Diving in Baja
Baja encompasses one of the widest expanses of dive experiences between it’s three main dive areas — the Sea of Cortez, the region off Cabo San Lucas, and the Revillagigedos, a group of uninhabited rock island about 228 miles south of Cabo.
The Revillagigedo Archipelago, which included Socorro, Clarion, San Benedicto and Roca Partida, are sometime called the Socorros because it easier to pronounce. But, no matter what you call it, it’s one of the world’s hot spots for giant manta encounters in clear, open water. These remote islands also attract passing pelagics such as massive pods of dolphin, humpback whales, and numerous species of sharks. It’s a big animal paradise.
Closer to Cabo San Lucas there’s diving for all levels of diver. Dives in the bay are only about five minutes from the harbor and feature encounters with curious sea lions, schools of Moorish idols, giant moray eels and sea turtles. Top sites include Land’s End, Sand Falls, and Neptune’s Finger. Diving beyond the bay from Cabo offer stunning diving, especially at Gordo Banks, a sea mount about 8 miles from shore, where schooling hammerheads, whale sharks, mobula and manta rays, dolphin and marlin raise the thrill factor.
The Sea of Cortez stretches for more than 600 miles. At some points, it’s more than 14,000 feet deep. Although the visibility tends to average under 50-feet, this is one of the world’s richest and most active seas. Gray whales come up to San Felipe in the far north to calve. Sea lions form large rookeries in the Los Rocas Island near La Paz, Whale Sharks make the sea a regular haunt, and this is also where the famed man-eating Humbolt squid reside. In the south, at Cabo Pulmo you’ll find heaps of marinelife, large schools of fish and legions of eels. Water temp in the Sea of Cortez and Cabo averages about 72°F, depending upon season, and between 75°F-80°F in the Revillagigedos. Check out Baja’s current weather.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: All U.S. citizens are required to present a passport, and do not need to obtain a visa. EXIT REQUIREMENTS: All persons leaving the Baja, pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately USD $22, which is usually included in your ticket.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Mexico. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at Traveler's Health CDC Mexico.
Culture and Customs
Baja has two pulses. At towns like Cabo San Lucas its vibrant party atmosphere with endless nightlife, sport fishing, a wide variety of restaurants, golf and the laid-back beach life. In the countryside, you can escape all of society in the picturesque desert landscape. Baja is also where the mariachi got its start and unlike the rest of Mexico, Baja has no remnants of Maya culture, whereas the Spanish influence is seen in everything from architecture to seafood dishes. But, without gold for the Spanish or other riches, for most of its history it has been a slow-paced lifestyle dominated by fishing and fishing villages along its seemingly endless coast. Of course, there’s the now infamous Tijuana, but most divers will congregate around Cabo San Lucas or La Paz. For most visitors that means beaches, blue water, and a plethora of natural wonders wrapped in the beauty of the desert.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in Mexico is 120 volts, 60 cycles, so no adapter will be needed for US visitors. The country code for Mexico is 52 and direct dial service is fast and clear. Check with your service provider for long distance/roaming information and costs. Internet service is available at the larger hotels and resort and at internet cafes.
Bottled water is recommended throughout the country, including for brushing teeth.
Language & Currency
Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken in the populated areas.
The local currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN) the exchange is 12.4 Pesos to $1 U.S. dollar. Check current currency rates here.
Baja is on Mountain Time and observes Daylight Savings Time. Baja is 7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-7 GMT during Mountain Standard Time or MST) and 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-6 GMT during Mountain Daylight Time or MDT).
History, Art, and Culture
Baja California was first discovered by Europeans in 1533, and they found the landscape so inhospitable they thought the region was cursed. So, many of the place names reflect this initial experience, including Picacho del Diabo, the 10,154-foot Devil’s Peak. The regions previous inhabitants, mostly hunter-gatherers, left enigmatic rock art scattered through the region. Native art includes ceramics, woven baskets, pottery and jewelry. Mexican folk art, which depicts Day of the Dead celebrations and figurines, is found throughout the region.
Location and Size
Baja is the northernmost and westernmost of the 31 states of Mexico. It has an area of 27,587 square miles or approximately 3.5% of the total land mass of Mexico. The mainland portion of the state has the Pacific Ocean to the west, California to the north and the Gulf of California to the East.
The population of Baja is 3.32 Million (2015).