Saturday, February 14, 2009

Baja Sur has Todos Santos at its Heart

Baja California Sur has the lowest population density of any state in Mexico with one-half million residents. The history of tourism in Baja Sur dates back to 1948, when wealthy American actors like John Wayne and Bing Crosby built the first resort on the Sea of Cortez, south of La Paz. Other luxury resorts followed until the highway from San Diego was finished in 1973, opening the door for automobile tourists. Today there is something for everyone in Baja Sur, especially fresh fish, fruits and vegetables.

Large scale farming on this arid peninsula dates back to the 1950’s when cotton was the main crop. One of the oldest export farms in Baja Sur is in San Juan de los Planes. This valley, “Valle de los Planes” is home to an asparagus farm in San Juan de Los Planes, near the first resort. It was founded by Guido Natali of Italy, who came to the area in 1958 to train local farmers for the Agricola San Vicente company. Near Valle de los Planes are the beaches of El Sargento and La Ventana where wind surfers and kite surfers enjoy the waves and strong winds. There are also estuaries with perfect beaches and warm, shallow water for swimming with small children.

Across the peninsula on the Pacific Ocean you can swim with the whales at Lopez Mateos. Whales can be seen breaching the waters just off both coasts. In the center of the Baja peninsula, the Sierra la Laguna mountain range forms a Biosphere Reserve which feeds surrounding agricultural valleys and tourism developments with fresh water. This Biosphere is the largest protected area in Mexico and one of the largest in Latin America. Its mountains are forested with pine and oak woods, with oases of palms. Its villages present excellent opportunities for hiking and birding, or just escaping the desert heat.

On the southern tip of the peninsula you’ll find Los Cabos, where Sammy Hagar built his Cabo Wabo nightclub and restaurant. Decades later, celebrities still flock to Baja. The main tourist areas are Los Cabos and La Paz. Between the two lies the charming artist colony of Todos Santos, on the Pacific Ocean. This is the best place to stay to be ‘in the center of it all’ while enjoying the “onda” (vibe) of authentic Mexico. This halfway point in one hour from either of the two main tourist areas. Todos Santos is home to orchards and organic farms in the shadow of the Sierra la Laguna Biosphere. These add pastoral views to this unique coastal village, like the one pictured above.

Todos Santos is home to 6000 artists, expats, and locals. The rich and varied agricultural communities between Todos Santos and La Paz produce citrus, mangos, chile peppers, herbs, corn, chick-pea, melons, tomato, papaya and asparagus – to name the most visible crops. Still, the peninsula is most famous as a surfing and deep sea fishing paradise. Everyone here enjoys fresh fish, fruits and vegetables daily.
Posted from Cafelix, Todos Santos, Baja Sur

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