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Baja Road Trip: 10-Day Baja California Sur Itinerary

Experience the best of Baja California Sur with this 10-day Baja road trip that’ll take you from glitzy Cabo San Lucas to the pristine beaches in the Sea of Cortez.

Like a giant serpent jutting out into the wildlife-rich Sea of Cortez, Baja California is a stunning peninsula blessed with some of the wildest and most rugged landscapes in Mexico. Baja California Sur (the southern half of the peninsula), in particular, is covered in huge swathes of cacti-studded desert, backdropped by dramatic mountains and ringed with some of the most pristine beaches in Mexico. 

We recently did an epic Baja California Sur road trip, and packed in lots of wildlife experiences, outdoorsy hikes, and beach time. With just 10 days in Baja California, we zigzagged across the peninsula, starting from the hedonistic tourism hub of Los Cabos to the colonial town of Loreto.

I’m sharing my 10-day Baja California Sur itinerary below with you, to help you plan your own adventures! I have included details on where to stay and eat along the way as well as safety and driving tips.

baja road trip - 2 week baja california sur itinerary

Baja Road Trip Itinerary & Guide

How to Get to Baja California Sur

The main gateway to Baja California Sur is Los Cabos International Airport (SJD), located just by San Jose del Cabo. The airport serves many cities in the US, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, Chicago and New York.

Flights are pretty affordable from the US. Direct flights from Los Angeles to Los Cabos cost around US$300 return while flights from New York to Los Cabos cost around $400 return. 

You can also drive to Baja California from the US; but you’ll need to have time to first cross the border, explore the northern part of Baja California (Tijuana, Mexicali and Valle de Guadalupe) before you reach Baja California Sur.

NOTE: For this Baja California Sur road trip, we did a loop, starting from and ending at Los Cabos Airport. If you have limited time, you can also choose to fly into Los Cabos and fly out from Loreto Airport.

baja road trip - balandra beach

Getting around Baja California

There’s no better way to explore Baja California Sur than on a road trip – the remoteness of it all makes it best explored on your own set of wheels. Renting a car will get you out to the most rugged corners, empty beaches and hidden hot springs. The distances aren’t too long and driving is easy, plus you’ll get to experience some off-road adventures while driving on certain dusty, unpaved roads.

For all my car rentals in Mexico, I always book with Discover Cars as they offer the best prices and excellent customer service. An economy rental car with pickup/dropoff at Los Cabos Airport costs only $150 for a whole week, which is less than $21 a day. You will need to pay extra for insurance and add-ons, but that’s a really decent price to pay.

Note that if you intend to fly into Los Cabos and out from Loreto Airport, you will need to book a 1-way car rental. That usually comes with an extra charge.

Check Car Rental Prices

Baja Road Trip: 10-Day Baja California Sur Itinerary

Do You Need a 4WD for this Baja California Road Trip?

We considered hiring a 4WD for our Baja road trip as we’d read about how many of the coastal roads are unpaved. But we booked a Mitsubishi Mirage and were able to drive some decent-graded dirt roads without any difficulty at all.

The car rental company did warn us not to drive to Cabo Pulmo in our car – if you plan to explore the Eastern Cape or Cabo Este, then a 4WD is necessary. Also, during the winter months, some of dirt roads can get muddy after rains, so it can be helpful to have a 4WD.

baja road trip - driving a jeep

10-Day Baja California Sur Road Trip

To hit the best spots, you’ll need at least 10 days in Baja California Sur. Driving distances aren’t long (usually 2-3 hours between each spot) but there are many epic experiences in this peninsula, and you won’t want to miss them.

In this Baja California itinerary, I’ve packed in a good mixture of wildlife experiences, underwater adventures, old town wanders, and beach bumming. Here is a summary of our 10-day Baja road trip itinerary. I will be giving a day-to-day breakdown below.

  • Days 1-2: Los Cabos
  • Day 3: Todos Santos
  • Days 4-5: La Paz
  • Day 6: Day Trip to Espiritu Santo
  • Day 7: Puerto San Carlos
  • Days 8-9: Loreto 
  • Day 10: Back to Los Cabos

Download my Baja California Sur itinerary on Google Maps.

Baja California Itinerary Day 1: Los Cabos

This Baja road trip starts in Los Cabos, the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula. To clarify, Los Cabos is a municipality composed of the two towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo linked by a 34km (21-mile) Tourist Corridor of beach-front properties and endless miles of coastline. 

The area was rural until the late 20th century when the Mexican government began to develop Cabo San Lucas for tourism. Today, Cabo San Lucas is a bustling tourist destination, centered around a busy marina. I would recommend staying in Cabo San Lucas as it’s on the coast and there are lots more restaurants and sights here.

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baja california sur itinerary - los cabos

Take a Boat Trip

One of the best things to do in Cabo San Lucas is hop on a boat tour of Land’s End, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. You’ll get to admire el Arco, an ocean-carved arch and symbol of Los Cabos. Every four years or so, the water level gets low enough to reveal a beach under the arch, and that’s when you get the rare opportunity to walk under the arch. Otherwise, you can only admire it from the water.

Next to it are various other dramatic rock formations including the Pirate’s Cave and Pelican’s Rock. They are a hot spot for sea lion colonies and, in the winter, migrating whales. From January through April, Cabo San Lucas is likely the world’s best place for whale watching! There are so many species to see, but the most commonly spotted ones are humpback whales.

Whale-watching tours prioritize eco-conscious practices and are in high demand, often reaching capacity quickly. Therefore, book them well in advance to ensure availability. We booked this whale-watching tour with a marine biologist and were very happy with it.

baja road trip - whale watching los cabos

Go Beach-Hopping

Most boat tours last for half a day, so you’ll have the afternoon free! Some of the best beaches in Baja California are found near Cabo de Lucas, and most of them are hardly ever crowded. However, not all beaches are safe for swimmers – many of them have dangerous waves and strong undertows. But these beaches are well marked. 

Best beaches in Cabo San Lucas

  • Santa Maria Beach – the most swimmable beach near Cabos San Lucas. The protected marine area is relatively quiet and secluded, with calm and shallow waters great for those traveling with kids. 
  • Chileno Beach – a calm bay sitting midway between Cabos San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. The shallow waters have lots of marine life, great for snorkeling! 
  • Palmilla Beach – this mile-long beach is family-friendly and has the international Blue Flag certification, which means you’ll find lifeguards and bathrooms there.
  • Medano Beach – the main beach in Cabo San Lucas is, as you would expect, the most popular one. Besides swimming, you can also try water sports such as kayaking and parasailing here or indulge in the various seafood restaurants here.
baja road trip - pelican beach

Have Dinner at Wachinango’s

Next, head over to Wachinango’s, a quirky seafood joint with over-the-top decor and excellent seafood dishes like grilled octopus and breaded shrimps drenched in caramelized chipotle sauce. The owner is such a great guy, and he’s always happy to recommend the best dishes. The restaurant is located in downtown Cabo San Lucas and an easy walk fro the marina.

Walk the Marina

After dinner, stroll a few blocks over to the marina boardwalk. Oceanfront eateries and lively bars line the spacious boardwalk, alongside tacky souvenir shops and tour agencies. The Cultural Pavilion hosts theater and dance performances on certain Mexican holidays. On Sundays, the road running parallel to the marina is closed to traffic and open for pedestrians to walk, bike, rollerblade or jog.

baja road trip - marina in cabo san lucas

Where to Stay in Los Cabos

Most resorts are located along the Tourist Corridor that stretches between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo on the coastline. These are usually massive all-inclusive resorts that don’t encourage tourists to venture beyond the walls of the resort. I suggest booking an Airbnb, like we did, in the Pedregal area with the best views of Cabo San Lucas.

Airbnb: Lux Pool Unit

We stayed at this affordable Airbnb (pictured) in the upscale, hilltop Pedregal area. The 3-bedroom apartment was spacious, clean and modern; and the sunset views from the balcony were spectacular. Best of all, it’s just an 8-minute drive to the marina. Check rates.

Luxury: One&Only Palmilla

Situated along the stunning coastline of Los Cabos, One&Only Palmilla is a luxurious resort renowned for its world-class amenities and unparalleled service. Set amidst lush tropical gardens overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the resort offers lavish villas with private pools. Check rates here.

Mid-Range: Mar del Cabo by Velas Resorts

Located just steps away from the beach in San José del Cabo, this boutique hotel features chic and spacious suites with modern amenities and ocean views. Unwind by the pool, dine at the on-site restaurant serving fresh seafood and Mexican cuisine, or take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary beach club access. Check rates here.

Budget: Cabo Inn Hotel

For budget-conscious travelers, Cabo Inn Hotel offers a charming and affordable option in the heart of Cabo San Lucas. With its central location and wallet-friendly rates, Cabo Inn Hotel provides a convenient base for exploring without breaking the bank. Check rates.

Baja California Itinerary Day 2: San Jose del Cabo

The next day, drive over to the more traditional colonial town of San Jose del Cabo, just 30 minutes away from Cabo San Lucas – for a very different side to Los Cabos. The quaint and charming San Jose del Cabo is a historical town with the vibes of a pueblo mágico (magical town). These days, many of its pastel-colored houses have been restored to house indie boutiques, art galleries, cafes and craft beer breweries.

baja california road trip - san jose del cabo

Wander around San Jose del Cabo

The main square of the town is Plaza Mijares, and overlooking it is the beautiful San José missionary church. This is where you can snap photos of the big, colorful ‘San Jose del Cabo’s letters. Nearby cobblestoned streets are lined with papel picado (paper flags) overhead, and art galleries exhibit work by local artists.

East of the city is San José Estuary, a nature reserve home to bird species like hummingbirds, ibis and herons. Come early to spot these beautiful feathered animals!

baja california road trip - san jose del cabo

Do the Art Walk San Jose Cabo

Between November and June, the San Jose del Cabo Art Walk is a popular weekly event held every Thursday evening from 5-9pm. This event was established and organized by the Gallery District Association in the hopes of drawing art lovers and tourists away from the beach and into the alleys of this charming town.

The Art Walk centers around the Gallery District, located behind the church and main square. Make sure to coincide your trip with the Art Walk to see the town at its best. 

baja california road trip - art walk

Brunch at Flora Farms

San Jose del Cabo has a thriving farm-to-table dining scene and several farms have sprouted out in the hills surrounding the estuary. Flora Farms brought the farm-to-table concept to Cabo. Sprawling over 25 acres, the organic farm produces its own vegetables and herbs and has a seasonal menu offering a range of tantalizingly tasty dishes. We had their wood-fired pizza and they we were amazing!

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There are a few other farms in the area worth checking out: Acre, Los Tamarindos, and El Huerto. They are great places to spend the day at – you can follow the trails that lead through the farms, enjoy ridiculously fresh goods, chill on the outdoor dining area and enjoy some live music. It’s best to book your table in advance; it gets crowded on Sundays!

baja california road trip - flora farm

 Dinner at Sunset Monalisa 

Head back to Cabo San Lucas and prepare for a gorgeous evening at Sunset Monalisa. Lauded as the best spot for sunset in los Cabos, Sunset Monalisa truly has an outstanding location and spectacular views of the coastline. It’s perched on a hilltop, with tables stacked on the cliffs overlooking the sea. It’s definitely a romantic spot for couples – we even witnessed a proposal here!

We were blown away by the view and ambiance, but we weren’t impressed by the food. They offer a fixed-price menu at US$100 for a 3-course dinner – but you can also order ala-carte dishes. We had the duck pasta and wagyu beef ravioli, and both were disappointing. At this price point, I was expecting much better food that what we were served. Cocktails are set at US$20 each – they were pretty good though.

All in all, I recommend coming here for sunset and just order drinks! It’s one of the most popular places to go in los Cabos, so you’ll need to book a table online in advance, even if you’re coming for drinks only.

baja california road trip - sunset monalisa

Itinerary Day 3: Todos Santos

It’s time to hit the road and start your Baja road trip! Our first stop, Todos Santos, is just a 1-hour drive away (75km or 43 miles) from Cabo San Lucas. The pueblo mágico (magic town) is known for its many galleries, the slow pace of life, and stunning beaches. It is the home base to many artists and is particularly popular amongst surfers in search of smooth waves and sunny beach days.

Explore the Magic Town

Start your day by exploring the town’s vibrant art scene. Todos Santos has a thriving community of artists and galleries, showcasing a diverse range of artwork from traditional Mexican folk art to contemporary pieces. Take a leisurely stroll along Calle Centenario, the main street lined with art galleries, studios, and boutique shops. 

Next, visit the iconic Todos Santos Mission, a beautiful 18th-century church that serves as a centerpiece of the town’s heritage. Wander through the cobblestone streets of the historic center and discover charming adobe buildings adorned with colorful facades and wrought-iron balconies. 

baja california road trip - todos santos

Release Baby Turtles on the Beach

In the evening, head over to los Cerritos beach just a few miles away from Todos Santos. Here you can actually help to release baby turtles and watch them waddle into the sea. Tortuguero la Playita is a turtle conservation camp that protects the turtles that lay their eggs here. Three species of Sea Turtle (Leatherback, Olive Ridley and Black) nest on the beaches of Todos Santos. Olive Ridleys nest year round, Leatherbacks from October – April, and Blacks from September -February. 

They run turtle release programs everyday from December to February from 5.30pm to 7pm, and you’re welcomed to join them with a donation. Check their Facebook page as they update regularly. The volunteers first provide an educational talk about the turtles, then explain the process of hatching, and how the baby turtles need to crawl across the sand to reach the ocean.

Releasing baby turtles is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both adults and kids alike. Our daughter absolutely loved the experience – so did I!

baja california road trip - release baby turtle

Dinner Oystera or Vino Park

In the evening, head back into town for a nice dinner. Located in a stunning old sugar mill, Oystera is the spot for a date or a special occasion dinner. Oysters, of course, are the main event here, but the rest of the menu is full of local seafood, meats, and produce. It’s hard to miss this restaurant – the building is draped in vine and oozes a European palace feel. 

Next door, you’ll find the gorgeous Vino Park, a lush winery right in the heart of town. The beautiful bistro and wine garden owned by Santa Terra serves boutique wines and amazing food in a verdant green setting. Book your table here.

baja california itinerary - oystera

Where to Stay in Todos Santos

Luxury: Hotel San Cristobal

Hotel San Cristobal (pictured) is a chic and elegant adults-only retreat overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Nestled amidst palm trees and lush gardens, this boutique hotel features beautifully designed rooms and suites with artisanal decor and modern amenities. Check rates here.

Mid-Range: Hotel Quinta Santa Rosa

We stayed at this midrange hotel just a few blocks from the center of Todos Santos. The pool and outdoor lounge area are fantastic. Our room on the second floor had fantastic views of the sunset and the beach in the far distance. Check rates here.

Budget: Posada del Molino

Posada del Molino provides affordable accommodation in a charming colonial-style setting. Located just a short walk from the town center, this budget-friendly hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites with traditional Mexican decor and basic amenities. Check rates here.

Baja California Itinerary Day 4: La Paz

On Day 4 of your Baja road trip, you’ll be driving inland northwards for just 1 hour to La Paz, our favorite spot in Baja California Sur! La Paz is refreshingly authentic and untouristy compared to the hedonistic Los Cabos.This coastal city is located on the Sea of Cortez, and it makes for a great base to do boat trips, whale-watching tours and scuba diving excursions. Read my guide on the best things to do in La Paz.

Often called the “Aquarium of the World,” the Sea of Cortez harbors a rich marine ecosystem as diverse and spectacular as any on Earth. Here is where you can swim with sealions and leatherback turtles, and spot humpback whales — as well as the world’s largest animal, the blue whale. The unique ecosystem found in the Sea of Cortez has earned it special status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Walk the Malecón

Above the water though, La Paz is in fact a really pleasant city with a lively malecón, or waterfront boulevard. Stretching for several kilometers, the Malecón is lined with palm trees, benches, and colorful sculptures, creating a welcoming atmosphere for leisurely walks or jogs. 

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To traverse the entire malecón, you can even rent bicycles or pedal karts from Baja Blast, right across the malecón by Harker. We hired the pedal karts for 150 MXN (US$7.5) per hour and had a blast riding them down to the far end. Remember to stop and admire the art sculptures (that often depict its marine inhabitants) or take in the views from its scenic piers and overlooks. 

baja california road trip - la paz

Visit the Museum of Whales

In the afternoon, head to the Museo de la Ballena (Museum of Whales) to learn about the gentle giants that live in the waters off La Paz. This small but interesting museum is said to house the biggest collection of skeletons in Mexico. You’l find the remains of gigantic whales hanging from the ceilings and interactive displays about whales, dolphins, and whale sharks.

baja california road trip itinerary - museum of whale

Eat the Freshest Seafood

Across the road from the malecón, you’ll find endless restaurants, bars and cafes. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, traditional Mexican cuisine, or international fare, there are plenty of options to choose from. We enjoyed the craft beer and pizzas at Harker Board CO and loved the sunset views from its rooftop bar! Further down the road is Mariscos los Laureles, that serves the freshest seafood at affordable prices. Next door is Taco Fish, a locals’ favorite for shrimp and fish tacos!

Where to Stay in La Paz

Airbnb: San Jose Apartment

We stayed at an excellent 2-bedroom Airbnb (pictured) just one block from the malecón and steps from popular restaurants like Harker Board and Tiger Club. It had a great location, spacious living area and comfortable beds. Highly recommend it! Check rates here.

Luxury: Orchid House Baja

Located next to Coromuel Beach, this upscale luxurious retreat overlooks the Sea of Cortez, with a beautiful infinity pool as its centerpiece. This resort features elegant rooms and suites with modern amenities and stunning ocean views. Check rates here.

Mid-Range: Hotel Catedral La Paz

 Hotel Catedral La Paz offers comfortable accommodations in the heart of downtown La Paz. Located just steps away from the malecón. The hotel features cozy rooms with modern furnishings and amenities, as well as a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city and the bay. Check rates here.

Budget: Hotel HBlue

This simple yet comfortable hotel provides clean and cozy rooms with basic amenities, making it a practical choice for budget-conscious travelers. Check rates here.

Itinerary Day 5: Balandra Beach

At just a 30-minute drive from La Paz, you’ll find the legendary Balandra Bay, lauded as the most beautiful beach in Baja California. With magical swirls of sugar-white sand, shallow spearmint water, backed by cacti-studded mountains, Balandra Bay truly is one of the most spectacular beaches I’ve seen (and I’ve been to many stunning beaches in the Maldives, Seychelles and the Caribbean). 

The sheltered bay is in fact made up of 7 beaches, all of which can be visited at low tide. To get the best view of the bay, hike up the trail (off the first carpark) which will lead to a viewpoint. It’s a short 15-minute uphill walk; even my kid was able to walk it easily. Back on the beach, there are actually palapas (thatched shade) on the beach that are free to use, and kayaks available for rent. 

Because of previous accidents, Balandra Bay is now highly protected by CONANP (a government agency). Entrance is free, but it’s regulated. Visitors can enter between two timeslots: 8am-12pm; 1-5pm. Only 450 people are allowed in at each timeslot, so if you come too late, you might not be able to enter. I recommend coming 30 minutes before the start of each timeslot. 

20 Cool Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico
Tips for Visiting Balandra Bay
  • I recommend visiting Balandra Bay early in the morning when it’s high tide and there are less people. You’ll see the different shades of blue more clearly. 
  • Visitors can enter between two timeslots: 8am-12pm; 1-5pm. Only 450 people are allowed in at each timeslot, so come just before 8am or 1pm.
  • Balandra Beach is a highly protected area, so there are no amenities or restaurants. Make sure to pack your own snacks and drinks, beach mat and towels.
  • There is free parking right by Balandra Beach; in fact there are two, if the first one is full, you’ll be asked to park at the second one that’s further out and walk 5 minutes to the beach.
  • The water can be cold in winter – we visited in February and the weather was nice but water chilly.
  • At low tide, you can walk all the way across to the Hongo de Balandra, a mushroom-shaped rock formation.
  • There isn’t a lot of shade along the bay, the only area to get some shade is under the rocks near the Hongo de Balandra. Pack a hat and sunglasses.

Hop Over to Tecolote Beach 

After spending the morning at Balandra, I recommend heading over to Tecolote Beach just 30 minutes away. It’s the closest beach to Balandra with facilities and restaurants and it’s located at the tip of the bay. You can do water sports here, rent a beach bench or eat at one of the three seafood restaurants. If you have snorkeling gear, take the opportunity to head out and explore the marine life.

baja california road trip - tecolote beach

Itinerary Day 6: Isla Espiritu Santo

Book a Day Trip

The next day, head out on a day trip to Espiritu Santo, an uninhabited island north of Balandra Bay. One of the natural wonders of Mexico, Espiritu Santo was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in the 1990s. Due in large part to its unique climate and geographic features, the Sea of Cortez harbors a rich marine ecosystem more diverse and spectacular than anywhere else on Earth

The highlight of Espiritu Santo actually lies on the tiny islet of Los Islotes, home to a colony of around 400 sea lions. Most will be basking and barking on the rocks, but enter the sea donned with snorkel and mask and you’re treated to the magical sights of them diving and frolicking around in the water. They’re very playful, curious, and completely accustomed to the humans who regularly come to visit – some can even feel a little too familiar.

Espirtu Santo can only be visited on a boat tour – which usually includes snorkeling with the sea lion colony, watching the blue-footed boobies that migrate here from the Galapagos, and lunch on the gorgeous Playa de Ensenada Grande. We booked this Espiritu Santo tour and had a great female guide who made the tour fun and engaging! 

baja california road trip - espiritu santo

Drive to Puerto San Carlos

After your day trip (which should end by 3/4pm), get ready to leave La Paz and continue driving north for 3 hours to Puerto San Carlos, a fishing community facing the Pacific Ocean in Magdalena Bay. It’s a dusty small village that honestly doesn’t have much going for it except the phenomenal whale tours. One night here is more than enough.

Dinner at Mariscos El Tiburón

For dinner, we followed our hotel owner’s recommendation and headed to Mariscos El Tiburón – and it was honestly the best meal of our trip! The simple seafood shack serves fresh-from-the-sea chocolata clams, octopus, shrimps and all kinds of fish. We tried the gratinated clams, shrimp tacos, grilled octopus and they were some of the best we had in all of Baja California.

Where to Stay in San Carlos

The whale tours start very early in the morning, from Puerto San Carlos, specifically Isla Pato. Make sure to stay in a hotel on this part of the city. Sadly there aren’t many choices here and they’re mostly simple guesthouses.

Budget: Hotel Villas Isabela

This basic guesthouse belongs to the popular tour operator, Magdalena Bay Whales. If you’re going on a whale tour with them, staying here is the most convenient option as this is the meeting point. Check rates here.

Budget: Hotel Prado’s

Located at the entrance of San Carlos, this family-run guesthouse is colorful and chirpy, with lots of outdoor area filled with bougainvilleas. Rooms are big and spacious. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Hotel Vista Mag-Bay

This is the nicest hotel in San Carlos but don’t expect high-end luxury. We stayed at this ocean-facing hotel (though the tide is usually very low) and had a comfortable stay. Double rooms all have balcony doors that look out to the sea. Breakfast is served at 6am, so you can get your fill before heading out on your whale tour. Check rates here.

Itinerary Day 7: Magdalena Bay

Book a Whale Tour 

Wake up bright and early (tours start at 6.30am) for the highlight of your Baja California Sur trip! Each winter, grey whales migrate south to the waters off Baja California to mate and give birth in the warm, shallow waters of the bay. But something else happens here, that makes Magdalena Bay such a special place.

The grey whales that migrate here are extremely friendly and they love to get up close to humans. I’ve never seen this happen anywhere else in the world – and I’ve seen whales in Iceland, Antarctica, Svalbard and Alaska – but only here do the whales allow people to touch, caress, and even kiss them. It’s an impressive phenomenon, and one that only happens here in Magdalena Bay.

We booked our boat tour with Magdalena Bay Whales in advance; they have been running tours here for 40 years and they charge a reasonable price of US$90/person + taxes or US$450 for a private boat. Since there were four of us, we opted for the private boat and had an incredible time with our captain. He’s lived in San Carlos his whole life, and have been a fisherman and boat captain for the last two decades.

baja california sur road trip - magdalena bay

Drive to Loreto

The whale tours usually end by 2pm, so you’ll have the afternoon to drive up to Loreto. It’s a 2.5-hour drive, criss-crossing the width of the peninsula and back to the Sea of Cortez. As one of only two designated pueblos mágicos or magical towns in Baja California Sur, Loreto is an absolutely charming spot great for both history and nature, making the journey northward more than worthwhile!

Where to Stay in Loreto

Luxury: Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa

This upscale resort offers lavish accommodations and an array of upscale amenities. Guests can indulge in spacious suites featuring elegant decor, private balconies or terraces with breathtaking views, and luxurious amenities such as whirlpool tubs. Check rates here.

Mid Range: La Mision Loreto Hotel

Located in the heart of Loreto’s historic downtown area, this charming hotel offers a perfect blend of affordability and comfort. The hotel also offers a swimming pool, a fitness center, and an onsite restaurant serving delicious Mexican and international cuisine. Check rates here.

Budget: Hotel Angra

Situated just a short walk from Loreto’s main square, this cozy hotel offers simple yet comfortable rooms at budget-friendly prices. The hotel also offers a communal kitchen where you can prepare your meals, as well as a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the surrounding area. Check rates here.

baja california road trip - loreto resort

Baja California Itinerary Day 8: Loreto

Nestled amidst the breathtaking Sierra de la Giganta mountain range and embraced by the mesmerizing Sea of Cortez, Loreto is well endowed with unparalleled natural beauty. Loreto is also a treasure trove of historical heritage, known as the oldest human settlement on the Baja California Peninsula.

baja california road trip - loreto

Visit the Loreto Mission

Start your day at the Loreto Mission, officially known as the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó (Mission of Our Lady Loreto). This was the inaugural mission founded by the Jesuits on the Baja Peninsula, established in 1697. The Jesuits aimed to spread Christianity among the indigenous Monqui people.

Revered as the ‘mother of all the missions of the Californias,’ it paved the way for subsequent Spanish expansion in the region and served as a hub for further mission endeavors both north and south of Loreto. Today, the mission functions as a Catholic church, welcoming visitors.

Admission is free, but please refrain from disturbing ongoing services and dress appropriately. Adjacent to the mission is the Museo de las Misiones de Baja California (Museum of the Missions of Baja California); admission is 80 MXN (US$4). The museum offers a concise exhibition detailing the history of the Jesuits, featuring maps, artifacts, and images with Spanish and English translations.

baja california road trip - loreto mission

Hike in Tabor Canyon

Loreto is surrounded by the red-toned, rocky cliffs of the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range and they are just begging to be explored! One of the best hikes in Loreto brings you through the  Tabor Canyon. Located roughly 20 minutes from the town center, the trailhead marks the beginning of a 2.4 km (1.5 miles) round hike. Follow this map to hike the trail. 

Following a dry riverbed, the path gradually ascends into the canyon. The first part is relatively easy but requires scrambling and bouldering, so bring appropriate shoes. If you keep going and pass the image of the Virgin, the path will become much more strenuous. We only did the first part, but it’s manageable for most people, even my 8-year-old daughter could do it. 

baja california road trip - loreto hike

Stroll along the Malecón

In the evening, go for a stroll along the malecón to soak up the lively scene. You’ll most likely find couples walking hand in hand, families with strollers, kids on their bikes and street vendors offering various snacks and souvenirs. Midway through the malecón are the quintessential colorful letters spelling out “Loreto”.

Across the road from the malecón is a series of seafood restaurants and cafes –  one of our favorite places to eat at is Pepegina’s Sunrise, an inviting seafood restaurant situated on the upper floor of a building overlooking the malecón. I particularly loved their aguachiles (spicy raw shrimp dish) and camarones al ajillo (shrimps with garlic and red pepper).

Baja California Itinerary Day 9: Loreto

See the Rare Blue Whales

Loreto is one of the few places where you can still spot the blue whale, one of the world’s rarest species. Reaching a maximum length of 29.9 meters and weighing up to 199 tonnes, it is the largest animal known ever to have existed. Today, there are only 10,000-25,000 blue whales left in the world, making it the most endangered species. 

Between the months of February and March, the majestic blue whale migrate to the waters of Loreto Bay. Unlike humpback whales, known for their acrobatics, or grey whales that allow you to touch them, blue whales impress with their sheer size. Even catching a glimpse of their massive backs as they breach the surface leaves an indelible impression.

We had a great experience with Loreto Blue Whales; the marine biologist on board provided invaluable insights into these magnificent creatures. Witnessing the largest animal on Earth is a truly unforgettable experience and one of our favorite experiences in Baja California.

Visit Isla Coronado

Alternatively, if you’re all whaled-out, take a day trip to Coronado Island, just 25 minutes from Loreto. Despite its smaller size, Isla Coronado is immensely popular, primarily for its breathtaking beaches and crystal-clear blue waters, rivaling some of the finest beach destinations in Mexico.

The highly protected island is home to amazing flora and fauna. On your boat ride there, you’ll have the opportunity to spot dolphins, sea lions, and blue-footed boobies along the way. Book your tour here.

Upon reaching the island, you’ll have some time (usually 2-3 hours) to unwind on the pristine beach, go snorkeling or explore the island’s scenic trails. If conditions permit, you might even have the chance to snorkel alongside the playful sea lions.

Baja California Itinerary Day 10: Los Cabos

It’s time to start driving back south to Los Cabos. Driving straight from Loreto to Los Cabos takes around 6 hours 15 minutes one way. Make a stop for lunch in La Paz, the half-way point before continuing to the airport.

If you have some spare time, I’d suggest taking a different route from the one you took previously and drive through Los Barriles instead. This will increase the total drive time to 6h45m, but you’ll get to see a bit of the windsurfing hotspot Los Barriles.

Along the way, you can also stop at Santiago, an outdoor lovers’ paradise. The landscape is dotted with oases, green palm trees, flowing waterfalls and thermal springs bubbling from canyons.

Baja California Travel Guide

Best Time to Visit Baja California

Generally, the peak tourist season in Baja California runs from November to April when the weather is most pleasant and chances of seeing whales and whale sharks are at the highest. During this time, temperatures range from 24-29°C (75-85°F). This period coincides with the dry season, offering plenty of sunshine and little to no rain. However, this is also when prices for accommodation and activities tend to be higher and the sea is colder. 

If you prefer to avoid crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of May to June or September to October. During these months, temperatures can reach around 31-34°C (87-93°F), and there’s a higher chance of encountering brief afternoon showers. 

The summer months from July to August are the hottest and most humid, with temperatures often exceeding 32°C (90°F) and occasional tropical storms. However, this time can be ideal for travelers looking for budget-friendly deals and quieter beaches.

Is It Safe to Visit Baja California?

Baja California Sur generally maintains a reputation as a safe tourist destination. According to data from the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), there has been a noticeable decrease in crime rates, with a downward trend noted since 2017.

This suggests that safety and security measures within the region have been effective in addressing previous concerns. These measures may include increased police presence in tourist areas, the installation of surveillance cameras, and collaboration with tour operators to enhance security protocols.

Regardless, it’s important to follow common-sense safety practices, such as avoiding isolated areas at night, securing valuables, and using reputable transportation services.

Driving Tips in Baja California

  • In Mexico, you drive on the right side of the road.
  • Roads in Baja California are generally smooth, well paved, and free of portholes (except in the Eastern Cape).
  • Driving within the cities can be slightly stressful, but once you’re out of the city it’s absolutely manageable.
  • Always keep your driving license, car rental papers, and proof of insurance handy.
  • The main road hazards are reckless drivers; they tend to go very fast, changing lanes as and when they like without signaling. Be wary of these drivers and keep calm!
  • Avoid driving at night as you won’t be able to see the speed bumps and drivers go even faster than usual.

Baja Road Trip Tips

A Baja road trip will show you the best of the peninsula and let you experience the wild nature, marine life and culture of the state. Just pack a sense of adventure and tons of patience to navigate the roads and I guarantee you’ll have the trip of your lifetime!

I hope you’ve found this Baja California Sur itinerary useful. Feel free to leave a comment below if you need any help with planning your Baja road trip. For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

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