The weather is warm, the pace is slow and, for some reason that I don't quite understand - but fully embrace - the beers just taste better south of the US-Mexico border. Baja California is Earth's second-longest peninsula, lapped by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Gulf of California on the east. It's a place I go to unplug, so immersive is the vibrant culture and comforting solitude of the land.
There's never a dull moment in Baja. When the warm sun beats down on my SPF-slathered face as I walk among countless 100-year-old cacti, I get the sense that adventure is waiting. Parts of the peninsula are still relatively underexplored, and I feel as if I'm gazing out at the last frontier. Driving through the small towns, windows down, eyes wide, I'm enchanted by the charm of Baja. The people are welcoming and kind; the taquerias beckon me with smells of fresh seafood on the grill. The shrimp tacos never disappoint here.
Travelling along the bumpy coastal road, I'm met with unending views of the Pacific flanked by rocky cliffs. More often than not, I spy some friends emerging from the blue crystal waters; happy dolphins dancing in the waves and majestic whales migrating south for the season. Other than these creatures, there isn't anyone else to be found in the warm water, and the peeling waves and salty spray call to me.
An empty line-up this pristine is something that every surfer craves. There is no pressure, no crowds. Time stands still while I float peacefully in the water and look back at an untouched coastline. When the sun sets over the ocean, the oranges, pinks and purples fade to black as bright stars emerge, seemingly painting the heavens above.
Baja is a magical place that holds a place near and dear to my heart. It's a destination that brings endless adventure and excitement, and memories that last long after my tan lines fade. Each time I take a trip south of the border, I fall more in love with its rugged beauty.