From the surreal desert landscapes of the north to the high-energy cities of the south, this state is full of contrasts, culture and natural beauty.
Sitting at the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula, the Mexican state of Baja California Sur has an obvious attraction: its vast and beautiful coastline. Head for the beach to lounge on long stretches of pristine white sand, enjoy watersports and discover rock formations rising out of bright blue waters.
If you’re feeling active, try kayaking, diving or snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. The shallow bay here is home to colorful sea life and one of only three living coral reefs in North America. Majestic mountain and desert terrain stretches out beyond.
For more natural beauty, venture to the serene desert landscapes and otherworldly green lagoons of the sprawling Desierto de El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Latin America. Go mountain biking, hiking and camping here. In the winter months, observe spectacular gray whales in the reserve’s San Ignacio Lagoon.
Head south to discover the cosmopolitan delights of the state capital, La Paz. The port city has a spirited atmosphere, excellent seafood restaurants and a calendar full of festivals. The most famous of them, Carnaval, takes place in February.
Once you reach the southernmost tip of the peninsula, relax and indulge at Los Cabos. This resort has a noticeable North American influence with its shopping malls and golf courses. It is made up of two distinctly different areas, San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, joined by a 20-mile (33-kilometer) stretch of highway. Both are well worth exploring.
Lively Cabo San Lucas is the place to go for bars, restaurants and entertainment. San Jose del Cabo, meanwhile, retains the look and feel of an authentic Mexican town. Sip a cold margarita at one of the al fresco restaurants that line its cobbled streets and soak up the laid-back yet sophisticated atmosphere.
To reach Baja California Sur, fly into La Paz or San José del Cabo or cross overland from the U.S. Buses will take you between the major resorts and towns, but consider renting a car for access to more remote villages and beaches.