Thursday, January 08, 2015

Travel Diary: Baja, Mexico

Baja is magical.

We found deserted beaches, gorgeous desert hiking, chilly diving, and a waterfall oasis hidden deep within the surrounding foothills.

I cannot wait to return.

We rented a house in the tiny townlet of Cabo Pulmo, home of the Parque National Cabo Pulmo, North America’s only hard coral reef.

Cabo Pulmo is off the beaten tourist track, about two hours from Los Cabos via poorly paved and gravel roads.

Just how we like it.

The main road through town has more footprints than car tracks.

Hiking trails wind up the hills in back of the house through desert scrub and dry river washes.

Our house was a lush oasis in comparison to the surrounding country. Built by an artist, it had shaded decks, private courtyards, and an outdoor shower. Even better, there were separate apartments for my parents and a family friend.

 My father settled in for long hours of bird watching and reading.

Ben and I went adventuring, looking for critters. This is Mexico, after all!

We visited the Sol de Mayo waterfall in nearby Santiago. It’s another long car ride down a dusty dirt track but the pool at the bottom is so worth it.

Warm? No.

Refreshingly brisk, as my grandmother would say.

The coral reef at Cabo Pulmo isn’t especially exceptional. (The recent hurricane probably didn’t help) But the area is known for large schools of fish, manta rays, and sharks.

Time to hit the water.

It was cold! It’s been a while since I’ve donned a 5ml wetsuit. And the visibility wasn’t great either, which is typical in December.

A nice little herd of garden eels.

A sunken ship.

 A few of the ridiculous looking porcupine fish.

Cold enough for hoods. (That’s my Papa)

This is the reason people come to diving the area: big schooling fish. I’ve never been in anything like it. Fish up down, around and around.

Not a bad little dive trip. Sexy wetsuit getup, no?!

We had a nice little Christmas. Ben was a frantic, whirling, present-opening dervish. I’m pretty sure my version of heaven includes Christmas on a beach in an exotic part of the world.

Like this one.

On our last full day we took a trip south to Los Frailes Beach. 

It was packed! (ahem. with sand, not people). Chris and I ogled all the camper van setups on the beachfront campground. We will be back someday. In our wee little camper. I know it.

On the way home we bought dinner from the fishermen at the beach. Ben was so proud of his fish, you’d think he caught it.

We had a late afternoon flight out the next day so we took the long route back to the airport along the coast. Think bumpy dirt roads and empty beaches.

It was seriously awesome. If you like that sort of thing.

Looking for a luxurious hotel room, five star restaurants, and endless shopping? Then don’t venture out from Cabo San Lucas. But if you’re up for a bit more adventure, then the rest of Baja is ripe for exploring.

My parents and our friend Laurie stayed an extra week. They headed north to an island near La Paz, famous for its playful sea lions:

And that, my dears, is Baja. We will be back.