The Best of Baja with Nikki Goth Itoi

1. What’s the best cultural experience to be had?

That depends on the type of travel you like to do. The fine art galleries in downtown San José del Cabo are a great place to start if you are exploring the Los Cabos region. Those who plan to explore the peninsula top to bottom might follow the Jesuit Mission trail or plan a backcountry excursion to view the prehistoric cave paintings.

2. If you’re limited to a four-day weekend, where should you spend the majority of your time?

For a first-time visitor, I’d recommend a home base in the Los Cabos area with a side trip to either Todos Santos or the East Cape. That way you get to experience both the resort scene and a less developed part of the peninsula in one short trip. In the north, the Baja wine country near Ensenada is easily explored in a long weekend trip. Loreto, in Central Baja, has an international airport and convenient access to beaches, islands, and inland cultural attractions.

3. For travelers looking for a little R&R, where would you recommend they stay?

It’s hard to beat the Los Cabos Corridor for convenience and amenities, but for travelers who want to add a little adventure to their trip, a quiet beachfront casita along the East Cape is about as relaxing as it gets.

4. Where are the top three places to hang in a hammock?

The beaches along Bahía de La Ventana, near La Paz, rank high for swaying in the breeze, as does Bahía Concepción – assuming you bring your own hammock. On the Pacific Coast, several inns and vacation rentals on the north side of Todos Santos have patios that offer stunning views of the winter gray whale migration.

5. If you’re on a budget, where is the best place to stay?

La Paz, the capital city of the state of Baja California Sur (BCS), offers a great variety of budget accommodations as well as convenient access to cultural attractions in the city and beautiful beaches within and just beyond the city limits.

6. Where are your top three places to dive or snorkel?

I’ve especially enjoyed diving the islands offshore from La Paz, where currents are swift and the marine life is large. Think Giant Mantas and Hammerhead Sharks. The protected coral reef at Cabo Pulmo features drift dives that are easy enough for beginners yet interesting for advanced divers as well. Short boat rides are a plus here. Farther north, the islands near Loreto in Central Baja have wall dives, caves, and even a wreck to explore.

7. What challenging outdoor activities are favored among travelers?

Baja travelers are an active bunch who pursue everything from surfing and scuba diving to kayaking, kiteboarding, and paddle boarding. On land, you can hike to waterfalls, ride mountain bikes, explore the desert, and more. The seasons do vary for each activity, so it’s a good idea to do some research before you book.

8. What is your favorite restaurant in Baja? Why?

I have enjoyed memorable meals with every visit, but the tacos al pastor at Taquería Guacamaya in San José del Cabo, served with the signature toss of a pineapple slice, remain a perennial favorite.

9. Are there any safety precautions travelers should take when visiting?

Baja is an extremely safe place to travel; however, I do advise foreign travelers to use common sense when exploring the region. Drive only during daylight hours, travel in groups whenever possible, and generally try to keep a low profile.

10. What do you love most about Baja?

The combination of a unique desert ecosystem, tropical waters full of abundant marine life, and an off-the-grid location first drew me to the Baja Peninsula a decade ago. In the years since, the warmth and adventurous spirit of local residents, expats, and travelers I’ve met have brought me back again and again.

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