Welcome to the dead of winter where the glorious sunshine and epic kiteboarding move to the Southern Hemisphere. This was the first year I transferred my setup to Baja, Mexico for a trip to explore the land of cheap tacos, ancient cacti and delicious tequila. Beware of the hot, humid weather as you might just end up with a few margaritas in your hand before you can make it to the water.
During the main windy season between November and March there are plenty of activities to do and lots of steady warm wind in the well-known town of La Ventana. The holiday hub for any North American kiteboarder looking to escape the short dreary days surrounding the winter solstice. The town itself is pleasantly small but also deceivingly spread out as it has developed along one straight road hugging the beach. I found the best situation is to rent a car from San Jose Del Cabo in order to motor around and maximize your holiday. I am not going to lie, I hesitated to travel down to Baja in years past simply because I was under the impression that tourism had overrun the true culture of the Mexican people. That being said, the majority of people in La Ventana are definitely ex-pats, but it is up to the traveler to make the trip as intriguing as you like and there is plenty of authenticity to be found.
Before heading to Baja, keep in mind that your trip can be as adventurous or exciting as you would like to make it. On the other hand, there is also the possibility to stay on the beach with a fresh fruit cocktail watching the days drift by in leisure. There is nothing wrong with a relaxing holiday making this place a fantastic destination by catering to many people in a group. My favorite spot to watch the activity on the water is in the infinity pool at the best breakfast place in town: Palapas Ventana While the chilling is great, I would highly recommend an adventure trip where barreling down sandy cacti-lined roads to find the best wind or waves is the daily routine. After a month of this unpredictable schedule, I was not at all ready to leave with so many more place to see and avocados to devour.
To equip yourself properly, I would recommend kite gear and surfboards as a minimum. There is also great hiking, mountain biking and dirt biking in the area with the mountains not far away. Depending on your size and ability, I would recommend bringing an array of kite sizes from 7-15m, if possible, in order to be on the water as much as possible. This would prepare you for the varying wind strengths coming down from the cold North American continent. The new Ozone Amp kites are absolutely perfect as they are an open C-shape that will allow enjoyment not only on downwinders but also while practicing big air, the occasional wave, and some unhooking in the new kite park, which was just built near town.
A light wetsuit such as a 2mm shorty should do well to keep you warm for the trip whether you find yourself surfing or kiting. Other than that, fill your suitcase with shorts, shirts and bikinis (or swimwear of choice to the male readers). Now that you are all prepared with gear recommendations, let’s get you all the details and tips that you could possibly need to know about this wonderful winter destination!
Let’s start first with accommodation as it is always a tricky one to recommend simply because everyone has such different styles of how they like to spend their holiday. Luckily, no matter what your level of comfort or group size may be, Baja caters to all! Personally, I am stoked no matter where I stay as long as I am able to wake up and ride as soon as possible. During my time gallivanting around the peninsula I tested all the available options from camping to staying in beautiful houses to get the full scoop.
Airbnb is your friend when planning your trip to this lovely place; it is absolutely the best way to rent a house, apartment, or room in any of the small towns. I would highly recommend booking your place long in advance for the most potential options especially if you are looking for beachfront properties. Tenting was, in the end, my favorite option as I stayed closer than close to the shred zone and was able to watch the sunrise every morning with no interruptions. Being in the elements and only seconds away from riding I found to be absurdly rewarding.
It is safer than I expected to set up next to the water whether it is in a designated camping area or just an empty stretch of beach. My best tips would be to bring some of the camping equipment from home and then to grab a blow up mattress in Cabo on arrival for premium comfort. A quick coffee kit to start the day right is always a game changer and with that, you are ready to go.
The wind shows its face most afternoons with a nice cool consistency to keep a mild temperature over the Sea of Cortez. I have found most of the wind enthusiasts like to kite at the main beach near Baja Joes or in front of their rental if possible. The most sails you will see are right around the holiday season so plan your trip according to your level and how many people you like to kite around. There are so many day trips that can be fun for intermediate kiteboarders including downwinders from the north of town or a boat trip to the Cerralvo island where you can kite all the way home, ending your day in the central town where many taco stands await your arrival.
My personal favorite spot to kite would be a place called Choco Lake named after its color but definitely not the way it might taste. This small lake is now home to a newly built kite park as of a few weeks ago and is the perfect flat water to learn a few new tricks. It can be quite crowded and a wee bit shallow so if many people decide to shred at the same time, be aware of timing and take your turn going for rides. It is accessible via car but the only road markers are cacti and more cacti so best to have a local show you the route through the maze of sandy pathways.
My absolute favorite detail about this area is the insane amount of Saguaro Cacti, but be careful not to hurt any of them as they are protected by the government. They can live up to 200 years old and don’t even start to grow their first arm until after a century so pay attention and maybe use your imagination to think about all they have witnessed. Once you have your fill of cactus gazing, head over to the Thursday morning market if you have a chance to indulge yourself in breakfast treats, delicious fresh bread and locally grown organic produce. Not only will it satisfy your craving for snacks but there are also many vendors selling the perfect locally made Mexican souvenirs.
I absolutely fell in love with the lifestyle pace on this coastal stretch of Baja. There is just something special about being on the actual ocean and hearing the waves crash against the immense unpopulated beaches. This most western side of the peninsula is known for its surfing and tranquilo style of life. I stayed in Todos Santos where I learned to surf and spent many evenings watching a crazy amount of whales breach under the golden sun. During their migration season, it is worth the drive over even just to poke your head below the surface and experience the underwater music they make. The occasional kite session will pop up in the afternoon in the area depending on the systems brewing out in the Pacific and you will likely be the only person out playing in the shore break. It will be on the lighter side so bring big kites and/or a foil board to make the most of the double sport days.
For me, I found that the mornings were always early here no matter which wave I choose: La Pastora, Pescadero or Cerritos which are all within a short 30 min drive of each other. All of these waves are beach breaks and have many rocky patches so be careful for your board and your limbs. On a daily routine after a perfect salty shred session, the best place to refill the tank is over at La Esquina for breakfast or lunch. They have the absolute best smoothies, cappuccinos, and sweet potato fries as well as other healthy options. Everything is served in all reusable containers supportive of the environment. Todos Santos is a quaint little town founded in 1723 with original cobblestone streets and modern artwork decorating the buildings. Even if you are not a surfer, it is well worth a 1-hour drive from La Ventana to see a different beautiful town.Mexico was a game changer for me, as it seemed to have everything: delectable food, consistent wind, and the beauty of a carefree and joyful lifestyle. I now understand why almost everyone I know returns to this peninsula year after year with smiles on their faces and Tecate Lights in hand. I have experienced nature in a new way and was able to feel safe staying in the elements, which I consider a huge success in this day and age. Baja is definitely on my new recommendation list so if you have a little of the winter blues, take a trip to the beautiful country of Mexico and your spirits will soon be lifted.
- Bring lots of sunscreen
- Find a friend to show you around
- Get iKitsurf Pro version app to know the current and future wind
- Be open to going new places and exploring more of the peninsula
- Have a margarita or two!