This list of information sources contains books and articles which I have found interesting and useful. It is far from being complete in any sense. There are many other books on Baja which could be useful from both the tourist and historical points-of-view.
If you are aware of a book that you think should be listed here, please send me full information by email.Fred Metcalf (email@example.com)
- Baja California, Automobile Club of Southern California (www.aaa-calif.com).
The AAA tour book for Baja California.
Very useful for driving down the Baja highway, as well as containing general information on the peninsula. If you are new to traveling in Baja California, I would strongly recommend this book as your first priority in printed guides. It is loaded with useful information at a reasonable price. A new edition, revised and expanded, has appeared in late 2001. Many beautiful photos, route descriptions, hotel and campground listings, and maps of both regions and cities make this an outstanding value. A new feature in 2001, which I find especially pleasing, is the section on "Greatest Hits" - some of these places are not so easy for the short-term traveler to reach, but the pages are well worth perusing for future ideas.
A few other features of this tour book: highway signs, useful Spanish words and phrases, lots of travel hints tucked away in sidebars, highway distances and average temperatures.
This tour book is no longer available free to members, but is sold at a membership discount ($13.95). It is available to the general public for $18.95.
Note: A new edition was published in 2004. I haven't seen this newer edition, but it was built on the excellent edition of 2001.
As a companion to this tour book, the AAA map of Baja California is the best I've seen. A "must" for those traveling along the highways of Baja California (free to members and $3.95 for non-members).
Also new in 2001 is a "Greatest Hits" map of the northern triangle of Baja California. This is a plasticized fold-out with photos, general maps, suggested places to visit, restaurants and more. For the week-end visitor to the Tijuana-Ensenada-Tecate triangle this "map" might prove invaluable. It could serve as the guide for many week-end visits to the area. The price for AAA members is $4.95 and for non-members $7.95.
- Baja California Plant Field Guide, Norman C. Roberts, 1987, ISBN 0-9603144.
Natural History Publishing Co., P.O. Box 962, La Jolla, CA 92037.
Especially useful when driving through the deserts of Baja California.
- The Baja Adventure Book, Walt Peterson, 1987, ISBN 0-89997-076-1.
Wilderness Press, 2440 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704, (800)443-7227.
An excellent source for the diver, boater, RV'er, etc..
- Exploring Baja by RV, Walt and Michael Peterson, 1997, ISBN 0-89997-177-6.
Wilderness Press, 2440 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704, (800)443-7227.
I've not yet seen this book, but based on The Baja Adventure Book, I would expect it is a very useful addition to the Baja tourist literature.
- The Magnificent Peninsula, Jack Williams, 1989, ISBN 0-9616843-4-8.
H. J. Williams Publications.
Lots of details on the highways, cities, etc.. A fun book!
- Roadside Geology and Biology of Baja California, John Minch, Edwin Minch, and Jason Minch, 1998,
JMA Press, P.O. Box 4244, Mission Viejo, CA 92690-4244
Visit http://johnminchandassociates.com for more information and an order form. This book of 192 pages contains 192 photographs, 145 diagrams, glossary and references. The cover photograph is a spectacular shot of Puerto Balandra north of La Paz.
- Geología y Biología de Baja California; Una Guia Para El Camino , John Minch, Edwin Minch, Jason Minch, Jorge Ledesma-Vázquez [UABC], 2003,
JMA Press, P.O. Box 4244, Mission Viejo, CA 92690-4244
This book is a Spanish-language translation of the above entry, with some political changes and simplifications. The book is reported to be available at the end of July, 2003. It is planned to have some information appear on the website: http://johnminchandassociates.com
- Baja Handbook, Joe Cummings, 1994,
ISBN 1-56681-052-8, (2nd Ed.),
Moon Travel Handbooks, Chico CA, (800) 345-5473.
Part of Moon's Mexico guidebook series, with eight different regional guides to Mexico. A 3rd edition is scheduled for Spring, 1998.
More information is available at http://www.moon.com/catalog/baja.html
- Cabo Handbook, Joe Cummings, 1995,
ISBN 1-56691-028-5, (1st Ed.),
Moon Travel Handbooks, Chico CA, (800) 345-5473.
Another part of Moon's Mexico guidebook series.
More information is available at http://www.moon.com/catalog/cabo.html
- Under the Sea of Cortez (Early Underwater Exploration and Spearfishting), George Tsegeletos, 1998,
Professional Press, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-4371.
Diving experiences, from 1962 on, aboard the Marisla and predesessor dive boats.
- The Cave Paintings of Baja California (Discovering the Great Murals of an Unknown People), Harry W. Crosby, 1997,
Sunbelt Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 191126, San Diego, CA 92959-1126.
A "coffee table book" with lots of narrative and beautiful photographs.
- The Forgotten Peninsula; A Naturalist in Baja California, Joseph Wood Krutch, 1961.
W. Sloane Associates.
An interesting account of the peninsula before the highway was completed.
Note: This book was reissued by the University of Arizona Press in 1986. It should be available through bookstores.
- Woodall's Campground Directory, Woodall Publishing Co., Lake Forest, IL.
Check either the Western or North American editions for the section on Baja California. Contains ratings of RV parks and campgrounds.
- The People's Guide to Mexico, Carl Franz, ISBN 0-912528-15-X.
John Muir Publications, P.O. Box 613, Santa Fe, NM 87501.
A highly recommended book on traveling in Mexico. Fun to read and lots of great illustrations. Frequently updated editions.
- Into A Desert Place, Graham Mackintosh, 1988. Published by Graham Mackintosh, P.O. Box 1982, Lemon Grove, CA 91946 (hardcover) or W. W. Norton (paperback). ISBN 0-9626109-0-9.
The story of Graham Mackintosh's walk around the Baja Peninsula.
- Journey with a Baja Burro, Graham Mackintosh, 2001. Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA. ISBN 0-932653-41-3.
This time Graham describes his walk down the center of the peninsula, from Tecate to Loreto, with a burro. I've not read the book, but I did hear Graham talk about the trip, and I would expect the book to be both humerous and informative.
Nearer My Dog to Thee, Graham Mackintosh, 2003. See www.grahammackintosh.com/.
Graham's back -- this time in the Sierra San Pedro Mártir!
Marooned With Very Little Beer, Graham Mackintosh, 2008. See www.grahammackintosh.com/.
Stuck on a deserted island
. . .in the Sea of Cortez? Read about how Graham dealt with the situation!
- Almost an Island: Travels in Baja California, Bruce Berger, 1998, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ, ISBN 0-8165-1901-3.
Description from the publisher: "A treasure of stories from a land of opposites: desert and sea, sand and granite, pearls and swine, old and new."
An often witty view of Baja California - history, travel and stories of people and places. I would rate this as an excellent read!
- The Baja Catch: A Fishing, Travel & Remote Camping Manual for Baja California, 3rd Edition, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira, 1997. Apples & Oranges Publishers, P.O. Box 2296, Valley Center, CA 92082. ISBN 0-929637-05-4.
Available at bajadestinations.com. 293 pages softcover - $26.95.
"The classic Baja fishing guide. 60 large scale maps, 14 fishing calendars, how & where to fish, lures, rods, reels, launching, camping, driving down Mex 1, remote dirt roads, fish I.D., insurance & regulations, fishing Spanish, trip checklist."
- Spas & Hot Springs of Mexico, 2nd Edition, "Mexico" Mike Nelson, 1998. Roads Scholar Press, 11424 Killion St., Suite 7, N. Hollywood, CA 91601-2650. ISBN 1-889-48904-2. 220 pages, 5½ by 8½ format - $16.95.
While this book covers all of Mexico, there is a chapter covering Baja California. More information at the website: http://www.mexicomike.com.
- Live Better South of the Border, "Mexico" Mike Nelson, 1997. Roads Scholar Press, 300 Zapata St., Rancho Viejo, TX 78520. ISBN 1-889-48902-6. 168 pages, 5½ by 8½ format - $16.95.
As with the previous book, you'll find more information at the website: http://www.mexicomike.com.
- Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles Through Baja California, the Other Mexico, C. M. Mayo, 2002. ISBN 0-87480-740-9.
Note (June 2007): This book is now available in paperback from Milkweed Editions.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but, after reading it in February of 2003, I can say it's the best book I've ever read about Baja California.
This book is not a travelogue, it is not a detailed guidebook for tourists
. . .it is a collection of tales told by a superb story teller. Topics range, in time, from cave paintings to the assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio; and, in space, from San José del Cabo to the many faces of Tijuana.
Who was flying that first airplane into San José del Cabo? And what happened to him? Who was the Tomato King of San Quintín? What of the lives of the tomato pickers who come from the mainland? The questions can go on and on, but you'll find the answers in "Miraculous Air," and all told in some of the best writing I've ever had the pleasure to read.
The author's website: www.cmmayo.com.
- Baja Fever: Journeys into Mexico's Intriguing Peninsula, Greg Niemann, Leila Niemann (Photographer), January 1999. Mountain N Air Books. ISBN 1879415194. 352 pages, paperback - $19.50.
From the publisher:"
. . .the telling of experiences and lessons learned by a man, and his family and friends, during their many travels and stays in Baja California, México. BAJA FEVER - not a guidebook - is a delightful inlet into the lives and souls of Baja Californios, and the beautiful peninsula. Greg Niemann is of a third generation of a family inflicted with the contagious but benevolent fever. He tells of his experiences in a unique writing style, in a manner guaranteed to move the readers."
Baja Legends: The Historic Characters, Events, and Locations That Put Baja California on the Map, Greg Niemann, January 2002. Sunbelt Cultural Heritage Books. ISBN 0932653472. 260 pages, paperback - $17.95.
From the publisher:"Greg Niemann, long-time Baja California journalist and author of Baja Fever, shares his extensive knowledge of the peninsula--its colorful past and booming present--in this easy-to-read reference book.
"Get to know the 'founding fathers' of Baja, the padres, pirates, and pioneers who scratched a living from the desert and the sea, plus the world-famous faces and still-famous places that keep this tiny finger of land in the international spotlight.
"All of the pertinent history and lore, every one of the amazing Baja stories, fill the pages of Baja Legends to overflowing and make it a 'must have' for seasoned Bajaphiles as well as those who are planning their first trip south of the border."
- Best Stories of Baja, Larry Stanton, October 1998. Templeton Publishing. ISBN 0966666402. 173 pages, hardback - $14.00 (Amazon.com).
- Arriba! Baja: More of the Best Stories of Baja, Larry Stanton, Monica Turner (Illustrator) June 1999. Templeton Publishing. ISBN 0966666402. 190 pages, paperback - $14.00 (Amazon.com).
- Mexico - Adventures in Nature, Ron Mader, 1998, John Muir Publications, P.O. Box 613, Santa Fe, NM. ISBN 1-56261-340-5.
An ecotourism guide to all of Mexico, with a chapter on Baja California.
- Long Walk to Mulege, Howard Hale, 1980, Pinkerton Publishing. ISBN 0964018918, 119 pages, paperback - $9.95 (BarnesAndNoble.com)
A description provided by the author's daughter:"I am writing regarding a book written by my father, entitled Long Walk to Mulege, the account of his experiences when he, a friend and two burros did indeed walk from Ensenada to Mulege in 1921. In his book he describes the terrain, the people, their habitation, lifestyles, their encounters with some dangeous characters and much more, very graphically."
- You Decide Travel Guide series for a number of cities in Baja California, Brett Wyatt, 2002-2006, Riley Media Group LLC. Visit the website at: www.youdecidetravelguide.com/catalog/
From the author:"These comprehensive travel guides will give you all the information to have the complete baja experience. Luxury hotels with all the trimmings or camp on the beach, we give you the information, you decide how you want it - hence the name You Decide Travel Guide
"Each book contains all the hotels, restaurants, recreations and services for each town. With real ratings for all of the hotels, don't be let down by fake ratings on their homepages!"
- In the Shadow of the Volcano: One Family's Baja Adventure, Michael Humfreville, 2005, Sunbelt Publications (www.sunbeltpub.com/). ISBN 0-916251-75-6.
From the publisher:In the early 1970's, the author and his wife left their suburban home and jobs and headed to Baja California's Bahia de los Angeles. Living in a tiny hut they constructed on a remote beach, they bonded with each other and the special place they had found. In 1985 they did it again, this time taking their young sons, living in another beachside hut on the shore of the bay.
- One Hell of a Ride, Lou Federico, Adventure Publishing.
229 pages with photos - $20 including tax and shipping. Available from:Adventure PublishingFrom the author: "A true story of the building of Punta Chivato in 1965."
129 Egloff Circle
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 987-0764
- El Otro Mexico (Biografía de Baja California), Fernando Jordan, 1951, Biografías Gandesa, Mexico, D.F..
- Historia de Baja California, Pablo L. Martínez, 1956, Mexico, D.F..
Note: There is an English language translation of this book.
- The Unforgettable Sea of Cortez: Baja California's Golden Age 1947-1977: The Life and Writings of Ray Cannon, Gene S. Kira, 1999, Cortez Publications, Torrance, California. ISBN 0-9632188-2-4. 362 pages, $39.95.
A beautifully presented history of Ray Cannon and his influence on the tourism development of Baja California. Many pictures of places and people from the days before the tourist swarm hit Baja California. This book is a gem, and is recommended for all Baja California enthusiasts.
(Note: This book was named the "2000 Book Of The Year" by the Outdoor Writers Association of California.)
The following books offer a perspective on modern Mexico which should be useful to the non-Mexican seeking a deeper understanding of Mexico and its people.
- Distant Neighbors - A Portrait of the Mexicans, Alan Riding, 1989, Random House.
Written in the mid-80s, this book is somewhat of a tough read, but offers good insights into a complicated society.
- Bordering on Chaos, Andres Oppenheimer, 1998, Little, Brown and Company.
First written in 1996, and updated in 1998, this book was a much easier read for me. Lots of solid information on the still-unfolding events deriving from the Zapatista insurrection and the several prominent assassinations of the mid-90s.
- The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo - A Legacy of Conflict, Richard Griswold del Castillo, 1990, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK. ISBN 0-8061-2478-4
An interesting account of the Treaty settling the Mexican-American war, and the subsequent issues of land ownership and citizenship rights. The Gadsden Purchase is covered as well, and disputes which have continued into recent times.
- Mexico - Biography of Power (A History of Modern Mexico 1810-1996), Enrique Krauze (Translated by Hank Heifetz), 1997, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 10 East 53rd Street New York, NY 10022. ISBN 0-06-016325-9
A highly detailed account of Mexican history in about 850 pages.
- Alfonsina: A Baja Legend, Maureen and Danny Motola, 2003, Mystery and Suspense Press, ISBN 0595291651
From the listing on Amazon.com:
Baja, the last frontier. We had studied it, researched it, talked to the local Port Captain in San Felipe to obtain documentation for our 24-foot cruiser, Snoopy II, and now we were ready to do it; cruise the Sea of Cortez. The locals recommended that we begin our trip at the end of May. "Los vientos van a calmar." They said, "The winds will be calmer then." They lied.
After two days of fighting headwinds, we entered the bay of San Luis Gonzaga. Cabins, perched on the edge of the beach like seagulls, peeked out from under thatched palapas. We drew closer and spotted what we were looking for, a fuel shack.
Ashore, we saw a Cantina, and a pleasant looking woman. "En que puedo servirles?" She said with a great smile. "How can I help you?" Big brown eyes sat on top of two rosy cheeks.
Dan answered her in perfect Spanish and her eyes danced with mischief, and we instantly fell in love with Alfonsina Urquidez Valencia.
- The Central Desert of Baja California: demography and ecology, Homer Aschmann, 1959, The University of California Press. (Reprinted 1967, Manessier Pub. Co., Riverside, CA.)
- The Evolving Landscape, Homer Aschmann's Geography, Edited by Martin J. Pasqualetti, 1997, The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-5310-9.
A partial collection of Homer Aschmann's writings, with a section on Baja California. (There are two of Homer Aschmann's writings to be found on these Baja California Information Pages.)
- National Geographic, December 1989. Article on Baja California.
- A Dying Sea; Sacramento Bee writer Tom Knudson and photographer José Luis Villega first wrote about the decline in the general environment of the Sea of Cortez in 1995:
An updated report (July, '99) may be found at
- King of the Moon: A Novel of Baja California, Gene Kira, 1997. Apples & Oranges Publishers, P.O. Box 2296, Valley Center, CA 92082. ISBN 0-929637-03-8.
Available through www.amazon.com. 342 pages hardcover - $21.95.
"A tiny Baja fishing village and its people.'Best Mainstream Novel' -- San Diego Book Awards Association.
'Truly touches the Mexican soul' -- Victor Villasenor.
'Excellent' -- Rudolfo Anaya.
'A charmer' -- Major Film Studio.
'Delicious slice of life' -- San Diego Writer's Monthly."
- Troubled Sea, Elizabeth Maul Schwartz, 2000. iUniverse.com, Incorporated, ISBN 0-595-14513-2.
Available through www.Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. $14.95
From the author:
"Hetta and Jenks Jenkins live a life many only dream of aboard their forty-two foot boat in Mexico's hauntingly beautiful Sea of Cortez. They have dropped from corporate life, away froms cars, televisions and telephones, to cruise the solitary sea. But their chosen sea has a serpent: Mexico's burgeoning drug trade. After witnessing a drug deal gone wrong, they set off a deadly chain of events that lands them in a sea of intrigue involving a best friend, the Mexican Federal Police, the DEA, U.S. Coast Guard, and a drug cartel."
ftm: The author's description is an accurate description of this novel. I found the book interesting both from the entertainment point-of-view and as a vehicle for discussing the problems of illegal drugs being shipped through Mexico.
- The Texicans, Elizabeth Maul Schwartz, 2000. Maddog Press, Sierra Vista, AZ 85635, ISBN 0-9677505-0-4.
Available through www.Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. $21.95
Also by the author of Troubled Sea, this book is an historical novel dealing with the early days of settlement of that territory later called Texas. While not dealing with Baja California, I found this book an interesting one in understanding the interactions of settlers and the government of Mexico, all of which eventually lead to the secession of Tejas from Mexico, war with the United States, and an immense loss of Mexican land to the United States.
- Eye of the Whale, Cliff Nickerson , 2000. iUniverse.com, Incorporated, ISBN 0-595-15158-2.
Available through www.Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. $13.95
From the author's website:
"Eye of the Whale is a mystery novel in which migrating gray whales, those gentle giants of the Pacific, attract a highly respected university professor to a sleepy lagoon on the western shores of Mexico, a lagoon only recently saved from a massive development project. A nearly fatal attack on his daughter's life and the search for the whereabouts of the professor leads the reader on a dangerous chase in which the hunters become the hunted when the conspiracy - an insidious plot of remorseless revenge - is uncovered. At times poignant, the characters portray events which are not entirely fictional."
Murder In La Paz, Murdoch Hughes, 2004. Hard Shell Word Factory, ISBN 0-7599-3478-9.
Murdoch Hughes signing copies of "Murder In La Paz" for his fans
Available through the website MurderInLaPaz.com/
Print version: $10.95
eBook version: $5.50
"Rick Sage rides his Harley down Mexico's Baja peninsula to the desert-by-the-blue-sea oasis of La Paz, a peaceful place with incredible sunsets. Needing a rest from investigating big-city crime, he finds love and refuge beneath orange trees and lipstick-red bougainvillea.
"When his girl friend, Antiay, is murdered, turning his sunsets to blood red, Sage rides his rumbling Harley along the Cardon cactus-lined highway, crossing the peninsula from the Sea of Cortez to Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific coast. Uncovering a scorpions' nest of high-stakes crime infesting the peaceful fašade of La Paz, he also begins to unravel Antiay's involvement and her not-so-innocent secret past."
Death Mask of the Jaguar , Murdoch Hughes, 2004. Hard Shell Word Factory.
Available in January, 2005.
"Death Mask of the Jaguar" is the second book in the Rick Sage Mystery Series.
- Baja Boaters Guide, Jack Williams, 1988, ISBN 0-9616843-2-1.
H. J. Williams Publications.
A two volume set by the author of The Magnificent Peninsula.
- Baja California Cruising Notes, Vern Jones (additions, corrections and editing by Louis Gerlinger), 1974 (reprinted and updated in 1980).
Willamete Pacific Marine Corp., P.O. Box 6350, San Diego, CA 92106.
I have not seen this volume in the boat stores for a number of years.
- Mexico Boating Guide, Captains John Rains and Patricia Miller, 2010, 2nd Ed..
The authors are well-known delivery captains. John Rains wrote a bi-weekly column in the San Diego Log for many years. His focus in those columns was that of traveling the Pacific Coast on a great variety of boats. From the authors:Mexico Boating Guide is for yacht cruisers, and it covers every inch along the outside of Baja, both sides of the Sea of Cortez and down the mainland to Puerto Chiapas. Free anchorages, marinas, haul-out yards, fuel docks, hazards, Port Clearance, boardings, provisioning, radio frequency guide for weather, etc.. Mexico Boating Guide is 272 pages, full color.Check the authors website at mexicoboating.com
Note: This book replaces the out of print version "Boating Guide to Mexico - West Coast Edition" (1996).
- Charlie's Charts - The Western Coast of Mexico (including Baja), Charles E. Wood, 1982, ISBN 0-9691412-0-3.
An excellent source of information on the anchorages of the entire western coast of Mexico. A new version has been published as of October, 1996.
- Sea of Cortez: A Cruiser's Guidebook, Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer, 2008, 312 pages (hardcover), ISBN 978-0980090109. Blue Latitude Press. From the author's website exploringcortez.com:
"Sea of Cortez - A Cruiser's Guidebook, is the most up to date, comprehensive guide detailing the remote and pristine anchorages of the Baja peninsula and Mexican mainland within the Sea of Cortez.
"The harbors and anchorages listed in this guide are illustrated with over 100 GPS accurate chartlets, derived from satellite photography and first-hand exploration. GPS waypoints, along with prime anchorage locations, accompany each chartlet.
"Important cruising information such as weather, HAM and SSB radio nets, customs and immigration information, marina locations and layouts, fuel availablity, boat haulout facilities and marine chandleries are among many of the features detailed throughout this guide. And because cruising doesn't stop when the hook is dropped or the docklines are made fast, also included are city maps, grocery store locations, hiking trails, dive and snorkel sites and more.
"Sample itineraries have been included, based on different schedules to help you make the most out of your time while boating within the Sea of Cortez.
"Vivid color photography, illustrating the serene beauty and life of the Sea of Cortez, makes this book not only a valuable aid to mariners, but also a fantastic way to plan your next trip or just to daydream of sunny days in the Sea of Cortez."
- Keep It Moving - Baja By Canoe, Valerie Fons, 1986, ISBN 0-89886-101-2.
The Mountaineers, 306 2nd Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119.
A wonderful story of two people canoeing around the Baja California peninsula.
- Sea Kayaking In Baja, Andromeda Romano-Lax, 1993, ISBN 0-89997-157-1.
Wilderness Press, 2440 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704, (510)843-8080.
Useful guide for kayak trips in many Baja California areas.
- Wind - Water - Sun (A Solo Kayak Journey Along Baja California's Desert Coastline), Ed Darak, 1998 (To appear in March, 1998).
For more information visit http://www.wind-water-sun.com