Regardless of how long you’ve owned your SUP or what skill level you are at, we think you should put a trip to Baja California, Mexico, on your bucket list.
As a peninsula, Baja California is surrounded by stunningly gorgeous water that is perfect for stand-up paddleboarding adventures of all sorts.
From exploring the crystal clear waters of the Sea of Cortez to catching waves on the Pacific Ocean, the Baja peninsula is ripe for SUP adventures.
On our first RV camping trip to Baja, we spent over 4 months finding some of the best places to spend a few days discovering the many joys of SUP ownership.
We pretty much did it all and want to encourage you to consider planning one of the most exciting self-guided SUP adventures you can find in North America.
Although the pandemic cut our first journey short, we are always planning trips back to continue to enjoy the water wonderland offered by Baja.
Here are just a few of the many SUP adventures we had and hope to inspire you to look forward to in your own journey:
Why need to go SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) in Baja California
Snorkel around pristine reefs.
The Gulf of California is full of reefs that are home to colorful fish, coral, and other marine life. Use your SUP to paddle a short distance offshore and stake your claim on a part of the sea that likely nobody else has explored before.
In many places in Baja, you can camp on the beach and literally paddle right from there, just a few minutes to the reef with your snorkel gear in tow. Attach a dive flag to your SUP, strap your leash to your leg and enjoy the underwater world on your own terms!
Hang out with sea lions and whale sharks.
Whale sharks migrate seasonally around much of Baja, and there are dozens of sea lion colonies up and down the coast.
While you can’t (and shouldn’t consider) touch the playful creatures, it is possible to paddle out to their otherwise inaccessible homes to have an experience that would cost much more as part of a crowded tour.
Being able to experience wildlife in the wild is an incredible experience made even better by the fact that you organized the experience under your own power!
Glide over the white sand and pristine turquoise waters of world-famous beaches.
Numerous beaches in Baja attract visitors from all over the world. Create a unique experience by paddling around places like Balanda Beach, Gonzaga Bay, and the many beaches along the Bay of Concepcion.
Many visitors are only able to explore the beaches and water shallow enough to wade through. But with a SUP, you add another dimension of exploration.
Pack a picnic on your board and head off to your own beach and leave the crowds behind!
Find fish where nobody else can.
Jacques Cousteau once referred to the Sea of Cortez as the “aquarium of the world.” And if swimming among the marine life in the numerous reefs is not your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to access remote fishing spots and catch all sorts of fish.
You can catch everything from reef fish such as triggerfish and roosterfish to bigger game fish such as Mahi Mahi and tuna. Of course, be prepared to hang on for a potential Nantucket Sleigh Ride if you do land a larger fish!
Wake up along a beautiful beach, stretch and then head out for an hour or more of moderate to heavy exercise paddling the calm waters along the shore.
Whether you want to add some yoga into the routine is up to you (and your ability to do so!). But you can build up quite a workout paddling places where the scenery never gets old.
Paddleboarding is a great upper-body exercise, and if you go at it with enough effort, you can turn it into a great cardio workout to start or end your day!
Take the family out for a day on the water.
Whether you have fur babies or human ones, the right paddleboard can fit you and your favorite family member and a cooler and provide you the perfect way to get out for a day trip on the water.
Pack some snacks and drinks and paddle to a nearby island for some solitary beach time or head out on the water with other families.
There is no limit to the amount of fun you can have as a family with you SUP in Baja!
With so many amazing places to SUP and activities to do, we think you should put Baja at the top of your list.
Why paddleboard in Baja?
If you’re not already convinced to start planning your trip from the variety of things to do with your SUP, here are a few more reasons you should consider paddleboarding Baja.
The Proximity to the US.
If you live in the US, then you don’t have to get on a plane and fly halfway around the world to enjoy Baja.
There are numerous border crossings that are quick and easily accessible throughout California and Arizona.
You can drive your own vehicle and expect to not be surprised by too many differences in the rules and driving behavior in Baja.
Many visitors will plan to camp along the way – either in RVs or tents – so you have all sorts of freedom when you drive yourself around Baja.
While Baja is considered a bit like the wild west of Mexico, in terms of tourism, Baja is often referred to as “Mexico lite.”
While you may have to try a little harder to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history that makes international travel invaluable, you don’t have to worry too much about things being extremely different.
Most of the rules and ways of life are similar to those in the US and Canada, and you don’t have to speak Spanish to be able to have a good time.
Many great SUP destinations around the world are incredibly expensive to reach and enjoy. If that’s your thing, go for it! But if you want a budget-friendly way to make your own adventures, Baja is an incredibly affordable option.
From food and accommodation to tourism activities like whale watching, offroad adventures, and sports fishing, you can supplement your SUP experience with all sorts of affordable activities.
Relatively short journey.
The Baja peninsula is less than 1,000 miles from its northern border to the tip of its southern edge.
And with great SUP destinations located throughout the peninsula, you can make a trip to Baja as short as a long weekend or as long as a few weeks or even months.
Combining the other reasons above, Baja is a quick and easily accessible adventure in the making.
Where to SUP in Baja
Although the west coast along the Pacific Ocean offers tons of opportunities to SUP surf, we spent most of our time exploring the calmer waters along the Sea of Cortez.
Here are a few of our favorite places we’d encourage you to add to your list:
- San Felipe. A great first stop with calm waters and incredible sunsets, San Felipe offers some great paddling along the coastal town.
- Gonzaga Bay. One of the more remote destinations, Gonzaga Bay is on the northern end of the whale shark migration and offers the opportunity to possibly paddle with whale sharks and manta rays.
- Bay of Los Angeles. Known for it’s wildlife, the Bay of LA offers another opportunity to experience whale sharks in the wild as well as numerous offshore islands that are accessible for SUP exploration.
- Bay of Concepcion Beaches. Collectively, these beaches are what Baja is known for. From Coyote Beach to El Requeson, there are nearly a dozen beaches that offer clear water, sandy shores and vibrant reefs to explore.
- Loreto. A popular destination among ex-pats, Loreto combines the culture of a small Mexican town with the aquatic adventures of paddling bay or spending a few dollars to hop on a tour to see dolphins, sea lions and/or the majestic blue whales.
- La Paz-area Beaches (Balandra, Pinchilingue and Tecolote). Hosting the most picturesque Baja beach, Balandra, La Paz offers so many incredible beaches to paddle. If the crowd is too much at Balandra try Pichilingue, Tecolote or literally pull off on the side of the road where you find the water most desirable and inflate your SUP and explore!
- Los Barilles. Another popular ex-pat destination, Los Barilles has the notoriety of offering the opportunity to catch sport fish just feet offshore. While you may not want to wrestle a marlin on your SUP, you can land a decent-sized Mahi or yellowfin tuna that will make for a night fight and a delicious dinner.
- Cabo Pulmo National Park. Despite its proximity to the wildly touristic Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Pulmo National Park is one of the most protected waters in the world, making it ripe for snorkeling or simply paddling over vibrant marine life.
Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that Baja should be at the top of your list of places to explore on your SUP! We’d encourage you to consider spending as much time there as possible.
If you are able to camp along the way, we think you’ll appreciate the experience even more.
But if you fly into Baja with your SUP and rent a car, we know you’ll have an incredible time, and we’re excited to inspire and encourage you on planning your trip!
About Chris and Lindsay at Called To Wander
Chris and Lindsay, along with their two cattle dogs Everest and Huckleberry, have been traveling mostly full-time in their RV since 2018.
Always in pursuit of adventure, they have taken their SUP across the North American continent and have fallen in love with the beautiful waters surrounding Baja that are perfect for SUP.
They run a website and YouTube channel where they document their experiences and help others pursue adventure on the road.
Tuesday 8th of November 2022
Hi, thanks for all the info about paddle boarding in Baja. I am planning to drive and camp along the Sea of Cortez from January to March next year. s the Sea of Cortez generally calm in winter, or are there more winds and currents to be aware of? Thanks.