Of all the tremendous attractions the Baja California peninsula offers the most unique has to be whale watching. The opportunity to get up close and personal with these friendly giants is an unforgettable experience, and it is this proximity which sets Baja whale watching apart from the cetaceous encounters available in other parts of the world. The Grey Whales complete an annual migration from the Bering Sea near Alaska down the Pacific coast past Canada and the US to reach their breeding grounds on the peninsula. At 5,000 - 6,000 miles (16,000 - 19,000km) it is the longest known migratory pattern.
Part One: Xolos and Tacos
Things are changing in Tijuana, and people on both sides of the border are noticing. Shorn of its traditional clientele after the triple blows of worldwide recession, narcoviolence and swine flu in 2008/09 scared people away, San Diego's southern neighbour is reinventing itself as a culinary and cultural destination, and may finally shed its unenviable reputation as the city with the worst reputation in the world (CNN June 2012).
The northernmost settlement of any size on Baja California's Cortés coast, San Felipe just might be the peninsula's most under-rated resort. Easily accessible via the border crossings at Tijuana, Tecate and Mexicali, this fishing village sitting at the end of the Mex 5 highway has up to now been relatively isolated, with access south restricted to those with a lot of patience and a high clearance vehicle. This situation is due to change, however, with the highway being extended south to eventually connect with the Mex 1 transpeninsular route, meaning San Felipe can more easily be integrated into a tour of the whole peninsula. What then does San Felipe have to offer its visitors?
The first sight of the Sea of Cortés on a southbound trip along the transpeninsular highway (Mex 1), Santa Rosalia certainly is a unique place. Founded by a French copper mining company in the 1880s, who then left in the 1950s, its architecture is like no other on the Baja California peninsula, and reminders of its French origins dominate the town. Whereas most settlements on the Cortés coast are associated with beautiful beaches and related aquatic activities (San Felipe, Bahia de Los Angeles to the north and Mulege, Loreto, La Paz, etc. to the south) Santa Rosalia has always been an industrial port with little concession to the diver, kayaker or fishing enthusiast. This difference from the norm does, however, make it a fascinating stopover on any transpeninsular tour.
Tijuana's Revival: Part Three
Much has been written about Tijuana's sleazy reputation (not least on this blog), and it is on Avenida Revolución ("La Revo") and surrounding streets that this reputation was largely built. What then of the reality of the situation, in light of the revival going on elsewhere in the city? We decided to take a look for ourselves...
Tijuana's Revival: Part Two
The appeal of the Tijuana area extends well beyond its city limits, and by heading south just a short distance along the Mex 1 highway many other places of interest can be found, not least Popotla, a no nonsense fishing village off the beaten track which is attracting attention for its excellent fresh fish and seafood.