Why Your Next Seaside Getaway Should be on the Baja Peninsula

In November 2016, our safari expert Lara traveled to Mexico's Baja Peninsula with her family. An easy 5-7 night escape, Baja offers a wide array of options for active travelers while staying (relatively) close to home. Read up on her full trip below:

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than South of the Border? With just a few days to make the most of a vacation with the whole family, the Baja Peninsula was perfect for us. One nonstop flight to Cabo followed by a meet and greet at baggage claim and 1-1 ½ hour road transfer later... We arrived.

What a beautiful place to explore with my family! ©TOSEA
What a beautiful place to explore with my family! ©TOSEA

Todos Santos

Los Colibris Casitas is a small hotel made up of individual villas that remind me of an agriturismos in Italy. There is no lobby or concierge desk, but what you’ll find are beautifully landscaped grounds, a nice swimming pool and great views and a hands on staff ready to answer your questions. This hotel is clean and cute, and made a perfect home base for our time in Todos Santos.

Lovely Los Colibros Casitas. ©Colin Ruggiero
Lovely Los Colibros Casitas. ©Colin Ruggiero


Two things that really added to our trip were Bryan and Sergio, the proprietors and founders of TOSEA. Bryan met Sergio when she was on a kayaking trip in Mexico, and the rest is history. Their hands-on approach reminds me of Lewa House in Kenya, where the owners are onsite and contribute to the charm and overall experience. I was delighted by the ease and fun of our time at Los Colibris.

Bryan & Sergio - what a team! ©TOSEA
Bryan & Sergio - what a team! ©TOSEA


Each morning we set out on adventures in the area after a delicious homemade breakfast at the hotel. Todos Santos is not a “safari” destination in the least, but it is a small, authentic Mexican town with history. In fact, Todos Santos is increasingly on lists of top travel destinations. In 2006 the Mexican government even designated Todos Santos a ‘Pueblo Mágico,’ one of just 100 or so small towns honored for its natural beauty, cultural riches and historical relevance.

Sergio is a history buff and will lead you on a half-day walking tour of the town. After, you sip handcrafted drinks on the rooftop of an old building followed by dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Regarding meals, I suggest an onsite cooking class with the hotel’s chef for a lovely evening. Los Colibris doesn’t offer lunch or dinner but the chef is passionate about what he does and trying new things. He offers you a special class based on your tastes, like fresh margaritas and homemade guacamole for me!

We had so much fun experimenting with cuisine!
We had so much fun experimenting with cuisine!


For relaxing activities, enjoy yoga on the platform or nature walks on the grounds. The beautiful beach is a 15 minute walk from the hotel, but you can’t swim at this location – the waves are huge. Offsite, a few miles to the south, join an instructor for some of the best surfing in the country on waves suitable for beginners to advanced surfers. Then, take to the land on a gorgeous hike. Hike for a just a few hours or opt for a full day trip or a pre-planned multi-night trek across the Baja Peninsula. In the winter, a great overnight excursion is Magdalena Bay, 3-4 hours from Todos Santos. Incredible, close up whale watching in Zodiacs (inflatable boats) get you close to the action: Gray whales come into the bay with their babies around this time of year!

We're not kidding about the up-close-and-personal part. ©TOSEA
We're not kidding about the up-close-and-personal part. ©TOSEA


We also enjoyed releasing baby sea turtles into the surf, fishing and whale watching for humpbacks right in the waters near Todos Santos.. Los Colibris excels at creating intimate and small-scale moments around low-key and high-quality experiences.

It was amazing to release baby sea turtles ourselves.
It was amazing to release baby sea turtles ourselves.

Camp Cecil and Isla Espiritu Santo

After 2-3 nights at Los Colibris, transfer 1-1 ½ hours to the Sea of Cortez on the other side of the Peninsula. Depending on arrival time, overnight in a regular hotel at La Paz (another small, Mexican town) or continue directly to Isla Espiritu Santo, an undeveloped island in the Sea of Cortez and your glamping destination. Take a small boat to reach the island for an extra dose of adventure. En route, if the season is right, you stop and snorkel with enormous whale sharks. Cautionary tale: They are huge and my husband was almost wacked with a tail! Continue the boat ride for another 1 ½ hours. Unfortunately for us, it was overcast and bumpy the rest of the ride... But as soon as we arrived, the wind died down and the sun came out from behind the clouds. It was definitely well worth the ride!

The exquisite Espiritu Santo. ©Peter Krogh
The exquisite Espiritu Santo. ©Peter Krogh


I suggest 3-nights on the island but a 2-night stay is doable. Like camps in Africa, Camp Cecil is only designated a small concession on the island. Thus, the Meru-style tents are closer together than I’d prefer but the camp offers an intimate experience to guests. There are shared bathroom facilities that are separate from the tents, consisting of two composting toilets and two showers, which worked well. Helpful hint: If you put out a flag when you’re in there, nobody bothers you.

What cute tents for "glamping"! ©TOSEA
What cute tents for "glamping"! ©TOSEA


The whole camp atmosphere is cheerful and friendly. Bonus: The food is fantastic! Similar to safari camps, the staff is huge, including biologists, naturalists, kayak specialists, etc. Each evening, relax looking out over the calm water, with a drink in hand, and discuss the next day’s agenda with your guide. One of our favorite activities was a long hike on a different island. Other fun excursions are trips to scuba dive (at an additional cost) or snorkel. Our favorite snorkel spot had a sea lion colony. The baby sea lions are fearless and swim right up to you – it was really, really fun! You can also go to see the blue footed booby colony. This really is like a mini-Galapagos style getaway!

Swimming with sea lions. ©TOSEA
Swimming with sea lions. ©TOSEA


Around camp, it is easy to paddleboard or kayak on your own. If you venture farther afield, a wildlife guide will accompany you. It’s a great way to learn more about the fascinating ecology of this area. While people don’t live permanently here anymore – except a handful of local fishermen who were grandfathered in (there are two brothers in their 80s and 90s who head out daily in basic pangas to fish) – your guide will fill you in on the history of the settlements in the area.

We loved heading out on the water on our paddle boards!
We loved heading out on the water on our paddle boards!


After 3-nights at Camp Cecil, we returned to the mainland and Los Colibris for one final overnight. It was nice for us to have time to organize and enjoy but it is possible to continue straight from the marina to the airport for your international flight home.

This trip is ideal for active adventure travelers, more than the casual beach-goer. It goes without saying; you need to love water because you will be in small boats much of the time. For me, Baja feels like a quickie adventure getaway, similar to the Galapagos, but a fraction of the price and with the friendliest hosts in Mexico!

Thanks for the great family vacation, TOSEA!
Thanks for the great family vacation, TOSEA!

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Jamie Mehrotra