Situated on the southern half of the Baja Peninsula, this Mexican state is renowned for its tourist destinations, scenic beauty, and recreational activities. The state borders Baja California to the north; otherwise, it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, to the east. Admitted as a state in 1974, Baja California is Mexico’s 31st state and is ranked Mexico’s least populous state.
Baja California Sur has a population of 665,634 people. In terms of area, the state is made up of 28,369 square miles, making it Mexico’s ninth largest state. While the population is collectively known for its youth—more than half are under the age of thirty—the state has the lowest rates of illiteracy of the entire country. The capital of the state is La Paz, which is also its largest city.
While famous for its beaches, the state is home to coastal flatlands, mountains, and desert lands. In fact, the climate in most reaches of the state is desert. The state is famous for its bays like Vizcaino, Concepcion, Ballenas, and La Paz that are all popular among tourists. The state is home to the Vizcaino Desert and the Sierra de la Giganta. Baja California Sur was historically separated from the continent and, therefore, most of the country by a sea that was difficult to sail and by two deserts difficult to traverse. Even though modern means of transportation exist, travel by air to the state remains rather limited for most people within the country. Although the terrain is rugged and much of the state retains its remote atmosphere, the main towns boast vibrant communities and luxury tourist amenities. Baja California Sur also has jurisdiction over various Pacific and Sea of Cortez islands such as Santa Catalina, Magdalena, and Santa Margarita as well as other groups of islands and islets. While most of the flora and fauna are common to the desert regions of the country, the waters off the state’s coast are varied and plentiful, making Baja California Sur one of the world’s most famous sport fishing destinations. As whales and even Great White sharks cruise the waters off the state, there are also plenty of tuna, dorado, and marlins to attract throngs of fishermen to the bays and ocean fishing grounds.
Archeologists believe that humans entered the area of the southern peninsula around eleven thousand years ago. The state boasts various archeological sites like the Las Palmas site and the Comondu Complex. Early peoples in the region practiced hunting and gathering. By the time explorers and missionaries entered the region, they found such indigenous tribes as the Pericu, Monqui, the Guaycura, and the Cochimi. Initially explored by Hernan Cortes and Sebastian Vizcaino, the area was exceptionally difficult to colonize due to its lack of water, remote location, and hostile tribes. The first permanent settlement of the Baja California region was not founded until 1697 when the Jesuits built the Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho. Eventually, the Jesuits moved southward into the Baja California Sur region. In time, the Franciscans replaced the Jesuits in the peninsula and they were later replaced by the Dominicans. While there were occasionally violent uprisings, the indigenous populations dwindled mainly due to European diseases. After the War for Independence, the peninsula was divided into territories until Baja California Sur finally became a state in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Today, the southern stretches of the Baja Peninsula lure vacationers from far and wide. World-class resorts in coastal towns like Cabo San Lucas are popular Mexican destinations. The state is internationally known for its sport fishing as well as scuba, snorkeling, whale watching, and other water sport adventures. The dunes and hilly terrain offer adventurers plenty of off-roading opportunities. Spas, inns, restaurants, and eco-tours make this state a holiday wonderland.
The very name of this town evokes thoughts of vacation paradise. Luxury hotels and resorts and world class golf await travelers to the entire Los Cabos region at the southern tip of the state where Cabo San Lucas is located. The town is a major stop for cruise ships as well as a prime destination for sport fishermen. Its beaches are celebrated for their natural beauty, while the town’s nightlife is vibrant and filled with various venues for dance and restaurants that feature the fresh regional flavors of the state. When visiting, many tourists make a point to reach Land’s End where the sea views offer extraordinary glimpses of marine life and rock formations.
Other Things to See and Do
La Paz: The state capital is known for its magnificent beaches and scenic boat docks. It’s also a popular jumping off point for excursions to Sea of Cortez islands.
Loreto: This town is a famous destination for scuba, fishing, whale watching, and kayaking. It’s also noted for its great inns and restaurants.
San Javier: This mountain town is a popular day trip from Loreto. It’s known for its rustic charms and scenic beauty. Mule journeys are popular for treks to San Javier.
Biosphere Natural Reserve of El Vizcaíno: Located in the northern part of the state, this reserve encompasses more than 55,500 square miles. It’s the largest wildlife sanctuary in Latin America.
Laguna Ojo de Liebre: This coastal lagoon is part of the Biosphere Natural Reserve of El Vizcaíno, but deserves a special mention due to its extraordinary habitat for populations of migrating gray whales as well as harbor seals.
Santa Rosalia: With its church designed by Gustave Eiffel, this picturesque city is located on the Sea of Cortez. Moreover, the town is revered for its French architecture and other French influences.
Todos Santos: Located in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, this town is known for its beautiful beaches and its iconic Hotel California.
Mulege: An oasis town located at the mouth of the Rio de Santa Rosalia, Mulege boasts old cave paintings of the Sierra de San Borjita as well as a mission that dates to 1705. It’s also known for its flora and bountiful orchards.