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ACTIVATE Baja Sur

Follow the exploits of the Active Junky team as they take on a brand new objective. In search of multi-sport adventure, the travelers will explore different destinations—while telling stories, sharing photos and reviewing gear as they go. This time around? The Stark contrast of desert and ocean found only in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Baja Sur: Exotic Within Reach

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Sea of Cortez
Ear plugs. Call them essential when you travel with ROW Adventures to the offshore islands in the Sea of Cortez.
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Magdalena Bay
Skirting sandy bays punctuated by rock pinnacles both large and small, the 10-passenger white van snakes upward past shattered peaks.
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Loreto
Not far from the Loreto town center, in the marina and beyond, aquatic adventures multiply like fish on a nearby protected reef.
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Fascinating Facts
  • Apart from the phenomenal seasonal migration of grey whales to Magdalena Bay, the surrounding mangrove swamps are a boon to bird watchers pursuing sea birds.
  • Cave paintings close to Loreto, Mexico are bigger and more numerous than those found in the more recognized sites of Altamira, Spain and Lascaux, France.
  • The famous marine biologist, Jacques Cousteau, called the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium” as its home to nearly 3,000 marine species.

Technically, this region is called Baja California Sur and is the smallest of 31 Mexican states by population. Based upon Active Junky's recent sea kayaking and whale watching exploits in cooperation with ROW Adventures, what's down here tops the list for an accessible multisport trip.

Punctuated by simple, sea-sourced regional food and natural surroundings of extreme contrasts, Baja California connects to the north and water flanks the state on both sides. While surfing and deep sea fishing above the 38th parallel get lots of press, the tourist city of Cabo San Lucas draws sun-seeking Americans and Canadians during winter months.

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Magdalena Bay: Majesty in motion

Skirting sandy bays punctuated by rock pinnacles both large and small, the 10-passenger white van snakes upward past shattered peaks. Perched 2,500ft above sea level, the narrow road picks its way carefully between cave-strewn canyons before descending rapidly past verdant farmland. Barely-grazed, parched desert follows on the two-hour journey to Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos.

Carnival-colored life vests, the sort you’d find at a U.S. dollar store, are doled out to the group winding its way, conga line-style, to the securely-moored boats ahead. My fellow travelers commit – out loud and with true sincerity -- to combing the seaside gift shops after whale camp, resolved to leave some hard dollars among diligent local seashell artisans.

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Loreto: Baja Sur’s basecamp

Not far from the Loreto town center, in the marina and beyond, aquatic adventures multiply like fish on a nearby protected reef. From wallowing sea lions to swooping cormorants – and the world’s largest creature, the blue whale – nature is escapable. And while the Bay beckons, laid back Loreto’s not to be ignored.

Recent sea kayaking and whale watching with ROW Adventures connected me with their local outpost to embark on the “3 x 3” itinerary. Anxious to make the easy, direct air connection from Los Angeles and get my paddleboard wet, the town itself first seemed to be simply a humble source of supply and reorganizing between the two, three-day elements of the trip.

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Sea of Cortez: Answering the islands’ call

Ear plugs. Call them essential when you travel with ROW Adventures to the offshore islands in the Sea of Cortez.  Why?  The persistent sound of three-foot manta rays launching skyward — and belly flopping down — in the bay near your Isla Danzante campsite is beyond relentless.

And the blazing light of the Seven Sisters constellation (aka Pleiades) piercing through your tent’s mosquito-netted top?  It begs for a sleep mask.  Or the immediate purchase of a Subaru Outback when you return home.  These are among your toughest challenges in launching from Baja’s hospitality base in Loreto into one of the most singular adventures of your life.

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The Gear that Got it Done

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