Cosmopolitan La Paz is a mix of laid-back, old-world beauty and chichi upscale trends. It’s surprisingly international – you’re as likely to hear French, Portuguese or Italian here as English or Spanish, and yet paradoxically it’s the most ‘Mexican’ city in all of Baja. Its quirky history includes American occupation and even being temporarily declared its own republic.
Todos Santos is one of the most appealing towns in all of Baja, maybe even all of Mexico. A quirky mix of locals, fishers, surfers and New Age spiritualists, the town of ‘All Saints’ has thus far escaped the rampant tourism of the other Cape towns, but still has all kinds of things to see and do.
Loreto has a lot going for it. It's a very pretty small town with an excellent choice of hotels and restaurants, and it's a water-sports paradise. It’s also home to the magnificent Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto, where the shoreline, ocean and offshore islands are protected from pollution and uncontrolled fishing.
The palm- and mangrove-lined Río Mulegé, with its delta, birds, wildlife and snorkeling and diving opportunities, makes Mulegé a great stop for the outdoorsy or those with kids. Set down in a narrow arroyo, Mulegé is prone to flooding in major storms – it was pummeled by hurricanes in 2009, 2012 and 2014.
With its lush, leafy date palms and pretty tranquil lagoon, sleepy San Ignacio is a welcome oasis after the endless Desierto de Vizcaíno. Jesuits located the Misión San Ignacio de Kadakaamán here, but Dominicans supervised construction of the striking church (finished in 1786) that still dominates the picturesque, laurel-shaded plaza.
If you're looking for snorkeling or diving without the crowds, come to Cabo Pulmo, a small town and a 17,571-acre Marine Protected Area (MPA), one of the most successful national marine parks in the world. Cabo Pulmo is also home to the only Pacific coral reef in the Sea of Cortez.
Puerto San Carlos
Puerto San Carlos is a deep-water port and fishing town located 57km west of Ciudad Constitución on Bahía Magdalena. The town turns its attention to whales and travelers when the ballenas arrive in January to calve in the warm lagoon. From then until March pangueros (boatmen) take passengers for whale-watching excursions (about M$750 per hour for six people).
Come to this strip of seaside to watch whale sharks, sea lions, whales, sea turtles and a myriad of fish – without the crowds. Diving is best in the summer when the water visibility reaches 25m or 30m (80ft or 100ft). The same winds that made Los Barriles a wind-and-kite surfing mecca also blow here.
Sierra de San Francisco
The sheer quantity of beautiful petroglyphs in this region is impressive, and the ocher, red, black and white paintings remain shrouded in mystery. In recognition of its cultural importance, the Sierra de San Francisco has been declared a Unesco World Heritage site. It is also part of the Reserva de la Biosfera El Vizcaíno.
Landlocked, and primarily a farming and industrial city, Ciudad Constitución offers little for tourists other than hotels for whale-watching day trips. Transportation to the port cities of López Mateos and San Carlos is infrequent – it’s far better to have your own set of wheels.
Puerto López Mateos
Located 58km northwest of Ciudad Constitución, shielded by the offshore barrier of Isla Magdalena, Puerto López Mateos is one of Baja’s best whale-watching sites. During the season, the narrow waterway that passes by town becomes a veritable ballena cruising strip. Curva del Diablo (Devil’s Bend), 27km south of town, is reported to be the best viewing spot.