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A Taste for Adventure 19: How One Baja Activities Company Has Reimagined and Redefined the Region’s Signature Outdoor Experiences

From romantic sunset horseback rides along secluded beaches to swimming with whale sharks and kayaking around uninhabited offshore islands in the Sea of Cortez, Adventure 19 in Todos Santos is your starting point for once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experiences…

A Taste for Adventure 19

Highway 19 hugs the coastline between Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos before snaking inland towards Baja California Sur’s capital city, La Paz. It is one of the most picturesque highways in the world, framed by nearly 100 miles of mountains, ocean and towering Cardón cactus filled desert.

This gorgeous stretch provides the numerical inspiration for Adventure 19, a Todos Santos based activities company that has made its reputation by taking people well beyond the beaten paths, well past anything found on road maps, to the most magical and majestic places in Baja Sur.

Highway 19, inspirational though it may be, is merely a jumping off point for Adventure 19.

A Taste for Adventure 19

Todos Santos

The term pueblo magico is an official classification given to towns of great natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical relevance. Todos Santos qualifies on all three counts, which is why it was the first place on the Baja California peninsula to earn the coveted designation. Once a stop on the Jesuit mission trail, and the site of the final skirmish of the Mexican-American War, by the late 19th century Todos Santos had emerged as a regional sugar capital, distinguished by the brick architecture used for its biggest mills and finest residences. Wells from the underground aquifer, the basis for the town’s lush palm groves and oasis like atmosphere, dried up in the 1950s, but by the mid-1980s Todos Santos had been reborn as an artists’ colony and surfer chic tourist destination.

Today, Todos Santos is an oasis of culture, famed for yearly festivals celebrating music, art, writing and film, as well as regional food and wine. Boutique hotels have flourished and surfers rave about the conditions off nearby beaches like La Pastora, San Pedrito and Los Cerritos. The Pacific Coast pueblo magico is also home to Adventure 19, providing the home base for a group of distinctive cultural and natural immersion programs (including surfaris to the celebrated local beaches).

Todos Santos’ popularity among artists was premised on the unique quality of its light. Framed between the mountains of the Sierra de la Laguna and the Pacific Ocean, the local light has a particular quality, almost a glow. Those interested in this ephemeral but very real and beautiful quality will love Adventure 19’s sunset horseback rides, which wind through gorgeous palm groves to a golden sand beach for a romantic ride along the shore as waves crash and the sun slides over the horizon.

A Taste for Adventure 19

Todos Santos is also home to one of the region’s oldest panga fishing fleets, and visitors can find out for themselves about the abundant tuna, dorado and marlin lurking in Pacific waters. Adventure 19 promotes sustainability and catch and release policies for billfish, but those reeling in smaller bounties can have them cooked up for dinner by Chef Noel Morales at El Refugio. “Hook and cook” specials are a prized feature, but El Refugio is perhaps even better known as a mezcaleria, home to a superb collection of Mexican spirts. Adventure 19’s popular artisanal mezcal tasting serves up the expected samplers, of course, but at heart the experience is about history, culture and tradition.

Just like Todos Santos.

La Paz

La Paz always seems to be first. It was the first place Europeans set foot in California, back when Hernan Cortez and his men still believed it was an island. Since 1830, it has been the official capital, first of the Baja California territory, and now the state of Baja California Sur. Today, the city is renowned for its picturesque two-mile long malecón, its stunning collection of beaches, its magnificent sunsets, and an incredible array of outdoor adventures.

Adventure 19

Just offshore in the Sea of Cortez, near the tip of the El Mogote peninsula, swim the world’s largest fish. Whale sharks grow up to 40 feet in length and can weigh as much as 40,000 pounds, but these gentle giants subsist only on plankton, so swimming or snorkeling beside them isn’t at all dangerous. It is definitely exhilarating, though, not to mention humbling; and the surroundings are sublimely beautiful.

El Mogote is the destination for many Adventure 19 jaunts to La Paz, from swimming and snorkeling with whale sharks to kayak and stand-up paddle boarding expeditions along the coast and into the mangrove channels. There, one encounters Baja as it must have appeared to the first visitors, a wildlife wonderland filled with leaping dolphins and manta rays and colorfully plumed tropical birds above the surface, and a spectacular, kaleidoscopic profusion of sea life below:  schools of fish, huge sea turtles, sea lions, and so much more.

Isla Espiritu Santo

Adventure 19

North of La Paz lies a series of uninhabited offshore islands: Espiritu Santo, Partida and Los Islotes. Espiritu Santo is the most remarkable. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries it housed the headquarters of the Compañia Creadora de Concha y Perla, which was the first company in the world to artificially cultivate pearl oysters, seeding the offshore beds that Nobel Prize winning novelist John Steinbeck would later write “had raised the King of Spain to be a great power in Europe in past years, had helped to pay for his wars, and had decorated his churches for his soul’s sake.” This island also boasts several outstanding examples of endemism, including species of black jackrabbits and antelope squirrels that are found nowhere else in the world.

Today, Espiritu Santo and its crystalline offshore waters are a mecca for kayakers, a UNESCO protected biosphere reserve teeming with sea life and awe-inspiring vistas. Adventure 19 uses the entirety of the archipelago for its own unforgettable kayaking expeditions, starting with a snorkel submersion into the thriving sea lion colony at Los Islotes before a scenic paddle south, winding between secluded white sand beaches to observe native flora and fauna. SUP and snorkel trips to Isla Espiritu Santo offer similarly breathtaking glimpses at fish-rich reefs and majestically carved coastline.

A Taste for Adventure 19

Cabo San Lucas

Fishing has always been at the center of life in Cabo San Lucas. Thousands of years before the small Land’s End community was transformed into a world-famous tourist haunt, indigenous Pericu Indians were diving off primitive bark canoes to spear offshore fish. During the first half of the 20th century, Cabo San Lucas was known for its cannery, which at its height was the most productive in all of Latin America.

The image most people have of fishing in Cabo San Lucas, however, involves a sun-bronzed angler strapped into an aft deck fighting chair, muscling in an enormous blue, black or striped marlin. The area’s extraordinary marlin fishing birthed the tourist destination now so beloved by Hollywood A-listers and led to famous fishing tournaments like Bisbee’s Black & Blue, with its multi-million dollar purses.

But Adventure 19 has never been about image. The company prides itself on providing a real experience of a place, and a real immersion into its signature outdoor adventures. So naturally its Cabo San Lucas fishing excursion comes with opportunities to boat an enormous marlin, as well as a journey to the fertile offshore grounds that made Cabo a byword for big-game sportfishing.

It also comes, though, with sustainable practices and an appreciation for history and culture. That’s been the recipe for success for Adventure 19. Taking age-old regional experiences and making them seem absolutely fresh and original, while also paying tribute to the land, sea and people that produced them.

We’d call it once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventures with a conscience, but Adventure 19’s motto is also pretty good: “Tread softly. Drink deeply.”

A Taste for Adventure 19

To find out more about Adventure 19 and its exhilarating array of outdoor excursions, visit www.adventure19.com, email info@adventure19.com, or call (+52) 557-408-0854 or 442-449-1019 in the U.S..

 

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.

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About Chris Sands

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

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