contact us

Fairs, Festivals, and Fiestas: April Events in Baja

Fairs, Festivals, and Fiestas: April Events in Baja

The top April events in Baja California showcase some of the peninsula’s signature attractions, from local arts and crafts and the Cabo party scene to fresh regional seafood and the world-class wines now being produced in Valle de Guadalupe.

But star billing goes to the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race. Since 1948, sailors and celebrities have competed in “the world’s largest international yacht race,” a 125 nautical mile journey from Newport Beach to Ensenada, with post-race parties and activities rounding out the memorable weekend.

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.

April Events in Baja

Los Barriles:  21st Annual Art Festival

When: April 13

The 21st annual Art Festival, or Festival de Artes, features original artwork from regional artists at the Hotel Palmas de Cortez in Los Barriles, on the East Cape of Baja California Sur. The yearly fiesta cultural also offers food, drinks, live music, and dancing.

Cost: Free admission 

April Events in Baja

Cabo San Lucas:  Semana Santa at Nikki Beach

When: April 17-20

Celebrate Semana Santa and the end of Lent with four days of partying at the famed Nikki Beach club, home to the hippest and hottest poolside scene on Medano Beach. Enjoy fun in the sun with great dance music from an international cast of DJs, as well as fine food and high-end bottle service.

Cost: $88-290

April Events in Baja

Loreto:  The Great Loreto Yellowtail Tournament

When: April 24-26

Anglers compete for over $10,000 U.S. in cash and prizes at this yearly fishing contest, with 80 percent of the purse going to winners in the yellowtail division, and the remaining 20 percent to top teams in the cabrilla and pargo division. There will also be a “casting for accuracy” challenge open to both children and adults, as well as other fun activities and events.

Cost: $400 per team

April Events in Baja

Ensenada:  Shellfish and New Wine Festival

When: April 25-27

The highlight of this three-day food and wine fête is the final tasting, where guests enjoy fresh local shellfish courtesy of some of the best chefs and restaurants in Ensenada, and taste from a selection of 80 wines from 40 different producers in Mexico’s premier viticultural area, Valle de Guadalupe.

Cost: $30-70

April Events in Baja

Ensenada:  67th Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race

When: April 25-27

Billed as the world’s largest international yacht race, this maritime contest and social extravaganza sees participants compete in over 50 trophy categories during the 125 nautical mile sail from Newport Beach, California to Ensenada, Mexico.

Cost: $125-225

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, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Exploring Baja’s Big Game Sport Fishing

Baja’s Big Game Sport Fishing

Baja boasts an abundance of big game sport fishing opportunities, but a few of the top sites can be a little remote and difficult to access from major tourist centers.

Baja's Big Game Sport Fishing

Baja offers an abundance of big game sport fishing.

Nowhere is this truer than when referring to the offshore waters of Baja’s rugged Pacific coast; a place where the Port of Ensenada is the only major maritime resource that exists between the International border at San Ysidro and Cabo San Lucas near the peninsula’s southern tip.

540938_10151800714085031_370632566_n

But sport fishing for Baja’s big tuna, dorado, wahoo and other popular ‘blue water’ offshore game fish that often swim more than 50 miles from shore in these regions was never really a viable possibility until the middle of the last century.

488101_10151800715090031_741802204_n

The late Bill Poole at San Diego Sportfishing docks

Shortly after the end of World War II, a San Diego sport fishing pioneer named Bill Poole, who loved fishing off southern California and northern Baja, realized that that the fishing just kept getting better the further south you went.  But actually doing this required two things; sport boats that were much bigger and had the capacity to make the trips, and cooperation from the Republic of Mexico in obtaining permission to explore and fish in these isolated destinations.

After successfully initiating a viable permit agreement with Mexican officials, Poole embarked upon a bold move to begin building more sophisticated and well equipped passenger vessels that were suitable for long range multi-day travel, and which would also comply with U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements.  By doing so, he eventually established an honorary reputation within the local industry as San Diego’s ‘top skipper’.  Between 1947 and his passing in 2009, Poole owned and operated 10 sport fishing vessels, which included the original Polaris, the Royal Polaris, the Polaris Supreme and the Excel.

576043_10151800715045031_1997761234_n

Bill Poole was much more than just the pioneer of long-range fishing off of coastal Baja. During a span of over 70 years, he laid the foundation and continued to lead in building the framework for San Diego’s entire sport fishing industry. He also mentored many of today’s top sport boat captains during their early years.

Today, decades of experience in long range offshore fishing along Baja’s Pacific Coast have earned San Diego a reputation for having one of the finest sport fishing fleets on the planet. Trips are available that fit practically every itinerary and budget; whether it be a relatively short 2 day excursion off Baja Norte’s Punta Colonet for large winter rockfish or albacore tuna in the summertime, or an incredible 14-day adventure down past the southern tip of Baja on the hunt for giant ‘cow’ yellowfin tuna that can tip the scales at well over 200 pounds.

The entire length of the peninsula is randomly interspersed with small islands and rocky outcroppings that attract a wide variety of both territorial and migrating fish species to delight the intrepid angler.

One of the most beguiling and southernmost of these is the small, surf battered formation known as Roca Partida, which lies about 300 miles south of Cabo San Lucas.   It may be isolated, but it is a prime destination for long range voyages of 14 days or more for those targeting huge yellowfin.  And for those who would like to fish this area with out as much travel time on the water, at least one of San Diego’s long range operations offers a ‘fly down, fly back’ trip in spring that allows anglers to be picked up and returned to the port at Cabo San Lucas.

166698_10151800714525031_34925477_n

The small and remote outcropping, Roca Partida, is a prime venue for huge yellowfin tuna.

While it may be true that these craft will never be confused with luxury ocean liners, members of San Diego’s long range fleet go out of there way to provide comfortable accommodations via clean compact staterooms, hot showers, exceptional service and plenty of gourmet quality fare and tasty snacks throughout the trip to keep their anglers happy.  Additionally, modern techniques for fish storage aboard the boats, including some with RSW (refrigerated salt water) systems, help to keep your catch at the peak of freshness until you return to the mainland.

Of course, anglers who are visiting the Los Cabos region can also get a piece of this same world-class fishing action without spending several days on the water, by simply contacting one of the the local outfitters in the area to arrange a day-trip or even overnight trip out of the port.

A few of the more established operations include JC’s Sportfishing and The One Baja,  both in the Los Cabos area, and The Cortez Club Mosquito Fleet in La Paz, which also offers day or multi-day yacht rentals.  

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 restaurantshotels 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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Greatest Surfing Story Ever Told: A Movie Review

deeper-shade_200x295

I often feel like I need to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming – my life is that good. And were it not just a metaphor, I’d have pinched myself black and blue last week when I was suddenly hopping a plane to L.A. to attend the premier of Jack McCoy’s 25th movie, A Deeper Shade of Blue, the most comprehensive movie on surf history, culture, and the evolution of surfboard design produced to date. The promotional materials cheekily assert that “this is not a surf movie.” However, it is that and yet so much more. It is an homage to the surfers who changed the way we surf, to the Hawaiian spirit of aloha, and to innovations in surfboard design that support the pursuit’s continued evolution.

hom·age |ˈ(h)ämij|
noun
special honor or respect shown publicly

The point is, however, that you don’t need to be a surfer to enjoy this movie. Watching it is the kind of experience during which you become part of the incredible vistas captured, giving even the most ocean-reticent land lubber a chance to experience what it feels like to be in, on, and under the water. Scenes like the massive waves at Teahupo’o breaking seemingly over the viewer’s head got my heart racing and made my breath catch in my throat. By combining cutting edge filming techniques with the skill of a true waterman, McCoy puts the viewer right there in the heart of the action.

McCoy is at heart an artist and this is his magnum opus. The soundtrack selections for each scene complement the visuals so well that in several instances the melding of beauty pushed my emotional buttons to the point of eliciting serious eye misting. The underwater footage shot in crystal clear waters depicting surfboards slicing through waves rolling overhead, the reef below, and ocean life dancing in unseen currents was awe-inducing.

It contains little known historical facts, like that of the Hawaiian who dared defy the missionaries’ law forbidding surfing. I’m thinking you’ll be as surprised as I was to learn whom it was who induced Hawaiians territory-wide to return en mass to the waves? You’ll see mind-blowing footage of surfers doing what surfers do, but using radically different surfboards that seem the stuff of science fiction. Aussie Derek Hynd free-friction surfing to the sound of The BPA’s He’s Frank (featuring Iggy Pop) is inspiring, breath-catching stuff for sure. Yes, what would have happened in the evolution of surfing if the fin had never been invented? You may remember Derek from my blog post “Crossing Paths: Surf Legend Derek Hynd.”

The visuals, the story, and the way in which the director’s love for the subject matter and the community of surfers with whom he worked to produce this epic movie created an unparalleled surf movie experience for this viewer. It’s showing in theaters all over the U.S. this Thursday, March 28th for one night only. But don’t take my word for it. In one of those serendipitous events, much like those that brought me to the movie premier, Sir Paul McCartney was introduced to Jack’s work by a mutual acquaintance and the two ended up working on a video clip together called Blue Sway that includes additional footage taken for the movie and a previously unreleased song by Sir Paul McCartney has said of Jack’s work:

I was blown away by the stunning spectacle of Jack’s work. Now that I’ve gotten to know him, I enjoy what he does even more and value greatly his contribution to the world of surfing.

 

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.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mexico’s New Immigration Laws Became Effective November 12, 2012

Mexico’s New Immigration Laws Impact Baja Visitors and Expat Residents

by Jack E. George

If you currently have a valid FM-2 or FM-3, you should understand that this will be the last time you will have one of these. This is because the new immigration laws in Mexico have replaced those documents with other visas. Now the three basic visas are the Visitante (valid for visitors to Mexico for 180 days; previously known as the FMM); the Residente Temporal (replaces the FM-2 and FM-3), and the Residente Permanente (which replaces the Immigrado). The visas are further broken down, depending on various situations, such as if you intend to work while in Mexico.

El Chaparral, Baja's New Port of Entry

If you are a visitor to Mexico, who will be staying more than 72  hours of it the visit is outside the limits of the border zone or tourist corridors established by the Mexican government (see chart at end of article), you must enter the country and report to an immigration office.  For example, if you cross the El Chaparral entry, you need to go to the secondary inspection area. After parking your car you will go to the immigration office. You must fill out a brief form, present your visa, and pay a fee (between U.S. $22 and $30). Although the Visitor visa is valid for 180 days, if you wish to extend your visit this is possible; you simply leave Mexico and return to the country and follow the same procedures in order to obtain a new Visitor visa.

If you presently have an FM-2 or an FM-3 you can no longer process all of your paperwork in Mexico. You must first visit a Mexico Consulate in the United States. You will be required to complete a questionnaire, present your passport, and proof of income.

When visiting Mexico, you will be required to complete a questionnaire, present a passport and proof of income.

It is important for anyone, possessing these  travel visas, to visit the US Consulate 30 days exactly, prior to the expiration date. Your case worker will review your documents, particularly your income, and determine if you qualify for the Temporal or Permanente. S/he will issue to you the necessary document to take to the Mexican immigration office. In Mexico you will be issued an FMM specifying the visa for which you are applying. You have 30 days to complete your paperwork and submit it to the Mexican governmental office. If you do not comply with this 30-day rule you will receive a fine. You will also need to begin the process from the beginning.

The income requirements have been significantly increased as have the fees for the Residente Temporal. The cost for one year is $254 U.S.; two years, $380 U.S.; three years, $481. U.S.; and four years is $571 U.S.  Depending on the exchange rate, this visa requires a monthly income of $2,835 for a single person. The new law also offers a “Point System.” If you do not meet the income requirements, then your case worker might use points so you financially qualify. You can receive points if you have attained a certain level of education; if you are fluent in Spanish, if you have investments in Mexico, or a variety of other criteria.
If your case worker determines you qualify for the Residente Permanente, you can also use points if you do not meet the income requirement. This requirement is $2,365 U.S., per month, for a single person (depending on the exchange rate). The cost of the visa is $299.57 U.S. (depending on the exchange rate).

There are many variations in the new immigration laws. This can be expected when considering the document is more than 400 pages without considering changes and updates. Some of the professional document processors believe the new requirements must almost be individualized in order to meet each person’s circumstances. Although the laws have been in effect since November 12, 2012 it should be noted that the Mexican government is still in a period of ‘transition.’ Since the inception of the law further clarity is still being considered in regards to interpretation as well as implementation.

If you are about to begin the process of obtaining a visa it is strongly recommended that you visit one of the numerous websites for answers to any questions you might have. One such site is: http://www.mymexicanlawyer.com/immigration-questions/changing-or-renewing-fm3fm2-to-temporary-or-permanent-resident-card.

Established border zone/tourist corridors:

The border zone varies slightly from one Mexican border state to another, but is an area south of the U.S. border down approximately 20 to 30 kilometers (12.4 to 18.6 miles) into Mexico.

The tourist corridors are as follows:

  • Tijuana – Ensenada
  • Sonoyta – Puerto Penasco
  • Cuidad Juarez – Paquime
  • Piedras Negras – Santarosa
  • Reynosa – China – Presa el Cuchillo

Bureaucracy can be daunting, but the rewards of visiting Mexico and Baja outweigh the challenges!  Find out what to do when you are in Mexico!  

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, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Spring Break in Baja, from Fiestas to Shopping.

Spring Break in Baja:  From fiestas to shopping, here are some ideas as to where and why you should spend spring break in Baja.

By Meghan Fitzpatrick.

Break cover photo by Edgar Lima.

Spring Break in Baja.

Welcome to Spring Break in Baja! If you’re planning on passing your spring break here, you have quite a selection of things you can do and places to go. Some of Baja’s favorite spring break hot spots include Rosarito, Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and San Felipe.  And, for those spring breakers who are looking for peace and quiet instead of fiestas, the Bahia Asuncion region of Baja has something a bit different to offer this year — La Bocana, where you can almost hear the whales spouting and where the beaches offer the world’s best place for a private party.

Spring Break in Baja? The Rosarito Beach Hotel!

1.  Rosarito: Just south of the US border at San Diego by about 25 minutes is Rosarito, a haven for thousands of Americans and Canadians who have chosen to move here and now call this place home. Annually, they experience the invasion of ‘spring breakers’, who come for the crazy party scenes that are frequently found in Rosarito.  But Rosarito has evolved (as have the ‘spring breakers’) away from the insanity of yesterday; today’s spring break in Rosarito is family friendly and fun.  In addition to bouncing bars and clubs, the friendly city of Rosarito boasts many calm and relaxing activities. True, places like the Festival Plaza Hotel and the famous Papas & Beer will be ‘busting’ at the seams with party-ers, and local hotels, beaches and restaurants are sure to be busy.  But people of all ages can find things to do for spring break, including popular activities like beach-front horse-back riding, shopping and fantastic dining by the sea. The Rosarito Beach Hotel is also a great place to spend a romantic evening. And then there is the world-renowned Lobster Village of Puerto Nuevo…lobster, beer, rice and beans? Now, that’s what I call ‘spring break’!

After a day of wine-tasting in Ensenada, visit Ochento's for some pizza and music.

2.  Ensenada:  About an hour south of the US border, is the bustling port town of Ensenada. Eating and drinking are among some of the biggest attractions that draw people to this city. Spring breakers will definitely fill up Hussong’s, the supposed birthplace of the Margarita. Wine tasting is another great activity in Ensenada’s Valle de Guadalupe, with its more than 70 (some say nearly 100) wineries.  Want to follow up your wine-tasting with a great dinner for not a lot of money?  Try Ochento’s pizza in the wine valley, near San Antonio de las Minas!   In the town of Ensenada, great seafood rules the day and can be eaten in charming wharf-front restaurants like Muelle Tres or at world-famous food trucks, like La Guerrerense. And then, there is the fun shopping along the main drag of Lopez Mateos…great knock-off purses, silver jewelry (Los Castillos and Marios must be visited) that is high-quality, and much more.

Spring Break in Baja? What about Mango Deck in Cabo...

3.  Cabo San Lucas: Cabo is definitely a spring break hot-spot. Home to some of the best resorts in the country (and the world), families and singles can find plenty to do in Cabo for Spring Break. Firstly, the Beaches of Cabo are plenty, and they offer all kinds of activities – from fishing trips, snorkeling, jet skiing, sun bathing and partying. Medano Beach is certainly the famous party spot for spring breakers, at the infamous Mango Deck. Other beaches further away from the marina offer quieter, more peaceful experiences. The nightclubs of Cabo are generally packed during spring break – from the end of February until April, with DJ’s flying in from all over the world to entertain the clubbers for their college (and high school) spring breaks. Restaurants are also in abundance in Cabo, from tacos to fine dining.  You can really do just about anything in this great Baja Sur city.

High Tide Sea Expeditions offers fun activities for spring breakers.

4.  San Jose del Cabo: About 20 miles away from Cabo San Lucas sits the quiet and picturesque San Jose del Cabo. While this little town is not known for drawing crazy spring breakers, it is known for its beautiful art work and galleries, as well as its excellent fine dining options, like Deckman’s San Jose. San Jose del Cabo also has some excellent surf and kayaking spots and High Tide Sea Expeditions is an expert resource for those looking to mix a little aqua action in with their spring fun.

San Felipe is a fun place for Spring Break in Baja

5. San Felipe:  Located in northern Baja, south of Mexicali (east of Ensenada) and on the Sea of Cortez, San Felipe is a beautiful and tranquil little resort town. Originally a small fishing village, the warm climate and beautiful setting of San Felipe — surrounded as it is by azure waters — has made this burg grow into a very popular seasonal retirement and adventure travel community; a number of resorts are now popping up all over the city, including the great vacation rental spot of El Dorado Ranch. The Las Caras golf course is a challenging way to spend the day in the blinding beauty of the Sea of Cortez sunshine. This is a great place for families who want to relax on the beach and enjoy excellent seafood!  With numerous springtime festivals — and a plethora of interesting bars and clubs — San Felipe rocks.

Spring Break in Baja can also mean getting away from it all in La Bocana, Bahia Asuncion.

NEW IN 2013!  6.  La Bocana:  This is not an intuitive adventure, be assured.  This get-away is for spring breakers who want to truly remove themselves from it all and experience nature one-on-one in remote beauty.  About nine miles from Abreojos, part of the San Ignacio Lagoon in the Bahia Asuncion region, La Bocana is best known for its sport fishing.  Fishing guides and the sport fishing boats are available through the fishing co-op.  Now, in 2013, La Bocana is introducing rustic cabins that provide comfort and privacy…and a perfect spot for spring breakers to sit around the campfire and take in a glowing Baja sunset.

 

Want to find out more about places to stay during Spring Break in Baja?  

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, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Seeing a Bright Future for Baja

 Seeing a Bright Future for Baja

by Jim Pickell

It is no secret that Baja has experienced a turbulent past few years – particularly Baja California (the northern region).  There was that pesky global economic downturn; an increase in violence related to drug trafficking; a media frenzy that created false perceptions of safety and travel in Baja, and then the resulting slowdown in tourism.

But that was then…

Seeing a bright future for Baja: Tourism is on the rise.

Today’s reality is that Baja tourism is on the rise.  Visitors are flocking once again to our beloved peninsula, drawn by the physical beauty, the charm of its people, the many excursions, diversions and immersions one can experience here as nowhere else that make Baja such a magical destination for so many.  In Baja’s northern state of Baja California and the southern state of Baja California Sur, 2013 looks to be a period of economic growth, fueled in large part by a growth in tourism.

In numbers reported at the end of 2012, tourism experienced a five percent increase over the previous year. Results for hotel occupancy, cruise passenger stops, and border crossings have all improved for the state (with Ensenada being the only port in Mexico to gain in ship docking numbers). The cities of Tijuana and Ensenada both saw the greatest increases in tourism in 2012.  Guided by Ruben Reachi Lugo, Secretary of Tourism in Baja California Sur, Baja’s southern half also reported strong growth in visitors, with La Paz having a banner year with an approximate five percent uptick in tourism traffic and an estimated three million visitors through the international airport at San Jose del Cabo.

And it’s no wonder, with Baja possessing ‘industries’ that are shaping world tastes and gaining universal recognition.  Gastronomy – the wines and foods of Baja – is rapidly becoming a major driver of tourism.  With celebrities and chefs like Anthony Bourdain, Rick Bayless and Chuck Hughes raving about the cuisine of Tijuana, the tacos and spider crabs of Popotla and Rosarito, the cheeses of Ojos Negros, the wines of Ensenada’s Valle de Guadalupe and the high-end restaurants in Baja Sur, it is no wonder that foodies from far and near are converging.

 

Gastronomy is one reason that Baja's seeing more tourism.

Underscoring these positive trends was the calming of the border region.  An article in the New York Times pointed to the fact that Tijuana is ‘safer than it has been in years’ and refers to a ‘resurgence’ in upscale restaurants, sophisticated night clubs and cultural activities.  That kind of coverage is a welcome change from the negative media that dogged Baja for the last few years.

There are many reasons that Baja’s positive media coverage and overall popularity are surging. One contributing factor might be the establishment of  the Baja Image Committee in 2011, comprised of US expatriates and leaders in Baja California’s tourism sector.  The goal was for Americans and Mexicans to work hand-in-hand in ‘changing the dialog’ about Baja California.  Baja.com has pledged to support that effort, working with the committee.

Under the leadership of Hugo Torres (former mayor of Rosarito and owner of the Rosarito Beach Hotel) and Baja California’s Secretary of Tourism, Juan Tintos Funcke, the committee seeks to proactively engage with the public and media, sharing the good news about Baja — safety, affordability, regional attractions and user-friendliness.

To that end, the Baja Image Committee and the tourism offices of Baja California and Baja California Sur remain focused on communicating with everyone, in any way, they can — through social and traditional media, public forums, Sister Cities programs and Rotary meetings, and so forth.  Baja.com is very proud to be part of this campaign.

As I’ve said before, Baja is my passion – a passion I want to share with anyone and everyone who is willing to discover it!  As 2013 begins, so does Baja’s future and we think it is shaping up to be a very bright one.

Baja is my passion and I want to shout it out to the world.

 

 

 

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 restaurantshotels 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 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Paddling through Paradise: Sea Kayaking in Baja

Paddling through Paradise: Sea Kayaking in Baja

Story and Photos by Ellen Clark

 

If someone had told me I would take up sea kayaking after age 50, I would have accused them of nipping on the cooking sherry. The last time I paddled anything it was summer camp—never mind how many years ago—and the vessel was a standard-issue canoe, not one of those new-fangled fiberglass boats with a tight little opening and nylon spray skirt. Yet there I was last winter, on the crystal-clear waters of the Sea of Cortez, trying to coordinate steering with foot peddles and paddling with two blades as I launched on a week-long outing along the coast of Baja.

From October through May, balmy weather—high 60s to high 80s—and warm waters make the islands and coastline on Baja California an ideal kayaking destination. While experienced kayakers may want to arrange their own trips to the region, novices like myself will find that a guided trip offers a compelling alternative. I chose a company that runs multi-day trips from the town of Loreto, located about half way down Baja on the Sea of Cortez.

Some tours leave out of the Loreto area to go kayaking in Baja.

Different from tipsy whitewater models, our beamy kayaks were very stable, even in choppy water. Most of the group’s kayaks were doubles so the guides could pair up stronger and weaker paddlers and achieve a balanced pace. Personally, I was happy to have help, but for those macho types who wanted to do it on their own, there were single boats.

Great vacations are not without their small inconveniences, and kayaking in Baja is no exception. Everything depende del viento (depends on the wind), and, as Baja is prone to strong El Norte winds, we were bound to encounter rough seas and difficult kayaking conditions. While this might sound exciting to more experienced paddlers, to me it heralded exhausting work and potential catastrophe. Fortunately Baja kayaking companies are adverse to losing clients in tumultuous seas. If the wind is up, days are spent hiking or relaxing on the beach. Several companies offer nine-day trips. This way, even accounting for a couple of windy days, clients will still get a week’s worth of paddling.

Our trip starts from Playa Blanca. Before heading to sea, our guides discuss safety procedures, give a brief paddling demonstration, and issue life jackets. Since this is a self-sufficient trip—without the aid of a motorized launch—groceries, duffels, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, jugs of water, and cooking equipment are stowed among our kayaks.

Once the kayaks are packed and launched, it is time to climb aboard. This is easier said than done. Thigh-deep in water, I am gradually able to slide in, bottom first, and then swing my legs in after me. Graceful it is not, though I will have plenty of opportunity to improve my technique.

Once adrift, the dreamiest part of kayaking begins. Skimming through calm, deep blue water, the sea gently laps at the sides of the boat. A warm breeze blows and seabirds hover overhead. How could anyone help but relax?

Our first destination is Isla Danzanta, a small uninhabited island a few miles off the Baja peninsula. After an hour-and-a-half of paddling, we land on a white sand beach backed by steep, saguaro cactus studded cliffs.For those interested in natural history, this area provides endless surprises. The desert supports one of the most diverse assortments of vegetation in the world, despite getting less than ten inches of rain each year. The Sea of Cortez is home to more than 600 species of fish, and the marine life, in turn, attracts a wide variety of sea birds.

Kayaking in Baja provides a chance to explore remote island locations.

After we set up camp and select a site for our sleeping bags, our group goes exploring. As we walk along the beach, brown pelicans dive for fish and yellow-footed gulls and various sandpipers gather along the water’s edge.

Vivid pinks and purples streak the sky as we return for dinner. With a small two-burner gas stove, a makeshift Dutch oven, and a limited amount of kitchen utensils, our guides have concocted a delicious meal.

Dinners consist of such tantalizing entrees as vegetarian spaghetti and garlic bread, tortilla, cheese and chili casserole, and guacamole burritos. Fresh fruits and vegetables like pineapples, oranges, mangoes, jicama, and tomatoes accompany the meals. One night, thanks to some local fishermen, we are treated to fish tacos, made with freshly caught grouper.

Dinner was grouper we bought from a passing fisherman.

On the days we move camp, we struggle out of our warm sleeping bags at 5:30 a.m., since the calmest kayaking conditions are in the early morning. After coffee and breakfast, we load the kayaks by the rosy light of sunrise and set off together, lines of silvery flying needlefish leading the way.

Other days we rise at our leisure, taking time to soak in the early morning calm. Midmorning we would launch our kayaks and paddle to a sheltered cove for some hiking and snorkeling.

Hundreds of fish and invertebrates live in the Sea of Cortez, making it ideal for snorkeling. Brightly colored marine fish such as the yellow-and-blue sergeant major and orange-tailed grouper scurry by our masks. Scorpion fish, masters of camouflage, disguise themselves as barnacle-encrusted rocks. Bright red starfish and spiky sea urchins cling to rocky ledges, and spiny lobsters peek from the crevices.

At the shoreline, orange, polka-dotted crabs scampered over the rocks. Tide pools were filled with mysterious, tiny organisms. Fast-moving shells harbor shy hermit crabs, who will gladly invade an open sleeping bag—given the chance.

Hikes often entail scrambling up crumbling sandstone cliffs, past elephant trees and assorted cacti, for a crow’s nest view of the area. We are treated to bird songs supplied by doves, gulls, hummingbirds, and gnat-catchers.

 

After a week of paddling around various islands, we head back to the mainland. To balance out our Baja experience, our tour leader arranged a dinner with a local ranching family. We were graciously invited into their modest home for a meal of freshly picked squash and garlic, rice and onions, goat cheese, homemade tortillas, and basil tea. Sitting under the thatch-roofed patio, sharing food, and laughingly trying to make ourselves understood, we get a real sense of the warmth and pride of these rural Mexicans.

And then, suddenly, the trip is over. While I admit to resorting to an Ibuprofen occasionally, it was worth it. I hardly thought about my everyday problems for nine glorious days. In fact, the last time I had such a relaxing vacation I was about ten years old, paddling a canoe at summer camp.

Baja’s Pacific coast is home to a series of lagoons sheltered from the open sea by barrier islands. These sandy islands protect the lagoons from ocean currents, creating a fascinating environment of twisting, mangrove-lined estuaries, sand dunes, and blooming desert plants.

Each winter, hundreds of gray whales travel over 6,000 miles from Alaskan feeding grounds to mate and bear young in these protected waters. Once hunted by humans to the edge of extinction, California Gray Whales have staged a remarkable comeback. From January through March, the whales and their calves are the main attraction in this region for kayakers and tour boats.

“Kayakers have a remarkable opportunity to observe gentle gray whales close up without intruding,” says Terry Prichard, who operates naturalist-guided sea kayaking excursions. “With luck, we can witness courtship and calving.”

From base camp on a secluded barrier island, kayakers can venture in search for whales in the lagoon and birds among the mangroves. Often, they see whales from their tents, and can hear their breathing when lying in bed at night.

A blue heron in the mangroves, spotted while kayaking in Baja.

In addition to whales, the lagoon is home to dolphins, sea lions, pelicans, and thousands of shorebirds. There is a profusion of birds—ibises, six species of herons, and the rare mangrove warbler. Miles of uninhabited beaches littered with shells are a beachcomber’s paradise.

“It’s a wilderness—a very pristine, unique environment,” says Prichard. “If you enjoy nature, paddling in Baja’s western lagoons is a must.”

Paddling Baja offers kayakers a perfect opportunity to explore two dramatically diverse environments: the unique flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert and the abundant marine life of the Sea of Cortez. One hundred and twenty species of cactus are found on the Baja peninsula. Blue-footed boobies, high flying frigate-birds, osprey, and squadrons of pelicans soar above on the lookout for fish. Opportunities for encounters with playful dolphins as well as fin and blue whales—the largest mammals on earth—await patient paddlers.

Ellen Clark is a travel photographer and writer.  For more information, you can visit her website at www.ellenclarktravel.com.

Using Loreto or La Paz as a base for going kayaking in Baja?  

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 restaurantshotels 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

Enhanced by Zemanta

Panga Camps of Baja Norte: What are Pangas and Where can I Find Them?

Panga Camps of Baja Norte:  What are Pangas and Where can I Find Them?

by Tom Gatch

The Baja panga is a sturdy, dory-like boat made from wood and fiberglass, and has been used successfully in most of the small, rural fish camps located along Baja California’s remote Pacific and Sea of Cortez coasts for generations.  They measure approximately 22 feet in length, and feature a high bow with plenty of free-board to accommodate the rough water situations in which they must often operate.  Intrepid, commercial fishermen have braved the ocean with these tough, seaworthy vessels for decades, and consistently manage to return to port with a surprisingly large bounty for such relatively small craft.

 

Panga Camps in Baja Norte

Over time, many of these panga camps have developed the additional enterprise of providing boats and guides for recreational anglers.  Those who take the time to enjoy this more primitive method of inshore angling are usually rewarded with better fishing, bigger fish and a greater degree of personalized service than is generally available on many of the larger, commercial ‘cattle boats’ that work out of Ensenada’s harbor.

This often-overlooked style of sport-fishing has been stocking the freezers of happy anglers for well over 40 years, and the time has come to alert those who have yet to try it of the great fun and opportunity that they have been missing.  Most of northern Baja’s panga camps are located in areas that lie within 150 miles of the International Border.

Operations in places like Punta Banda, Puerto Santo Tomàs and Erindera have worked hard to build a long-standing reputation for being able to ‘fill the burlap’ of their clients with a broad array of both inshore and deepwater species.   The average price of a trip is fairly reasonable, running about $45.00 a head, based on four to five anglers per panga.

 

Panga in Baja Norte

Reservations are nearly always a must, since a panga skipper will need to be retained prior to your trip.  Plan on bringing your own gear and tackle, since only a few of these camps have a reasonable selection of the hooks, weights and lures that may be necessary when you are out on the water.  Almost all of the camps, however, feature modest, overnight lodging; but you might want to bring along a flashlight, and many of the personal items, beverages, bottled water and snacks that you would normally take on a camping trip.  Also, be sure to pack warm clothing, even if your trip is in the middle of summer.  Intense, inland temperatures on the eastern side of the Baja peninsula will often pull in a thick, unseasonably cool marine layer along its Pacific Coast, particularly during morning hours.

VONNY’S FLEET – Punta Banda.  Of all the panga camps on Baja’s Pacific coast, Ivan Villarino’s Vonny’s Fleet, just south of Ensenada, is perhaps one of the best equipped, as well as one of the closest operations to southern California’s vast angling population. The fleet’s sturdy pangas launch from the beach at the calm, southern end of Bahia de Todos Santos, and fish the turquoise waters along Punta Banda’s northern shore, and just off the rocky tip of the peninsula near La Bufadora. The Vonny Fleet pangeros are excellent, with lead Captain, Beto Zamora, being acclaimed as one of the most productive skippers in their area. As with many of the northern panga camps, the Vonny Fleet’s primary focus is on lingcod and other rockfish. From spring through fall, however, it is possible to also catch a wide variety of popular gamefish like yellowtail, calico bass, halibut, Sand bass, white sea bass and large bonito.  Dial: 011-52-646-154-2046, Email: vonyflet@telnor.net,

PUERTO SANTO TOMASSanto Tomas Located south of Maneadero and Puente de las Animas, Puerto Santo Tomas offers some of the most remote, and untapped sport fishing in the region. Once the long, dusty drive along the graded road between the main highway and the coast has been negotiated, visitors to this primitive area can relax and enjoy some of the most profuse assemblages of local marine life that can be accessed on Baja’s northern Pacific Coast. Because of the lack of heavy angling pressure, many of the fish taken in this area are often larger renditions of their species than are generally found in more populated regions.  Getting there can be a bit tricky, but follow these directions and you should be in great shape.

Panga camps are often located in beautiful remote locales.

Between Kilometer Markers 46 and 47 you will see a road sign on the right that reads “Puerto Santo Tomas”. Proceed approximately 150 feet past the road sign and make a right turn (west) onto a gravel road. (Note: If you reach the village of Santo Tomas on Highway #1, you’ve gone too far.) Continue on the gravel road for 18 miles. There will be forks in the road, but remember to ALWAYS keep to the RIGHT and you’ll be fine. At the end of the road, you will come to the coast. Veer to the right and climb the small hill, heading north. Go north along the coast for approximately 3 miles, and at the end of the road you will have finally arrived at Puerto Santo Tomas! Dial: 011-52-646-1549415.

CASTRO’S CAMP – Ejido Erendira Castro’s Camp is one of the longest running panga camp operations on the Pacific Coast, and is an ongoing favorite of numerous ‘old timers’ who began fishing the area over 40 years ago. This is the original Baja fish camp that inspired so many stories of small groups of gringo fishermen who would end up catching so many rock cod and other local species that they would each return home with several large coolers filled to the brim with the delicate, iced-down fillets. Luckily, most anglers today tend to limit their catch for the sake of the resource, but the fishing out of Castro’s Camp is still exceptional, and even offers the opportunity to hook up with a big, white sea bass between spring and fall.

The turn off for Ejido Erendira is 180 km south of the border and at the 78 km marker south of Ensenada. Erendira is 12 miles down the asphalt road. Continue through the village toward the coast until you see Castro’s sign on left. Email: castrosf@telnor.net, Dial: 011-52-646-176-2897, FAX: 011-52-617-72585   Irrespective of the location that you ultimately select for your panga fishing trip, you are bound to encounter a truly different kind of angling experience — one which removes you from the world of electronic fish finders and GPS waypoints, and briefly whisks you back to the days when those who fished were much closer to the elements that made their sport worthwhile.  

 

Hooked on Baja author & columnist, Tom Gatch, is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and southern California.

Want to go fishin’ in Baja Norte?  Find out where to stay and play at Baja.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 restaurantshotels 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

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mexican Sweet-Bread Makes for a Happy Three Kings Day

Mexican Sweet-Bread Makes for a Happy Three Kings Day

by Carla White

 

Happy Three Kings Day!

January 6 is Three Kings Day, officially marking the end of the 12 Days of Christmas or the holiday season. One of Mexico’s most revered traditions is the eating of Rosca de Reyes – a Mexican sweet-bread that has a surprise in it:  A little bean or plastic baby Jesus is baked into the bread (the person who finds the baby is responsible for another party soon thereafter).  Be sure to warn guests, though, if you are using a small plastic baby!!! You can buy the Rosca at virtually any grocery store or bakery here…but if you have a few hours, you could also make your own!

Rosca de Reyes

  • 2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 6 cups flour (may need up to 8 cups)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can almond filling or if you cannot fin Solo Almond Filli, use marzipan or a jam of your choice
  • 2 dried beans (for the babies, although in Mexico, they use little plastic babies)
  • colored sugar sprinkles or candied fruit (optional)

Icing

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla

Directions: Combine yeast and water in a small bowl, stirring until dissolved, and set aside until yeast is proofed. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk, sugar, and butter, stirring until dissolved.  Add the salt, eggs, and yeast mixture and blend thoroughly.  Beat in 3 cups of flour to make a smooth batter Add additional flour to make a soft dough (dough will be very sticky).

Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead approximately 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed. Round into a ball and place in a warm buttered bowl, turning to lightly coat top with some of the butter.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Then, punch down the dough and divide in half.

To prepare rings, divide dough in half and flatten into a long oval.  Spread 1/2 can of almond filling (or your own filling) on each oval, place one bean or plastic baby into each oval, and roll each piece into a rope. Join ends together leaving large oval hole in the middle. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

  1.  While you are waiting for the bread to rise, preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. You will bake the bread for about 30 minutes or until it is golden.
  3. Remove the bread and let loaves cool on wire racks.
  4. Mix all the icing ingredients together and then, once the bread is cool, frost it.
  5. And now the fun part…decorate it with sugars, candied fruits or whatever you think is appropriate for Three Kings Day!!!

 

Felicidades!  

Want to find out where to dine on Three Kings Day in Baja?  

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, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Best of Baja 2012

Best of Baja 2012

2013 is almost here!  As the surf crests on Baja’s hundreds of miles of open beaches, and as tourism surges in this paradise that encompasses more than 55,300 square miles, Baja.com rides the wave.  Here are some of Baja’s Best Stories and travel information for 2012!  Here’s to that next  big swell, and here’s our special toast to Baja.com readers is  presented in pictures:  The Best of Baja is our gift to you.

1. In Baja, One Turtle Saved

In Baja, One Turtle Saved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. A Hidden Tequila Cave in Rosarito Beach

A Hidden Tequila Cave in Rosarito Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. At One with Nature in Ensenada’s Wine Valley: Endémico

At One with Nature in Ensenada’s Wine Valley: Endémico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Baja Norte’s Captivating Coast on the Sea of Cortez

Baja Norte’s Captivating Coast on the Sea of Cortez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The New Tastes of Baja: Culinary Trends in Baja Norte

The New Tastes of Baja: Culinary Trends in Baja Norte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Camping at Espiritu Santo Island and Isla Partida

Camping at Espiritu Santo Island and Isla Partida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Five Great Things to Do in Mexicali

What are the top things to do when you visit this bustling metropolis? Find Out

 

 

8. The Arts in Loreto: Lizette Inzunza is Doing What She Loves

The Arts in Loreto: Lizette Inzunza is Doing What She Loves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Kayak Fishing in San Quintin

Kayak Fishing in San Quintin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Gray Whales in Guerrero Negro: Now is the Time to Plan Your Trip

Gray Whales in Guerrero Negro: Now is the Time to Plan Your Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Pitaya: Legacy of a Lost Baja Culture

Pitaya: Legacy of a Lost Baja Culture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. Taking the Plunge: Diving Adventures in Cabo San Lucas

Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas with Cabo Adventures

Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas with Cabo Adventures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. Camels in Cabo? A Little Bit of Egypt Comes to Baja!

Camels in Cabo? A Little Bit of Egypt Comes to Baja!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. Five Great Baja Escapes

Five Great Baja Escapes

 

 

15. Up on the Hill: A View of Magical Punta Banda

Up on the Hill: A View of Magical Punta Banda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16.  The Rich Equine History of Central Baja Continues through Local Races

The Rich Equine History of Central Baja Continues through Local Races

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. Cabo Pulmo: The Jewel of Mexico

Cabo Pulmo: The Jewel of Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19. Taking the Tijuana Taco Tour

Taking the Tijuana Taco Tour by Derrik Chinn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 restaurantshotels 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta