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About Chris Sands

Chris Sands is the author of Bohemia by the Bay, and writes about wine, golf, and travel for publications such as Baja.com, Los Cabos Guide, Los Cabos Magazine, 10 Best, and USA Today. He is a full-time resident of Cabo San Lucas.

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.

 

 

10 Plant and Animal Species Only Found in 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.

10 Plants and Animals Found Only in Baja

A recognized subspecies of the white-tailed antelope squirrel (pictured above) found in Baja California and the southwestern United States, Ammospermophilus insularis can only be found on Isla Espiritu Santo near Baja Sur’s capital city of La Paz.

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.

Creeping Devil (Stenocereus eruca)

This creepy member of the Cactaceae family is certainly distinctive, not only for its caterpillar like appearance, but its ability to move. Large colonies of the columnar succulents can be found on the central Pacific coast of Baja California Sur, where they invariably seem engaged in some sort of slow-speed migration. The cacti grow at one end while the other end dies, and during the course of this ongoing process travel up to two feet a year on average. As if that weren’t weird enough, Creeping Devils are also able to clone themselves.

Belding’s Yellowthroat (Geothlypis beldingi)

Although habitat loss is an ongoing problem, the estuary and bird sanctuary in San Jose del Cabo remains one of the best places to see this yellow throated warbler named for California naturalist Lyman Belding. It is easily identifiable by its song – deeper and louder than that of the common yellowthroat – as well as its coloring. Males of this species endemic to the Capes Region differ from females by having a black mask across their face. Females have an olive rather than yellow crown.

Black Jackrabbit of Espiritu Santo (Lepus insularis)

Yes, its conservation status is listed as “near threatened,” but that’s largely because of the limited range of this intriguing species. The black jackrabbit lives only on one island, Espiritu Santo north of La Paz, an uninhabited, protected biosphere reserve with a thriving habitat that also includes an endemic antelope squirrel. The black jackrabbit has few if any natural predators, and visitors to the island can occasionally glimpse these famous residents hopping amid native grasses and shrubs.

10 Plants and Animals Found Only in Baja

Named for Janos Xantus, a Hungarian naturalist who spent several years in Cabo San Lucas during the latter half of the 19th century collecting specimens for the Smithsonian Institution, this small colorful hummingbird remains a perennially popular target for birdwatchers in Baja California Sur. Image courtesy of Marlin Harms.

Isla Santa Catalina Rattlesnake (Crotalus catalinensis)

Several varieties of rattlesnake live in Baja, but only one lacks the characteristic feature from which the name is derived:  the so-called rattleless rattlesnake of Santa Catalina Island. Actually there are vestigial bands, just not enough for the telltale sound which warns of its presence. It was once thought that this species evolved in order to silently hunt birds, but it is currently thought to be a specific adaptation to a lack of traditional predators. Its diet is now primarily mouse and lizard based, and probably always was. A positive note for visitors to the Islands of Loreto is that this venomous pit viper is small – about two feet in length – and rarely hides. It can usually be found in arroyos on the western side of the island, occasionally climbing onto low-lying bush branches during the hot summer months.

Baja Blue Rock Lizard (Petrosaurus thalassinus)

There are two subspecies of this beautiful blue iguana: one that lives in the mountain ranges – Sierra de la Laguna and Sierra La Trinidad – in the southernmost part of the Baja California peninsula; and another that inhabits offshore islands near La Paz like Espiritu Santo and Partida. Adults reach nearly a foot and a half in length, and feed on insects, leaves, seeds and smaller lizards. Males become even more colorful during the breeding season, which takes place during spring. Life expectancy is about 20 years.

10Plants and Animals Found Only in Baja

Watch your step on Isla Santa Catalina. A unique local rattlesnake, Crotalus catalinensis, has evolved sans threatening rattle.

Isla Magdalena Spiny Cactus (Echinocereus barthelowanus)

Perhaps best known as a Gray Whale breeding ground, Magdalena Bay is also one of the most phenomenal fishing spots on the planet. Two offshore islands protecting this natural paradise, Magdalena and Margarita, are also home to some of the world’s most interesting species of cactus, several of which are endemic. Echinocereus barthelowanus is among the least known, and looks somewhat like a star cluster shooting off a thousand rays of light. The spines are long, voluminous, piercing and wisely avoided at all times.

Espiritu Santo Antelope Squirrel (Ammospermophilus insularis)

No, this rodent doesn’t have antlers. It’s an adorable subspecies of the common white-tailed antelope squirrel found only on Isla Espiritu Santo. Small, diurnal and prone to burrowing – burrows provide both a home and protection against extreme temperatures – Ammospermophilus insularis varies his diet according to the seasons, largely subsisting on plants, seeds, fruits, insects and small lizards. The squirrels breed during the spring, with a month-long gestation period typically producing litters of 5 to 14 babies.

10 Plants and Animals Found Only in Baja

Dubbed Stenocereus eruca, the latter name in honor of the caterpillar it resembles, this creeping cactus found on Baja California’s central Pacific Coast is capable of “traveling” about two feet per year. Image courtesy of Pamla J. Eisenberg.

Baja Elephant Tree (Pachycormus discolor)

This gray-barked tree with branches as thick as elephant trunks is most commonly found in the central Sierra de la Giganta, although subspecies can be found on Pacific Coast islands like Cedros, Magdalena and Margarita. It matures up to 30 feet in height – impressive when not contrasted with a towering 60’ Cardon cactus – grows seasonal clusters of small leaves, and blooms brilliant pink flowers from late spring until early autumn. It should not be confused with Bursera microphylla, a native but not endemic Baja “Elephant Tree.”

Xantus’s Hummingbird (Basilinna xantusii)

This small 3 to 4 gram hummingbird is an extraordinarily prized sighting for visiting birdwatchers. Named for a Hungarian naturalist named Janos Xantus who spent several years during the latter half of the 19th century recording tide levels and collecting specimens near Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, Basilinna xantusii is endemic to Baja California Sur, but has been known to wander as far north as British Columbia. It feeds on flower nectar and is most commonly seen around breeding habitats in the Capes Region, and on the islands of Cerralvo and San Jose. Genders may be differentiated by throat color:  iridescent green for males, cinnamon for females.

Isla San Marcos Barefoot Gecko (Coleonyx switaki gypsicolus)

Banded geckos are common to much of the southwestern U.S., Mexico and parts of Central America. One fantastically colored subspecies, however, lives only on a 5.6 mile long island off the Baja Sur coast near Santa Rosalia. That would be the rare Barefoot Gecko of Isla San Marcos, a tiny 3 to 4 inch lizard that feasts on spiders and insects. They feed at night and typically remain hidden during the day, seeking cover under rocks or in deep crevices. They often emit a squeak when threatened, and can distract predators by “dropping” their tail, which subsequently grows back.

 


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: September Events in Baja

September is the height of the slow season for most of the Baja California peninsula, but visitors will still find plenty of regional events worth attending, including popular annual festivals that showcase food, comedy, culture and sports.

The autumn edition of the Rosarito to Ensenada 50 Mile Fun Bicycle Ride is perhaps the season’s signature event, although the Cabo Comedy Festival is also highly anticipated, and brings many big-name entertainters to Land’s End nightclubs; and of course celebrations of Mexican Independence Day will take place September 16 in towns and cities throughout the peninsula.

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.

 

September Events in Baja

Rosarito:  SCORE Rosarito Beach Desert Challenge

When:  September 14 – 18

The third of four annual  SCORE sponsored off-road racing events on the Baja California peninsula – following the San Felipe 250 and the Baja 500, and two months prior to the granddaddy of them all, the legendary Baja 1000 – the SCORE Desert Challenge moves this year to Rosarito Beach for the first time ever. Competitors across multiple car, truck, ATV and motorcycle classes will throttle up for a rugged multi-lap loop race.

Cost:  $645 – 1090

 

September Events in Baja

Mexican Independence Day

When:  September 16

México’s Independence Day is honored annually on September 16th, but reenactments and parades in remembrance of Miguel Hidalgo’s 1810 Grito de Dolores—a call for revolution that culminated 11 years later with México’s independence from Spain—are celebrated on both the 15th and 16th, and numerous other patriotic celebrations, or las fiestas patrias, take place throughout the month.

Visitors interested in viewing traditional Independence Day observances will find a similar schedule of events in towns and cities around the peninsula, from Tijuana to Los Cabos: a gritoreenactment by public officials at 11 p.m. on September 15th,  highlighted  by Hidalgo’s famous rallying cry—which ends with ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!—followed by community celebrations featuring food, drinks, live music and festive firework celebrations. Parades typically take place the next morning, on Independence Day itself.

Cost:  Free admission

 

September Events in Baja

Cabo San LucasCabo Comedy Festival

When:  September 21 – 25

“Where the Land Ends and the Fun Begins” is the slogan of the Cabo Comedy Festival, a five-day event that will feature some of the most talented comedians in the entertainment industry. Shows will be performed in English and Spanish, and will take place at several nightclub venues around Cabo San Lucas.

Cost:  $40 – 100

 

 

 

 

September Events in Baja

Ensenada:  Pesca la Baja

When:  September 23 – 24

The World Series of Baja fishing, with anglers competing over the course of many months for select surface and bottom fish at locations around the peninsula, from San Felipe and San Quintin to Bahia de los Angeles and San Luis Gonzaga. The grand finale takes place in the waters off Ensenada, with qualifiers from previous tournaments fighting to take the home the grand prize – 35,000 pesos plus a 23’ sportfishing boat. Additional prizes are also offered, with special rewards for children.

Cost:  $12 – 33

 

September Events in Baja

EnsenadaRosarito to Ensenada Fun Ride

When:  September 24

Dubbed “The Original Party on Wheels,” the 50 mile fun ride dates back to 1979, when a group of friends pedaled from Rosarito to Ensenada. Now a biannual event, the scenic rides are among the highlights of the regional social calendar, and conclude with a Finish Line Fiesta featuring food, drinks, souvenirs, live music, and massages for participants.

Cost:  $42 – 48

 

 

 

 


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: August Events in Baja

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: August Events in Baja

Don’t let the dog days get you down. The month of August brings some of Baja’s biggest events, most notably the Fiestas de la Vendimia, or harvest festival, in Baja California’s wine country. This annual viticultural celebration features wine tastings, dinners and concerts centered around Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe. Rosarito Beach hosts two other signature August bashes: The Baja Blues Fest, an outdoor showcase highlighted by live performances from some of the biggest names on the contemporary blues scene; and Sabor a Baja, a food-friendly competition featuring some of the peninsula’s most celebrated chefs. And the East Cape Offshore, one of three annual fishing tournaments held by Bisbee’s, brings big-game anglers to Baja California Sur in search of prize winning black and blue marlin and other deep-sea denizens.

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.

 

August Events in Baja

East CapeBisbee’s East Cape Offshore

When:  Aug. 2 – 6

Bisbee’s kicks off its 2016 tournament season with the East Cape Offshore, the first of its three annual fishing tournaments held in Baja California Sur (the others are the Los Cabos Offshore and Black and Blue in Cabo San Lucas; both take place in October, with the latter heralded as the world’s richest fishing tournament). This year’s East Cape Offshore, as always, features cash prizes awarded to the top three qualifying teams in the billfish (black or blue marlin), tuna and dorado categories. The awards celebration will be held Aug. 6 from 7 – 9:30 p.m. on the beach in front of the Hotel Buena Vista.

Cost:  $1500 base entry per team

 

August Events in Baja

RosaritoAntonio Margarito vs. Ramon Alvarez Boxing Match

When:  Aug. 13

Big-time boxing comes to Rosarito as former welterweight champion Antonio “El Tornado de Tijuana” Margarito fights current IBF light middleweight champion Ramon “Inocente” Alvarez. Taglined “This is Going to Be a War,” the 10 round match-up will take place at the Baja Convention Center in Rosarito.

Cost:  $17 – 100

 

August Events in Baja

Cabo San LucasATP 250 Los Cabos Open Tennis Tournament

When:  Aug. 8 – 13

The first ever ATP tennis tournament in Los Cabos boasts 19 of the world’s top 75 ranked players plus over $780,000 in prize money, the latter the most of any 250 series event in the Americas. The men’s professional tournament will be held on hard courts at the Delmar International School, with a stadium capacity for crowds of up to 3,500 people. Players and officials will be hosted at Sheraton’s Hacienda del Mar.

Cost:  $20 – 420

 

August Events in Baja

EnsenadaFiestas de la Vendimia

When:  Aug. 5 – 21

The Fiestas de la Vendimia are a series of annual events celebrating the grape harvest in Baja California’s wine country, Valle de Guadalupe, near Ensenada. This year marks the 26th anniversary of the festival, which showcases banquets, concerts and tastings in Ensenada, Tijuana, and along the Ruta del Vino. The fiestas are organized by Provino, a committee dedicated to promoting the region’s wines, and will once again conclude with the highly anticipated Concurso de Paellas at Viñas de Liceaga.

Cost:  Approximately $40 per event

 

 

August Events in Baja

Rosarito5th Annual Baja Blues Fest

When:  Aug. 19 – 21

A seaside music festival that promotes blues music while helping needy kids and audiences lose their blues will celebrate its fifth year this August at the Rosarito Beach Hotel & Resort. Numerous world-class blues artists from both sides of the border will perform at the three-day festival, including Coco Montoya, John Nemeth and the Backwater Blues Band.

Cost:  $10 – 45

 

 

August Events in Baja

Rosarito4th Annual Sabor a Baja

When:  Aug. 31

Twenty of Baja’s best chefs will pair their delicious fare with the region’s best beverages in the oceanfront gardens of the Rosarito Beach Hotel & Resort. The fourth annual edition of the all-white-attire event pairs delectable dishes with fine wines and craft beers. It is organized by Chef Bo Bendana of Rosarito’s Mi Casa Supper Club with the intentiom of promoting gastronomy based tourism between the U.S. and Baja.

Cost:  $70 – 85

 

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.

 

 

The Top 10 Pro Sports in Baja

A Guide to Major Competitions Around the Peninsula

Thirty or forty years ago, professional competitions in Baja were largely limited to fringe sports like fishing and off-road racing. There was the SCORE Baja 1000, Bisbee’s Black and Blue marlin fishing tournament, and that was about it.

Times have changed, however. Over the past decade, the world’s most popular sport, soccer, has established a major foothold in Tijuana; and residents and visitors in areas across the peninsula have regularly been treated to world-class games, matches and contests in competitive disciplines as diverse as baseball, boxing, cycling, golf, kiteboarding, mixed martial arts, running, surfing and tennis.

This August alone sees boxing champions going toe to toe in Rosarito, an ATP tennis tournament in Cabo San Lucas, and a major fishing competition on Baja California Sur’s beautiful East Cape. And there’s more, much more, looming on the horizon.

With that in mind, here’s a guide to some of the major professional sporting events now being held on the Baja California peninsula.

Baseball

Baseball might not be woven into the national fabric in Mexico in quite the same way it is in the U.S., but the sport has a proud history and some rabid fans, particularly for tradition rich teams like the Tomateros de Culiacan and the Naranjeros de Hermosillo (named for the tomato and orange growers of their respective mainland areas). Those two teams are the powerhouses of the Mexican Pacific League, which runs each year from October through January. Baja is represented in the league by the Aguilas de Mexicali, and the fighting “Eagles” have had their own moments of glory: three league championships and a Caribbean Series championship in 1986. And, since the U.S. and Mexican league seasons run at different times of year, visitors to El Nido (or The Nest), as Mexicali’s nearly 20,000 seat stadium is known, are often able to watch current or future MLB stars: Mike Piazza, John Kruk and Fernando Valenzuela, for example, all played for Mexicali in years past.

For more information, click here.

Top 10 Pro Sports in Baja

Fighting

Baja has always been a hotbed for boxing talent, but rarely has the peninsula hosted the sort of high-profile headline event so common to Las Vegas. That all changes on August 13, when former welterweight champion Antonio “El Tornado de Tijuana” Margarito and current IBF light middleweight champion Ramon “Inocente” Alvarez – older brother of Canelo Alvarez – square off for a 10 round “war” at the convention center in Rosarito (for ticket information, click here).

Mixed martial arts events have been even less common, and with substantially less star power. But that situation is also starting to change thanks to WTC (Welcome to the Cage), an organization founded and headed by Mario Martinez, who also owns Malosos MMA club in La Paz. Baja California Sur’s capital city was the site for the first two WTC events. The third was held earlier this month at outdoor theater of the Pabellon Cultural de la Republica in Cabo San Lucas, with 20 fighters from Baja and beyond battling it out against a Land’s End backdrop. WTC expects to host another event in Los Cabos on Saturday, December 3. Stay tuned for more info.

Top 10 Pro Sports in Baja

Fishing

It should come as no surprise, since fishing drove so much of the early tourism to Baja California, that big-game bill and game fishing tournaments are among the peninsula’s most popular sporting events. These tournaments are significant yearly events in many coastal communities, but Bisbee’s annual tournament in Cabo San Lucas has been the gold standard since 1981.

Billed as the “World’s Richest Fishing Tournament,” Bisbee’s Black and Blue billfishing tournament is legendary for its enormous payouts. The $4.165 million awarded in 2006 is still the largest cash payout in sportfishing history. Today, teams often pay more than 70,000 across the board (including daily jackpots) to compete for the biggest blue, black and striped marlin, as well as sailfish, spearfish, tuna and dorado.

Over the years Bisbee’s has added two more tournaments in Baja  California Sur: the East Cape Offshore, based in Buenavista on the state’s beautiful East Cape, premiered in 2000; and the Los Cabos Offshore, better known among fishermen as “Little Bisbee’s,” has been a staple since 2002.

This year’s Black and Blue is scheduled for October 18 – 22. To register or to find out more, click here.

Golf

Los Cabos is one of the most remarkable golfing regions on earth. Three of its 14 currently operating courses – Querencia, The Dunes at Diamante, and the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol – are ranked among the 100 best in the world by Golf Digest. But unlike Scotland or Northern California, for example, where world-class loops can be found in close proximity, Los Cabos has virtually no history and little tradition. The first course in the area wasn’t built until 1987, and that was the nine hole municipal course in San Jose del Cabo.

Jack Nicklaus kick-started the Cabo golf boom in the early 1990s with gorgeous seaside layouts at Palmilla, El Dorado and Cabo del Sol. But it was a Senior Slam event at Cabo Real in 1996 that put Los Cabos on the international map, when humpback whales were caught by television cameras breaching spectacularly near seaside greens. Since then major champions Greg Norman, Tom Weiskopf and Davis Love III have joined Nicklaus with prestigious area loops, and new layouts are expected soon from Norman, Woods and Fred Couples.

Professional tournaments appeared with some regularity during the 90s boom – including two Senior Slams, three Taylor Made Pro-Ams, and three Las Americas Tournaments – but in recent years the biggest draw has been the Los Cabos Pro-Am, the 9th edition of which is scheduled for January 16 – 20, 2017 at Cabo del Sol’s Ocean and Desert Courses.

For more information, click here.

Kiteboarding

During the winter months, when powerful El Norte winds blow down the Sea of Cortez, small, strategically situated Baja California Sur coastal communities like La Ventana and Los Barriles become capitals of the kiteboarding universe. The latter has been hosting the peninsula’s premier windsports competition, Lord of the Wind Showdown, each January since 2010. The event took an enormous leap forward this year when it was named the North American Kitefoil Championship, and televised on 20 networks in nearly 100 countries. Contestants compete in categories like slalom and big-air, with the winner walking away with thousands of dollars worth of prize money. Affiliated fiestas like reggae concerts and tamales cook-offs are also an annual tradition.

To find out more, click here.

Top 10 Pro Sports in Baja

Off-Road Racing

Baja is more associated with off-road racing than any single region on earth. The sport’s signature event, the legendarily rugged Baja 1000, has drawn both professional drivers as well as celebrated amateurs seeking to test themselves in motorcycles, cars, trucks, ATVs and UTVs over nearly 1000 miles of shock-busting desert terrain. Indy and Daytona 500 winners have competed over the years, as have movie stars like Paul Newman, James Garner and Steve McQueen.

From its inception in 1967 to 1972, the Baja 1000 was run under the NORRA (National Off-Road Racing Association) banner. But after concerns about participation during the OPEC oil crisis in 1973, the race was reorganized under the aegis of SCORE (Southern California Off-Road Enterprises), and has remained under its stewardship ever since. The nearly 1000 mile race is now the climactic event of SCORE’s annual four race series on the peninsula, following the Desert Challenge, the San Felipe 250 and the Baja 500. This year’s Baja 1000 is scheduled for November 16 – 20, and will be a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada.

For more information, click here.

Top 10 Pro Sports in Baja

Running and Cycling

Running and cycling have long histories in Baja, most notably for the latter in “The Original Party on Wheels,” AKA the twice yearly Rosarito to Ensenada 50 Mile Fun Bicycle Ride. The recent introduction of the Ironman Los Cabos has kicked things up a notch, however, both in terms of commitment and prize money. Hardy participants in this October based event must swim 2.4 miles off Palmilla Beach, bike 112 miles, and finish with a grueling marathon length 26.2 mile run that culminates in front of the historic city hall in San Jose del Cabo. Not only is prize money on the line, but also 40 qualifying slots in the annual Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

To register, click here.

For dedicated runners, meanwhile, the annual Tijuana International Marathon is the peninsular gold standard. It’s held each summer, with the 2016 edition scheduled to take place tomorrow.

For more information about that race, click here.

Top 10 Pro Sports in Baja

Soccer

Soccer is the Mexico’s, and the world’s, most popular sport, and the country’s top league, Liga MX, is considered the strongest in North America. Tijuana’s beloved home team, Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente or more simply Xolos, was promoted to Liga MX in 2011, and shocked the nation by winning the Apertura title in 2012 (Liga MX crowns two champions per season, the Apertura tournament starts during the summer and finishes in December,  while the Clausura kicks off during the winter and concludes in May). Their win over Toluca in the 2012 “liguilla” final, in fact, made them the fastest ever to go from promotion to the title. Capacity crowds of up to 20,000 regularly fill Estadio Caliente to see the Xolos play, and the club’s women’s side, also called the Xolos, is the only Mexican team to play in the U.S. based WPSL (Women’s Premier Soccer League).

To learn more about the Xolos, click here.

Surfing

There are hundreds of great surf breaks in Baja, and the peninsula has been a road trip destination for SoCal wave riders for generations. On the professional level, there are two events currently sanctioned by the WSL (the World Surf League): the Big Wave Tour’s Todos Santos Challenge and the Los Cabos Open of Surf.

The former 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 and February, depending upon peak wave conditions.

The latter 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. Music concerts are also a big part of the annual festivities – this year’s performers included Pepper, Kinky, Shamans, Tim Lang and Tunnel Vision.

For more info, click here or here.

Top 10 Pro Sports in Baja

Tennis

Unlike golf, which has been a fixture of the Los Cabos sporting scene for several decades, big-time tennis is a recent arrival at Land’s End. In fact, the first professional event in the area doesn’t take place for another two weeks. But it’s a good one: an ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) tournament whose 28-player draw includes 13 of the top 50 ranked men in the world. The Los Cabos Open replaces an event formerly held in Bogota, Colombia, and will feature nearly $800,000 in prize money, making it the most lucrative 250 series event in the Americas. The biggest name for American fans is Sam Querrey, who made a big splash earlier this month when he upset world no. 1 Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. The tournament takes place August 8 – 13.

For ticket information, click here.

 

 

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.