This 800-mile-long peninsula, which separates the Sea of Cortez from the powerful Pacific, is an untamed mystical landscape with rising sierras, desert blooms, hidden coves and ribbons of white sand. It’s a place where protected bays shelter migratory whales and their calves, crystal clear waters welcome underwater explorers, and crescent beaches call out to sunshine seekers. Whether you’re in the mood for the pulsing scene in Los Cabos or slow-paced, old-world flavor of La Paz, there’s something for every taste and whim. From a hacienda-style inn set in a historic village to oceanfront villas on the Sea of Cortez or five-star luxury at the edge of the Pacific, here are three unique ways to experience the best of Baja.
LA PAZ | PLAYA DEL LA PAZ
Dipping underwater with a mask and snorkel to swim alongside a 40-foot whale shark just might be one of the all-time greatest adventures. Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world” for good reason, as it’s teeming with diverse marine life and home to these gentle leviathans who feed on plankton in the Bay of La Paz. (You can swim with them during whale shark season from October 1 until to the end of April.)
La Paz is Baja’s best kept secret with its cobblestone streets, massive colorful murals, artisan shops, boutique hotels and plucked-from-the-sea cuisine. Here, you can stroll the three-mile-long malecon (boardwalk), visit the 18th century church or mingle with locals over craft beers and fresh fi sh tacos. For a sublime stay, Playa de la Paz’s 23 unique villas sit oceanfront just outside of town on a white sand beach dotted with daybeds and seashells. From your patio vantage point, the blues of its Olympic-sized pool perfectly meld with the sea and sky.
Inside the spacious, beautifully designed villas, guests and owners enjoy artisan craft sman-ship and details like Calcutta gold marble, Viking-studded kitchens, sunken tubs, dreamy beds and striking original artwork. No other address in La Paz matches its luxury. Th e friendly onsite concierge tees up private chefs, yoga on the beach, paddleboarding, roof-top massages, horseback riding along surf, fishing expeditions and aquatic adventures—just step out your door onto the sand and a Cortez Club boat will whisk you away to wreck dives, sea lion colonies, powder-soft beaches for picnics, whale shark swims or toes-in-the-sand palapa dining on giant chocolate clams pulled from the sea while you sip your cerveza. It’s Baja at its finest.
SAN JOSE DEL CAB0 | EL ENCANTO INN
Wandering the streets of San Jose del Cabo reveals a refreshing slice of authentic Mexico with its historic plaza, colonial architecture, San Jose Mission, bustling mercados and artisan studios. For a true taste of Mexican hacienda-style hospitality, check your bags at El Encanto Inn, set in the heart of the Art District. Thoughtful touches from Mexican textiles and hand-embroidered bed runners to wrought iron fixtures and local pottery color the suites, while lush gardens dotted with sculptures and twinkling lights enliven the low-fi pool scene.
Outside the inn’s door, the jacaranda-lined streets host art galleries, cafes and cantinas. Start the day at the French Riviera Bakery for frothy cappuccinos, flaky fresh croissants or brioche French toast, and pause to watch the bakers make their magic through the window. Th e impressive work of jewelry makers, potters, painters and more can be found in myriad galleries ranging from high-end fi ne art to folksy local creations. Each Thursday, the Art Walk is the perfect way to explore the back streets and meet the local talent, while music fans will appreciate the local bands set up on street corners on Tuesdays.
Another source of local flavor can be found at Baja Brewing Company, just doors up from El Encanto Inn. Relax on the garden patio while savoring a wood-fired pizza and sipping their well-crafted beer. A tasting flight is in order as this badass brewery has eight regulars plus seasonals, ranging from a smooth red ale and complex malt-forward Peyote Pale Ale to oatmeal stout and Baja Black with aromatic notes of coff ee and caramel. Next door at La Lupita, it’s time for smoky mezcal margaritas and their ultra-decadent, cheese-crusted pastor (pork) taco with pineapple in the back courtyard where bands perform on a lit-up, elevated stage with a giant grinning skull as a backdrop.
If venturing beyond the historic district, you’ll find true farm-to-table fare at Flora Farms, home to a divine bakery, organic gardens, al fresco dining, spa, cooking classes, gourmet grocery, art galleries, orchards, and a jungle-esque experience at Acre, where global cuisine and craft cocktails are served in a sanctuary of greenery.
CABO SAN LUCAS | THE RESORT AT PEDREGAL
Just outside of pulsing Cabo San Lucas, a seaside sanctuary lies hidden behind a rocky mountain; its private tunnel makes for a dramatic entrance to the lovely, all-suites, five-star retreat. Every bi-level casita, hillside villa and beachfront abode has a private 89-degree plunge pool and personal concierge to style out your stay. Order up ceviche and coconut-watermelon margaritas at the swim up bar or nibble on smoked marlin taco bites on your shaded chaise with the crashing surf as your soundtrack.
At hacienda-style Don Manuel’s, mornings mean fresh pressed juices, tamales, fluffy omelets or chilaquiles, while ingredient-driven dishes like braised lamb shank cooked in a mixiote leaf or veal enchilades in mole negro highlight culinary traditions at dinner. Carved into the cliff, El Farallon proves to be another treasured dining experience, commencing with bubbles at its Champagne Bar. Diners then stroll to its outdoor exhibition kitchen and select daily catch on ice or thick ribeye steaks for the chefs to grill. Live music, lantern-lit tables and tiki torches set the mood, but it’s the crashing surf and breaching whales at sunset that steal the show. And if the sea breeze grows cool during the slow paced meal, cozy serapes are presented for warmth.
When not lazing by the three pools or floating in your personal plunge, there’s Luna y Mar whose spa therapies draw influence from the sea, cycles of the moon and curanderismo—Mexican folk healing. Another inimitable Pedregal program is their new Baja Luxploration featuring cultural immersion and adventures in diverse landscapes. A sunrise standup paddle at Cabo’s iconic Land’s End reveals El Arco, the natural arch that frames the meeting ground of the Pacifi c Ocean and Sea of Cortez. Backcountry jeep rides lead to the secrets spots of the Sierras. Hikes to hidden oases, swims under waterfalls and yoga by the hot springs are followed by tortilla-making culinary lessons and gourmet lunches at a private ranch. Bilingual naturalists guide snorkeling adventures in the UNESCO-protected Cabo Pulmo Marine Park, an underwater playground home to moray eels, rays and endless schools of tropical fi sh, or a private yacht whisks guests away to Espiritu Santo Island for a chance to swim with sea lions in empty coves trimmed with white sand.