Mexico is full of recreational options! With so much to do on both land and sea,
About 90 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta visitors can enjoy the remote coatal area of PUNTA EL CUSTODIO. This is wildlife conservation area includes summer turtle research, surfing, bird watching plus whale watching in winter.
Boaters might find Mexico's NAUTICAL LADDER plan interesting. The idea is to build marinas all around Baja and on the northern portion of the Mexico mainland.
For additional information on protecting your skin while playing in the tropical Mexican sun take a look at the SUNSCREEN TIPS section of Mexico Expo.
ALL TERRAIN VEHICLESATV's lend themselves towards open spaces, sand dunes and dry lake beds. Probably the most popular locations in Mexico for ATV's are ROSARITO BEACH, SAN FELIPE and CABO SAN LUCAS.
In Rosarito Beach the main riding location is on the beach, just south of the Rosarito Beach Hotel. In San Felipe the main riding location is in the sand dunes just southwest of downtown (and also on the beach south of town), and in Cabo most of the A.T.V. riding is just north of Cabo in the dunes near the old lighthouse. Wearing a helmet is a good way to go home in an airline seat instead of a body bag.
For more information on ATV related information you can review the OFF ROAD section of Mexico Expo.
Mountain bikes are a good way to take in the beauty of Mexico, and to get some great outdoor exercise. Good places for bikes in Mexico include the EAST CAPE in Baja, the COSTA ALLEGRA on Mexico's mainland, and between PLAYA DEL CARMEN and TULUM on the Yucatan. Serious mountain bikers might want to consider the mountain trails behind CABO SAN LUCAS in Baja.
FISHINGThere is probably no other country on the planet as famous for recreational fishing as Mexico. Fishermen who just want to sneak away for a few days often head for the BAJA PENINSULA for tight lines. More serious anglers looking for fighting game fish and sailfish slip a little further south to CABO SAN LUCAS and the MEXICAN MAINLAND. For hook-ups in a Caribbean environment CANCUN is also a great fishing destination.
Fishing in Mexico has definite seasons for different fish. And the OCEAN TEMPERATURES have a lot to do with who is biting where.
Although fishing without reservations is usually a good way to try your luck, each year more anglers are setting up their trips before they head to Mexico. Below we have listed some of the companies that specialize in Mexico mainland fishing.
Fishermen heading out for longer stays in Mexico waters can't go wrong taking along a copy of MEXICO BOATING GUIDE, a great book with information on the entire coastline of Mexico. Another good book is CHARLIE'S CHARTS. Both books are great!
Visit HORIZONS WEST for information on fly fishing expeditions in mainland Mexico.
For more information visit the FISHING section of Mexico Expo.
Private pilots have been taking advantage of Mexico's predictable flying weather since the 1960's. The trend started in Baja, where pilots could easily slip across the border for a long weekend at one of the many flight strips along the Sea of Cortez. Baja's East Cape became a popular fly-in destination, along with Mulege, Loreto and Cabo San Lucas. Soon pilots were crossing over to the mainland and enjoying towns such as Guaymas, Mazatlan and Acapulco. Although Baja and mainland Mexico are still popular destinations, today's pilots travel all the way to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula for adventure, and sometimes beyond that.
Flying in Mexico has gone through several distinct changes over the years. At first is was easy and inexpensive, and in the 1960's and 1970's it seemed like it would be hard to beat the simplicity of flying to Mexico for a quick getaway. In the 1980's things took a turn, and flying the bird below the border started to take a little more planning. The paperwork needed to land at an airport of entry increased, insurance to fly to Mexico became more expensive, and the fees charged by the Mexican government always seemed to be higher than the last trip down. It came as no surprise that flying to Mexico dropped of in the late 1980's. After several years of bad publicity, and the closings of several popular strips, things finally turned around a bit in the 1990's.
As we enter the new millennium there seems to be a gradual trend by the Mexican Government to try to encourage private pilots to visit. Some of the high fees that were imposed are being reduced, which is an important first step. Although "mordida" is still used to grease the wheels at some airports, the trend is to try to keep business above board and friendly, while still recognizing the need to monitor airports for drug-related transportation. Some of the flying regulations are being re-worked to make Mexico more general aviation friendly. Let's hope this trend continues during the upcoming years.
Pilots flying to Mexico now have several excellent resources to tap into. Pilots flying into Baja will quickly appreciate a new flying book and map now being published called "Fly Baja!". The map itself is worth the price of admission, a collection of airports (open and closed) that is about as accurate as you will find. The book features color arial photographs of Baja's most popular airports, and a host of additional information.
Pilots flying to mainland Mexico can tap in to the flying experiences of Gales Hanselman and his book FLY BAJA. This publication covers every aspect of flying a private plane into Mexico, and is almost as much fun to read when you are just "hanger flying" at your home airport. Telephone orders are always accepted at (800) 574-9702.
BAJA BUSH PILOTS have been active in promoting general aviation in Mexico for many years. They can be reached at (480) 730-3250 or by e-mail at jack@bajabush pilots.com. Drop by their web site for further information.
Interested in occasional flights below the border? The good folks at FLIGHT LOG plan regular events to Baja and are always looking for new birds to join the flock. They can be reached by telephone at (714) 521-2531 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on escorted flights in private planes into Mexico anf the Caribbean visit the web site of AIR JOUNEY or call them toll free at (888) 554-3774.
There are several organizations that provide medical assistance to the people of Mexico. FLYING SAMARITANS (800) 775-9018 have been helping the needy in Mexico as well as the good people at LOS MEDICOS VOLADORES (800) 585-4568. If you are in the medical field and you can help them...give them a call.
GOLFINGGolfing, while always a fun option while in Mexico, has become h-u-g-e over the last 5 years. Much of this new interest can be attributed to the new courses in that have been built in Cabo and the spectacular mainland courses north of Manzanillo. These newer courses, in conjunction with some of the existing courses in Baja and on the mainland, have put Mexico the map as a first rate golf destination, right up there with Hawaii.
Golfer who can't drift too far from the border have several good options within a short drive (pun intended) from San Diego. Starting at the border and heading south, good golf courses can be found along Baja's Gold Coast in TIJUANA, REAL DEL MAR, BAJAMAR and ENSENADA.
Duffers who find themselves in the mid-peninsula area will enjoy the oceanside 18 holes in LORETO.
There are several good courses in mainland Mexico, including the courses along the coast and just north of MANZANILLO. The new course at Isla Navidad is an example of the high end direction Mexico is taking it's golf destinations.
For golfing with a Caribbean flavor CANCUN and the coastline south offers first rate courses just waiting for you to plant your tee.
The nice thing about golfing in Mexico is that there is so much to do after you finish your golf game. The watersports options are almost endless, and dining and nightlife are some of the best in the world!
For information on golf packages in Mexico contact the folks at BEST GOLF.
Kayaking in Mexico has exploded over the last few years, and for 3 good reasons. The close proximity to the U.S. and Canada has made kayak adventures in Mexico convenient and affordable. Secondly, Mexico offers over 6,000 miles of coastline, much of it very conducive to kayaking. And the key factor to make it all happen is the huge growth in companies that offer kayak adventures in Mexico. In addition to the kayak facilities available in many Mexican towns, there are a host of kayak companies that specialize in kayak package vacations.
Many visitors headed to Mexico for a kayak vacation chose BAJA's Sea of Cortez as their first destination. It's close proximity, calm waters and great weather all add up to a classic kayak experience. Some of the best places to kayak in the Sea of Cortez include the spectacular islands of BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, the protected coves of BAHIA CONCEPCION, the historic flavor of LORETO and big town ambiance and remote island beaches of LA PAZ.
Kayakers who want to experience the coastline at the tip of the Baja Peninsula love the remote EAST CAPE and natural beauty and beach lifestyle of CABO SAN LUCAS with calm waters in a spectacular setting. A kayak excursion from Cabo to La Paz around the Cape would be a dream come true!
Seasoned kayakers enjoy some of Mexico's inland rivers, as well as the remote Sian Kaan Biosphere south of CANCUN. On the Yucatan Peninsula one could paddle south to Amergris Key, located just a spit from Mexico's southern border in the country of Belize!
Mexico visitors who are only mildly interested in kayaking still can enjoy the sport by renting a kayak by the hour at one of the many oceanfront hotels in Mexico.
For additional information on kayaking in Mexico review the web sites of the following kayak companies.
Heading to Mexico on a street bike is the ultimate Easy Rider adventure. Miles of open road, quaint coastal and inland villages, and predictable weather all help make Mexico a growing destination for bikers.
Just recently companies have been setting up tours in Mexico for road trips. Also, Harleys are now available for rent in CABO SAN LUCAS for Mexico travelers who want to their vacation to the next level.
Are you ready for this? There is a group of bikers who get together once a year who like to go fast. Really fast. They secretly meet at the U.S. / Mexican border near Tijuana with extra fuel tanks, bike parts and energy bars. Their goal? to get to Cabo San Lucas in the shortest time possible. Last year the winner made the 1,062 mile trip in under 12 hours. You do the math.
For more information on dirt bike races in Baja check out the web site of SCORE INTERNATIONAL.
If you are riding a bike to Mexico be sure to bring the current registration. If the bike is not yours, you will need a letter from the owner authorizing you to bring the bike into Mexico. You will also need liability insurance. Your U.S. insurance policy will probably cover any damage to your bike if you are within 62 miles of the border, but the Mexican Government will not honor the liability coverage of a policy unless it has been underwritten by a Mexican company. These policies are pretty affordable, and longer term policies are cheaper yet.
Baja Mexico is one of the most popular off road destinations in the world. For years dirt bikes, dune buggies, sand rails, and ATV's have taken advantage of Baja's wide open spaces including mountains, sand dunes, dry lake beds, dry river washes and miles of empty beaches.
Increased restrictions in off-road use in the United States have made Baja even more popular. It is becoming increasingly important, however, that off road users in Mexico be aware of possible damage to the environment. If the users to not take a responsible approach to off-road use in Mexico, then it is very likely the Mexican government will step in and create restrictions, just as has happened in the United States. Staying on existing trails is a big step in the right direction.
Baja hosts some of the biggest off-road races in the world. Sponsored by SCORE INTERNATIONAL and Tecate beer, the Baja 250, Baja 500 and Baja 1,000 have been keeping off-road enthusiasts in the dirt for decades now. These races can include everything from motorcycles to Hummers, trophy trucks to dune buggies, plus several additional categories.
In November of 2000 Score put together the ultimate off-road challenge. To celebrate the new Millennium, the Baja 2000 was organized to zig-zag the Baja Peninsula from Ensenada at the north to Cabo San Lucas at the very tip. It was the most grueling race ever held in Baja, and it was awesome! The course actually covered about 1,750 miles, and some of the course was the worse Baja had to offer. Over half of the contestants did not finish, including our buddy Ivan Stewart, who lost a cylinder just north of San Ignacio. There is talk of a future Baja 2,000 but no dates have been set.
Some of the best locations for off-roaders in Baja include the sand dunes at Cantamar south of ROSARITO BEACH, the miles of mountain trails in the mountains south of ENSENADA, and the beaches at low tide south of SAN JUANICO. At the Cape the spectacular dirt coastal road from SAN JOSE DEL CABO to BUENA VISTA is one of the most beautiful off-road locations in Baja! And while you are in the area don't miss the incredible nightlife in CABO SAN LUCAS!
For a fun offroad adventures of the organized fashion check with the folks at WIDE OPEN BAJA. Review their web site for additional information.
Parasailing is something most people only do on vacation, it doesn't tend to a be sport that people do as a regular sport. But on vacation, this is a thrilling way to get a bird's eye view of your vacation destination, and to get your heart pumping a little bit faster than just sitting around poolside.
In the early years Parasailing had developed a bit of a bad reputation. At that time most of the take offs and landings were done from the beach, and more that a few people got hurt while taking off or landing. Slamming into the side of a hotel when the wind picks up can really ruin your day.
Most of today's Parasailing boats have platforms attached to the back of boat. The driver of the boat usually heads out into the water with the parasailer inside the boat. Once they find an area free of boat traffic, they put the victim in the harness and head the boat into the wind. Gradually the parachute wills with air and the sky is the limit. Landing is just as easy, and landing on the platform is a slam-dunk.
If you are out in the boat when your friend/spouse/soulmate is Parasailing, ask the driver of the boat to give your buddy a "dip". Most of these drivers are pretty talented, and they can reduce the speed of the boat to the point where your friend is up to his/her belly button before they are quickly raised back to altitude again. Bring a camera!
The waters of Mexico are some of the most popular sailing grounds in North America. Sailors choose Mexico as an ultimate destination, as well as a stop over on the way to other blue water locations such as Central and South America, the Caribbean and Hawaii and the south Pacific.
The main cruising season in Mexico is based around the normal tropical weather season. Summer storms and Chubascos usually die down in October, and the sailing weather usually stays good through June. From June through October sailing is still usually good, but Mister Tropical Storm occasionally makes an appearance. Also, during this summer season afternoon showers are common, but generally only last for a couple of hours. The bright side? Excellent Mexican sunsets!
The sailing facilities in Mexico range from primitive to first class, depending on where you decide to drop the hook. Some of the marinas offer every conceivable amenity, while at others you may be lucky to find electricity. That's the charm of sailing in Mexico!
Mexico offers 3 main sailing areas. Because of it's close proximity to the U.S. border, the BAJA PENINSULA is very popular for sailors. It offers to different types of sailing, open ocean sailing in the Pacific Ocean on the west coast, and casual cruising in the Sea of Cortez on it's east coast. Two of Baja's best ports include the top cabin facility at CABO SAN LUCAS and the established marinas in LA PAZ. Funky villages like SAN JUANICO and BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES still offer the charm of small town Baja.
Sailors with a hankering for distance often head down to mainland Mexico.
For some this is as far as they want to go, because it just doesn't get too much nicer
than the beautiful coastline from PUERTO VALLARTA to ACAPULCO.
Sailors who want to chart a course into virgin territory will appreciate the new marina,
The Caribbean has always been a popular cruising area, and Mexico offers Caribbean cruising as nice as the rest. The islands of CANCUN and COZUMEL offer crystal clear waters that are warm year round. There are 2 good marinas in Cancun, 2 smaller marinas in Cozumel, and a first class facility south of Cancun at PUERTO AVENTURAS. These are great places to stop while on the way to Belize, Cuba, the Bay Islands, or other Caribbean destinations further east.
Sailors planning a trip below the border would do well to bring along a copy of the MEXICO CRUISING GUIDE by captains Pat and John Rains. If you have a question about cruising Mexico, the answer is probably in this great book!
Another good book with lots of information on boating in Mexican waters is CHARLIE'S CHARTS. Charles Woods is a long time Mexico boater and knows the waters extremely well.
GERRY CHARTS by good old Gerry is another excellent option!.
For boat permits and entry documents contact ROMERO'S MEXICO SERVICE.
For more information on charter cruises in Mexico contact CAT BALLOU.
Drop by THE LOG for additional information on the marina facilities throughout Mexico!
For more information on the proposed Nautical Ladder Plan visit the web site of PROPENINSULA.ORG.
And for a second opinion on the Nautical Ladder from someone who loves Mexico drop by the LA ESCALERA NAUTICA web site.
For more information on cruising Baja's spectacular coastline check out Carlos Fiesta's solo 2,000 mile BAJA CIRCUMNAVIGATION!
Mexico is one of the most popular diving destinations in the world! Having over 6,000 miles of coastline has something to do with it, but with Mexico quantity takes a back seat to quality. And the quality of Mexico's diving is some of the best there is.
For drive down trips from the United States, many divers head for the BAJA PENINSULA. Baja is the unique position to offer excellent diving on both sides, the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. While the Pacific side diving is mostly shore and boat diving, land diving is more common in the Sea of Cortez. The water temperature along both coasts gets up to about 70 degrees or more by August, then drops down below 60 degrees in winter.
If warmer water temperatures will put a smile on your face, Baja can still meet your needs. CABO SAN LUCAS sits at the very southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, and is located in the Tropics. This means water temperatures get up into the 80's in summer, and rarely fall below 70 degrees in winter. Cabo diving includes beach diving and boat diving, and sights include plenty of reefs, sandfalls, tropical fish and more. For a diving fantasy head up the coast from Cabo about 50 miles around the Cape to the EAST CAPE. Cabo Pulmo is one of the only coral reefs on the west coast of North America, and is a great diving destination in a very relaxed setting.
MAINLAND MEXICO also offers great diving, and the coastal towns of Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa and Acapulco have many good diving locations. Even the new resort of HUATULCO offers great diving in it's 9 beautiful bays, but most of this area is still undiscovered.
Saving the best for last? Absolutely! The Mexican Caribbean dive destinations of CANCUN and COZUMEL are hard to beat. Year round warm waters, incredible visibility and plenty of sea life make these destinations popular with divers.
If you really want the best diving that Mexico has to offer, do not stop, do not pass go, head directly to COZUMEL. Not only is Cozumel the best diving in Mexico, there are many people who say that Cozumel offers some of the best diving on the planet. Having explored Cozumel's reefs many times, Carlos Fiesta gives this dive destination a 5 Star (fish) rating. Don't take our word for it. Book your Cozumel vacation this year. Because if you don't, you'll just be one year older when you do!
For more information on Scuba Diving adventures in Mexico and other locations visit the web site of GOOD TIME IN THE WATER.
If you ever run into Carlos Fiesta at a party and want to get him excited, start talking about snorkeling in Mexico! Snorkeling is one of the sports available in Mexico that almost anyone can do, and is a great way to add depth to any vacation. Unlike Scuba Diving which requires extensive training and certification to be enjoyed, snorkeling is quick and easy, and tons of fun! No training necessary! Although being able to swim is a good idea, many people enjoy snorkeling by just floating around in shallow areas checking out the fish, coral and underwater environment.
The 2 main pieces of equipment necessary for snorkeling are a mask and snorkel. Fins are definitely optional, and for beginning snorkelers they can be more trouble than they are worth. A good pair of water socks is a great idea to prevent foot damage, especially when snorkeling in areas where there are reefs. Snorkelers who really want to cover a lot of ground will benefit from a good pair of fins. People often purchase a mask and snorkel before going on vacation without much thought. It is important to at least test how the mask fits on your face before purchasing it. There's nothing worse than getting all fired up about a great snorkel adventure and then finding out your mask leaks. Snorkels are less critical, but in general the more you spend the better snorkel you will get.
Most of Mexico's snorkel destinations are warm water locations. The exception would be some of the coastal cities off of the Baja Peninsula during winter, such as BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, LORETO, and LA PAZ. From January through mid-June the water temperature in these area can drop into the 60's, warranting a half or full wet suit. Even though CABO SAN LUCAS is located on the Baja Peninsula, it is far enough south to be located in the tropics, and the ocean water temperature usually ranges from around 70 degrees in winter to the mid 80's in summer. Some of the best places to snorkel in Cabo include Lover's Beach, Santa Maria Bay and Chelano Bay.
Mexico's west coast snorkeling offers warm water snorkeling year round. As a matter of fact, during the mid to late summer the ocean temperature almost gets hot! Some of the better snorkel destination on Mexico's west coast include the coastline up and down the coast from GUYMAS, PUERTO VALLARTA, IXTAPA, ACAPULCO and HUATULCO. Each of these towns have their own distinct personality, which is a consideration when choosing a destination. From the small town desert environment of Guaymas to the non-stop city action of Acapulco, Mexico beyond the snorkel has many options. For more information drop by the city directories of each town in Mexico Expo.
Snorkeling in the Caribbean is like dying and going to heaven, and Mexico's Caribbean resorts offer excellent snorkeling. The vast majority of visitors to the Yucatan Peninsula stay in CANCUN, and good snorkeling is available at the northeast end of the island at the point and at the southeast end of the island at Punta Nizac, near the Club Med. But if you really want to experience some great snorkeling hop across the channel 30 miles southeast of Cancun to COZUMEL. This small western Caribbean island offers the best snorkeling in Mexico, bar none. Super clear waters, abundant sealife and year-round warm waters make Cozumel a fun island to snorkel and a hard island to leave.
Snorkelers who aren't afraid to make a short road trip will enjoy several snorkel destinations along the coast south of Cancun, including Akumal, Xel-Ha, Xcaret and Tulum. In addition to these saltwater snorkel destinations, the Yucatan Peninsula offers a very unique venue for snorkeling...cenotes! If you have not spent much time in the Yucatan, you might be saying "what the heck is a cenote?". Check this out. Much of the land on the Yucatan is made of limestone. This limestone acts as a filter for rainwater, which slips below the surface during the rainy season, and collects in crystal clear underground pools. Occasionally the limestone surface above these pools breaks away, exposing the cenote pool to the world. These waters are fabulous for snorkeling, and provide a once in a lifetime experience for most people. For more information on CENOTES drop by Vacation Guide in Cancun Expo.
Surfing in Mexico is one of life's great joys. Maybe it's the warm waters. Maybe it's the cold beer. Maybe it's being a thousand miles away from your wife, girlfriend or voice mail. Who knows. Trying to figure it out is not really necessary, just go with it. Every surf trip to Mexico has it's own flavor, and each trip down has it's own stories and memories. But with just a little planning, there's usually one thing you can count on while on a Mexican surf adventure...waves. From the popular longboard breaks like Coasta Azul in Cabo to head-high monsters at 4th point Scorpion Bay, Mexico aims to please surfers riding everything from longboards to shortboards.
The west coast of Mexico gets it's best waves during summer, because of the tropical storms in the eastern Pacific and the southern hemi's from down under. However, Mexico also has waves during winter, when those northern swells sneak across the border and pound north facing beach and wrap into west facing beaches. The water is not as warm in winter, but the waves are just as juicy and the crowds are all in California or Hawaii.
Surfers headed to Mexico are usually going to either BAJA or the MAINLAND. Baja is popular because it is an easy drive down surf trip, and generally pretty cheap. It only takes one airline surf trip for you to realize the simplicity of a drive down trip. No passport, no renting board bags, no extra charge for putting the board on the plane, no waiting for the oversized baggage to show up at the terminal...yahdah, yahdah. With Baja road trip, you just drive, surf, eat and sleep. And then you get up and do it all over again. Boring? Give me some more of that, please.
Mainland Mexico, although a bit more work, is usually worth the effort. It only takes one tube ride at Puerto Escondido or one 300 yard roller-coaster at that secret spot north of Puerto Vallarta to get you all fired up and hot. With mainland surfing, you become more immersed in the real Mexico. Looking for gasoline in little villages that don't have banks, having a coconut fall on your sleeping bag in the middle of the night, catching a double overhead on a glassy morning with nobody out. It can be addicting.
Like many things in life, a good surf trip takes a bit of planning. That all-essential ingredient, waves, can be elusive if you just drop into Mexico without checking the wave fax first. Big swells rarely come without warning, so keeping an eye on the weather will help your chances of catching a swell.
The cool thing about surfing in Mexico is that, even when there aren't any waves, you are still on vacation in an awesome environment. Great weather, cool people, and plenty of other fun things to do make Mexico a great surf destination.
For information on specific surf breaks throughout Mexico go to the RECREATION section of the various city destinations in MEXICO EXPO.
Visit HORIZONS WEST for information on surf expeditions north of Puerto Vallarta.
Also located on the mainland north of P.V. is COSTA AZUL surf resort, a great place for surfers looking for a relaxed surfing environment.
Drop in on the web site of SURFARIMEX for additional information on surf tours into Mexico!
SIESTAS & OLAS is a very fun film about surfing Mexico. The action in the film starts off with epic Baja at Scorpion Bay, and then transitions to the awesome sliders and bone crunchers of mainland Mexico. The film was produced by Dan-O Surf Films in Santa Barbara, California (by Dan Wosniak), and can be purchased on video and DVD at your local surf shop or by visiting their web site. See it and feel good.
And for a good time on-line drop your Sex Wax and check out the Reef Brazil girls at the REEF web site.
SWELL.COM always has good stuff to check out when you can't go surfing and need your fix.
Leave your wet suit at home and grab your rash guard. The OCEAN TEMPERATURES in Mexico are nice all year long!
Whales are one of the special treasures of Baja! There are few places on the planet where these large mammals can be viewed so easily, and so close up. It only takes one whale sighting to create a memory that can last a lifetime. Come...enter the world of the whales!!!
Baja is well known as a great place to whale watch. The Peninsula is home to several different types of whales, including the California Gray whale and the Finback whale. While the California Grays are just visiting for short periods of time along the west coast, the Finbacks are full-time residents in the Sea of Cortez. Both breeds are a spectacle sight to behold and a true natural treasure.
The whale that seems to get everyone most excited in Mexico is the California Gray whale. This magnificent creature spends summers in the waters off of Alaska, and then heads 6,000 miles south to the warmer lagoons of Baja in January, February and March. Their main reason for heading south is to mate and give birth in the protected shallow lagoons in Baja.
The three main lagoons these whales return to every year are (from north to south) Laguna Ojo de Liebre about half way down the Peninsula, Laguna San Ignacio about 100 miles further south, and Bahia Magdalena, which stretches about 100 miles from the northern end to the southern end below Laguna San Ignacio. All three areas offer an excellent venue for whale watching up close and personal, and stories of close encounters and whale "petting" are becoming increasingly common.
After being hunted to near extinction at the turn of the century for their blubber and oil, these gentle giants have grown in population to about 23,000 today. Debate about removing the California Gray from the "Endangered Species" designation and an increased level of awareness of the plight of these mammals is proof that mankind can indeed turn around an almost tragic situation.
For years the northern lagoon (often called Scammon's Lagoon after the whaler who originally discovered this 'hiding place') was the main venue for whale watching. This is where the whales were originally discovered by whalers, and this became the main location for whale watching for many years. After a while it became common knowledge that Laguna San Ignacio a bit further south was also popular with the Big Guys, and in the 1990's a small contingent of boats started offering organized whale watching in this 15 mile long lagoon. Bahia Magdalena, another 100 miles south, is now becoming an increasingly popular whale watching location, mainly because of it's proximity to the International Airports in LA PAZ and LORETO. A small percentage of whales make it as far south as CABO SAN LUCAS and the EAST CAPE, but there are no large lagoons in those areas for viewing them.
There are several companies that specialize in whale watch tours to all three locations. Many of these companies are listed below. Most of these tours include lodging and transportation to the lagoons, and some include airfare as well. The shorter basic tours can be quite affordable, and the longer and more elaborate excursions can be expensive. So no matter how much disposable time and money you have, Baja's whales are waiting for you!
WHALE WATCH COMPANIES
Companies that specialize in helping visitors views Baja's whales perform a very valuable service. Most of these companies have had years of experience, and have the whale watching routine down to an art. There are three basic methods to enjoy the whales...
LAND BASED COMPANIES
Land based whale watch companies are those that provide transportation (and often lodging) to the whale watching sites by either driving down or by a combination of flying down and driving. These adventures are usually shorter in length than the liveaboard boat trips mentioned below.
There are two places in North America that are famous for great windsurfing. The "Gorge" in Oregon along the Hood River Valley and Buena Vista-Los Barriles on the East Cape of Baja Mexico. Both locations offer awesome windsurfing, but the venue on the huge Sea of Cortez Mexico is much larger than the river in Oregon. And the margaritas are better.
Windsurfing in Mexico is available at all levels. Many people give windsurfing their first try while on vacation in Mexico, and decide to take it up as a new hobby when they get home. Most hotels and resorts in Mexico either have a water sports department that offers windsurfers on a rental basis, or there is usually some local local who has set up watersports rentals right down the beach. Vacation who has set up watersports rentals right down the beach. Vacation achievers who have already mastered the basics of windsurfing like to use an adventure south of the border as a place to practice the ever-elusive perfect tack.
Serious board-heads usually head to Baja's East Cape, where the local winds in Spring provide strong winds and wonderful wave chop. The seaside town of BUENA VISTA is growing from a small Baja village to a legitimate town, with much of the initial interest generated from windsurfers. After a few days of windsurfing in Buena Vista many travelers sneak down the coast about an hour to CABO SAN LUCAS for non-stop fun at the tip of the Peninsula.
A great place to learn to windsurf is the CLUB MED in CANCUN. They have a separate beach set up just for people who want to learn windsurfing, and the G.O.'s at the Club provide free lessons. The water is clear and warm and the wind is usually mild.