Recommendations For The Best Tropical Island Vacations

The Baja Peninsula

Extending over 1,000 kilometers from the southern end of California, you'll find Mexico's Baja Peninsula. To the west of the peninsula is the Pacific Ocean, while to the right lies the Sea of Cortez. There are also plenty of mountains here, including the Sierra Juarez, the Sierra de la Giganta, the Sierra de San Pedro Martir and the Sierra de la Laguna.

To the east of the Baja Peninsula lies the Sea of Cortez, which is also sometimes called the Gulf of California. These are the waters that Jacques Cousteau said were among his most favorite, calling them the "Galapagos of North America." There are major whale breeding grounds in these waters, along with a wide variety of marine life, including the rare vaquita marina - a small and endangered cetacean.

Many marine animals also migraine in these waters, including the leatherback sea turtle, killer whales, humpback whales, blue whales, California gray whales and manta rays. Tours exist that will let you see these natural patterns in all their glory - just be sure to plan ahead, as these migrations are seasonal. Fin whales and sperm whales are also present year round. With all these animals present in the Sea of Cortez, you'll find many opportunities for diving, snorkeling and fishing. You can also surf or kayak in these beautiful waters.

Near the US border in the north, you'll find the cities of Tijuana, Mexicali and Tecate. Although they may not sound like ideal vacation destinations, Tijuana is working hard to change its reputation and has made many former .entertainment. activities illegal. The Avenida Revolucion - formerly a center of illicit activity - is now known for its shopping and dining. However, as with any major city - Tijuana is second in size only to Los Angeles among Pacific coast cities - there are still places that are best avoided. Instead, check out Rosarito beach - located not far from Tijuana, this area was once known as the Hollywood of Mexico and remains a popular destination. Or, if you're hungry, head to the Puerto Nuevo Lobster Village for deep fried Pacific Ocean lobster, the town specialty.

In addition, the capital city of La Paz is located in the southern part of the peninsula. La Paz is a wonderful destination for those interested in scuba diving, while Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo - collectively known as Los Cabos - are also found here. There, you can visit the Jesuit mission at San Ignacio or the colonial buildings of Santa Rosalia. Loreto is another popular destination for deep sea fishing and golfing, and is also home to the marine park Bahia of Loreto, where scuba diving is popular. You can also hike and camp in the Sierra La Giganta mountains where you'll experience the true beauty of Mexico.

If history is more your thing, ancient cave paintings can be seen in Sierra San Francisco. In addition, some of the oldest missions in Mexico are located in San Javier and Nuestra Senora de Loreto on the Baja Peninsula.

And, of course, from almost any location on the Baja Peninsula, you can find ocean adventures, including snorkeling, scuba diving and deep sea fishing, that are fun for singles and family members alike.

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