Don’t let all those miles of raw desert fool you. Whether you’re taking the entire Autopista de Baja California or aiming for a stretch (which is more sensible), the landscape is full of revelations, many half-hidden.
In fact, there is much more along the way than you will find on this list, which leaves out Tijuana, Ensenada, Bahía de los Ángeles, Todos Santos, and most of La Paz and Los Cabos. The places below, listed from north to south, are places I found firsthand and liked: local tours, trails, restaurants, historic churches, rock paintings, beaches, and other attractions from Valle de Guadalupe to Cabo San Lucas. Although I only stayed in one hotel, I have inspected several more and included the best ones here.
To guide me, I hired Nathan Stuart from legends about the landing, specializing in customized small group camping and land trips to Baja California’s rugged landscapes. Activities may include whale watching, surfing, fishing, snorkeling, and hiking. All-inclusive prices (often including private chefs) typically range from $5,000 to $8,000 per couple for a five- to 10-day trip.
Our vehicle came from moleterra, based in San Diego, which rents trucks, motorhomes and camping equipment for off-grid trips in Baja and elsewhere. Daily rates for vehicles range from $189 to $285. Although Baja trips make up the bulk of their winter business, Topoterra founder Brandon Thomason told me, most travelers prefer to explore one part of Baja, not rush through it all.
About the phone numbers below: To call a Mexican mobile or landline from a US mobile phone, start with the + key, then press 52 (Mexico country code), then the area code and local phone number (which add up to 10 digits – that’s what’s included here). To call Mexico from a US landline, start with 011 instead of +, then add 52, area code, and local number. The US Federal Communications Commission has more details.