A Trip of 1000 Miles—Proceed with Caution
Would you drive on one of the most dangerous roads in the world?
One that’s over 1,000 miles long and full of blind corners? One that welcomes reckless drivers? One with hardly any guard rails (the few that do exist have been broken apart by unfortunate drivers)?
Then welcome to la Carretera Transpeninsular (the Transpeninsular Highway), located in the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico.
This highway stretches from the very top of the peninsula in Tijuana (across the border from San Diego) all the way to the southern tip in Los Cabos. Its dangerous combination of blind turns, a lack of guard rails, speeding cars, and unlicensed drivers can kill you if you’re not careful.
The highway’s high risks come with high rewards, though. With the beautiful ocean just hundreds of feet away, la Carretera Transpeninsular takes you on a breathtaking drive through the scenery of Baja California’s mountains and deserts. And even with its threatening reputation, this highway has some of the best cultural stops you will find in the region.
Believe me; I’ve been on it, and I’ll never forget it.
Playa La Misión
One of the first stops on the Transpeninsular Highway is Playa la Mision (La Mision Beach). This beach is found south of Tijuana, close to a town called La Misión. It’s packed with people and beautiful white sand, but what makes this place unique is the chance to rent horses and ride them along the beach. The horses are tied to posts near the parking lots, lined up, waiting for their next riders. It’s not every day you can ride a horse on the beach, and the experience isn’t something you would want to miss!
This is an unforgettable and favorite stop on la Carretera Transpeninsular. Although you have to take a detour to see it, it’s worth the drive! La Bufadora is a natural sea geyser that shoots water into the air. As you stand at the edge of a platform close to the edge of the cliff, la Bufadora shoots cold sea water into the air, soaking you.
This natural wonder attracts all kinds of travelers—both domestic and international! The spot’s popularity has brought business to the area; there are lots of shops here to buy souvenirs such as local vanilla, decorative backpacks, colorful blankets, and yummy food.
Next, you can go all the way down to Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur. Past the 28th parallel that separates the Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur states, this town is a necessary stop on the Transpeninsular Highway for those who love whale watching.
Here you can find Californian gray whales that migrate all the way down from Alaska during the peak times of January and February. (This migration occasionally lasts until April with sometimes as many as 2,000 whales migrating down!)
But the part that makes this activity fun is that you can touch the whales. These whales come up to the boats and initiate human contact, and that makes for an unforgettable memory.
Past Guerrero Negro on the east side of the peninsula is a town called Mulegé. This town has the densest rock art collection in all of Baja California. The main attraction—the cave art—is found at the Sierra de Guadalupe and La Trinidad. But you can also find beautiful palm-filled beaches, canyons, and areas to kayak a little way out of town.
If you’ve ever wanted to walk around a historic town, Loreto is the place for you. Founded in the 17th century by missionaries, this town still has that magical feeling of being transported back in time. Outside of town you can find Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto (Bahía de Loreto National Park) and the Villa del Palmar Resort.
Isla Espíritu Santo
If whale watching wasn’t enough for you, get ready for this island. Found off the coast of La Paz, Isla Espíritu Santo (Holy Spirit Island) is within a national park and full of marine wildlife.
You can find dolphins, manta rays, or even whale sharks when you visit here.
But you know what’s even better?
Swimming. With sea lions.
You can come anytime of the year to Isla Espíritu Santo and always find the sea lions swimming around the island. Make sure to follow the rules your tour guide tells you. But after your trip, you can say you touched a whale and swam with sea lions.
At the end of the Transpeninsular highway is Los Cabos. The name actually refers to two towns: Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Here you can see where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez meet off the edge of the Baja California Peninsula. There are also many resorts, beaches, and art galleries to enjoy while visiting.
If that’s not your preference, you can always go diving into Anegada, a marine canyon found nearby. In this canyon you will find Sand Falls, where unique marine conditions cause waterfalls of sand to fall to the bottom of the canyon.
Worth The Risk?
Now that I’ve described to you one of the most dangerous roads in the world, is this a trip you’d be willing to make? Sure, you might crash if you’re not careful, but where else can you swim with sea lions or witness a sea geyser?
Maybe it’s worth the risk.