Sitting on the northern portion of the Baja Peninsula, visit Baja California, one of Mexico’s most popular destinations. (Baja California Sur to the south has it’s own page). The Pacific Ocean flanks Baja on the West with the Sea of Cortez on the East. Baja California also borders the United States, specifically the states of Arizona and California. One of the state’s most famous border towns, Mexicali, is also its capital. Travelers come from far and wide to visit Baja cities like Ensenada, Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, and San Felipe.
Baja California Geography
Baja California borders the Mexican states of Baja California Sur to the south and Sonora to the east. It has a population of 3,233,744; Tijuana is its most populous city. In 1952 it became a state of Mexico. Baja California contains some of Mexico’s most beautiful scenery and draws tourists from all over the world to its extraordinary beaches and myriad of attractions.
Visiting Baja California: The Landscape
With just more than 27,000 square miles, Baja California has many different ecosystems giving its landscape and climate a dramatic air. Its diversity is consists of mountains, desert lands, forests, and, of course, its coastlines. Mountain ranges like Sierra de San Pedro Martir, Sierra de San Luis, and Sierra de Juarez impact the topography which is mountainous and hilly. On the other hand, the state’s islands, such as the Coronado Islands, offer a glimpse into Baja California’s marine character. Also, the coasts, which boast a decidedly Mediterranean flavor. The desert region, particularly around the state’s capital, is noted for its extremely hot temperatures.
In many ways, visiting Baja California is a naturalist’s paradise. Its diverse flora ranges between forests of pine to Manzanita. Many species of cactus and desert-loving shrubs and grasses tenant the desert landscapes of the state. On the other hand, it isn’t uncommon to spot the vibrant plant life one also sees in its northern neighbor, California. The ocean and sea that border the state teem with sport fish, whales, dolphins, crustaceans, and various species of sharks. Land-base animals in Baja California include cougars, antelope, bobcats, bats, coyotes, eagles, and many types of reptiles.
History of Baja California
In many ways, the history of the state reflects the history of the Baja Peninsula itself. The earliest peoples to the region began to settle throughout the landscape as much as 11,000 years ago. Some of these hunter-gather peoples include the Cochimi, Cocopa, Quechan, and Kiliwa. Besides practicing hunting and gathering, many groups took part in fishing as part of their sustenance. Eventually, even small-scale agriculture played a part of life for many areas of the peninsula where herding animals or planting crops was geographically permissible.
In 1530, a monumental occurrence hit the peninsula when Spanish conquistadors arrived. Unlike other parts of Mexico, the Spanish threat to the indigenous people came centuries later. The harsh climate was a deterring factor to Spanish settlement just as the sea, desert, and mountains made travel there particularly difficult. Also, the indigenous people were openly hostile to the Spanish and rebelled against any form of subjugation by foreigners. A few centuries after the Spanish “discovered” the peninsula, missionaries like the Jesuits began to settle in the region of Baja California. Eventually, this upper part of the peninsula was annexed to Mexico as a state with its lower “Baja Sur” remaining as a territory until 1974.
Visiting Baja California
While the small towns of the state draw visitors, most tourism settles in Baja California’s major cities. Those cities include Tijuana, Ensenada, Mexicali, Rosarito Beach, San Felipe, and Tecate. The cities attract many tourists with their scenic attractions as well as historical and cultural venues. Their nightlife and entertainment attractions also make the state a world-famous holiday destination. The beaches of Baja California and the water sport are, perhaps, its most viable calling cards. People come to the state to scuba, snorkel, kayak, sport fish, and surf. On land, off-roading, horseback riding, touring the wineries, camping, and hiking the remote landscape are also popular activities. The state’s various parks and reserves offer historic and scenic appeal. From prehistoric cave paintings to luxurious spas and resorts Baja California is a captivating vacation land.
Be Sure to See and Do…
Todos Santos Islands
These amazing islands attract the best surfers in the world (and novices too!). The waves striking the smallest islands are among the biggest in North America. Anyone who loves surfing should make these islands a must-experience destination. Baja surf spots.
San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago
This national park is on the Sea of Cortez and has designation to protect the marine ecosystems of the region. Tourists come to witness the marine life like sperm whales, orcas, swordfish, and dolphins that swim in these waters.
As one of the biggest industries of the state, fishing is a way of life for many on the coast. Vacationers head out on boats to the best waters for sport fishing. Red snapper, marlin, yellowfin tuna, and sailfish are just a few types of fish one is likely to hook.
Though not inhabited by people, these islands are full of wildlife that attracts eco-tourists. The islands also have great kayaking and snorkeling experiences.
Sierra de San Francisco Caves
The caves and rock shelters are under protection of the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The prehistoric cave paintings crafted by indigenous peoples in the region thousands of years ago.
Valle de Guadalupe
Baja is just a short drive from the U.S. But, Baja California is still in another country, Mexico! You have to have Baja Insurance when you drive your tourist vehicle in Mexico. Check out MexInsurance.com® for high-quality Baja insurance at the best rates in the industry. Click here for a quick baja insurance quote.