The Bahia de Los Angeles, or Bay of Los Angeles, sits on the Sea of Cortez – the eastern coast of the Baja peninsula. Once a major port for the Spanish to move gold from mainland Mexico, its now a pristine vacation beach and fisherman’s paradise.
Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to walk on the Baja, having crossed the Sea of Cortez in the 16th century. The Spanish settled in Baja, establishing ports in the Bay of Los Angeles to receive shipping from the coast of Mexico, then transported it overland to the western coast of Baja. By the 18th century the Spanish had found the land route around the top of Baja, connecting it to the rest of North America, though ships continued to cross the Sea of Cortez.
I discovered the Bay late in September of 2011. The Pacific coast was actually a little cool, and another traveler had told me the Sea of Cortiz coast was warmer, and the Bay of Los Angeles was something to see. When I reached the turn to head east I took it, and was rewarded by the temperature shooting upwards. By the time I reached the coast I was hoping to find somewhere with air conditioning.
The modern Bay of Los Angeles is a protected nature preserve and vacation destination. Sport fishing is allowed, and the small town hosts several charter services and fishing guides. Yellowtail have been known to grow as large as five feet and over 100 pounds. Other fish in the area are snapper, grouper, bonito, sierra and seabass.
There is also seal lion colonies nearby as well, which tour operators can take you to see. North of town is a sea turtle research facility, studying the many types of sea turtle that nest on the Baja coast. Whale Sharks also visit the Bay, with 20 or 30 appearing every year.
I was there at the wrong time of year for whale sharks, but there were a fair number of sport fisherman in town. Most were friendly, though I admit to being annoyed by the group that, unwilling to leave their boat unattended, parked their trailer and blocked by view of the bay during dinner. And complained about not wanting a guide, and not finding any fish during their outing that day. At least the left a huge tip for the server.
Inside the town is the Museo de Naturaleza y Cultura, a strange collection of mining and native artifacts, with replicated cave paintings and the skeleton of a juvenille gray whale outside. Inside they have examples of 500 of the 600 species of shells found in the bay. Despite being there when it should have been open, it was closed when I visited. The problem with being off season, I suppose, but I was able to see out exhibits outside the building, such as the gray whale skeleton.
If you aren’t interested in maritime activities, a few miles inland from the bay you can find prehistoric rock paintings. Estimated at over 10,000 years old, these are part of the Great Mural Region, and are thought to be one of the most important sites in Baja.
The Bay is about 10 hours driving time from Tijuana, and you do need a tourist card to visit. The road was recently improved, so large boats could be moved from the Pacific coast to the Sea of Cortez and back seasonally. Despite this, care should be taken. Make sure you have spare water, and once you have passed El Rosario most of the gas available is sold from drums in the back of pickups, until to reach the Bay. Driving at night is never recommended in any part of Mexico, and despite the improved road the speed limits are still lower than you would expect in the United States.
The Bay of Los Angeles is a remarkable location, with much to offer. Close enough to be convenient and far enough away to be remote, its a wonderful vacation destination.