Topside, Baja's cactus-studded mountains and earthy landscapes are a stark contrast to the lush realm thrumming with life below the surface. Fin-to-fin encounters with megafauna are what make diving in Baja California special, with most of the action taking place in the Sea of Cortez.
This strip of water - nicknamed "the world's aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau - is accessed via a pair of islands an hour offshore. It's a treat - but not uncommon - to spot orcas, dolphins or whales from the boat before you even reach the dive site.
Super friendly Californian sea lions are the highlight of most dives. Pups love to play with divers and pose for the camera so it's a fun excuse to sharpen your underwater photography skills.
In the northern Sea of Cortez, June to October is the core diving season with water temperatures of around 82°F (28°C) and visibility stretching to 35m. Diving is just as good in other months but the water is cooler: experienced cold water divers love it.
Between June and September up to 220 whale sharks arrive in Baja California - it's one of the few places on earth where these giants gather in large groups. Nearby colonies of sea lions (sometimes a thousand strong) enhance the experience even more. You can see turtles, dolphins, rays and jumbo squid all year.
Diving on the other side of Baja California - fronted by the Pacific Ocean - is not as easy to predict but if you keep an eye on conditions and time your trips well the diving is sublime.
Baja California is a Mexican State on the Baja Peninsula, bordering California. For diving in Baja California, fly to the international airport of La Paz. Even if this isn't the closest airport to your destination (it is located at the southern end of the peninsula) it is the most connected internationally, welcoming flights from most major cities.
Hire a car in La Paz for the last leg of your journey. Bahia de los Angeles is a popular jumping off point for diving in Baja California and is a 13h hour drive from La Paz. The entire trip can be done without straying from highway 'Mexico 1'. This long road passes through Loretto - a great place to stop for tacos and sunsets. A couple more places en route promise whale sightings.
This page wouldn't be possible without contributions from the following PADI members: QA_DC_TEST. Disclaimer