Baja California Travel Guide

Mexico is always a good idea!

Where is Baja California located?

Baja California, Mexico, consists of two states that make up the Baja Peninsula on the country’s west coast — Baja California Sur (South) and Baja California (sometimes called Baja California Norte/North).

Baja Mexico Travel: Baja Sur vs Baja Norte

Baja California Sur is undoubtedly the more popular state for tourism — though both Baja states have things to offer.

In Baja Sur, the famous beaches of Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo) and La Paz await! There’s also whale watching, beachfront camping at the Bahia Concepcion, and the pueblos magicos (magic towns) of Todos Santos and Lorerto.

In the northern Baja Mexico state, there’s Valle de Guadalupe, known as the “Napa Valley of Mexico,” and lively towns like Rosarito, Ensenada and Tijuana. There are also calmer beach towns like Puerto Nuevo, and the pueblo magico Tecate.

Baja California Mexico map

Top Baja California Travel Destinations:

Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur Mexico

Cabo San Lucas is a Mexican beach resort city on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. For decades now, it has been one of the top travel destinations in Mexico.

Just north, San Jose del Cabo, where the Cabo Airport is located, has a more chill vibe. Unlike Cabo San Lucas, this Baja beach town is known more for its art scene than its party scene.

Together, these two cabos make up Los Cabos.

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja Mexico

Mexico has a few wine regions, though none more popular than Valle de Guadalupe, AKA The Napa of Mexico. It has about 100 vineyards and wineries — much more than Queretaro State, the second biggest Mexico wine region.

The closest beach town to Valle de Guadalupe is Ensenada Mexico. It is just two hours from the U.S.-Mexico border, and among the best party beach towns in Mexico and Baja.

La Paz, Baja Sur Mexico

La Paz has some of the best swimming beaches in Mexico outside of the Caribbean. As not all Baja beaches are great for swimming, La Paz stands out with its calm blue waters.

The best beaches in La Paz Mexico begin just outside of downtown, and continue for miles. Of them all, the undeniable star of the La Paz Mexico beach scene is picturesque Playa Balandra.

Best things to do in Baja Mexico:

Best Baja Mexico tours:

Baja California Travel FAQ

Is Baja travel safe?

The two Baja states cover a large area, and for the most part, both states are quite safe — though some parts are safer than others. For example, you’ll want to exercise extra caution in Tijuana, which has good parts, and frankly, bad parts.

A few places in Baja California are known as party destinations, namely Cabo San Lucas, Tijuana and Ensenada. As is common knowledge, safety obviously goes way down when there’s alcohol involved, so be mindful.

If you stay on the beaten path in Baja Mexico, you’re statistically safe. If you want to venture off the beaten path, just do a bit of research beforehand to make sure there are no current warnings about where you’re headed — especially if you’re doing a Baja road trip.

As with traveling anywhere, follow general travel safety like not walking home alone at night, watching your alcohol consumption and staying aware of yourself and surroundings. For an added safety measure, pack these travel safety items, dress in a way so your Mexico outfits blend in with the locals, and buy a Mexico SIM card.

Want to hear about Mexico travel safety from the experts? Check out my Is Mexico Safe for Travel? article.

☀️ Best weather in Baja

Weather-wise, Baja is known as a year-round destination. It averages 300 days of sunshine each year — though some sources say it can be as many as 350 days 😳!

Regardless of the specific number, Baja definitely gets a lot of sunny days, but it does also have a rainy season from about August to October. During most years, the rainiest month in Baja California is August.

As this part of Mexico has a desert climate, temperatures can sometimes fluctuate from 95°F during the day, to 55°F at night — so check out some of these Baja Mexico outfits to help you plan.

🐋 Baja whale watching season

Winters are the best time to see whales in Baja, Mexico — whether that’s the friendly grey whales in Magdalena Bay, or the giant humpback whales in Cabo Pulmo National Park.

🤑 Best Baja travel deals

For the best travel deals, plan your Baja California vacation for June to August. It will be hot during the day, and might rain for a bit in the afternoon, but the crowds will be small and the prices will be low.

Depending on where you’re headed on your Baja California trip, check the guide below for all your airport options!

  • Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur: Los Cabos International (code: SJD)
  • San Jose del Cabo, Baja Sur: Los Cabos International (code: SJD)
  • La Paz, Baja Sur: La Paz International (code: LAP)
  • Tijuana, Baja California: Tijuana International (code: TIJ)
  • Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada and Rosarito, Baja California: Tijuana International (code: TIJ)
  • Loreto, Baja Sur: Loreto International (code: LTO)
  • Todos Santos, Baja California: Los Cabos International (code: SJD)

🗣 Mexico Language

Mexico Fun Fact: There’s actually no official language of Mexico!

Spanish is the most widely-spoken, so some mistakenly say Spanish is the official language of Mexico. However, the government actually recognizes 68 national languages, including the Nahuatl Aztec language, and the Maya language.

💰 Mexico Currency

Mexican Peso — Exchange rates vary, but have hovered around $18-21 pesos to $1USD for about the last decade. You will find some places that take U.S. dollars, but usually at an unfavorable rate, so stick to using pesos in Mexico.

☀️ Mexico Weather

Mexico is a big country — the 7th largest on Earth, in fact! It’s hard to generalize the weather in Mexico, because it will vary greatly by where you’re traveling.

In general, temperatures are mostly mild everywhere all year long, though summers on the coast are hot and humid, and winters in Central and Northern Mexico are on the colder side. Throughout the whole country, the rainy season runs from (about) April through September.

✈️ Mexico Busy Season & Slow Season

• Mexico Busy Season: The busy season in Mexico runs October to March, as this is the dry season and you’ll get the best weather. December is the busiest month for tourism in Mexico.

Mexico Slow Season: If you don’t mind some rain, you’ll often find the best travel deal during the Mexico slow season of April to September. Do keep in mind that June 1-November 1 is Hurricane Season, and Mexico beaches are all susceptible.

Mexico Shoulder Season: The shoulder season is that magical time when prices are still low and the weather is good. The Mexico shoulder season is from about mid-October to November and January to early-April.

📍 Top Baja California Cities

“Los Cabos” (Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo), La Paz, Rosarito, Tijuana

📍 Baja California Travel Off the Beaten Path

Todos Santos, Loreto, Valle de Guadalupe, Mulegé, Ensenada, Tecate

🧳 Download your FREE Mexico Packing Checklist!

Check out this ULTIMATE Packing List for Mexico — so you know what to pack and what NOT to pack for Mexico! This article offers advice on packing for Mexico City (and all cities), and packing for a Mexico beach vacation.

Beyond what Mexico outfits and clothing you’ll want to bring, here are a few extra things to consider:

• Filterable Water Bottle: Mexico is close to the Equator, so you’ll need to stay extra hydrated.

A filterable, refillable water bottle not only keeps you hydrated, but also filters your water so you don’t get sick in Mexico.

The LifeStraw Refillable Water Bottle and Britta Filtered Water Bottle are both great options.

• Mexico SIM Card: Want to be able to use your phone in Mexico?! Of course you do! Pick up a TELCEL Mexico SIM card before your trip, and swap it out on the plane while you’re waiting to exit, so you have phone and data service the second you arrive in Mexico!

• Anti-Hangover Meds: Planning to party hardy?! Make sure you’re not wasting any of your precious travel time with a hangover. Liquid I.V. has about 70,000 reviews on Amazon, and is considered the best defense against a hangover.

• Sun Hat: No matter if you’re headed to the beach or a city, you’ll want to wear a hat to shield yourself from the strong Mexican sun. This cute sun hat is the perfect stylish and practical accessory for your Mexico vacation.

 Sunscreen: As you’ll want to reapply a few times throughout the day, a light, Mineral-Based Sunscreen is ideal. Headed to the beach? Do your part to practice responsible tourism in Mexico by only using an eco-friendly Reef Safe Sunscreen while swimming. You can even ditch the sunscreen altogether and opt for a Long Sleeve Swimsuit instead.

 Bug Repellent: Mosquitoes are common throughout Mexico — especially on the beaches! REPEL Insect Repellent is an eco-friendly brand that’s DEET-free and plant based, with a pleasant lemon and eucalyptus scent. Don’t want to use a spray? Pick up some Mosquito Repellent Bracelets.

No — U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to travel to Mexico. For non-U.S. citizens, head here to see if you need a Mexico travel visa.

When you go through Immigration and enter the country, you’ll receive your Forma Migratoria Multiple, or FMM Tourist Card. If you’re coming by plane or cruise ship, there is no charge; for those driving across the border, the FMM costs about $30USD. In most circumstances, all visitors get a 180-day (six month) visa — so you can legally stay up to six months!

🚨 Have your FMM on you at all times

Keep in mind that though it’s called an FMM card, it’s actually just a small piece of paper. Keep your FMM on you at all times in your wallet, as this proves your legal status in Mexico. It’s rare, but if an officer stops you, they can ask to see your FMM.

🎫 Don’t lose your FMM!

Be sure to keep track of your FMM, as you’ll have to give it back to an Immigration officer at the airport, cruise port, or land crossing when you’re leaving the country.

If you lose your FMM, there is a $600 peso ($30USD) cost to replace it, and some paperwork you’ll need to fill out before you can leave the country. If you’re flying home, plan to arrive at the airport about one hour earlier than you normally would to do the paperwork and pay the fine.

As this question doesn’t have a yes/no answer (I wish it did!), I do my best to answer it in depth in this article, Is Mexico Safe for Women: 20 Mexico Solo Travel Tips You Need. However, for the most part, Mexico is actually statistically quite safe for all travelers — including solo travelers! Check my Solo Female Mexico Travel page for more info.

Mexico solo travel guides

Mexico is a big country, and it has plenty of amazing solo female travel destinations — like the ones featured in this article, Mexico Solo Travel: 20 SAFE Destinations for Female Travelers. In it, you’ll get recommendations of places to visit in Mexico, from solo travelers who have actually been to them.

🎧 solo travel podcasts

• Ep. 34 | Planning your first Mexico solo trip
• Ep. 40 | Tips for safe solo travel in Mexico
• Ep. 53 | 30 Solo female travel tips, Pt. 1

To answer the question, Is it safe to drive in Mexico?YES, it’s considered safe to rent a car and drive in Mexico.

As the country is so large, road trips are a great way to see a lot in a little time, and especially popular in the Yucatan Peninsula and Baja California Peninsula. Check out this Baja Road Trip itinerary, which includes stops at all the best things to do in Baja Sur Mexico!

The one caveat to Mexico driving safety is that you’ll be in a foreign country, unfamiliar with their laws and customs. Head here for a complete guide to Renting A Car in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know, where you’ll also get 10 useful Mexico driving tips!

🚙💨 Looking for the best Mexico car rental company? Discover Cars works with both local Mexican companies and international companies to get you the best rates. Not only do I recommend them — I also use them!

As a general rule, you’ll want to know at least a few words of Spanish when visiting anywhere in Mexico. This is both a sign of respect, and will also help you have a better, smoother trip.

If you stick to the more touristic places in Mexico, you should be fine with basic Spanish. For those planning to venture off the beaten path, be advised most people in pueblos (small towns) speak little to no English.

Here are some options:

  • Brush up on your Spanish: Use a language-learning program like Rocket Spanish, so you’re confident, and conversational, before your trip.
  • Download the Google Translate App: For this to work at all times, you’ll need a Mexico SIM card with data — as the app won’t work when you’re off-WiFi.
  • Travel with a Mexico phrasebook: This Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook is an Amazon best seller, and a great non-digital language assistant!
  • Save the infographic below as an image on your phone. This way, you have access to these common words, phrases and questions even when you’re off-WiFi.
List of useful spanish words and phrases

Mexico Travel Blogs