Discovering a New Baja

Clients are taking notice of the area’s spas, activities and B&Bs

By: Laurel Delp

There’s far more to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula than the glitzy, famed resorts on its southernmost point, Los Cabos. The two states that make up Mexico’s Baja are cut by the massive Sierras de la Gigante, hiding oases, centuries-old missions, cave paintings, vast deserts and beautiful untouched beaches. The time is long gone when the only options for overnight stays were either very rustic or RV parks. These days Baja offers a variety of destinations from life-changing adventures to luxurious accommodations in boutique hotels and B&Bs.

Wine Tasting

The most interesting development in northern Baja is the wine region in the Valle de Guadalupe, an east-west valley with Mediterranean climate cooled by ocean breezes flowing in from Ensenada, 84 miles south of San Diego on the Pacific Coast. For the true wine enthusiast, book clients in one of six rooms at the Adobe Guadalupe Inn, a B&B set amid 60 acres of vineyards, where the American owner and his Dutch wife produce their own wines. Adventure-minded guests can even rent horses and ride over to the neighboring Monte Xanic winery (partially owned by the Rothschilds) for a tasting.

Although the building is relatively new, the rooms at Adobe Guadalupe Inn have traditional saltillo floors, and French doors open onto a courtyard with a central fountain. Given fair warning, the inn can provide dinner, and there’s an excellent restaurant, the Restaurante Laja, nearby. The region’s biggest yearly events are the Fiestas de la Vendimia, which take place over a couple of weeks in late summer to early fall, celebrating the harvest.

Ensenada itself has been playing host to cruise ships for quite some time, yet it remains a peaceful seaside town with just enough shopping and nightlife to satisfy clients.

Just off the coast of nearby Isla de Todos Santos is one of the world’s most famed big-wave surfing spots. There are resorts to the north and south of town where clients can lose themselves in the sand, blessedly free from the building boom marching south along the coast from Tijuana. Outside of town sits the 48-room beachfront Hotel Las Rosas where many rooms have fireplaces, and a spa offers a full range of services.

Old and New

Rancho La Puerta is hardly new. At 66 years old, it’s the mother of destination spas in the Americas. But this oasis, just outside the border town of Tecate, continues to add features to its homey casita rooms, gourmet spa cuisine, spa treatments and long menu of activities. The latest addition is a cooking school La Cocina Que Canta teaches clients how to create spa cuisine at home. Most clients will want to book a weeklong, Saturday-to-Saturday stay, but agents can create variations.

Midway down the Baja Peninsula are the whale-watching lagoons of Guerero Negro, San Ignacio and Magdalena Bay. During the winter seasons gray whales calve in these warm, calm waters, and tour companies run small boats out to the lagoon, allowing awed humans an opportunity to stroke these majestic mammals and their young. Highly recommended is the ecotour operator Baja Discovery, which will take your clients to San Ignacio. Accommodations here are cots in tents with hot-water showers and bathroom facilities.

Loreto, the original capital of Spanish colonial California, began with the construction of a mission in the 17th century. And its most beautiful hotel downtown is the Posada de las Flores, where each of the 15 rooms is different, decorated in Mexican art, antiques, tiles and massive wood doors.

Just 25 miles south of the Loreto airport is a nine-suite ecolodge called Danzante Destination Resort, an all-inclusive property built onto a 10-acre hillside. The rooms have ceilings made of dried pithaya cactus strips, and French doors open onto terraces with gorgeous views of either the Sea of Cortez or the towering Sierras de la Gigante.

Loreto is also a great place from which to make the trip to Magdalena Bay for whale-watching.

Growing Capital

La Paz, the capital of Baja Sur, is exploding in popularity. Here again, one of the best spots is the Posada de las Flores, simple but elegant with vivid colors, tiles and Mexican artwork. The hotel is right on the Malecon (the waterside promenade).

Outside of town, the Marina Costa Baja has a new 120-room Fiesta Inn with all the comforts of full-service resorts. La Paz is also a great jumping-off point for exploring Los Barriles to the south Baja’s wind-surfing capital.

From La Paz clients can also drive over the tail end of the Sierras de la Gigante to Todos Santos (about an hour and a half) where the shopping is great thanks, in part, to ex-pats who have set up boutiques selling Mexican arts and crafts from all over the mainland.


Rancho La Puerta
Weeklong packages from $2,535.
Commission: 10 percent

Hotel Las Rosas
Starting at $132

Adobe Guadalupe Inn
$168 for double

Baja Discovery

The Posada de las Flores Hotels
On average starting at $150.