Baja California is the second-largest peninsula in the world, with some of the most beautiful stretches of sand. Here’s our list of the best beaches – and the places to stay when you’re visiting them.
Bahia Concepcion, Mulegé
Okay, so Bahia Concepcion isn’t one beach, it’s an area full of beaches. Coming to Mulegé from the north, you pass miles of stunning waters and bay after bay of pristine white sands: this is Bahia Concepcion, and you could easily spend several weeks here exploring each patch of dreamy sand. There is no public transport here, but that’s the beauty of it – you’ll only see campers enjoying the sun, setting up their tents and firing up the barbecue for dinner. Start with our favorites, Playa Santispac and Playa Perla.
Hotel Posada de las Flores sits in the historic heart of Loreto, its Spanish colonial architecture hiding a hacienda-style haven. Behind heavy wooden doors its rose-colored walls and stone archways wrap around a courtyard; look up to see the glass bottom of the rooftop pool dappling the fountain and benches below with warped sunlight. Rooms sit at the top of a huge spiral staircase and are decked out with handmade furniture and talavera-tiled bathrooms.
If you’ve made it to La Paz, chances are you’ve heard of Espiritu Santo Island: the home of epic kayaking, up-close encounters with friendly sea lion pups and some of the most spectacular beaches in Baja South. Every beach on this island is dreamy, but Playa Ensenada Grande probably takes first prize. You can come here on a day trip, if you want those precious hours in the morning and evening where you’ll get the beach to yourself, camping here (either on a multi-day kayaking adventure or overnight camping trip) is the better choice.
Rubbing shoulders with the Cathedral of Our Lady of La Paz, it is clear to see how this contemporary hotel got its name. The mosaic-like stone facade contrasts with the sleek interior of pristine white walls and sun-drenched courtyard, dotted with wicker furniture. The large rooftop pool looks out over the city’s red-tiled roofs to the treetops and rugged mountains beyond. Devour a complimentary breakfast buffet each morning and round off a day of exploration with a fruity cocktail from the rooftop bar.
Probably one of the most famous beaches in Baja California, Balandra is a must-see for any La Paz visitor, with miles of shallow turquoise water, blinding white sand backed by deep red-brown desert mountains and lush, green oases. When you arrive, you may be a little disappointed by the crowds, particularly at weekends. But don’t despair, this place is huge. The further you walk from the main car park, the thinner the crowd. Go far enough – up and over the Balandra lookout point – and you may even get one of these magical coves to yourself. Bring your own supplies for the day, though, as you won’t see any sellers past the busy points.
Sitting amid a jungle of hot-pink flowers, palm fronds and gnarled trees, this enchanting hotel feels like a portal into paradise. Rooms are warm with sun-yellow walls and dark wood furniture, while each adds its own bohemian twist in the shape of flowery ceramics, paisley armchairs or hanging star-shaped light fixtures. Be sure to bring a book for curling up on the lounge’s plump sofas and don’t miss out on the fresh seafood dishes, dangerously-moreish mojitos and spellbinding sea views at restaurant Oliva Al Mare.
If you fancy a change from all that shallow, calm water, then Cerritos Beach should be your next stop. It may not be a white sand and turquoise water paradise like Balandra or Ensenada Grande, but it has a different kind of beauty; that kind of wild, untouched beauty that can only be felt when you’ve arrived at a Pacific beach. Expect miles of desolate beach perfect for long strolls, crashing waves sending an eery mist over the shoreline, and some of the most epic sunsets you’ve ever seen. If you’re a surfer, it goes without saying: you’re going to love this place.
Sun-worshippers and surfers will be in their element at this hotel, sitting just steps from the golden sands of Cerritos Beach. Rooms range from shaggy straw-walled beachfront bungalows (best for those happy to brave open-air shared bathrooms) to cavernous villas with colorful Talavera tiles, antique trunks and shaded terraces. As well as the sea on your doorstep, there is a lagoon-like pool where you can go for a dip and huge daybeds where you can dry off with a refreshing cerveza.
Chileno beach, with its bright blue-green waters, excellent snorkelling and sugary white sands, is considered to be one of the most stunning beaches in the Cabo corridor. During high season, and particularly at weekends, this beach sees big crowds and a lot more sellers. However, with a beach this beautiful, you can’t expect to get it to yourself.
The beachfront Chileno Bay Resort is a charming warren of villas, suites and guest rooms set among lofty palm trees and manicured lawns. Drawing from the natural palette of its Instagram-worthy surroundings, sandstone, bleached wood and cobalt accents take center stage, and each room welcomes in the salty breeze with floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces. Swing by the on-site El Molino Coffee Shop for frothy lecheros or drift along the three-tiered, saltwater pool that cuts through the resort like a serpentine river (the floating bartenders mean refreshing margaritas are never far away). You can also find some peace with a yoga session or tribal treatment at the holistic spa.
A little less crowded than its popular neighbour Bahia Chileno, Playa Santa Maria might just be the little slice of private paradise you’ve been after. Due to its protected waters and beautiful reef just off-shore (seen in the image below), this is a fantastic spot for snorkelling. If you’re coming without an organised tour, be sure to bring your own snorkel gear as there aren’t any rental shops on site. If you’re not into snorkelling, the pristine white sand and those stunning shades of blue are sure to keep you mesmerized for a few hours.
The Montage Los Cabos cradles the crescent-shaped Santa Maria Bay, its native plants, large wavy-edged pools and natural stone walls blending into the idyllic landscape. The sprawling resort is home to a variety of eateries: signature restaurant Mezcal serves up locally caught seafood, beachfront Marea offers brick-oven pizzas paired with zesty Moscow mule cocktails and a seasonal street food stand promises mouth-watering small plates. Capacious rooms include sitting areas and private patios, while the eye-popping casas (sleeping up to eight) spoil you with a sunken outdoor fireplace, complimentary butler service and two private infinity pools.
Playa del Amor – meaning ‘lover’s beach’ – is a beautiful stretch of sand just a stone throw’s away from Cabo’s famous arc. Aside from calm, crystal-clear waters, velvet sand and some epic rock formations, you also get stunning views of the bay and luxury yachts and condos on Médano Beach. But that’s not all: by simply walking between two rocky cliffs, you get to swap the Sea of Cortez for the Pacific Ocean on yet another beautiful beach, Playa de Los Divorciados (yep, the locals definitely have a sense of humour!). Due to its isolated location, you won’t get any touts bothering you either.
Overlooking a marina in the heart of Cabo, Mayan Monkey Hostel is steps from a buzzy restaurant strip and a short amble from the nearest beach. Drenched in buttery yellow and peppered with tropical-print cushions and potted plants, the air-conditioned rooms range from 12-person mixed dorms (with wooden bunks and privacy curtains) to balcony rooms with a secluded outdoor nook. All rooms also include a continental breakfast and en-suite bathrooms with shampoo and soap dispensers. Cool off with a dip in the outdoor pool, and meet fellow nomads over a beer in the hostel’s lantern-lit bar.