Whenever I travel to Baja, there comes a time and a place during the trip where I invariably arrive at a mental state that can only be described as serenity. For those of you who have experience traveling the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, you know what I mean. I know it sounds funny, but as an Alaskan, there are a few characteristics of Baja that resonate with natives like me: large, natural open spaces, clean, clear air, broad night skies, friendly, helpful locals, and unbelievably fresh seafood – just to name a few.
During the winter, however, Baja also delivers warm, soothing temperatures and pristine desert landscapes – all to the backdrop of a charming, inviting culture. It is definitely NOT Alaska! When you “dip a toe” into the Baja, you will soon find yourself submerged into an exotic place rich with the sights, sounds and smells of a true adventure. To all of those who have crossed the border, heading south, you know well that there is no equal to the excitement of flipping the adventure switch and going forth. Once you experience this sudden and profound change of cultures and travel through the Baja Peninsula for a few days, you too will find yourself in this serene state of mind.
Here are a few of my favorite Baja moments found on the path to serenity!
Yes, I know, this is not Baja, but during our Best of Baja rides, we stay in this homey, country town. When on our way to Baja, this is the last night we will be in the USA, and there is an level of excitement with the group as we are about to cross into Mexico. The riding in and out of Julian can only be described as world class, and there is never a time when the group heading south is not on pins and needles with anticipation. It’s like that excitement of Christmas as a child: something special is about to happen, and all of your senses are heightened. It is an electric feeling!
Mike’s Sky Ranch
We stay at this iconic lodge during our Baja Backroads Adventure. The ride in there is not an easy one, and upon arrival, there is the aura of an oasis drifting around this historic Baja 1000 stopover. After a full day of adventure, there is nothing like recounting the day while relaxing around the pool under a canopy of stars framed with palm trees. No electric lights can be seen in the distant hills. You are out there! Truly, this is not a place to be missed. And, who doesn’t like riding their motorcycle past the front desk to park it poolside?
Bahia de Los Angeles
Staying right on the Sea of Cortez is always a delight, but one of my favorite times is witnessing the sunrise over the calm water. You watch the distant desert hills slowly wake to the day, offering breathtaking colors. The quiet is broken only by the soft flutter of wings of sea birds. The traffic pattern along the shore goes like this: Pelican. Pelican. Seagull. Dolphin. Pelican…Not a bad way to greet the day, especially with sand between your toes!
San Ignacio Bay
During our Best of Baja trips, we stay for two nights in the small mission desert oasis town of San Ignacio. Relaxing in the town square in front of the historic mission is nice, but the real draw here is the trip to visit the gray whales out in the bay. I usually don’t get excited about “touristy” stuff, but once you look one of these gentle giants in the eyes as it nudges you for attention, it overwhelms you how beautiful nature really is. I am at a loss for words here, but for those of you who have done this, you know what I mean.
We stay at this small, roadside town during our Baja Backroads trip and pass through it on all of our Baja tours. The desert, with all its unique diversity, is at its very best here. When you stay there, walk out the back of the hotel and into the desert at sunset, and you can feel the thriving life of the desert all around you. Maybe it is because this type of natural environment is so different from what I experience back home, but it brings me to that special place that only exotic travel can deliver.
Mission San Francisco Javier
During our Best of Baja rides we have a chance to get off the beaten track and visit this historic mission. The road in is a lovely ride in itself. But as you distance yourself from the main roads – and take into consideration its isolation and the fact that it dates back to 1699 – you can only appreciate this place as distinctly “Baja.” Spend a moment walking around this mission. Visit the old tree out back. Try to imagine what it was like to build this, or even to get to this place back in the day, and there you have it: a “Baja moment.”
Costa Baja Resort and Spa in La Paz
Now this is a switch of gears from the natural and historic places I have mentioned, but it’s nice to pamper yourself once in a while! This hotel features all the amenities you would look if you were going to spoil yourself. And let’s face it, there is nothing wrong with enjoying some poolside time after a day of riding through the desert of Baja. It’s not exactly roughing it, and Baja would not be complete without swimming up to the bar to order a drink. Pinch yourself, you are living large!
I invite you to find your serenity in Baja. Switch gears, get out of your comfort norms and experience this unique destination. One thing is for sure: you will never regret it!