrations ranging from barefoot formals to white parties and a carnivalesque bacchanal. This year’s theme is a Hawaiian style Luau, with a fire dancing show and other festive island focused highlights. As always, guests are invited to enjoy to an open bar and deluxe buffet from Chef Francisco Aguirre of the resort’s 12 Tribes restaurant, as well as live music from bands and resident DJs, and of course a spectacular fireworks show over Medano Beach at midnight.

Cost:  $175 for adults; $95 for children 3 – 12 years of age

 

December Events in Baja

Rosarito BeachRosarito Beach Hotel Traditional New Year’s Eve Dinner Celebration

When:  Dec. 31

Each New Year’s Eve, the legendary Rosarito Beach Hotel invites revelers from both sides of the border to ring in the New Year with dinner, drinks and dancing, as well as a spectacular international show in the hotel’s Salon Mexicano ballroom. 

Cost:  $89 – 99 for adults; $49 – 59 for children under 12

 

 

 

 

 

December Events in Baja

Cabo San LucasBreathless Disco Purple New Year’s Eve Party

When:  Dec. 31

Don your finest purple apparel and ring in 2017 in Breathless style at the Land’s End resort’s hip rooftop lounge, Purple. Live music and disco beats courtesy of Sugar Shake Band and Superlover DJ by Suara label.  NOTE:  Breathless is currently offering a special New Year’s Eve deal: stay four nights or longer over the New Year and January 1st is free.

Cost:  Call 1-855-652-7328 for details, or email info.brcsl@breathlessresorts.com.

 

 

 

 


Baja.com
 is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants,  hotels  and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, call toll-free (US/CAN) at 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

On Location: 5 Great Movies Filmed in Baja

On Location: 5 Great Movies Filmed in Baja

In honor of the recent awards ceremony at the Los Cabos International Film Festival–the 5th annual edition of which wrapped up last week in Cabo San Lucas–we’ve compiled our own list of the most memorable movies ever shot on location in Baja California and Baja California Sur.

Some of these films celebrate the peninsula’s cultural heritage and picturesque vistas, while others utilize it as an economically advantageous stand-in for diverse international settings. So successful was Fox Baja Studios in building enormous tanks in which to shoot ocean scenes in the blockbuster Titanic, for example, that the facility became the go-to spot for filming nautical adventures, from Pearl Harbor and Deep Blue Sea to Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and the James Bond thriller Tomorrow Never Dies.

What each of our selections have in common is a commitment to quality. All five of the feature films we chose have won prestigious awards, and Dust to Glory was nominated for one for best documentary trailer (you’ll see why below).

Rosarito Beach – Titanic (1997)

 

Although noticeably short on icebergs, Rosarito Beach turned out to be the perfect place to film one of most famous movies ever made, a love story set against the backdrop of an historic maritime disaster. Titanic starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and was directed by James Cameron, whose film Avatar eventually surpassed his earlier classic as the highest grossing film of all-time (although Titanic will forever hold the Oscar lead, having won 11 to Avatar’s nine.)

Cameron and 20th Century Fox decided to build a satellite studio in Baja for two primary reasons: it was conveniently close to Hollywood, and it offered a chance to save money in what was already a massive budget. Thus, Fox Studios Baja was built on 46-acres just south of Rosarito Beach, with enormous filming tanks set against a backdrop of over 3,000 feet of oceanfront land. The tanks and their proximity to the Pacific Ocean provided the illusion of a ship sailing on a seemingly limitless horizon, and added a degree of verisimilitude that drew many other films to the facility in subsequent years.

Even after filming ended, Titanic continued to exercise a profound fascination for both locals and visitors. A Titanic museum and theme park was open for many years, and the spirit of Jack and Rose now lives on at the recently launched Parque Submarino Rosarito, an underwater park and artificial reef whose attractions include “wreckage” from the ill-fated ocean liner.

Cabo San Lucas – Troy (2004)

 

Where else would one film the most famous conflict ever–the 10-year Trojan War, fought over 3,000 years ago in what is modern day Turkey after a Trojan prince named Paris wooed the ravishing Helen from her Greek husband Menelaus–than on the glorious golden sand beaches of Cabo San Lucas?

The big-budget sword and sandals epic starred Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Diane Kruger and Orlando Bloom, and was shot on the Pacific Coast just north of the Land’s End city, near what are now Pueblo Bonito Pacifica and Sunset Beach Resorts, and the Quivira Golf Club.

Just as the original war dragged on far longer than anyone anticipated, so too did the shooting schedule. It was a case of art mirroring life. Initially budgeted at $150 million, costs for Troy spiraled after a hurricane destroyed sets for the ancient city, which then had to be rebuilt.

The opening fight scene featuring Pitt as legendary warrior Achilles was shot in an arroyo near the bullring, and in its epic grandeur narrowly edges Adam Sandler grilling nude on Médano Beach in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.

Troy won an ASCAP award, and was nominated for an Oscar; one more, as it turned out, than Sandler’s 2008 work.

Tijuana – Babel (2006)

 

Babel’s complex script features interlocking stories and characters in diverse locations that range from Morocco and Japan to the U.S. and México. When a mother is shot in Morocco, for example, her nanny Amelia, fearful of missing her son’s wedding, takes her two charges across the border without permission.

Filmed on locations in both Tecate and Tijuana, Babel offers both a captivating look at traditional Baja culture, and the terrors of living on La Frontera. When their driver gets drunk and abandons them after the wedding, Amelia and the kids are stranded in the desert without food and water. A nightmarish series of further complications then ensues.

This multi-narrative drama, crafted by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Birdman, The Revenant), garnered the Mexican filmmaker a Palme d’Or for Best Director at Cannes, and later led to seven Academy Award nominations. It won for Best Score, with many songs from Tijuana groups like Los Tucanes and Los Incomparables.

La Paz – Desierto (2016)

 

Actor Gael García Bernal took up residence in Baja Sur’s capital city for several months while filming this recently released thriller about a racist vigilante that hunts unarmed Mexican immigrants trying to cross the U.S. border. Shot almost entirely on location in the municipality of La Paz–including in small communities like San Juan de la Costa and Los Tamales–the region’s striking and savage desert terrain adds yet another element of suspense to the life-or-death drama.

Desierto was directed by Jonás Cuarón, son of famed Oscar winning Mexican film director Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, Gravity), who acted as a co-producer on the film. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, given its illustrious pedigree, Desierto won the International Critics’ Prize at the Toronto Film Festival.

Documentary Category – Dust to Glory (2005)

 

Over its 49 year history, the Baja 1000 has drawn a who’s who of professional racers and celebrities (including movie stars Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and James Garner), lured by the challenge of pitting themselves against a harsh and unforgiving land.

Best known for his surfing films, director Dana Brown went all out in Dust to Glory, employing over eighty crew, fifty-five cameras, four helicopters and a dune buggy camera car to document the sights and sounds of the infamous race, an annual off-road adventure in which the lives of both drivers and spectators are sometimes lost.  The live footage was largely gathered during the 2003 event, on a looping course that started and finished in Ensenada.

The results are magnificent. No filmmaker has ever captured the beauty, excitement and danger of Baja’s rugged terrain quite like Brown; and his interviews with legendary drivers like Mario Andretti, Robby Gordon and Mike “Mouse” McCoy offer unique insight into the peninsula’s signature sporting attraction.                                                                                    

Bonus Category – Land’s End (1995 – 1996)

 

Okay, enough of the high quality films.

Did you ever wonder what Magnum P.I. would be like if instead of Hawaii, the series was shot on location in Cabo San Lucas?

It probably would have looked a lot like Land’s End, a short-lived (22 episodes) crime drama that aired during the 1995 – 1996 season. The series starred Fred Dryer, a former NFL defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams who transitioned to acting in the 1980s, most notably in the hit show Hunter.

In Land’s End, Hunter played the aptly named Mike Land, a disillusioned former LAPD detective who, after moving to Los Cabos, becomes part of a private detective team, working with his friends Willis P. Dunleevy (character actor nonpareil Geoffrey Lewis in a signature role) and Dave “Thunder” Thorton (played by the gloriously mustachioed Tim Thomerson). Land lives at the fictional Westin Regina Resort, where he also acts as head of security.

Sadly, episodes of Land’s End are now hard to find–yes, even classics like “Day of the Dead,” “El Perico” and “Dr. Amore”–but the theme song and introductory montage will live forever.

 

 

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: November Events in Baja

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: November Events in Baja

November sees the return of a number of signature events, from the legendarily rugged, off-road SCORE Baja 1000 – which starts and finishes in Ensenada – to food and culture themed festivals around the peninsula.

Tijuana welcomes back the world’s best Latin dancers for its 2nd annual Salsa Festival, San Felipe shows off its seafood abundance with its 24th Shrimp Festival, San Jose del Cabo kicks off its annual Thursday night Art Walk in the historic Distrito del Arte, while Cabo San Lucas rolls out the red carpet for the impressive array of movie stars that attend its yearly International Film Festival.

There are hundreds of local events that can be found on Baja.com. The following represent some of our favorite selections.

Event dates and details are subject to sudden change and cancellation. Please confirm with the event organizers before booking your trip.

 

November Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo:  Art Walk

When:  Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24

Every Thursday evening between the months of November and June, fine arts galleries in San Jose del Cabo’s historic Distrito del Arte invite guests to sip wine, stroll the downtown neighborhood’s cobblestone streets, and view paintings, sculptures and other pieces from some of Baja’s finest artists. The Art Walk takes place from 5 – 9 p.m., and participating galleries often showcase special features such as artists in attendance or the premier of new artworks.

Cost:  Free admission

 

 

November Events in Los Cabos

San Felipe:  San Felipe Shrimp Festival

When:  Nov. 4 – 6

Every year in November, San Felipe celebrates the wonders of its favorite shellfish with an abundance of succulent shrimp recipes, traditional tequila and regionally produced wine tastings, as well as live music and folkloric dances. The event also includes a competition that rewards the chef of the best shrimp dish.

Cost:  Free admission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November Events in Baja

Cabo San Lucas:  5th Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

When:  Nov. 9 – 13

The Los Cabos International Film Festival returns for the fifth consecutive year with a mix of premieres, parties and programs designed to promote collaboration between the film industries of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Movies will primarily be screened at the Pabellon Cultural de la Republica and Cinemex Theaters at Puerto Paraiso in Cabo San Lucas, with a free outdoor screening program held at Plaza Mijares in San Jose del Cabo.

Cost:  Free –  $555

 

 

 

 

November Events in Baja

Tijuana:  2nd Annual Tijuana Salsa Festival

When:  Nov. 18 – 20

Chips aren’t the partner for the 2nd annual Tijuana Salsa Festival, but rather fellow Latin dance enthusiasts. The festival features lessons, socials and workshops – including a ladies styling bootcamp with Karel Flores – as well as competitions (most notably, qualifiers for The World Latin Dance Cup), and performances from some of the world’s best dancers.

Cost:  $85

 

 

November Events in Baja

Ensenada:  49th SCORE Baja 1000

When:  Nov. 16 – 20

The world’s most legendary off-road race, the SCORE sponsored Baja 1000, returns for its 49th running this year. The 2015 loop race clocks in at approximately 830 miles, starting and finishing in Ensenada. Television coverage in the U.S. and Canada will be provided by the CBS Sports Network.

Cost:  $2,240 – $3,490

 

 

 

 

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurants,  hotels  and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

The Best of Baja’s Attractions

Why the Baja California Peninsula is World-Class in More Ways than You Think

The old Baja of dirt roads, ranches and rustic resorts still exists, but in recent decades the region has increasingly marketed itself to travelers as a more sophisticated vacation destination, touting not only sportfishing, stunning natural settings and a sunny year-round climate but luxurious modern conveniences and brand-name accommodations.

Nowadays, the peninsula offers a multitude of world-class pleasures, from fine food and elegant wines  to chic boutique hotels showcasing  upscale amenities like expansive spas and championship-level golf courses.

This evolution–most noticeable in larger areas like Tijuana, Ensenada, La Paz and Los Cabos–has resulted in an ever-expanding collection of accolades and encomiums from major media sources.

The Best of Baja´s Attractions

Deckman’s en El Mogor is one of several restaurants producing world-class cuisine in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe.

Restaurants

Baja’s booming dining scene–buoyed by international acclaim for its Baja Med and Pan-Pacific fusion cuisines–hit a new high in May, when The Daily Meal released its annual list of the best restaurants in Mexico. Mexico City traditionally dominates such rankings, and did so again in 2016, accounting for 10 of the top 25 eateries. But the Baja California peninsula provided its strongest competition to date, placing eight entrants, seven of which are located in the state of Baja California: Mision 19 and La Querencia in Tijuana; Laja and Manzanilla in Ensenada; and Corazon de Tierra, Deckman’s en El Mogor, Finca Altozano and Silvestre in the Valle de Guadalupe. Not mentioned by The Daily Meal, but honored elsewhere was Valle de Guadalupe’s La Cocina de Doña Esthela, which was given the “Best Breakfast in the World” award by culinary website FoodieHub in 2015.

Farm-to-table standout Flora’s Field Kitchen was the only Baja Sur based restaurant to crack The Daily Meal rankings, although that may change in coming years thanks to a host of up-and-coming young chefs, and the presence of celebrated restaurateur Enrique Olvera. Chef Olvera, whose Mexico City based Pujol is rated as the best in the country and one of the top 20 in the world, opened his first restaurant in Los Cabos, Manta at The Cape: A Thompson Hotel, in June 2015.

The Best of Baja's Attractions

Playa Balandra in La Paz was voted best beach in Mexico in a recent USA Today readers poll.

Beaches

The breathtaking beauty of Baja’s sandy shorelines has been confirmed–as if such a thing were necessary–by a recent USA Today reader’s poll of the best beaches in Mexico. Stand down, Cancun. Not only did La Paz’s Playa Balandra win by a wide margin, but a whopping six of the top 10 vote getters were located in Baja California Sur: including Balandra neighbor El Tecolote; Lover’s and Medano Beaches in Cabo San Lucas; Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante (one of the Islands of Loreto); and Cabo Pulmo, jewel of the state’s gorgeous East Cape.

The supremacy of Baja Sur can’t be considered much of an upset, given that it possesses more coastline than any other Mexican state. What is genuinely interesting, however, even to long-time visitors is the sheer majesty of its littoral treasures, which range from 30-million-year-old granite rocks at Land’s End to colorful fingers of living coral reef off the coast of Cabo Pulmo. The latter, by the way, lies within a protected underwater sanctuary that is home to the highest concentration of marine life in the Sea of Cortez.

For those interested in safety, services and sustainability, there are now four beaches on the peninsula qualified to fly the Foundation for Environmental Education’s prestigious Blue Flag:  El Coromuel in La Paz; and Chileno, Palmilla and Santa Maria in Los Cabos.

The Best of Baja's Atrractions

The wedding chapel at One&Only Palmilla, annually rated as the best resort in Mexico.

Hotels

Los Cabos has long led the way in the peninsula’s high-end hospitality ventures. No surprise, then, that on Travel + Leisure’s current list of the 15 best hotels in Mexico, three are found near the southernmost tip of the peninsula:  One&Only Palmilla, Esperanza and Grand Solmar.

A fourth, Las Ventanas al Paraiso, could have been added (and has been previously). It was there that the late, great hospitality pioneer Edward Steiner helped transform the Capes Region from a laid-back fishing mecca into one of the world’s premier destinations for tropical sophistication and barefoot luxury.  Steiner moved on to Palmilla in 2004, when the 1950s era property (built by Rancho Las Cruces and Hotel Hacienda developer Rod Rodriguez) was reimagined under the One&Only imprimatur. It has been a grand dame resort ever since, appearing on Travel + Leisure’s list every year for the past decade.

These days, the local luxury formula is codified: take a scenically situated coastal property and pair it with world-class amenities like private butlers, soothing spas, championship level golf courses, and gourmet restaurants helmed by superstar chefs. This regionally refined recipe has been so effective, in fact, that the Five Star Alliance now recognizes over 20 five-star hotels in Los Cabos. Variations on the formula even exist at many lesser area accommodations, although the spa services tend to be a little less pampering, the wining and dining bundled into affordable all-inclusive plans.

Grand Solmar is the only repeater on Travel + Leisure’s ranking of the top 15 Mexican hotels, and Trip Advisor’s recent posting of the country’s 25 highest guest-rated properties. The Resort at Pedregal also gets some much deserved love on the Trip Advisor list. The ultra-luxe Pacific coast hideaway has been the best lodging in Cabo San Lucas proper since it opened as Capella Pedregal in 2009 (under the stewardship of Peter Bowling, now the general manager at One&Only Palmilla). Medano Beach based resorts Villa la Estancia and Villa del Arco are also included on Trip Advisor’s latest roll of honor.

The Best of Baja's Attractions

The Jack Nicklaus designed Quivira is one of over a dozen world-class golf courses in Los Cabos.

Golf

Los Cabos is also unquestionably one of the world’s most spectacular golfing regions, with three of its 14 active courses currently ranked among the 100 best on the globe by Golf Digest:  Jack Nicklaus’ Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol, Davis Love III’s Dunes Course at Diamante, and Tom Fazio’s Querencia. Why is the area so special? There are only a handful of places on earth that can boast this many world-class courses, and the others have well over a century of history and tradition (several centuries, in the case of Scotland). All of the great seaside courses of Los Cabos, by comparison, have been built during the past 25 years.

18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus put the region on the map in the early 1990s, combining desert and mountain terrains with superb ocean views at Cabo del Sol, El Dorado and Palmilla. The Golden Bear has returned three times since to add to his incredible portfolio, most recently with Quivira, rated as GOLF Magazine’s best new international course in 2015. And other notable players and designers have followed in his cleated footsteps, from Greg Norman (who shares a composite design with Nicklaus on Puerto Los Cabos, and is crafting the highly anticipated new loop at Rancho San Lucas) to Tiger Woods, Tom Weiskopf and Fred Couples (visionary behind the soon-to-be-open Twin Dolphin course).

The Best of Baja's Attractions

Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards & Inn is one of many reasons to visit Baja’s wine country, Valle de Guadalupe.

Wine

Although mainland Mexico is home to the oldest winery in North America, over 90 percent of the country’s table wine is produced in Baja California’s wine country, which consists of Valle de Guadalupe, as well as neighboring valleys like Santo Tomas, San Vicente and San Antonio de las Minas. Valle de Guadalupe has exploded in popularity in recent years, as its wines have been lauded around the globe, and some of the brightest stars in the media firmament have proclaimed it one of the world’s hottest new wine travel destinations. Wine Enthusiast declared Valle de Guadalupe one of the 10 best wine travel destinations for 2014. “Just a two-hour drive south of San Diego across the Mexican border lies a peaceful Baja California valley brimming with ripened grapes,” stated a recent profile in Forbes. Wall Street Journal called the region “rustic but stylish,” and referred to its wines as “attractive and well-balanced.” A Vogue writer enthused “Compared to Napa and Sonoma, Valle offers a more low-key, less commercial, highly authentic experience. It’s the kind of place where you can watch a Michelin-starred chef grill grass-fed meat a few feet from your table or chat with winemakers during a tasting. But Valle isn’t short on style either.”

The Best of Baja's Attractions

Los Cabos is home to many of the top rated spas in Mexico. Photo courtesy of Spa Marquis at Marquis Los Cabos.

Spas

As with luxury hotels and seaside golf links, Los Cabos is Baja’s nonpareil destination for soothing beachfront massages and signature therapies. Not only does the municipality reign supreme regionally, cape cities Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and their connecting tourist corridor are home to a shockingly high percentage of the best spas in Latin America as a whole (a Spanish speaking conglomeration that, in addition to Mexico, makes up most of Central and South America). Forty percent, to be exact, according to Travel + Leisure’s latest spa rankings. Esperanza tops the list, as per usual. The award-winning Spa at Esperanza features an expansive facility, with dedicated wellness spaces that run the gamut from candlelit private treatment rooms to hot and cold plunge pools, steam caves and relaxing waterfalls, as well as a full range of gym and fitness areas. Romantic couple’s treatments are also a specialty at Esperanza, as they are at One&Only Spa at One&Only Palmilla, The Spa at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, and the Armonia Spa at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Holistic Retreat & Spa.

The Best of Baja's Attractions

The world’s richest fishing tournament, Bisbee’s Black & Blue, is held annually in Cabo San Lucas. Photo courtesy of Bisbee’s.

Water Sports

Much of Baja’s tourist industry was built on big-game sportfishing, and fishing tournaments remain a consistently popular draw around the peninsula, from Pesca La Baja, the World Series of Baja California fishing, to Bisbee’s annual trio of tournaments in Baja California Sur. Of these, Bisbee’s Black & Blue is undoubtedly the most famous. Billed as “the World’s Richest Fishing Tournament”–the 2006 payout of $4.165 million dollars remains the highest in sportfishing history–the Black and Blue has been a Cabo San Lucas tradition since 1981, with visiting anglers battling for the biggest blue, black and striped marlin, as well as sailfish, spearfish, tuna and dorado.

Although fishing remains king, Baja California as a whole offers world-class conditions for a host of water sports. Each Winter, for example, powerful El Norte winds blow down the Sea of Cortez, turning small East Cape communities like Los Barriles into windsports meccas. Last year, the Los Barriles based kiteboarding competition, Lord of the Wind Showdown, was officially named as the IKA North American Kitefoil Championship. The aspiring Lords and Ladies gather each January, grabbing big air in 15 to 30 mph winds, while also enjoying reggae on the beach, tamales cook-offs, and other affiliated fiestas.

Surfing may be the only sport capable of challenging fishing’s primacy. SoCal boarders have been heading south of the border for decades to enjoy world-class breaks at dozens of sites around the peninsula; two of the most famous now host WSL (World Surf League) events.

The Los Cabos Open is held each June at the famed Zippers break off Playa Costa Azul in San Jose del Cabo. The LCO started as a 6-star men’s event in 2013, but over the last three years has evolved into a QS6000 series event for women and junior men and women. Bronte Macaulay outlasted Dominic Barona in a thrilling battle this year, as Australian women continue to dominate in Los Cabos.

The Big Wave Tour’s Todos Santos Challenge, meanwhile, is one of the most intense surf competitions on the planet. Killers, the break off Todos Santos Island–approximately 12 miles from Ensenada–serves up massive waves: sometimes in excess of 50 feet.  Australian Josh Kerr took top honors in January 2016, earning nearly $19,000 of the $75,000 purse in challenging circumstances. The next event will take place between October 2016 and February 2017, depending upon peak wave conditions.

 


Baja.com
 is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: October Events in Baja

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: October Events in Baja

October kicks off high tourist season for most of the peninsula, and as such is always one of the busiest months for big events. That’s certainly true in Cabo San Lucas, which not only hosts a triathlon and three big money fishing tournaments – the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament, Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore, and the granddaddy of them all, Bisbee’s Black & Blue – but also showcases star power and great live music thanks to Sammy Hagar’s guest-laden Birthday Bashes at Cabo Wabo Cantina.

Traditional Mexican music lovers, meanwhile, will want to attend the highly-anticipated Mariachi and Folklorico Festival at the Rosarito Beach Hotel; while tequila aficionados can look forward to Tijuana’s annual celebration of Mexico’s national spirit.

There are hundreds of local events that can be found on Baja.com. The following represent some of our favorite selections.

Event dates and details are subject to sudden change and cancellation. Please confirm with the event organizers before booking your trip.

 

October Events in Baja

Cabo San LucasSammy Hagar’s Annual Cabo Birthday Bash

When:  Oct. 7, 9, 11, 13

Every year, loyal “Redheads” from around the world flock to Cabo San Lucas for Sammy Hagar’s Birthday Bashes at Cabo Wabo Cantina. This year an all-star cast of visiting musicians – including Michal Anthony, Jason Bonham, and Vic Johnson – join the former Van Halen and Montrose frontman for dinner shows and concerts.

Cost:  $110

 

October Events in Baja

Cabo San Lucas:  Los Cabos Billfish Tournament

When:  Oct. 11 – 15

The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament returns, with visiting anglers looking to reel in the biggest blue, black, and striped marlin, or tuna, dorado, and wahoo. The gala kickoff party and concluding awards banquet will be held at Playa Grande, with boats eligible to leave from either the Cabo San Lucas Marina or Puerto Los Cabos.

Cost:  $5000 per team

 

 

 

 

 

October Events in Baja

Rosarito Beach7th Annual International Mariachi and Folklorico Festival

When:  Oct. 12 – 15

Numerous events comprise this four-day festival, including street performances, workshops, competitions and an Extravaganza Concert on the evening of Oct. 15 featuring Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan, chosen as Guadalajara’s Best; the two-time Grammy-Award winning Mariachi Divas; the multiple award winner of The Mariachi National’s Best Open Category, Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista; the Latin Grammy Award nominee, Trio Ellas; and the current winner of The Mariachi National’s Best Solo Vocalist Award, Angel Ng.

Cost:  $20 – $80

 

 

 

 

October Events in Baja

Tijuana16th Annual Tequila Expo

When:  Oct. 12 – 16

Now an annual tradition in Tijuana, this five day expo celebrates the culture of tequila, with live music and dancing, and of course frequent tastings and samplers from over 100 brands of Mexico’s national beverage.

Cost:  $6

 

 

 

 

 

 

October Events in Baja

Cabo San LucasBisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Charity Fishing Tournament

When:  Oct. 14 – 16

Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore dates back to 2002, and is considered a more laid-back, charity focused event than the multi-million dollar Black & Blue tournament that follows it each October in Cabo San Lucas. That’s the reason the latter is commonly referred to as “Big Bisbee’s,” the former as “Little Bisbee’s.”Cash prizes are awarded to the teams with the three biggest qualifying fish in the game and billfish categories, and large amounts of money are always donated to local causes.

Cost:  $1500 per team

 

 

October Events in Baja

Cabo San LucasBisbee’s Black and Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament

When:  Oct. 18 – 22

Million dollar payouts are the norm at the World’s Richest Fishing Tournament”, held annually in Cabo San Lucas since 1981. The 2006 payout of $4,165,960 is the largest in sportfishing history.

Cost:  $5000 per team

 

 

 

 

 

October Events in Baja

San Jose del CaboIronman Los Cabos Triathlon and Half-Triathlon

When:  Oct. 30

IRONMAN Los Cabos requires 2.4 miles of swimming off Playa Palmilla, a 112 mile bike ride back and forth along the coastal corridor, followed by a full marathon length 26.2  mile run that concludes in front of City Hall in San Jose del Cabo. Participants will be vying for cash, prizes, and qualifying age group slots for the 2016 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Registration is limited to 1000 participants for the triathlon, and 1000 for the half-triathlon.

Cost:  $650 – 750

 


Baja.com
 is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

10 Legendary Baja Shipwrecks

The Baja California peninsula has, since the very beginnings of its human history, been a maritime culture; and thus subject to maritime disasters.

Barks and canoes of native fishermen were sometimes blown out to sea. Spanish galleons plying the lucrative Manila–Acapulco trade route were attacked by pirates as they attempted to take on fresh water in what is now San José del Cabo. Sailboats perished in the seasonal storms that wracked the Sea of Cortés, steamships ran aground near outlying Pacific islands. Warships were cannonaded, whaling brigs and sea otter hunters foundered, fishing trawlers were broken upon rocky shores. A few ships were even sunk voluntarily to drive dive-related tourism.

These ships and their often ill-fated crews are as much a part of the history of the Baja California peninsula as the indigenous peoples, missionaries, ranchers and developers who helped tame a rough and rugged land.

Here are 10 of the most legendary shipwrecks.

10 Legendary Baja Shipwrecks

In 1587, two ships under young English privateer named Thomas Cavendish attacked and looted the treasure laden Spanish galleon Santa Ana off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. It was the worst loss suffered by the Spanish during the 250 year history of the Manila–Acapulco Galleon Trade, and the genesis for centuries of buried treasure rumors.

San Felipe – 1576, Secret Location

In 1565, two Spanish navigators, Alonso de Arellano and Andrés de Urdaneta, made a propitious discovery: in order to catch the necessary “westerlies” to travel from Manila to Acapulco, boats were obliged to sail north as far as Japan before crossing the Pacific to California. The resulting two and a half century galleon trade filled Spain’s colonial coffers, as each year Mexican silver was sent to Manila to purchase Chinese silks, porcelain and other Asian luxury goods. One of the earliest of these galleons to come to grief was the San Felipe, whose scurvy tormented crew–the galleons carried little food and the only potable water was rain saved in barrels–drove her aground somewhere between Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas in late 1576 or early 1577, spilling her riches onto the sand. The actual location, described only as a desolate and remote stretch of coastline, has long been a closely held secret. Beachcombers discovered pieces of Ming Dynasty porcelain in the 1970s, and other precious treasures have since been salvaged by the INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia) in cooperation with San Francisco based nautical historian Edward Von der Porten.

Santa Ana – 1587, Cabo San Lucas

The immensely lucrative Manila–Acapulco Galleon Trade proved irresistible to English and Dutch pirates, who would often use the Land’s End headland in Cabo San Lucas as cover, lying in wait for the treasure laden ships as they rounded the cape to take on fresh water in San José del Cabo. Privateers led by 27-year-old English sea captain named Thomas Cavendish famously sacked the Santa Ana on November 4, 1587, after a six-hour sea battle between the galleon and Cavendish’s smaller, more maneuverable ships, Desire and Content. The English freebooters took a fortune off the Santa Ana before offloading her crew on what is now Médano Beach and setting her ablaze. Amazingly, Spanish crew led by Manila trader and future California explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno were subsequently able to make Santa Ana seaworthy again, and sail her to the Mexican mainland. Cavendish and Desire regained England with their riches. Content was lost at sea, giving rise to innumerable rumors of buried treasure along the coastline of present day Baja California Sur.

El Triunfo de la Cruz – 1737, Isla San José

Plagued for years by the difficulty of getting supplies from the mainland, Jesuit missionary Juan de Ugarte decided in 1719 to build a ship, the first ever constructed on the Baja California peninsula. Assisted by an English shipwright named William Strafford and Cochimí Indians, Ugarte used native güéribo trees for timber, hauling the wood down from the mountains to Mulegé, where El Triunfo de la Cruz (The Triumph of the Cross) was launched on September 14, 1720. This ship–estimated to have been some 50 feet in length–did dutiful service for well over a decade, making over 70 trips to the mainland. She was lost off the coast of Baja California Sur in 1737 after transporting Yaqui reinforcements to Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Apaté, a mission that acted as a military headquarters during the Rebellion of the Pericúes. Fittingly, El Triunfo de la Cruz rests forever beneath the sea she crossed so many times.

10 Legendary Baja Shipwrecks

The USS H–1 (or SS-28 or Seawolf) was a U.S. submarine that ran aground on a shoal off Isla Santa Margarita in 1920, near Magdalena Bay. The captain of the vessel and three crew members drowned while trying to swim for shore. Remains were rediscovered by divers in 1992.

Independence – 1853, Isla Santa Margarita

Bound from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua to San Francisco, the sidewheel steamship Independence was within 300 yards of shore when she struck a rock on February 16, 1853, and immediately began taking on water. When attempts to free her failed, the ship quickly sank near Punta Tosca, at the southern tip of Isla Santa Margarita. An article in the April 2nd edition of the San Francisco newspaper Daily Alta California reported that “Females could be seen clambering down the sides of the ship, clinging with deathlike tenacity to the ropes, rigging and larboard wheel. Some were hanging by their skirts, which unfortunately, in their efforts to jump overboard, were caught, and thus swung, crying piteously and horridly, until the flames relieved them from their awful position by disengaging their clothes, causing them to drop and sink in the briny deep.” Tragically, 132 of the 415 passengers and crew drowned or were burned to death when the boilers caught fire. The survivors justifiably accused Capt. Sampson of gross incompetence. The captain, for his part, maintained that he mistook the rocks for whales. It was one of the worst disasters in the history of Pacific steamship trade, and sadly not the last nautical mishap in the Magdalena Bay region. Another steamer, Golden City, went aground on neighboring Isla Magdalena in 1870.

SS Sacramento – 1872, Isla San Gerónimo

The California Gold Rush was a lasting boon to the Pacific sea trade, as men from all corners of the world shipped out to California, and gold was carried around “the Horn” to Eastern ports. The wooden sidewheeler Sacramento was late to the party; built in New York in 1864, then pressed into service for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. And she was headed to, not from San Francisco when she and her cargo of $1,500,000 in gold coin struck a reef off Isla San Gerónimo–due south of Punta Baja–on December 5, 1872. A later investigation showed the island was eight miles away from her position on the chart, and the reef wasn’t plotted at all. Captain E.L Farnsworth, however, never made any excuses…nor did he take any. Second Officer Herrington, who was on duty when she went aground, was immediately dispatched with six sailors in a small boat, ordered to San Diego–approximately 190 miles away–for salvage assistance.  Passengers and crew were ultimately saved, as was the gold, but the ship was destroyed over the course of several years as waves pounded her into putty on the rocks. Reportedly, a lonely watch was left aboard for a long time after the rescue operation. The man assigned? Second Officer Herrington.

USS H-1 Submarine – 1920, Isla Santa Margarita

Commissioned in 1913, USS H–1 (also known as SS–28, or the Seawolf) was en route from the Panama Canal to San Pedro when she submerged for the final time on March 12, 1920. To this day, no one really knows whether the submarine was grounded intentionally, rammed into a shoal near Punta Redonda. Well, no one outside of the U.S. Navy, and they’re still not telling. Edward W Vernon, in his A Maritime History of Baja California, conjectures that the captain purposely grounded her off Isla Santa Margarita to save his crew from chlorine gas, which was leaking from the batteries. Whatever the cause of her demise, the captain–Lt. Commander James R. Webb–was unable to save himself. He and three of his crew drowned while trying to swim to shore. The U.S. Navy tried but failed to salvage the Seawolf, pulling her off the shoal but losing her in 50 feet of water. Wreckage was rediscovered by divers in 1992.

10 Legendary Baja Shipwrecks

On February 8, 1954, a cargo ship under Panamanian registry carrying gypsum plaster from Isla San Marcos met her doom at Land’s End. The remains of the SS Harry Lundeberg live on as an artificial reef and premier Los Cabos dive site. The ship was buried for many years, but uncovered anew by Hurricane Odile in 2014. (Photo courtesy of the Museo de Historia Natural de Cabo San Lucas)

SS Harry Lundeberg – 1954, Cabo San Lucas

On the 8th day of February, in the year 1954, the SS Harry Lundeberg went to a watery grave at Los Frailes, the rocky sentinels that mark the terminus of the half-mile Land’s End headland. Although built in Vancouver in 1943, the cargo ship was under Panamanian registry, and was transporting a load of gypsum plaster from Isla San Marcos, just off the coast of Santa Rosalía. Local legend has it that the Lundeberg’s first mate, despondent over large gambling losses during the voyage, knowingly steered the ship to her doom. The wreckage was buried for many years, but was partially uncovered in 2014, when the Category–4 Hurricane Odile brought her forward half to the surface. Since then, the wreckage has become an artificial reef, and one of the premier Cabo San Lucas dive sites.

Inari Maru – 1965, Playa Barco Varado

The first recorded visit by Japanese to the Capes Region was in 1842, when sailors from a Japanese coastal vessel that had blown out to sea were rescued and put ashore in Cabo San Lucas, then home to approximately 30 to 40 residents. In the early 20th century, the Mexican government sought to increase its revenue streams by granting commercial fishing concessions to select Japanese corporations. Several of these Japanese fishing vessels were ultimately run aground, most notably the Inari Maru, a longliner that foundered on rocks in 1965, six miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas. Waves have since washed the wreckage clean, but the mishap remains entrenched in collective memory thanks to the beach’s subsequent moniker: Playa Barco Varado, or Shipwreck Beach. The place where the crew went ashore is now the grounds of a luxurious resort called Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos Golf & Spa.

Fang Ming – 1999, Isla Espíritu Santo

On April 18, 1995, the Mexican Navy intercepted a Chinese ship called the Fang Ming, which was illegally transporting 157 immigrants to the U.S. Two years later, another Chinese ship carrying 79 undeclared passengers met a similar fate. The unfortunate immigrants were deported back to their country of origin, but the ships were seized and held at Puerto San Carlos, a fishing port on the coast of Magdalena Bay. There local conservationists hatched a plan to turn them into the first ever intentional artificial reefs off the Baja California peninsula; which, after the two vessels were cleansed of fuel and other pollutants, was accomplished near Baja California Sur’s capital city of La Paz in 1999. The 185’ Fang Ming was sunk in 70 feet of water off the west side of Isla Espíritu Santo, and now hosts thriving colonies of fish, mollusks and sea turtles. The smaller ship, recorded only as NO3, was sunk soon after off Isla Ballena.

ARM Uribe – 2015, Rosarito Beach

The Mexican Navy vessel Uribe was retired following a crippling fire in 2011, and has since been reborn as an artificial reef in Bahía El Descanso–two miles off the coast of the famed lobster village of Puerto Nuevo–where it is the centerpiece of the newly dedicated Parque Submarino Rosarito (Rosarito Underwater Park). In addition to Uribe, the aquatic wonderland also features submerged pyramids and statues that evoke Mexico’s Pre-Hispanic past, and a Titanic tribute with chimneys, propellers and other pieces of wreckage. ARM (Armada de la República Mexicana) P121 was originally launched in 1982, and was the first of six Spanish built Uribe Class patrol vessels, which were the first ships in the Mexican Navy to operate onboard helicopters. P121 was named for Virgilio Uribe, a young Naval Cadet who died fighting U.S. Marines during the Battle of Veracruz in 1914.

 


Baja.com
 is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.