South and west of Guerrero Negro, the narrow Baja Peninsula widens to form the Vizcaíno Peninsula, a vast desert, mountain, and coastal region in which average annual rainfall amounts to a mere 70 millimeters and several years may pass without so much as a single rainstorm.
And yet despite the harsh climate, the Desierto de Vizcaíno sustains one of the most fascinating ecosystems found anywhere in the world—so much so that the Mexican government decided to protect it in 1988, well ahead of current trends in green travel.
At its northernmost point, the tip of the Vizcaíno Peninsula juts out into the Pacific Ocean, framing the southwest side of Bahía de Sebastián Vizcaíno, a large bay that encompasses the Laguna Ojo de Liebre whale sanctuary. Heading south from the tip, the coastline is shaped into a series of shallow bays with four fishing towns, where you’ll find accommodations, food, and basic supplies.
The southernmost bay, Bahía de las Ballenas, leads to Laguna San Ignacio, another breeding ground for gray whales and other endangered marine life.
In 1993 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the whale sanctuary of El Vizcaíno a World Heritage site, along with the rock paintings in the Sierra de San Francisco, an area that lies east of San Ignacio.
The majority of Baja road-trippers stop to refuel in Guerrero Negro and continue their journey south along Highway 1, skipping the Vizcaíno Peninsula altogether. But there are several good reasons to add a few days, or up to a week, to explore one of Baja’s last remaining frontiers. You’ll find beautiful sites for coastal camping, friendly local residents, and protected plant and animal life, supported almost entirely by a nearly constant layer of marine fog.
Although the Vizcaíno Peninsula has changed considerably in recent years, it remains a wild and isolated place that gives travelers the sense of being at the very edge of civilization.
Anglers generally head to the coastal stretch between Bahía Asunción and Punta Abreojos to catch halibut, corvina, and croaker as well as sand, calico, and pinto bass.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition