Our last week in Baja lived up to our expectations, plus some. When I think back on Baja, I think dusty roads, miles of open beach camping, kiting, surfing, fishing and amazing sea life. Baja is where we really learned about being on the road, learned how to get Titus stuck and unstuck, started using a little Espanol, and found out that we still like each other after living in a van together 24 hours a day.
Even though times were good, after two months in Baja, George and I were ready for a change, for more culture, and for a little adventure. Arriving in Mazatlan on the mainland proved to be just the thing we needed to shake things up. But first-things-first, we had to book a ferry ticket to get there, which meant heading to the largest city in Baja, La Paz.
La Paz – Gateway to mainland, and just a really cool city
A very popular way to get to mainland is to take a car ferry over from La Paz through the Sea of Cortez. Prior to getting a ferry ticket though, you have to get a vehicle import permit at the Banjercito, which you can get at the Pichilingue ferry terminal in La Paz (if you weren’t able to get it at the border like us). We then went over to Baja Ferries and went through the process of getting our car weighed before we could buy tickets (a pain since there is little direction to the whole entering/exiting the secured area, but we figured it out – the lady at the Banjercito spoke very good English and did some translating for us). Tip: if using Baja Ferries, splurge on the cabin! Its worth it for the 18 hour journey to Mazatlan. Your other option is TMC ferries where you can sleep in your rig.
Since we were already in La Paz, we decided to stay at an RV site near the Malecon (waterfront) and check out the city. La Paz has a beautiful walkway along the water and the area is peppered with great restaurants. If you are thinking about visiting Cabo in Baja, we encourage you to try La Paz instead (or in addition); I don’t think you will be disappointed.
The highlight of our stay in La Paz (and Baja for that matter) was when we heard we could snorkel with whale sharks right out in the bay of La Paz! We jumped on the opportunity and were in the water the next morning swimming with the largest fish in the world. The whale shark is technically a shark, but it eats plankton (and therefore is not interested in eating people, thankfully). The whale shark really is a behemoth of an animal – more comparable in size to a whale and can grow to be anywhere from 20 ft -40 ft long. If you are anywhere near La Paz in baja, go swim with whale sharks! I promise you won’t regret it.
Punta Conejo – Beaches and surf
We had about 5 days to wait before getting on the ferry, so we took one last look at the Baja Pacific with a stop in Punta Conejo. We absolutely loved the spot and wish we had discovered it sooner! The community of surfers and families who set up for extended stays in this spot are great, and there was some decent surf for George. And there are just miles of beach to explore in this area.
We even got to try out George’s new surf rod and he caught our dinner after two casts!
Magdalena Bay – Whale watching time
Our friend Pat that we met in San Jacinto, Baja made us promise that we would go see the Gray whales mating and calving in one of the lagoons before we left Baja. So the day before we left on the ferry to Mazatlan we made our reservations, and arrived in time to see the Gray whales coming into the bay, but alas we were too early for the babies. From what we are told the Gray whale mothers get really close to the boats with their babies, and even let some people touch the baby whales! The best time to see this is in February or early March. Nonetheless, we saw some amazing sea life on the water and got really close to some massive Gray whales.
Mazatlan – Mainland Mexico at last!
With great anticipation, we hopped on our 18 hour ferry ride to Mazatlan, and were so excited to be met by other travelers on their various adventures, heading to mainland. Everyone on the ship had their maps out, were planning travel, and swapping route tips.
Once we arrived in Mazatlan, we headed to a campsite in town where we ran into a couple whose blog we had been following for some time, Neli’s Big Adventure! After some chatting and setting up, we decided to head into the historic town center, Centro Historico. We really loved the charm of Mazatlan’s old downtown, and the amazing restaurants and food. Some of the best food we have had on this trip was in Mazatlan and its worth a stop for sure.
We are exploring the coast and tiny towns of Nayarit and Colima states right now and will have more updates soon!
Check out the rest of our pictures from our last week in Baja