La Ventana is a world-class windsport destination in Baja Sur, Mexico. Located along the aqua blue waters of the Sea of Cortez with a mountainous desert backdrop, the village sits in an undeniably stunning setting. The sea delivers consistent winds from October through April, drawing kite surfers and windsurfers from other parts of Mexico, Canada, the US, and beyond. It seems that almost every gringo visiting the village is there for the windsports.
We entered Baja with a half-baked (i.e., poorly researched) plan to spend a week or two windsurfing in La Ventana. We both have a little bit of windsurfing experience and thought that a visit to La Ventana would be a perfect opportunity to get out and have some fun on the water. Upon arriving, it quickly became clear that this was not the place to dabble in wind or kite surfing. Lessons and equipment rentals were expensive (costs were similar to those in Canada or the US), windsurfing equipment was hard to find (it’s all about the kiting in La Ventana), and the strong winds meant that we’d spend most of our time in, not on the water. Our lack of research had come back to bite us, and we wondered… what now?
It didn’t take long to discover that although it’s the windsports that draw people, La Ventana is a playground teeming with all sorts of other activities for outdoor enthusiasts. In this post, we’ll fill you in on our experience trying everything but windsurfing in La Ventana.
First… A Bit About La Ventana
La Ventana (which commonly refers to the area encompassed by the neighbouring villages of La Ventana and El Sargento) was originally a small Mexican fishing village. It was discovered as an excellent windsurfing destination by American tourists in the 1980s and since then, its renown for windsports has grown and the town has boomed with local and foreign investment.
Many of the travel websites for La Ventana describe it as a “quaint/small/quiet Mexican fishing village”. While there does seem to be an active local fishing industry, it’s no longer what characterizes the village – at least not during the winter and the peak of windsport season. When we visited in March, we were surprised to discover a hectic commercial strip running through the village, busy with vehicular traffic at all times of day and hopping with gringo tourists and ex-pats. Development along the main road caters to visitors with hotels, RV parks, restaurants, cafes, kite schools, and sports equipment rentals. This year during the month of February, it was so busy that the local ATMs ran out of cash, and the RV parks filled just about to capacity. We really enjoyed the vibes here and would highly recommend a visit, but don’t go expecting a quiet fishing village.
Ride and Hike the Trails
La Ventana has an excellent trail system with over 100 kilometres of easy and moderate-level trails for hikers and mountain bikers to explore. LaVAMBA (La Ventana Area Mountain Bike Association) oversees the maintenance of existing trails and the construction of new ones. The best way to find and explore the trails is with the Trailforks app – we would have been hopelessly lost without it. The best part about the trails – they’re all dog-friendly!
We explored the more challenging trails on the north side of the village on foot. The trails wind up into and along the mountains, providing spectacular views of the village, the sea, and Isla Cerrvalo. We would have spent all day, every day hiking these trails if it weren’t for the 30+ degree Celsius heat, which limited us to short, early morning and evening hikes with Walter, our Nordic mutt.
To explore the trails south of the village, we rented a mountain bike from the Cacachilas Bike Hub. The trails on the south side of the village were perfect, sandy single tracks, winding through an enchanting cactus forest. The Cardon Corridor was by far our favourite trail. We loved the experience so much it had us wishing we’d brought our bikes from home.
Stand Up Paddleboard in the Bay
SUPing is a popular activity in La Ventana. The wind doesn’t start blowing until about noon and most mornings, the water is calm and flat – perfect SUP conditions. The clear, aqua blue water provides good visibility to the ocean floor, which is a mix of sand, rocks, and coral reef. We spent hours on the SUP, staring into the water and discovering different types of colourful fish, exploring the cliffs, hotels, and houses along the shore, visiting the pelicans, and waving to other friendly SUPers. We even tried bringing Walter for a SUP ride… it lasted a brief 15 min before he decided he’d had enough.
Snorkel the Reef
There’s a coral reef located just a short swim off the main beach in La Ventana. It’s inhabited by all sorts of colourful fish, sea urchins (watch your fingers!), and plants. We spent 20-30 min exploring at a time, mesmerized by the seascapes. There was much more to explore if we’d had our wetsuits with us to keep us warm. For those willing to put in a little extra effort, Punta Gorda, accessible by trail on the north side of town, is known to be a great snorkeling spot.
Soak in the Natural Hot Tubs at Hot Spring Beach
Hot Spring Beach is located on the north side of the village. Here, hot water bubbles up from under the sand and rocks. Over time, people have built natural tubs out of the rocks, ready to use when the tide is just right (if you’re feeling ambitious, you can also build your own).
The perfect tub conditions are a combination of hot spring water and small amounts of tidal water. We arrived at the beach as the tide was coming in and moved from tub to tub looking for the perfect temperature. Sitting in a natural hot tub while staring out at the ocean was surreal. A note of caution – the spring water is very hot (burn your skin hot), so it’s important to test the water before hopping in. Walter wandered into a pool while we weren’t looking and learned this lesson the hard way (don’t worry – he was fine – bad pet parents).
Go Out for Food and Drinks
If you enjoy eating out, La Ventana has restaurants, bars, and cafes of all types. After weeks of wild camping and eating at taco stands, the establishments at La Ventana offered some of the foods and drinks we’d long been craving: woodfired pizzas, lattes, pastries, and real bread!
The only downside to eating out in La Ventana is the cost. International clientele and cuisine typically mean gringo prices – this is true just about anywhere and La Ventana is no exception.
Camp On the Beach
La Ventana has a camping option for everyone – from free wild beach camping in El Sargento to the full-service Tango Azul and Brisas Del Mar RV Parks for ~ $25 USD.
We spent two nights wild camping in El Sargento at the north end of the beach, which we had to ourselves except for 1 other distant RV. This spot had a rocky shore, excellent views, good access to the trails, and was within walking distance to Hot Springs Beach. We loved it but after a couple of days, the lack of sun and wind protection and the need for some services motivated us to move.
We relocated to Las Palmas – a new campground on a sandy beach, a short walk from the centre of the village. Las Palmas had everything we wanted and needed. For 250 pesos per night (~$13 USD), we had access to brand new washroom facilities, hot showers, water, and garbage cans. The soft sand, palm trees, and ocean view made it feel very tropical. It also seemed to attract friendly, interesting travelers, making it an excellent spot to meet people.
Watch the Kite and Wind Surfers
Just because you don’t practice a windsport, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy watching it. Every afternoon, the skies in La Ventana fill with beautiful, colourful kites. We spent many afternoons watching and admiring the kite surfers from our campsite. And if we had any regrets about our decision not to kitesurf, we just had to spot a beginner and watch them being dragged through the water down the beach.
- Cacachilas Bike Hub – for Bike Rentals and Gear
- Trailforks – app for Mountain Biking and Hiking Maps + Information
- iOverlander – app for Camping + Camping-Related Amenities in the Area