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My Baja Love Affair

Passion and Desire: My Baja Love Affair 

by Jim Pickell


“You can talk about true love, say we’re through

And I do my best pretending I don’t love you.

But when they put you down, they’re always surprised,

Cause then I’m back on your side

Back on your side, back on your side,

Baby, I’m back on your side.”

Chris Isaak, ‘Back on Your Side’ from the Baja Sessions CD


A Baja love affair.

Baja is my true love, too, which is why I launched in early 2012:  To showcase this amazing part of Mexico with a goal of reigniting the flames of passion that so many travelers had for adventure, food, music, culture and all of the sensory aspects that are and will always be synonymous with Baja.

How many times have I heard from or read statements by aficionados noting that in years past, they loved coming to Baja for its thundering surf, or its carne asada tacos sold from bustling street stands, or its peaceful valleys and quiet pueblas… And then, around 2008 (coinciding with the global economic downturn and an upswing in drug-related violence in some parts of Mexico and the world), the love-light died.

And yet, abandoned and longing for its lovers from the north, the Baja blue skies still stretched over vast white sand beaches, and the gentle sounds  of classical guitar still wafted through the balmy nights; margaritas still flowed and laughing vendors still tried to sell small painted animals and colorful serapes.  Up and down this nearly 1000-mile-long peninsula, there was a sense of peaceful acceptance that time would heal the wounds, and that the undeniable magnetism between Baja and its former suitors would reassert itself. That the Baja love affair would go on.

So it has come to pass.

And I would like to believe that has been one of the matchmakers in this process! Working with partners like San Diego Red, the Union Tribune San Diego, the La Paz Tourism Board, WiLDCOAST, and others (Baja News, Baja Bound, Baja 123, and more), we are continually striving to highlight all the reasons that tourists, travelers and potential residents should think about engaging with Baja.


The new Baja love affair is reflected in an increase of cruise ship traffic to Ensenada. Photo by Edgar Lima.

Recently, Secretary of Tourism Juan Tintos Funcke reported significant increases in tourism, particularly reflected in hotel occupancy in major tourism destinations – in fact, the best rates in five years for holiday weekends.  Cruise ship arrivals are on the rise in some Baja area, with the port of Ensenada this year being the only one on the Mexico Pacific coast that experienced an increase.  The sale of fishing permits has gone up almost 10 percent, and film production in Baja has re-engaged, including the recently filming of the movies ‘Little Boy’ and ‘All is Lost’ with actor Robert Redford leading the way.

My personal experience with amazing events like the Baja International Film Festival and SUP Mexico (the Stand Up Paddle Board Championships) has reflected not only a strong surge in interest in Baja…but the very fact that these events have been successfully staged in this part of Mexico signifies a confidence in Baja’s future as both a travel destination and investment opportunity.

But all that aside, I just adore this place.  Who wouldn’t?  My young son, Byron, has been embraced by the crystalline waters of the Sea of Cortez and seen dolphins and whales.  My wife, Ellie, has reveled in the warmth of the Mexican people (perhaps not unlike that of her Italian family) and I…well, I have had the chance to feast my eyes on unparalleled beauty that is unique to Baja.  We try to capture these stories and glories in each and every article that we put on

My Baja affair grows more meaningful with each passing month…and in a way, is like my love letter to this place and to the Mexico I cherish — a place of tranquil sunrises and turbulent sunsets, of riotous noise and sunbathed afternoons with friends, of harsh desert landscapes and tropical palm-studded lagoons.

Catching Bait at Sunrise


If you haven’t returned, come back.  If you are here, bask in the Baja glow.  And if you have never been to Baja, there is no better time than now to have an encounter that will change your life, as it changed mine. 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



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The Most Comprehensive Source Of Baja Travel Information Is Now Available Online

Hola Fellow Baja Lover!

I am pleased to announce the relaunch of the all new! On you will find the most comprehensive source of Baja travel information that has ever existed…and I am proud to say that our creative juices flowed directly from the source, Todos Santos (All Saints), Baja California – the most beautiful headquarters in the world!

“A dream hangs over the whole region, a brooding kind of hallucination.”
– John Steinbeck’s Baja observations.

Find the Perfect Place to Lay Your Head at Night helps you find the perfect hotel or vacation rental anywhere Baja, whether it be Cabl San Lucas, Todos Santos, Mulege, Ensenada or off the beaten track.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone…in Comfort.

You won’t be bored in Baja with our detailed activities listings. We have nearly every activity from skydiving and surfing to fishing and golfing, all with reviews so you can benefit from the wise words of those before you. And with the help of our schedule of events, you won’t miss the next private John Legend concert ever again!

Don’t Take a Chance on Places to Eat

From local taco stands to hidden gem restaurantes, brings you mouthwatering Baja eateries, all in one convenient place, And with our award winning photography, you can almost taste the camaron poblano asada!

See Baja through a Local Lens.

With our up to the minute News & Views, our Community Forum, our Regional Amigo Bloggers, our trusted reviews and our regular Newsletters, always has fresh content from local contributors, making the leading sourch of information for the entire Baja Peninsula.

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Flyfishing in the Sea of Cortez

By Jim Terborg and Jim Pickell

What kind of person wakes up at 4:30 AM with a smile?  A fisherman.  On this morning of Dec. 30, Jim Pickell from Todos Santos, and Jim Terborg, visiting from Oregon, were going fly-fishing outside La Paz at Bahia de los Suenos in the Sea of Cortez with La Paz guide and local Leo Bishop.

Our morning drive began on this chilly morning (about 50 degrees) at 5:00 am with a star filled black sky that turned into a beautiful sunrise near El Triunfo. By 6:30 am we were looking at sailboats docked in the bay and fishermen casting nets for sardina, the local bait.

Catching Bait at Sunrise in Baja de los Suenos

After paying 200 pesos (about $15) for more sardinas than you could count, Efrain, our captain revved up the 90 hp Honda 4-stroke outboard and headed out in our panga.  These boats are designed to provide a smooth and dry trip regardless of weather, but we had calm water with gentle swells.  Perfect for casting the flies Jim Terborg tied while thinking about the trip in Oregon.

Jim Terborg’s home tied white fly with a green tint seemed to do the trick today and it wasn’t long before the first of many Bonita was landed and the layers we were wearing for warmth started peeling off.  Even on a 10wt fly rod, these fish put up quite a fight with repeated runs into the depths that bent the rod nearly in half.

For some diversity, Jim Pickell tried trolling some live bait and caught a Ladyfish, a Green Jack, and a Cabrilla (sea bass), which we kept for dinner. The captain offered to filet the fish before we left. Afternote: it was as tasty as Leo promised!

Leo, who moved to Baja years ago from British Columbia, provided drinks, lunch, fishing rods, and instruction. While Leo specializes in fly-fishing, he indicated many of his clients use conventional fishing gear.  However, he estimated that about 20% of the clients in the area are now using fly rods so it’s clearly a growing niche.

The Home Tied Fly Wins Every Time

By 1:00 pm the fishing slowed down and we called it quits.  We never hooked a Dorado, but that is why they call it “fishing” and not “catching.”  With over 10 fish, we actually did well, especially considering that December is one of the “off months” for most local fish.

Jim Terborg planned a second trip with Leo when he comes back to Todos Santos in March.  Jim Pickell hopes he’s invited again:) Next time the season would likely call for fishing outside out of La Paz and we could expect many different type of fish.

The drive home included fresh squeezed lemonade and a fresh baked cheese and rosemary loaf for the road at the Il Triunfo Café, a beautiful restaurant and bakery in El Triunfo (with great thin crust pizza) located adjacent to the former silver mine (a great place for a day trip with plenty of hiking and photo opportunities).

We pulled into Todos Santos at 2:30 pm, just in time for Jim Terborg to take a nap before going to the beach to look for whales and enjoy another magical Todos Santos sunset.


How to Get There: The drive takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Todos Santos. Here’s a map from Todos Santos to the launch in Los Planes (Bahia de los Suenos). Seems like it’s about 75 miles, most on well-paved highways.

View Flyfishing – Todos Santos to Bahia de los Suenos in a larger map

What to Bring: The only things you need are sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.

Cost: About $300 all inclusive for the guide, food, gear, gas etc.

How to Book:  You can find more information and book Leo as your flyfishing guide by clicking here.

La Paz Fishing Season:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Marlin Azul / Blue Marlin
Marlin Rayado / Striped Marlin
Pez Vela / Sail Fish
Sierra / Sierra
Jurel / Yellow Tail
Atun / Yellow Fin Tuna
Pez Gallo / Rooster Fish
Pez Fuerte / Amberjack
Wahoo / Wahoo