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12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula in 2018

Optimize Your Baja Trip to Experience Signature Regional Festivals and Fiestas

Although there is no bad time to visit Baja, the flexibility to shift your travel dates by a week or two could pay huge dividends:  not in savings, but in memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences.

The secret is signature regional events. Every community on the peninsula hosts celebrations, and not just local observances of national holidays, but festivals, fiestas and other events that reflect their unique character and culture.

Some of the signature regional events have been around for 50 years or more, some are relatively new. Some are free, some – like the Baja 1000 or Bisbee’s annual series of fishing tournaments – are free to follow, but require significant outlays for participants.

To find out what’s coming up in each regional area, we recommend regular visits to our Baja.com events page. But as a broad overview, we’re sharing our selections for the signature event in each month for 2018.

January – Tropic of Cancer Concert Series in Todos Santos

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

Tropic of Cancer Concert Series in Todos Santos

Former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck pioneered jam culture in Todos Santos with this annual music festival, which brought in high-profile musicians for performances at the landmark Hotel California, as well as the town’s picturesque main plaza. Buck’s festival went on hiatus after he made some controversial comments about local politics at the 2016 event, but the music lives on. The freshly minted Tropic of Cancer Concert Series premiered in 2017, and has returned again in 2018 with an all-star lineup headlined by Joan Osborne, The Autumn Defense, The Jag, Cordovas, La Santa Cecilia, Bostich and Fussible from Nortec Collective, Julie Roberts, and La Victoria. 

February – Carnaval in La Paz and Ensenada

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

Carnaval in Ensenada

There are two cities that host notable Carnaval celebrations on the Baja California peninsula:  Ensenada and La Paz. Carnaval, for the uninitiated, is the Catholic pre-Lenten celebration that captivates Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans each year, although in the latter city it is better known as Mardi Gras. In La Paz, the six-day farewell to indulgence is centered on the capital city’s malecón, and includes voluminous food and drink, colorful parades and costumes, plenty of live music from high-profile performers, and the coronation of a festival king and queen. This year’s theme is Tierra de Encanto y Fantasía (Land of Charm and Fantasy). Carnaval takes place Feb. 8-13. 

March – 12th Annual Blues & Arts Fiesta in San Felipe

12 Months of Baja

Blues & Arts Fiesta in San Felipe

The San Felipe Lion’s Club is holding its 12th annual San Felipe International Blues & Arts Fiesta on March 16-17 at the Pavilion at La Ventana del Mar, El Dorado Ranch. The Pavilion is a landmark venue in the quiet Sea of Cortez fishing town of San Felipe and offers amazing sea and mountain views. This year’s festival brings together blues bands from the U.S. and Mexico, as well as regional visual artists. Performers include Backwater Blues Band, Jade Bennett, Gregg Wright, Lacy Younger, Rock Cats, and Pachuco Blues.

April – 71st Annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race

Billed as the world’s largest international yacht race, this maritime competition and social extravaganza is an annual highlight of the NOSA (Newport Ocean Sailing Association) calendar, and has been since 1948. Past participants include celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart and Walter Cronkite, as well as world-class yachtsmen like Dennis Conner, Bill Ficker and Dave Ullman. The 71st annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race is scheduled for April 27–29, with participants set to compete in over 50 trophy categories during the 125 nautical mile sail from Newport Beach, California to Ensenada, Mexico. In 2018, N2E has also merged with the shorter Border Run Race to San Diego, and added a youth-oriented Border Run Sprint to Dana Point.

May – 483rd Anniversary Foundation Festival in La Paz

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

Landing of the Spaniards Reenactment at the La Paz Foundation Festival

Although the first European to set foot on the Baja California peninsula was mutineer Fortún Ximénez – who arrived sometime in late 1533 or early 1534 – the residents of La Paz celebrate the day his superior, conquistador par excellence Hernán Cortés, came ashore a little over a year later. That date, May 3, 1535 has been enshrined as the official foundation of La Paz, even though Cortés himself called the place Santa Cruz. This anniversary is remembered with an annual festival in Baja California Sur’s capital city featuring activities and concerts, as well as a traditional reenactment of the first landing of the Spaniards.

June – 16th Annual Horse, Art & Wine Festival in Ensenada

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

Horse, Art and Wine Festival in Valle de Guadalupe

 

Mexican art, food, folk dancing, fine wine and horses are the main attractions at the Festival del Caballo, Arte y Vino (Horse, Art and Wine Festival), held yearly in the Valle de Guadalupe outside Ensenada. A children’s area is set aside with toys, clowns and ponies, while adults can enjoy various equestrian competitions, which showcase the beauty of various horse breeds as well as the skill of local riders. Some of the region’s best wineries also get to showcase their wares. A date has yet to be announced for the 2018 festival.

July – 15th Annual Street Opera Festival in Tijuana

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

Opera en la Calle in Tijuana

A Tijuana neighborhood, Colonia Libertad, provides the stage set for the annual Opera en la Calle, or Street Opera Festival. The event has been taking place since 2004 and includes the participation of more than 300 performers and designers, who provide locals and visitors alike up-close encounters with the power and artistry of opera. The event is sponsored by Opera de Tijuana, a local cultural institution since 2000. A date has yet to be announced for 2018.

August – 28th Anniversary Fiestas de la Vendimia in Valle de Guadalupe

12 Months of Baja

Fiestas de la Vendimia in Valle de Guadalupe

Fiestas de la Vendimia are a series of annual events celebrating the grape harvest in the heart of Baja California’s wine country, Valle de Guadalupe, near Ensenada. Baja’s wine valleys are by far the most fruitful in the country, generating upwards of 90% of the table wines produced in Mexico. They are also increasingly being acclaimed internationally for their quality. The yearly fiestas celebrating the bountiful grape harvest are organized by Provino, a committee dedicated to promoting the area’s wines. The fiestas traditionally consist of over two weeks of tastings, dinners, workshops and concerts around the region before concluding with the highly anticipated Paella Contest at Viña Liceaga.

September – 37th Annual Rosarito to Ensenada 50 Mile Fun Bicycle Ride

12 Months of Baja

Rosarito to Ensenada 50 Mile Fun Bicycle Ride

Dubbed “The Original Party on Wheels,” the 50 mile fun ride started in 1979, when a group of friends pedaled from Rosarito to Ensenada on a lark. 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. The 2018 rides are scheduled for May 5, Cinco de Mayo, and September 29. As usual, participants will start at 10 a.m. on the scheduled Saturdays in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel in Rosarito, and will have 6 hours to reach the finish line in Ensenada.

October – 38th Annual Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament in Cabo San Lucas

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament in Cabo San Lucas

Oft billed as “The World’s Richest Fishing Tournament” or the “Super Bowl of Sportfishing” thanks to its million dollar plus payouts, the Black & Blue tournament originally premiered in 1981, and remains to this day the highest profile annual event in Los Cabos. The $4.165 million payout in 2006 was and still is the largest in sportfishing history. Base entry for this millionaire maker is $5,000 U.S. per team, and requires a $71,500 U.S. outlay across all categories, jackpots and challenges. But anyone can enjoy the daily weigh-ins in front of Puerto Paraiso on the marina boardwalk. 

November – 51st Annual Baja 1000

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

SCORE Baja 1000

Without doubt, the Baja California peninsula’s most iconic annual event is the Baja 1000, a high-octane, high-adrenaline off-road challenge for motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs and other four-wheel vehicles that unfolds over 1,000 miles of rugged terrain. When the event premiered in 1967 – as a race from Tijuana to La Paz – it was under the auspices of the National Off-Road Racing Association. Following the OPEC Oil Crisis in 1973, there was a change in organizers, and since 1975 the Baja 1000 has been run under the SCORE banner. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the legendary event, and as a nod to tradition, the race utilized its most traditional start and finish spots, running a 1200-mile point-to-point course from Ensenada to La Paz. This year sees the return of a loop format, with the start and finish in Ensenada.

December – 13th Annual Sabor a Cabo Food & Wine Festival

12 Months of Baja: A Guide to Travel-Worthy Events Around the Peninsula

Sabor a Cabo in Los Cabos

Los Cabos’ signature food and wine festival returned for its 12th edition last month, Dec. 9 at the Quivira Clubhouse in Cabo San Lucas. Over 60 local restaurants and 30 regional wineries participated in the main event, which followed on the heels of the annual rural food and wine tasting at Huerta Los Tamarindos outside San Jose del Cabo. Culinary headliners included celebrated chefs Dieter Koschina, Enrique Olvera and Richard Sandoval. Koschina and Olvera both have been awarded Michelin stars, and also currently have restaurants rated among the top 100 in the world (Olvera, amazingly, has two). 1970s funk and disco supergroup Earth, Wind and Fire headlined the musical performers. No word yet on the 2018 event, but Sabor a Cabo traditionally takes place during the first week of December.

 

All photos provided courtesy of the respective event organizers. 

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

Baja Year in Review 2017

Baja Year in Review 2017

Each December, as people are wrapping gifts for the holiday season, we put a bow on the year in Baja with a review of our favorite stories, headlines and videos from the previous 12 months.

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

Headlines to Remember

Sometimes the headlines tell you pretty much all you need to know. Here are three that made us smile in 2017.

Baja Year in Review 2017

Photo courtesy of Adobe Guadalupe.

Baja Vineyards Shine in Global Wine Competition

A decade ago, travelers from the U.S. and elsewhere were often surprised to discover that Mexico is a major wine producer, and that the country’s most fertile wine growing region – Valle de Guadalupe –  is in Baja California, just outside Ensenada. The secret has been out for a while now, however, with high-profile press from Vogue and The New York Times, among other publications, driving interest in Guadalupe Valley as a fashionable food and wine destination. Still, the announcement in May that Mexican wines had been awarded 18 medals at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, an international wine competition held this year in Valladolid, Spain, added even more luster to the country’s increasingly sterling winemaking reputation. Baja based Monte Xanic, L.A. Cetto, Santo Tomas, Casta de Vinos and Hilo Negro were among the wineries honored with medals, singled out from over 9,000 entries from around the globe.

Baja Year in Review 2017

Photo courtesy of the Presidencia de la Republica Mexicana.

Mexico Creates Massive Marine Park Off the Baja California Peninsula

Mexico continues to take steps to protect its incredible abundance of natural resources. Last year, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced the creation of the Pacific Islands Biosphere Preserve, establishing a sanctuary of over 2.7 million acres – including 21 islands and 97 islets – off the western coast of Baja California. This year brought another bombshell:  the legal protection of an enormous marine park (“bigger than Greece”) around the Revillagigedos Archipelago, a group of four volcanic islands about 250 miles south of Cabo San Lucas. The islands have long been famed for their spectacular scuba diving conditions, thanks to the presence of robust numbers of very large marine specimens like whales, dolphins, sharks, manta rays and sea turtles. In fact, the island chain is often called the “Galapagos of North America” due to its intense concentration of fish (some 366 species), marine mammals, and colorful sea bird species like masked, blue-footed and red-footed boobies. Week-long expeditions to the undersea sanctuary are available from Los Cabos aboard the Solmar V.

Baja Year in Review 2017

Photo courtesy of Santo Mezquila.

Sammy Hagar and Adam Levine Partner to Create a New Alcoholic Spirit, Mezquila

Maroon 5 lead singer and former Montrose and Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar share more than just rock star status. They both love Los Cabos. Hagar pioneered the local party scene when he and his then Van Halen bandmates opened Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas in 1990, and he still returns to the downtown nightspot each October to celebrate his birthday with a series of cameo studded concert bashes. Levine, meanwhile, loves the area so much he married his wife, model Behati Prinsloo, at Flora Farms just outside San Jose del Cabo in 2014.

The two singers also share a love of fine spirits, and teamed up to create an entirely new drink in 2017 called Mezquila, a combination of traditional Mexican liquors tequila and mezcal. The concept was born when the two were hanging out one night at Cabo Wabo, and was developed in partnership with the distillery that Hagar used to launch his Cabo Wabo tequila in 1996.

“It comes on like tequila and you smell a little bit of smoke in it but is toned down to where you get a sweet finish,” Hagar said of their new Santo brand Mezquila. “It’s taking tequila to another level. When you blend the two you get a higher spirit, a brand new taste.”

Mezquila is still in its infancy, but if Hagar’s track record is any indication, it will do quite well. The “Red Rocker” sold most of his shares in Cabo Wabo tequila to Campari for 80 million dollars in 2007.

Our Favorite Stories

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

Baja Year in Review 2017

Photo courtesy of Fred from Bombing Science.

The Many Faces of Tijuana: A Graffiti Portrait of the Gateway to Latin America

How does one create a portrait of a city? What is the best, most complete way to showcase the passion and personality of an urban area will well over a million residents? Which faces are most representative? What does it really mean to live in this place?

These questions are even more complicated when it comes to Tijuana, the most populous community in Baja California, and home to the world’s busiest border crossing.

It has been said that there are three Californias:  Alta, Baja and La Frontera. Tijuana inhabits the borderlands – a space with psychological as well as physical boundaries and dimensions – straddling the line between two countries, two cultures, and two languages.

For the mononymously known photographer Fred, the true portrait of any city – even one as complex as Tijuana – emerges from its street art, the unfiltered, uncensored and often defiant images that, in their totality, are a strong declaration of self-identity.

For the last 20 years, Fred has traveled the world in a never-ending quest to find the best graffiti art for his website, Bombing Science. He recently stopped in Tijuana and managed to take over 500 graffiti pictures in only a few days. Touring Tijuana on his bicycle, Fred witnessed the burgeoning street-art scene of the city.

“I was really surprised,” he said, “with the quantity and the quality of the graffiti you can find on the streets of TJ. The local graffiti artists are just top notch, and you have that sense of a global city for arts when you can see so many artists from other Mexican states, the U.S., and even Europe.”

Read more

Baja Year in Review 2017

Photo courtesy of Hotel California.

Day Trip: Todos Santos

We don’t want to be like Cabo” is a refrain often heard from residents of Todos Santos; by which they mean Cabo San Lucas, with its touristy hustle and boisterous nightlife. Todos Santos actually shares quite a bit in common with San Jose del Cabo:  both communities were founded around Jesuit missions, both took advantage of available water resources to become peninsular commercial centers in the late 19th and early 20th century, and both are now distinguished by thriving art scenes.

Todos Santos does have a singular character, however. The many beautiful old brick buildings, a legacy from its 19th century heyday as a sugar capital, give the historic downtown area a distinctive profile unlike any other place in Baja California Sur. Todos Santos is also blessed by a beneficial vantage, between the Sierra de la Laguna mountains and the Pacific Ocean, that undoubtedly contributes to the unique quality of its light. This unusual light was what first attracted artists in the 1980s, and led to the town’s rebirth as an artists’ colony some thirty years or so after its water wells had run dry.

Todos Santos has for many years been a popular day trip destination from Los Cabos–it is less than an hour by car from Cabo San Lucas–notable for its fine arts galleries, hip eateries, and annual festivals celebrating art, film, music and literature. Todos Santos is also a destination surf spot, with popular breaks at Cerritos, San Pedrito and La Pastora.

It was the first place on the peninsula to be designated as a pueblo magico (a promotional appellation applied to Mexican communities with great natural beauty, and strong cultural or historical legacies), and it remains, along with Loreto and Tecate, one of only three towns throughout Baja to be so honored.

Read more

Baja Year in Review 2017

Fun Facts and Triva About the Baja California Peninsula

How well do you know the Baja California peninsula and its history? Did you know…

Baja is the first California….

The name California comes from Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo’s chivalric romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandian – first published in 1510 – in which a queen named Calafia rules an island inhabited only by women.

A lieutenant of conquistador Hernan Cortez (Fortun Ximenez) was the first European to set foot in the land known as California, landing near La Paz in late 1533 or early 1534. Cortez himself followed a little more than a year later. The first Europeans did not explore what is now the U.S. state of California for another 234 years, until the Portola expedition in 1769. Under Spanish rule, it was referred to as Alta or Nueva California, to distinguish it from Baja or Antigua California.

Baja California Sur is the youngest state in Mexico…

Mexico has 31 states and a federal district. Baja California Sur was, along with Quintana Roo, the last to achieve statehood, being elevated from territory status on October 8, 1974. Baja California, by contrast, was officially given statehood in 1952.

Baja California Sur has more coastline than any Mexican state…

Mexico has approximately 9,330 kilometers of coastline, and a rather staggering percentage of it surrounds the Baja California peninsula. Baja California Sur owns 2,131 kilometers, Baja California 1,493 kilometers. Together, they account for 38% of the nation’s coastline.

La Paz is the oldest community on the peninsula…

Each year on May 3, La Paz honors its foundation, remembering the day Hernan Cortez came ashore in 1535. This year, Baja California Sur’s capital city marks its 482nd birthday, and as always, will celebrate with a Foundation Festival featuring food, drink, live entertainment, and of course a traditional reenactment of the landing of the Spaniards.

Read more

Videos We Loved

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

 

The Baja Sur Road Trip

The Baja Road Trip website lives up to its name with this video, which takes viewers on a breathtaking tour of the peninsula’s southernmost state, from dirt roads and cactus-strewn desert to pristine beaches, secluded coves and offshore islands. 

 

The Living Legend Who Can Cook Eight Whole Lambs at the Same Time

Within five years of opening, Doña Esthela’s restaurant (La Cocina de Doña Esthela) in Valle de Guadalupe had become so renowned for its morning meals – prepared and served in traditional Mexican style – that culinary website FoodieHub named it the best breakfast place in the world.

Sister and brother hosts Bricia and Fernando Lopez, whose family operates acclaimed Los Angeles eatery Guelaguetza, made the pilgrimage over the border for Eater’s Open Road series, hoping to discover for themselves the secrets of this Baja legend…like how to cook eight whole lambs at the same time.

 

 

White Party at Blue Marlin Ibiza in Cabo San Lucas

Born on the Costa del Sol, in the blue-blood party milieu of Marbella, the White Party made its way to Los Cabos via Nikki Beach Club at ME Cabo, which for years lent its haute couture, poolside party venue to the local smart set, as well as the hip scene makers who flew in from Los Angeles and Las Vegas for the nightclub’s signature rite of Spring.  

Hurricane Odile forever changed the local landscape when it made landfall in September 2014. Nikki Beach, damaged beyond repair, gave way in the rebirth to Blue Marlin Ibiza, yet another legendary beach party brand from the sun-drenched shores of Spain…this time from the island of Ibiza, which along with Mallorca and Menorca is part of the Balearic chain popular with summering European tourists.

The one constant in Los Cabos White Party lore has been ME Cabo, the Art Deco inspired masterpiece of a resort that overlooks Medano Beach. ME Cabo’s unique amenities and stylish services have inspired such loyalty among its young, moneyed clientele, that even with an 18-month hiatus post-Odile for major repairs and renovations, the property scarcely skipped a beat. Video specialists CaboViVO and Cabo Noise teamed up to capture the elegance and energy of the 2017 event, complete with an unforgettable drone tracking shot from Land’s End to the dance floor.

 

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.

Tips for Flying With Your Fishing Gear

Tips for Flying With Your Fishing Gear

by Daniel Cohen, courtesy of Fin and Field

On some trips you are content to fish with the gear that is provided by your guide. But other times you simply want or need to bring your own gear. In my case, every year I take a trip to Baja Sur to target big game on the fly in the Sea of Cortez. I fish with local panga captains and they most certainly do NOT provide gear (at least not fly gear). I also build all my own rods and sometimes I just want to use my own gear, and I am familiar with how it performs.

When it comes to toeing the line with TSA to get all my gear down there, packing can be a challenge. Doubly so because you want to avoid checking valuable items, fragile equipment, or gear that is critical to the trip. You don’t want to get to your destination and have only broken rods to fish with! Here are the ins and outs of traveling with a variety of fishing gear, both domestically and internationally. Keep in mind these rules are subject to change, sometimes multiple times a year. You should check with your specific airline as well as TSA before you fly. If you are traveling internationally it gets even more complicated and the rules can change often, it is best to do some research right before your trip and be ready for surprises. In the case of Mexico specifically the rules seem to be highly variable, sometimes from airport to airport, especially with carrying on fishing rods.

Tips for Flying With Your Fishing Gear

Rods

Flying with rods is nerve-wracking. If you have 1 piece rods they are going to be checked and you need to have an adequate tube to protect them. Rule of thumb with checking an oversize rod tube, your going to pay. The cost can be anywhere from $25 to $100 if you already checked a couple other bags. Most airlines will allow a tube of at least 115 inches but some limit it to 2 rods, fortunately the rules are pretty well spelled out for checking rods. Notable restrictions are Southwest with a limit of 91 inches, Alaska with a 2 rod limit, American with a 2 rod limit, Jet Blue with a 2 rod limit, and United with a 2 rod limit (limit is per container, you can check multiple containers but the cost adds up fast).

Once you chose an airline, pack your rods to take some abuse. Buy a hard sided rod carrier or build a case out of PVC. If you buy one it will come with the ability to lock but if you build one you should engineer a way to put on a TSA approved lock. If you are building one, use schedule 40 PVC or heavier, I have heard of lighter material being crushed. Make sure to pad the rods within the  tube, neither the human or mechanical baggage handlers are known for being gentle. A quick search will yield your airlines specific rules including any international restrictions.

If you plan to bring travel rods, or 4 piece fly rods rods like I do, you might be might be able to cary them on. The tubes or cases might be longer than the approved carry-on size but the airlines tend to treat them like fragile musical instruments and make exceptions. I have not personally seen anyones rods be refused on domestic flights, but I have read reports, so it is possible but rare. Internationally the rules vary and it is more likely that your rods will need to be part of your checked luggage. You are much more likely to end up with full overhead storage bins and be asked to check your rods plane side. So whatever your plan is for carrying on multi-piece rods you should be prepared with a rugged container if your plan goes awry. The fishpond bag below has survived several times after I was forced to check it into the belly of the plane. It is not my preference, and I try and board as early as possible to prevent it, but stuff happens. 

Recommended Rod Cases:

Plano 6508 Airline Telescoping Rod Case

Fishpond Dakota Rod and Reel Travel Case

Tips for Flying With Your Fishing Gear

Reels

The rules for flying with reels are very straight forward. Unequivocally you can carry-on fishing reels on flights. Unfortunately, the rules about fishing line, on the reel or spare spools, gets murky. Fishing line, including mono, floro, braid, and fly line are not directly addressed by TSA so we have to rely on reports from fellow sportsmen. It seems that from time to time a specific TSA agent will consider the fishing line dangerous, and with no specific rule allowing you to carry-on line, you are at their mercy. The consensus is that at domestic airports you are extremely unlikely to have a problem. Coming home on an international flight however, your fishing line is more likely to pose a problem. So, just like with your fishing rods, be prepared to check reels and spools of line if the security agents balk.

Tips for Flying With Your Fishing Gear

Hooks

TSA allows you to carry-on small hooks and freshwater hooks, but “large deep sea fishing hooks” are not allowed in carry-on luggage and need to be checked. How do you define a “large deep sea fishing hook” you ask? Your guess is as good as mine. Ultimately, once again, it is a judgement call that the TSA agent must make (and they probably don’t know much about fishing). A lot of the flies in my box are built on 1/0 – 4/0 hooks, so I check my flies in my main bag. But I am also confident that flies are low on the list of things that would get stolen, they can’t be broken by rough baggage handlers, and I can get at least a few flies down in Baja if my bag is lost. So far, checking my flies has been a hassle free decision on both international and domestic flights.

Recommended Tackle Boxes

Cabela’s Streamer Fly Box

Plano Guide Series 4477-00 3700 Lumbar Fishing Pack

Tips for Flying With Your Fishing Gear

Tools

The other things we, as fishermen, would be tempted to bring on a flight is our tools. I think we are all smart enough to leave the knives at home (like the Abel knife above) or at least keep them in checked bags. But what about the other tools of the fishing trade? The magic number here is 7. As in 7″. Pliers, hemostats, line clippers/nippers, zingers, knot tying tools, even scissors (with a blade under 4″ in the US) are all ok as long as they are under 7″ in total length. Again, when flying internationally you will face more restrictions and it is safest to check anything you don’t want confiscated.

Recommended Tools:

Browning Fishing Pliers

Yeti MOLLE Zinger and Bottle Opener

In conclusion, you should be able to bring your fishing gear just about anywhere you want to go as long as you are willing to put at least some of it in checked bags. In the US you will face fewer restrictions when trying to carry-on your fishing gear including hooks and tools. The good news here is that if you are departing from the US you will be able to carry-on your gear on the way to your fishing destination, improving the chances that everything you need for a successful fishing trip makes it on time and in one piece. You might have to check more of your equipment on the way home, so be prepared for that scenario.

About Fin & Field

#FinandField #FYNA #DreamBig2016

Fin & Field is all about finding your next adventure. We’re working hard to provide the most comprehensive listing of services, reviews, and far reaching community available to help you take the guesswork out of planning your next adventure.

We believe in the ethical pursuit of hunting and fishing adventures and support taking from the land only what you can use and leaving it in better shape than you found it.

Tight Lines & Happy Hunting!

Visit us at www.finandfield.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.

FAIRS, FESTIVALS AND FIESTAS: JUNE EVENTS IN BAJA

The Baja event spotlight shines on Los Cabos in June, with no less than four of the region’s signature events held in San Jose del Cabo alone:  the 5th edition of the Los Cabos Open of Surf, one of two professional surf tournaments held annually on the Baja California peninsula; the 21st annual Stars & Stripes Tournament, a golf and fishing extravaganza that also raises enormous sums of money for charitable causes; the 9th staging of the Fiesta de la Musica, a local version of the international holiday that brings live music to multiple outdoor venues in the downtown area; and the final month of Art Walk, a popular festivity that spotlights gallery culture in the city’s historic Distrito del Arte

Off-road racing fans, meanwhile, can look forward to the 49th running of the Baja 500, one of four SCORE sponsored events held annually on the peninsula. The rugged 515-mile loop race starts and finishes in Ensenada.

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.

 

June E vents in Baja

Ensenada:  49th Annual SCORE Baja 500

When:  June 1 – 4

SCORE International’s series of annual off-road racing events includes four on the Baja California peninsula: the San Felipe 250, the traditional Baja 500 – a loop race that stars and finishes in Ensenada – the Desert Challenge, and of course the group’s flagship event, the legendary Baja 1000. The 2017 edition SCORE Baja 500 is a loop layout starting and finishing in Ensenada, with racers allowed 20 hours to complete the rugged off-road course on June 3. The post-race Awards Ceremony will be held the following afternoon in the Cathedral Room of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center.

Cost:  $2000 – $3050

 

June Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo:  Art Walk

When:  June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

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. The Art District is also home to many of the city’s finest restaurants.

Cost:  Free admission

 

June Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo:  5th Annual Los Cabos Open of Surf

When:  June 6 – 11

There are two World Surf League sponsored surfing events held annually on the Baja California peninsula:  a Big Wave Tour event off Todos Santos Island near Ensenada; and the Los Cabos Open of Surf, held each June at Zippers point break off Playa Costa Azul in San José del Cabo. When it premiered in 2013, the Los Cabos Open of Surf was a 6-star men’s event under the ASP (the forerunner to the WSL). Women joined the fun in 2014, and since 2015, the LCOS has been a QS 6000 event solely for women and junior men and women.  Australian Bronte Macaulay is the defending women’s champion.

Cost:  Free admission

 

June Events in Baja

Cabo San Lucas:  Cabo Summer Slam/Pelagic Triple Crown of Sportfishing

When:  June 8 – 10

Over $100,000 in cash and prizes are expected to  be handed out at the 4th annual edition of this summer tournament. Teams will compete across four divisions, hoping to earn points for billfish releases (a category that includes blue, black and striped marlin, as well as sailfish and even swordfish), or by bringing in the biggest tuna, wahoo or dorado.

Cost:  $1500 per team

 

June Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo:  Fiesta de la Musica

When:  June 17

The Fete de la Musique began in France in 1982, and has since been taken up by more than 120 countries around the world; traditionally in accordance with the summer solstice. San Jose del Cabo has hosted a Fiesta de la Musica each June since 2009, a free all-day extravaganza featuring dozens of bands and performers throughout the downtown area, as well as plenty of traditional food and drink.

Cost:  Free admission

 

 

 

 

June Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo:  21st Annual Stars and Stripes Tournament

When:  June 22 – 25

During the 20 plus years of its existence, the annual Stars and Stripes’ fishing and golf tournament has raised over 23 million dollars for youth focused charities. But it’s not simply a tournament or a charity benefit…more like a complete lifestyle experience. Participants stay at the luxurious Hilton Los Cabos; go big-game sportfishing for dorado, wahoo, tuna, sailfish, swordfish, and black, blue and striped marlin; play golf at some of the world’s best golf courses; and enjoy spectacular live entertainment nightly. This year’s performers will include Kenny Loggins, Kelly Hansen of Foreigner, Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship, and an all-star rock star collective.

Cost:  $3500 – $125,000

 

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: May Events in Baja

A Look Ahead at the Best May Events in Baja

Rosarito is the event capital of Baja California in May, hosting two notable events, and furnishing the starting line for another. The latter, of course, is the spring running of the 50 Mile Rosarito to Ensenada Fun Bicycle Ride, a regional sporting tradition that dates back to 1979, and is known as “the original party on wheels.”

The kick-off edition of the biannual bicycle race begins at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, an historic lodging that also typically plays host to the peninsula’s best Mother’s Day celebration. The acclaimed Rosarito Art Fest also returns in May, featuring local art, culture and cuisine.

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.

 

May Events in BajaLa Paz482nd Anniversary Foundation Festival

When:  May 3

La Paz celebrates its birthday on May 3rd, honoring the day in 1535 that Hernan Cortes first sighted what would eventually become the largest city in Baja California Sur. This year’s Fiestas de Fundacion again serve as a showcase for local art, culture and cuisine, with activities and concerts – including a traditional reenactment of the first landing of the Spaniards – centered around the malecon and Plaza Constitucion (also known as Jardin Velasco), the central plaza located across from the old church. 

Cost:  Free Admission

 

May Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo:  Art Walk

When:  May 4, 11, 18, 25

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. The Art District is also home to many of the city’s finest restaurants.

Cost:  Free Admission

 

May Events in Baja

Todos Santos6th Gastrovino Food and Wine Festival

When:  May 5 – 7

Gastrovino returns in May, luring gourmands and oenophiles to the charming artists’ colony and pueblo magico of Todos Santos for a weekend festival celebrating local culture and cuisine, as well as Baja wines from Valle de Guadalupe. Organized annually by the owners of the wine and olive oil boutique La Bodega de Todos Santos, highlights at the 6th annual fete are expected to include a White Ball at the historic Hotel California, a Blind Wine Tasting Challenge, as well as the main event at the town’s plaza principal, with food, wine, live music, and a silent auction to benefit local programs for children.

Cost:  $30 – $100

 

May Events in Baja

Rosarito Beach:  38th Anniversary Rosarito to Ensenada 50 Mile Fun Bicycle Ride

When:  May 6

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 base, with upgrades like elite start times and jerseys available

 

 

 

 

May Events in Baja

Rosarito BeachRosarito Art Fest

When:  May 27 – 28

The biggest art fair in Baja California returns for an 8th edition at CEART, the cultural center of Rosarito Beach. The annual Memorial Day weekend festival will showcase its usual winning mix of regional art, performance art, live music and traditional Mexican cuisine.

Cost:  Free admission

 

 

 

 

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

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: April Events in Baja

A Look Ahead at the Best April Events in Baja

April is one of Baja’s best sporting months, thanks to long-time events such as the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race and the off-road NORRA Mexican 1000, which celebrate their 70th and 50th anniversaries this year, respectively. SCORE’s San Felipe 250 has also been around for better than 30 years, and in its decade plus the Paws n’ Claws Golf Tournament has raised plenty of funds on behalf of the Los Cabos Humane Society.

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

San Felipe:  31st Annual SCORE San Felipe 250

When:  March 30 – April 2

Cost:  $1,545 and up, depending upon class

SCORE International’s four race World Desert Champion Series kicks off in 2017 with the San Felipe 250. The rugged off-road loop race starts and finishes in San Felipe, and is open to cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and UTVs. 

 

April Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo12th Annual Paws n’ Claws Open Golf Tournament and Dinner

When:  Apr. 1

Cost: $100 – $350

This annual fundraiser for the Los Cabos Humane Society pairs an open golf tournament with raffles and prizes on the gorgeous Jack Nicklaus designed Arroyo and Mountain Courses at Palmilla Golf Club with a cocktail reception and BBQ courtesy of Acre Restaurant in San Jose del Cabo.

 

 

 

 

 

April Events in Baja

San Jose del Cabo:  Thursday Night Art Walk

When:  Apr. 6, 13, 20, 27

Cost:  Free admission

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

 

April Events in Baja

Ensenada:  50th Anniversary NORRA Mexican 1000

When: Apr. 21 – 27

Cost: $1,967 and up, depending upon class

The origins of “The Happiest Race on Earth” date back to 1967, when NORRA organized the inaugural running of the “Baja 1000.” Although that legendary race is now run under the SCORE banner, NORRA revived the spirit of those bygone days when it restarted the Mexican 1000 as a fun, vintage-style rally race in 2010. The 50th anniversary race starts in Ensenada, and courses down the peninsula through El Rosario, Bahia de Los Angeles, San Ignacio, Loreto, and La Paz, before finishing in Los Cabos.

 

 

April Events in Baja

Ensenada70th Annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race

When: Apr. 28 – 30

Cost: $275

Billed as the world’s largest international yacht race, this maritime contest and social extravaganza is an annual highlight of the NOSA (Newport Ocean Sailing Association) calendar, and has been since 1948. Past participants include celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart and Walter Cronkite, as well as world-class yachtsmen like Dennis Conner, Bill Ficker and Dave Ullman.

 

 

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.

Fun Facts and Trivia About the Baja California Peninsula

How well do you know the Baja California peninsula and its history? Did you know…

Baja is the first California….

The name California comes from Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo’s chivalric romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandian – first published in 1510 – in which a queen named Calafia rules an island inhabited only by women.

A lieutenant of conquistador Hernan Cortez (Fortun Ximenez) was the first European to set foot in the land known as California, landing near La Paz in late 1533 or early 1534. Cortez himself followed a little more than a year later. The first Europeans did not explore what is now the U.S. state of California for another 234 years, until the Portola expedition in 1769. Under Spanish rule, it was referred to as Alta or Nueva California, to distinguish it from Baja or Antigua California.

Fun Facts and Trivia About the Baja California Peninsula

Baja California Sur is the youngest state in Mexico…

Mexico has 31 states and a federal district. Baja California Sur was, along with Quintana Roo, the last to achieve statehood, being elevated from territory status on October 8, 1974. Baja California, by contrast, was officially given statehood in 1952.

Baja California Sur has more coastline than any Mexican state…

Mexico has approximately 9,330 kilometers of coastline, and a rather staggering percentage of it surrounds the Baja California peninsula. Baja California Sur owns 2,131 kilometers, Baja California 1,493 kilometers. Together, they account for 38% of the nation’s coastline.

La Paz is the oldest community on the peninsula…

Each year on May 3, La Paz honors its foundation, remembering the day Hernan Cortez came ashore in 1535. This year, Baja California Sur’s capital city marks its 482nd birthday, and as always, will celebrate with a Foundation Festival featuring food, drink, live entertainment, and of course a traditional reenactment of the landing of the Spaniards.

Loreto was the first capital of the Californias…

From 1697, when the Jesuits founded the first permanent peninsular community at Loreto (the indigenous inhabitants were hunter gatherers), Loreto was the capital of California. Loreto didn’t give up this privilege until 1777, when the capital was moved to Monterey in Alta California. Loreto remained the capital of Baja until 1829, when a particularly damaging hurricane caused the seat of government to briefly be moved to San Antonio. La Paz became the peninsular capital in 1830, and has remained so for Baja California Sur until the present day.

Fun Facts and Trivia About the Baja California Peninsula

The Jesuit mission at Loreto, as it appeared in the 18th century.

San Antonio is the longest continually occupied secular community in the Californias…

The Jesuits, Franciscans and Dominicans founded many missions in Las Californias, but the oldest continually occupied secular community is at San Antonio, a small town near El Triunfo, about 40 miles south of La Paz. San Antonio was founded in 1756 by Simon Rodriguez, as a community for mine workers at the newly formed Santa Gertrudis mine.

The final skirmish of the Mexican-American War took place near Todos Santos…

Although omitted almost entirely from books on the subject, Baja California was a hotbed of resistance during the Mexican-American War, and several pitched battles and sieges occurred on the peninsula. The war effectively ended when General Winfield Scott and his troops captured Mexico City in September 1847; but Bajacalifornio patriots under Capt. Manuel Pineda and wartime jefe politico Mauricio Castro continued to fight for their country. The final armed conflict of the war took place just north of Todos Santos on March 30, 1848, three weeks after the U.S. Congress had ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. 

The peninsula has a state song…

Canto a Baja California was written by Rafael Trujillo and put to music by Rafael Gama. The song, which begins “Baja California, brazo poderoso, al servicio eterno de la Patria” (Baja California, powerful arm, in the eternal service of the country) was adopted as the official state song of Baja California on September 27, 1956. Baja California Sur gave the matter decades of consideration, but finally followed suit in 2012.

The Sea of Cortez is the world’s youngest sea…

What we now call Baja California was born amid cooling magma in the distant mists of the Mesozoic Era, between 135 and 225 million years ago. For millions of years afterward, plate tectonics, continental drift, subduction and other forces acted upon the coastline, finally resulting in a peninsular break from the Mexican mainland. This fracture occurred from the top down–at the terminus of the Colorado River–beginning about 12 million years ago. As recently as five million years ago, present day Los Cabos was still connected to the continental massif, at what is now the state of Jalisco. The mouth of the Gulf of California, or Sea of Cortez, finally opened three million years ago; and approximately 1.8 million years ago, in the early stages of the Pleistocene Epoch, the peninsula achieved what we consider its present position…although it continues to move away from the mainland at a stately pace of about six centimeters per year.

Fun Facts and Trivia About the Baja California Peninsula

The Arch is old…really old.

The Arch in Cabo San Lucas is almost unfathomably old…

Geological estimates for the oldest granitic monuments at Land’s End suggest a mind blowing antiquity. According to The Atlas of Coastal Ecosystems in the Western Gulf of California, the Cretaceous Period granite that forms El Arco is equivalent in age to that found at subsurface volcanic sites at Las Tres Virgenes in the municipality of Mulegé:  approximately 84 million years old.

Ensenada is the largest municipality in the Americas…

The Baja California peninsula has a small number of municipalities, with both of its states possessing only five. Oaxaca, by contrast, has a whopping 570. But Baja California makes up for this dearth with Ensenada, which is not only the largest municipality by area in all of Mexico, but in all of the Americas. The Ensenada municipality encompasses more than 52,480 square kilometers.

Tijuana is the mostest…

Tijuana is not only the most populous city on the peninsula, with more than 1.6 million inhabitants, but it’s also the westernmost city in Mexico, and the westernmost point in Latin America.

The two worst hurricanes in Cabo San Lucas history happened on the same day…

The devastating “La Inundacion” of 1939, which washed away much of Cabo San Lucas, and category-4 Hurricane Odile in 2014 struck the Land’s End community 75 years apart on the same day:  September 14.

Fun Facts and Trivia About the Baja California Peninsula

Valle de los Cirrios is one of many places in Baja California protected by CONANP.

The peninsula is home to 15 parks and federally protected places…

Mexico’s Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas (better known as CONANP) is responsible for administering the country’s national parks, nature sanctuaries, natural monuments, biosphere reserves, protected flora and fauna areas, and protected natural resource areas. Currently, fifteen of these protected places are on or around the Baja California peninsula.

 

National Parks – Baja California

Fun Facts and Trivia About the Baja California Peninsula

The national park at Loreto Bay includes numerous offshore islands.

Constitution of 1857

Sierra de San Pedro Martir

San Lorenzo Archipelago

National Parks – Baja California Sur

Loreto Bay

Espíritu Santo Archipelago

Cabo Pulmo

Biosphere Reserves – Baja California

Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta

Isla Guadalupe

Bahía de los Ángeles

Biosphere Reserves – Baja California Sur

Fun Facts and Trivia About the Baja California Peninsula

Flora and fauna are protected on the Islands of the Gulf of California.

El Vizcaíno

Sierra de la Laguna

Revillagigedo Archipelago

Protected Areas for Flora & Fauna – Baja California

Valle de los Cirrios

Islands of the Gulf of California

Protected Areas for Flora & Fauna – Baja California Sur

Cabo San Lucas

 

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.

Mexico Welcomed Record-Breaking 35 Million International Tourists In 2016

World-famous Mexican hospitality and diverse tourism experiences fuel industry growth

The Mexico Tourism Board announced today a record-breaking 35 million international visitors traveled to Mexico in 2016, representing a growth of 9 percent compared to 2015. This growth is more than twice the global industry average, most recently reported at 3.9 percent by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in January 2017.  Additionally, tourism spending by international visitors grew even faster, at 10.4 percent, highlighting the strength of Mexico’s appeal to luxury travelers, interest in multi-destination visits, and demand for Mexico’s gastronomy, artisanal goods and shopping offering.

“Mexico’s sustained, fast growth is a testament to the incredible quality and diversity in our tourism offering and the hard work for the entire industry, both internationally and domestically. More than 9 million Mexicans working in the tourism and hospitality industry have made it their mission to ensure visitors have incredible experiences,” remarked Lourdes Berho, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board.  “Plans are already underway to ensure 2017 builds upon these achievements and that Mexico continues to welcome all visitors and give them reasons to come back again and again.”

Mexico Welcomed Record-Breaking 35 Million International Tourists In 2016

Mexico’s World Famous Hospitality Makes Visitors Feel At Home

True to the famous Mexican adage, ‘mi casa es tu casa’ (my home is your home), travelers from all over the world have recognized Mexico as being one of the most welcoming and friendliest places to visit in 2016.  In fact, the Mexico Tourism Board’s internal consumer tracking studies showed more than 94 percent of visitors reported an experience that “exceeded their expectations” and 86 percent say they would “like to come back again” in the next six months– some of the highest scores in the industry.  Examples include:

  • Mexico was awarded #1 country in the world for Family Travel and Puerto Vallarta as #2 destination in the world for LGBTQ travel by the global Travvy Awards
  • For the third year in a row, Mexico was ranked as the friendliest and most welcoming country in the world by the John Mason survey of expatriates in 191 countries
  • “Close to China” (Cerca de China) is a special program co-created by both China and Mexico which shares and recognizes best practices in the services offered to Chinese travelers by hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and guides
  • “Halal Mexico” is a special program to help prepare airlines, hotels, restaurants and the wider Mexico tourism industry to cater to travelers from around the world that maintain a halal diet

Mexico’s Visitors by Air and Expanded Connectivity Continues to Grow

Tourists arriving by air grew at an even faster rate of 10.7 percent, propelled by continued expansion in connectivity.  This includes service from new international markets to multiple Mexico destinations, expanded frequency on existing routes, and upgraded aircrafts featuring additional seats along with improved passenger experiences.

Mexico’s Top Destinations Featured and Recognized Around the World

From industry awards to consumer media, surveys and high profile brands, Mexico has once again proven itself once of the world’s most recognized destinations in 2016.  Examples include:

  • The New York Times named Tijuana (#8) and Puerto Escondido (#32) in their 52 Places to Go in 2017. Mexico City was featured as the #1 place to visit in their 2016 list.
  • Travel & Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards” reader survey named five Mexican cities in its Top 10 Best Cities in Latin America rankings, including San Miguel de Allende (#1), Oaxaca (#3), Mexico City (#4), Merida (#5), Guadalajara (#8)
  • Mexico and its local partners and destinations across the country, won a collective 35 International Travvy Awards in early 2017 including: Mexico as Best Family Travel Destination in the world; Riviera Maya region as the Best Honeymoon Destination in Latin America, and Puerto Vallarta as Best LGBTQ destination globally. In Mexico, Los Cabos received top recognition for its culinary and luxury offerings.
  • The Rough Guides named Mexico City as the #2 city to visit
  • National Geographic named Baja California as one of its top places you need to visit in 2017
  • Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017 selected multiple locations in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan region including Tulum for one of its largest features in 2017

The Mexico Tourism Board’s recently announced 2017 tourism development strategy included a focus on developing expanded products and personalized marketing campaigns focusing on areas such as luxury, weddings and romance, diving, biodiversity and nature, culture, gastronomy, high-profile events, sports and adventure, as well as programs for audience segments such as millennials, LGBTQ and retirees.

In each of these areas, partnerships with key destinations as well as global travel operators will bring an ever-expanded portfolio of options to travelers of all types. These industry partnerships are critical to Mexico’s goal to appeal to a broader audience in new markets, globally. This will help in achieving the new ambitious goal of reaching 50 million international visitors by 2021.

For more information about Mexico, please visit www.visitmexico.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.

Baja Ports Ride Cruise Ship Wave

New Statistics Show Cruising is Now the Fastest Growing Segment of the Global Travel Industry

The popularity of cruise ships continues to rise. In fact, according to a recent release from the United Nations World Travel Organization, cruising has become the fastest growing segment of the global vacation industry, outpacing land-based vacations by a whopping 23%.

Eye-grabbing statistic, huh? But what does it really mean for tourism numbers in the next few years, and more to the point for Baja California peninsula ports like Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, what does it mean for tourist destinations that realize significant gains from cruise ship visits?

Baja Ports Ride Cruise Ship Wave

Cruise ships are the fastest growing segment of the global vacation industry. Photo courtesy of Crown Princess and Princess Cruises.

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The answer to the first question is that cruise ship growth is not an anomaly. The UNWTO study touting cruising growth covered the 10-year period between 2004 and 2014. In the final year of the study, 2014, cruise ships worldwide generated over $37.1 billion U.S., with each passenger expending approximately $1,779 dollars on average.

Since then, the numbers have continued to rise. Over 25 million people worldwide are estimated to have taken a cruise ship vacation in 2016, and according to Mintel, a market research company, the revenue of the United States cruise market alone is expected to reach almost $50 billion dollars by 2018.

Expedia, one of the world’s largest online travel companies, announced a record setting year for cruise ship reservations in 2016, with over $560 million in gross bookings. Expedia added 33 new franchise locations and 1,300 new Vacation Consultants in 2016, and is expecting an even bigger year in 2017.

A recent J.D. Power survey found more than 90 percent of those who take a cruise plan to set sail again, with Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Xers particularly enthusiastic about repeating the cruise experience. About the same number of cruisers would recommend a cruise vacation to family and friends.

Baja Ports Ride Cruise Ship Wave

Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas are popular travel ports for Southern California based cruise ships. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises.

Amenities

There are fewer measurements to explain why cruise ships are steadily gaining in popularity, and why they’re increasingly outpacing traditional land-based destinations.

One obvious contributing factor would be decreasing satisfaction with airline travel, from security hassles to baggage charges and delayed departures. But as a sweeping explanation that seems less than fair to the cruise ship companies, who have continued to refine the onboard experience, adding new and improved amenities and services without compromising affordability.

Baja Ports Ride Cruise Ship Wave

Cruise lines offer relaxing getawasys and, increasingly, the sort of upscale services provided by the best luxury hotels. Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.

Carnival Corporation – whose brands include the Carnival, Princess and Holland America Cruise Lines – has recently taken a page out of the Disney handbook, introducing “Ocean Medallions” that are similar to the MagicBand smart bracelets used at Disney’s theme parks.

The coin-sized medallions are embedded with computer chips capable of upgrading services in a wide variety of ways. Yes, they open your cabin door. They also help guests navigate around the ship, and help them keep track of wandering husbands or children.

The real benefit of these small devices (they weigh less than two ounces), however, is in tracking the preferences of guests, from favorite foods and wines to preferred activities and entertainment options.

In tracking and thus being able to anticipate future guests needs, cruise ships are not only following the lead of Disney, but many luxury hotels around the world. This is important to note, because cruise ships were already offering many of the same services as all-inclusive hotels, putting together accommodations, food and drink, activities and entertainment in one tidy package.

If they can now upgrade that package by means of superior service – augmented by medallions that tell them where you are at all times and what you typically like at that time of day – then they have managed to outdo the best all-inclusives in service, and the best luxury hotels in price.

That’s a very tangible reason for the steady growth of cruise ships, without even considering the most obvious benefit of cruising: the ability to visit multiple destinations in the course of a single, often short, vacation.

Baja Ports Ride Cruise Ship Wave

Ensenada saw over 250 cruise ship visits in 2016, and will again in 2017. Photo courtesy of Gregg Erickson.

Destinations

Although the West Coast does not compare to the Caribbean in terms of cruise ship traffic, the region has seen robust growth in recent years, both in terms of increased interest in Alaska and the so-called Mexican Riviera, as fears of cartel violence have gradually abated.

Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas have traditionally been the beneficiaries of port calls in Baja, with longer cruises continuing on to destinations such as Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, and, after a recent renewal of interest by cruise lines, Acapulco.

Cabo San Lucas saw a 50% increase for January and February 2017, as compared to the same time frame a year ago. Overall, the gains this year are projected to be more modest, up around 11.5% from 2016. Ensenada, which due to its proximity to Southern California homeports like Los Angeles and San Diego, typically sees slightly more action than San Lucas, has a more stable outlook. Ensenada hosted 254 unique cruise ship visits in 2016, according to Cruise Port Insider, and is slated to receive 259 in 2017.

Baja Ports Ride Cruise Ship Wave

Cabo San Lucas continues to be a favored destination for West Coast cruise ships. Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.

Despite the slight increases this year, growth potential for Baja ports is strong; a fact bolstered by the larger ships now being deployed to the West Coast. The Carnival Splendor, a massive ship with a capacity of over 3,000 people, is moving to Long Beach in January 2018, and will specialize in week-long voyages along the Mexican Riviera. Holland America has sent a larger Vista Class ship to San Diego. Disney and Princess are also investing heavily in Mexico for the 2017 season, with the former departing from San Diego, the latter from Los Angeles.

Expansion

One of the things cruisers can expect in the future is more high-end amenities, particularly in regards food and entertainment. Cruises featuring celebrity chefs and rock stars have proved very popular. A little over three months ago, the Norwegian Sun hosted a Groove Cruise, sailing from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas with an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) soundtrack courtesy of some of the world’s best DJs.

Last month, Cabo Wabo founder Sammy Hagar was one of many big names performing on the 5th annual Rock Legends Cruise, joining REO Speedwagon, John Mayall, Pat Benatar, Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival Revisited and many more aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.

Expect the names to get bigger and bigger as this trend continues.

Baja Ports Ride Cruise Ship Wave

Culture based amenities like mariachis are now being offered on some cruises to the Mexican Riviera. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises.

Other trends to keep an eye out for are culture based amenities and longer, more geographically ambitious cruises. Holland America has brought on “Mexican Ambassadors” for many of its Mexican Riviera cruises, preparing guests for upcoming port stops with language and dance classes, and introductions to regional arts, crafts and folkloric dancing. Carnival, in an effort to maximize its transfer of the Splendor, is offering a 13-day Panama Canal cruise from Miami to Long Beach. The Splendor will be the first Carnival ship and the first ship of her class to transit the newly upgraded canal locks, with port calls scheduled at Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

In order to accommodate the Splendor, Carnival signed an agreement with the City of Long Beach to massively increase its dockage and facility capacity from 66,000 to 142,000 square feet. Hopefully, this upgrade serves as a blueprint for other Southern California ports looking to attract top-of-the-line cruise ships.

The Panama Canal cruise, if successful, could also point the way to connecting the best of Caribbean and West Coast destinations in longer, more wide-ranging voyages. The “sweet spot” for cruise lines, however, has always been cruises approximately one week in duration, which is why some industry insiders are also suggesting that the ideal Baja based jaunts should include another peninsular port.

Stay tuned! Prediction models suggesting continued growth and improvements in the cruise ship world promise big changes for the travel industry at large, and for Baja based ports of call.

 

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

Fairs, Festivals and Fiestas: March Events in Baja

Our Look at Monthly Events Around the Baja California Peninsula

The single biggest March event for much of Baja  is Spring Break, as thousands of U.S. and Canadian collegians head south of the border  for beachfront fun in the sun. Those of a more mature age, however, will also find plenty to do, as the month sees the return of several signature peninsular cultural events.

Blues bands promise to get mojos working throughout the San Felipe area during the town’s yearly Blues & Arts Fiesta,  while in Todos Santos the pueblo magico’s annual Film Festival  showcases a wide array of first-rate Latin American movies at its historic downtown theater, as well as at select sites in Pescadero and La Paz.

Adults who retain a youthful frame of mind and a collegian-like appreciation for cerveza, meanwhile, can enjoy the best of both worlds:  live music and abundant craft-brewed suds courtesy of the Ensenada Beer 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.

 

March Events in Baja

Todos Santos:  14th Todos Santos Film Festival

When:  March 1 – 5

This annual showcase for Mexican and Latin American films was founded in 1994, and is based each year at the historic Teatro-Cine Manuel Marquez de Leon, a landmark 70+ year old movie theater that overlooks the town square in Todos Santos. The 14th edition of  the coastal pueblo magico‘s acclaimed festival de cine will include full-length films, as well as shorts, documentaries, and projects from the local Youth in Video program. Additional screenings will take place in nearby Pescadero, and Baja California Sur’s capital city, La Paz.

Cost:  Free – $5

 

 

 

 

March Events in Baja

Ensenada2017 Ensenada Beer Festival

When:  March 16 – 18

Ensenada’s celebration of the peninsula’s best craft beers – and some international suds – takes place yearly at the Centro Cultural Riviera, and is highlighted by a conference, competition and of course a festival featuring live music and a constant flow of fine cervezas.

Cost:  $17

 

March Events in Baja

San Felipe11th Annual San Felipe Blues & Arts Fiesta

When:  March 17 – 18

The local Lion’s Club sponsored Fiesta showcases local and international blues bands, plus exhibits offering a huge variety of fine art – from jewelry and collectibles to painting and sculptures drums and iron creations. This year’s musical performers include Backwater Blues Band, Bayou Brothers, Gregg Wright, and Madame LeRoux and Krewe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March Events in Baja

East Cape24th Annual East Cape Arts Festival

When:  March 19

Staged annually at the Hotel Palmas de Cortez in Los Barriles, the Festival de Artes is a showcase for original artwork from regional artists, and also features food, drinks, live music and dance groups. Booth proceeds benefit community activities and art programs through the Asociación de Artes del Mar de Cortez A.C.

Cost:  Free Admission

 

March Events in Baja

San Felipe31st Annual SCORE San Felipe 250

When:  March 30 – April 2

SCORE International’s four race World Desert Champion Series kicks off its 2017 season with the San Felipe 250. As one might expect, the rugged off-road loop race starts and finishes in San Felipe. The event is open to cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and UTVs; but racers must have a SCORE membership to register.

Cost:  $1545 – 2440

 

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.