WELCOME TO PART TWO OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
(INCLUDING LA PAZ, CABO SAN LUCAS, TODOS SANTOS, AND SAN JOSE DEL CABO)
In BAJA CALIFORNIA: A LOVE AFFAIR we visited some of our favorite places on the Baja California peninsula including ENSENADA, CATAVINA, SAN IGNACIO LAGOON, MULEGE, LORETO, CONCEPTION BAY (BAHIA CONCEPCION), and MAGDALENA BAY (BAHIA MAGDALENA). It was quite a ride and adventure revisiting these places, but it was also time to get off the road for a little rest. Now that we have had that rest, I think it is time to saddle up "Old Blue" to continue our journey down the rest of the Baja California peninsula.
In this posting, PART TWO OF BAJA CALIFORNIA we will be visiting the towns of LA PAZ, TODOS SANTOS, CABO SAN LUCAS, and SAN JOSE DEL CABO as we resume our exploration of this wonderful landscape and its special towns.
I was raised on the beach in Southern California and it was my natural environment. I learned to swim by jumping off a dock at the early age of four and have always loved the water. In contrast to our beach lifestyle, my family often visited the Southern California desert areas to enjoy the climate and quiet lifestyle. I loved the beauty and peace of the desert with it's hot days and starry nights. When we "discovered" Baja California Sur I felt I had found my perfect environment: the combination of desert at ocean's edge. It truly resonated with me and I believe this was a large contributing factor in my love affair with Baja California. Enough of my reminiscing, it's time to resume our trip.
Once again it is time to refresh our memories of where we have been and where we are headed. As soon as we check our map we will be off on part two of this Baja journey. Ready? Vámonos, amigos!
LA PAZ, BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR:
"Welcome Whale Tail" to La Paz, Baja California
It may be just a coincidence that La Paz means "peace" in Spanish, but it is certainly appropriate for those who have driven the 1,000 miles, mas o menos, from the Tijuana border to this peaceful city with its wonderful climate. Although La Paz is the region's commercial and political capital of the state of Baja California Sur it remains a tranquil and easy-to-enjoy port and city.
The Malecon (boardwalk) in La Paz is perfect for either daytime or nighttime strolls.
La Paz languished until the Transpeninsular Highway was completed in 1973 and the city became the capital of the newly formed state of Baja California Sur in 1974. Until the early 1970's, Baja California Sur had a population density of less than three inhabitants per square mile! Even with the current population of approximately 200,000, things have not changed drastically in La Paz so we will find plenty of crowd-free spaces and isolated beaches.
Although La Paz is located on a lovely long beach, the best beaches for swimming and sunbathing are found north of the city on the road to Tecolote. Playa Palmira, Playa el Coromuel, Playa el Caimancito, Playa del Tesoro, Playa Pichilingue, Playa Balandra, Playa el Tecolote and Playa el Coyote are havens for the beach lover. My husband and I found Playa Balandra to be our favorite. We spent many days there swimming, snorkeling, sunning, and enjoying picnics without another person in sight! For a Southern California girl that was truly unique and special. I am looking for a little beach chill time and I sense you might also.
Within easy reach of the city are deserted beaches, calm bays, and pristine offshore islands. Further inland lie deserts, oases, and the Sierra de La Laguna Mountains. Looking out from downtown La Paz you see the Mogote Peninsula with its many varieties of birds. Traveling north by water takes you to the wilderness islands of El Espiritu Santo, La Partida, and Los Islotes. These islands are great destinations for scuba divers, kayaks, fishermen, snorkelers, hikers and beach lovers.
Getting close up to the sea life for a little friendly visit.
Now that that we have rested from our visit to La Paz we will head south across the Baja peninsula to TODOS SANTOS on the Pacific Coast. If your are ready, let's go check out Todos Santos!
Todos Santos is a unique desert oasis on the Tropic of Cancer in the municipality of La Paz. The population was approximately 5,000 as of the census in 2010 and is the second-largest town in the municipality. The town was founded in 1733 with the establishment of the mission of Santa Rosa de Todos Santos. Todos Santos is located on a mesa to the west of the Sierra de La Laguna mountain range and equal distance between the resort cities of Cabo San Lucas to the south and La Paz to the northeast. It is nestled in ancient orchards of mango and palm with spectacular views overlooking its white sand beaches and the Pacific Ocean. During its peak production years Todos Santos was the most fertile area of the Baja California Sur region and had many sugar mills. Got all that?
Todos Santos is located in the Biosphere Reserve Sierra de La Laguna which is considered one of the most bio diverse regions of the peninsula of Baja California. Pine and oak forests alternating with other plant species and low forests are found in this area. The region is populated by a variety of animal species including predominantly reptiles, birds, and many small mammals. UNESCO has also designated the Sierra de la Laguna mountain area a global biosphere reserve.
During its 100-year bonanza, beautiful houses, buildings, and a magnificent theater were built. Eventually, however, overuse of water, drought, and plunging sugar prices caused the collapse of the economy in the 1950's and turned Todos Santos into a deserted village. The village languished for decades and only had a "rebirth" in the early eighties. Since then Todos Santos has attracted artists, craftsman, surfers, travelers, and expatriates who are attracted to its natural beauty and lifestyle.
In recognition of these attributes and others, Todos Santos was named in 2006 the first of only two "Pueblos Magicos" in Baja California. Quite an honor and bravo!
The Hotel California is a favorite stop in Todos Santos because of the name association with the song made famous by the Eagles in 1976* even though the song does not specifically reference this particular hotel, nor any other existing hotel to my knowledge. We spent a night at the Hotel California and had the place to ourselves. Times have changed since then, but the memories remain.
*Album: Hotel California released 1976
Awards: Grammy Award for Record of the Year 1978
It's been a fun visit to Todos Santos, but my feet are getting that "let's hit the road" itch so let's go!! It's a short drive down highway Mexico I to our next stops so buckle up and hang on. I hope you are ready because we are heading to the towns of CABO SAN LUCAS and SAN JOSE DEL CABO at the tip of Baja California!
CABO SAN LUCAS:
From our first visit to the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula in the l980's we were taken with the stark beauty of this desert landscape at the edge of the sea. It definitely felt like "Land's End" and we were entranced by the contrast of desert and sea. El Arco (the arch) of Cabo San Lucas is a distinctive rock formation which is itself the extreme southern end of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. It is here that the Pacific Ocean becomes the Gulf of California.
What started as a sleepy fishing village Cabo San Lucas has transformed into the world-class travel destination. Cabo has come a long way from its early days as an isolated fishing village and as an isolated pirate hangout. Cabo is now a popular and booming escape for many tourists from all parts of the world who are seeking the sun and the beach life.
Cabo is a relatively small town with only about 75,000 residents, but it hosts nearly a million tourists who visit each year! It is difficult to imagine when just a few hundred adventuresome souls inhabited the area. With the completion of the trans peninsular highway, "our Mexico Federal Highway No. 1," the modern marina, golf courses, and the international airport in nearby San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas took off and became the popular resort destination it is today.
The traditional plaza in Cabo San Lucas is very sedate and calming, but don't be deceived. Within walking distance are the beaches, water-oriented activities, and the pulsing nightlife which is what draws the visitor to Cabo!
Since Cabo is also now on the itinerary of most of the cruise ships heading south down the coast it makes for even more visitors. Passengers are tendered into the marina from where they can walk and explore Cabo San Lucas during their visit. Wow, that's a lot of Cabo action!
BAHIA SANTA MARIA - SANTA MARIA BEACH - A Protected Marine Sanctuary:
Bahia Santa Maria looks pretty perfect to me!
My husband truly lives up to his Pisces horoscope sign!
|BAHIA CHILENO - CHILENO BEACH:|
Chileno Beach, located on Chileno Bay, is one of the most popular beaches in the Corridor. The beach is regularly ranked as one of the cleanest in all of Mexico. It also has amenities that are often not found in other locations including a paved parking lot, showers, bathrooms, and shaded palapas. Chileno beach is a wide, fairly flat beach which is perfect for walking and running. It also has calm waters which are excellent for snorkeling, diving, exploring tide pools, and kayaking. Like Santa María Beach, Chileno receives snorkel tour groups around midday. It's best then to head northeast toward the point for more privacy. Rocky reefs run parallel to the beach with tropical fish, sea turtles, moray eels, invertebrates, sea urchins, sea fans, sponges, and starfish. We loved our visits to Chileno Beach which were simply wonderful. *see Final Notes at end of posting
San Jose with a population of close to 70,000 provides residents and visitors a comfortable, easygoing lifestyle with charming restaurants and art galleries.
Many of the old homes in San Jose have been converted into charming restaurants and shops in the downtown (Centro) area and the government has enlarged the main plaza. It seems that the historic center is like a magnet that draws everyone toward the refurbished town square. This area is generally busy with businessmen, tourists, and locals mingling together which I find delightful. The hustle and bustle of San Jose does not seem to interfere with the tranquil feeling that prevails here as is often the case in many other tourist destinations.
The lovely town plaza with its traditional gazebo for entertainment is "watched over" by the Mission San Jose del Cabo as seen in this photograph.
A bird's eye view of the San Jose Estuary at San Jose del Cabo
Although development is taking a toll upon the San Jose Estuary it is still one of the town's most peaceful spots and a good place for some bird watching. Hopefully the government will control future encroachment of the Estuary. !Buen suerte!
San Jose Estuary is a protected wildlife sanctuary (at least in name) and is home to many bird species including frigate birds, sparrow hawks, white herons, and red-tailed hawks. What a lovely environment!
Making new friends on one of the quiet beaches just outside of the town of San Jose del Cabo. What great memories!
Thank you for joining me on this journey through the incredible peninsula of Baja California. We have covered a lot of territory in both BAJA CALIFORNIA: A LOVE AFFAIR and Part Two of this blog posting. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you and revisiting so many places and memories. Your company has been sincerely appreciated and hope to see you again soon.
As I mentioned in this blog, places change over a period of time as do people. Change is one of the constants of life and change is not inherently a bad thing. I have used photographs that were primarily taken by my husband and me during the many visits we made to Baja California. In doing research for this posting I discovered that some of our favorite places were no longer there or had changed so much that we would no longer recognize them. "Such is Life"or as said in Spanish: "Así es la Vida." That having been said, Baja California is still a wonderful and unique place.
One of my favorite "iconic" photographs of the Baja California Sur Peninsula.
SOME FINAL NOTES:
In the course of updating myself during the writing of this posting on Baja California I found some information that I feel I would be remiss in not sharing. I discovered that two of my favorite places, Chileno Bay , and the San Jose Estuary area outside of San Jose del Cabo, Puerto Los Cabos are both being affected by the development of very large resort and residential facilities. As previously stated in the above paragraph, "Such is life" or "Así es la Vida." :>(
Fun viewing of Baja from a bird's perspective: AERIAL VIDEOS OF BAJA
The following link takes you to the official web site for the Pueblos Mágicos de México. Check it out for inspiration!
Sunset over Baja California - simply magic! Until next time please enjoy my photograph album of more of the beauty of BAJA CALIFORNIA PART TWO at the following link: