Due to its close proximity to the United States, the section of Mexico known as Baja California is a popular travel destination. With a diverse landscape, including beaches, forests, deserts, and even mountains, Baja California has something to offer any traveler.
However, is Baja California safe for tourists to visit? In this article, we will discuss the current safety situation in Baja California and give recommendations on where to go and what places to avoid so you can decide if Baja California is a safe destination for you.
Is Baja California Safe to Visit?
The Mexican state of Baja California is a popular destination for tourists due to its location just south of the California border. In fact, residents of San Diego are only 17 miles from the Mexico border and can be in the city of Tijuana in under an hour.
While this is convenient for those looking for a quick and inexpensive vacation, is Baja California safe? Well, it really depends on where you go and what you plan to do while you visit.
Places like Tijuana are known to have a higher crime rate due to the drug activity that goes on there. However, if you stick to the patrolled areas and stay aware, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip.
There are several other great places to visit in Baja California. One of the most popular places in Baja California is Cabo.
Cabo is a top spot for tourists due to its luxury resorts, beaches, and nightlife. Whether you are going for a honeymoon or a family vacation, Cabo is a beautiful and fun destination.
Other popular spots include Todos Santos, La Paz, and Ensenada, Mexico, which are all considered safe places to visit in Baja California. However, you will still need to take caution when visiting and not let your guard down. You can be a victim of crime anywhere if you don’t use common sense.
With that said, there are plenty of travelers who visit Baja California regularly without any issues. In fact, Baja California is a popular Mexican state for a campervan or RV trip, as there are numerous campgrounds, hiking trails, and beaches to explore throughout the region.
Let’s take a closer look at the crime rate to give you more of an idea of how safe Baja California is.
Is Baja California Safe: Crime Rate
Overall, Baja California has a moderate to low crime rate. While crime has been increasing in the past three years, that seems to be the norm in most countries due to the economic impacts of the pandemic. When more people are out of work, crime increases, primarily theft and drug-related activities.
You will see the same crime rate spike in other parts of Mexico, like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Here are some safety tips to follow to ensure you have an enjoyable and safe trip when exploring Baja California.
Do Your Research
It’s vital to do your research before traveling to Baja California as it’s a large state with several cities and towns. When you have chosen a place to visit, be sure to check where the best neighborhoods are to stay.
You won’t have to worry about this as much if you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, but if you plan on booking a boutique hotel or Airbnb, then it’s good to know what areas are safe.
For example, even though La Paz and Cabo are two of the safer towns to visit in Baja California, there are still areas to avoid. Look into this before booking your accommodations.
Don’t Be Flashy
Many sources recommend to “blend in” while traveling in a new country, but that can be hard to do if you aren’t from there or don’t speak the local language.
To increase your chances of a safe trip, avoid being flashy and careless when you’re out and about. For example, when you walk around town, don’t bring nice items like your laptop or wear expensive jewelry. Also, don’t carry a lot of cash and only go to ATMs inside banks or in highly populated areas.
If you have a car, don’t leave anything in it, and make sure to lock the doors. More than likely, you won’t have an issue, but this will make you less likely to be a target of theft.
If you need to carry your valuable items with you, get a backpack lock, and make sure not to leave it unattended.
Avoid Drugs and Be Careful When Drinking
While you may not be interested in buying drugs on your honeymoon in Baja California, it won’t stop people from offering them to you. If you are out at night, then it’s best to stay clear of any drug activity. Not only can you be put in a bad situation with the police, but it could also be a setup to rob you.
If you go out at night, try to stay in pairs and stick to well-lit, populated areas. At bars, don’t accept drinks from strangers and keep your eyes on your drink at all times. Don’t get drunk, as that can make you careless and susceptible to danger.
Don’t Give Out Too Much Information
You will find the majority of locals in Mexico are very friendly and proud that you have chosen to visit their country. However, not everyone has good intentions and could be fishing for information.
It’s best to be vague when talking about where you are staying, where you are going, and any other personal information. Even if you are staying at a resort, don’t tell others what the resort’s name is. The same applies if you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb.
While the person you are directly talking to may have good intentions, you never know if someone overhearing your conversation doesn’t.
Is Baja California Safe: Driving
As mentioned earlier, Baja California is a big area with a lot to see, so it’s a prime road trip destination. In addition, cities and towns are spread out, so renting a car is the best way to visit different areas.
Driving in Baja California is generally safe as long as you stick to the main roads. You should also avoid driving at night as this is when cartel activity takes place. Plan your days out, so you are always driving during the day and don’t park in unknown areas.
It’s also a good idea to check that you have plenty of fuel before driving. Since Baja California is a vast landscape, you don’t want to run out of gas in an unknown area.
Lastly, check your vehicle or rental car before hitting the road. Ensure that your tires are inflated, turn signals are working properly, and fluid levels are good. As always, check and follow local driving laws to avoid getting a traffic violation.
Is Baja California Safe: Food
You’d be crazy not to try the local street food in Baja California, or anywhere in Mexico, for that matter. You will find taco stands and fondas (mom-and-pop restaurants) all over, but be picky about the places you choose.
Not every place is diligent about its hygiene practices, and even someone with a strong stomach can get food poisoning. It’s best to stick to the popular places where you see locals eating. This is a good sign that the place is clean and the food is delicious.
Another way to avoid getting sick is to look up established restaurants on Google maps. You will be able to see what other tourists have said about it.
As you probably know, you should avoid tap water in Mexico, and that includes drinks with ice. Some places will make ice with tap water which can make you sick. Unless you are at a reputable restaurant or resort, then stick to bottled water and alcoholic drinks with no ice.
Where Is the Safest Place to Stay in Baja California?
While there are several safe places to stay in Baja California, here are the top suggestions.
La Paz is one of the safest cities to visit in Baja California, popular with families, couples, and solo travelers. Here you will find several white sand beaches, such as Balandra Beach.
It also offers a relaxed atmosphere where you can walk up and down the Malecon day and night. Some of the most popular activities include swimming with whale sharks, snorkeling with sea lions, and renting ATVs on the sand dunes.
About an hour’s drive from La Paz is Todos Santos. You may remember the hit song “Hotel California” by the Eagles, which was written about this chill beach town. While Todos Santos isn’t as exciting as La Paz, there is still plenty to do, and it is a surfer’s delight.
Todos Santos has a good police presence, so you don’t need to worry about being a victim of crime when visiting.
Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are the two entities that makeup Los Cabos, which literally translates as “The Capes.” Both are safe areas for travelers and have plenty of activities to do.
Cabo San Lucas is known for its luxury resorts, beautiful beaches, and lively nightlife. San Jose del Cabo has a more relaxed vibe and is known for its art scene. Both are safe places to visit in Baja California and very popular for honeymoons and romantic retreats.
Trying to plan a honeymoon in Mexico? We have several articles that may help, such as Cozumel Honeymoons: All You Need to Know to Plan the Perfect Honeymoon in Cozumel, Mexico, Cancun vs. Cozumel: Which Is Best for Your Mexico Honeymoon or Vacation?, The Ultimate Playa del Carmen Honeymoon Planning Guide, and many more!