Seven Windsurfing Wonders of the World

Baja, California: Escapades and Escapes
Page 7 of 7   |  

More laid back than Maui—and certainly less crowded—Baja, California is a wonderful windsurfing destination. The water is warm, the sun is golden, and the setting is interesting enough that you don't feel like you're wasting your time if the wind doesn't blow—or when you decide to blow off that day's windsurfing.

Not blessed with tradewinds, Baja depends on local thermals or storm winds to generate its breezes. As a result, conditions can be inconsistent. The best season for wind is winter—from late November through mid-February. At other times of year the air can be still for days on end.

When the wind is active, it often starts in the morning, around 10:30 or so, and then blows moderately—at 10 to 15 knots—for a few hours. It can then die down and come back in much more strongly—sometimes at speeds as high as 18 to 25 knots. Generally, though, you should plan to use a sail one size bigger than you might in Maui. A 4-foot-7-inch to 5-foot sail works most days. Remember, too, that the proximity to landmasses affects winds, and that one spot along the coast may be better than others only a short distance away.

The top windsurfing resorts are clustered along the southern end of the Baja peninsula near La Paz. Good flatwater spots are Baja Sur and Bahia de La Ventana. Chop jumpers will prefer Punta Chivato, Palmas de Cortez, and Playa Hermosa. You don't need to stick to the resort beaches either. If you've got wheels, load up your rigs and explore.

A word to the wise: Baja is not a great place for beginning shortboarders. Many of the beaches receive a large swell, or have pretty steep chop that makes it tough to stay under control. Also the water gets deep right off the beach, so Baja is much less forgiving for novice water-starters than Aruba or even Maui. If you're just starting on a shortboard, stay at a flatwater location such as Bahia Ventana or Baja Sur inshore—or better yet, perfect your water starts before you arrive.

With prices under $900 for a full week, double occupancy, there's no incentive to shun a package tour. Most packages offer very similar services—a beachfront hotel with pool, bar, and restaurant, high-quality rigs and boards, and instruction packages. Remember, however, that nearly all visitors to Baja are fairly good sailors; this is not a locale that caters to first-time water-starters.

The tough choice is deciding how long to stay. For strong intermediates, a week is about right, however, those learning to sail a shortboard for the first time won't accomplish much in this amount of time. If the winds are strong, experts may want to stay as long as they can. Prices tend to be lower for food and drink than in Maui, and the atmosphere is definitely less intense; mañana is the watchword. When booking your trip, check for special offers on airfare, if it is not included in the package price. Air Mexico seems to have a super special every other month or so—about $350 round-trip from Los Angeles.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 20 Jun 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »