Language Classes & Academic Trips
Language Learning -- As a crossroads of Anglophone and Spanish-speaking cultures, Baja is a great place to study Spanish. La Paz and Ensenada are home to a number of language programs, some of which include homestays and tours. In La Paz, check out Study Abroad International (www.studyabroadinternational.com), Centro de Idiomas, Cultura y Comunicacion (www.cicclapaz.com), or Se Habla La Paz (www.sehablalapaz.com). In Ensenada, Baja California Language College (www.bajacal.com) and Center of Languages (www.spanishschoolbaja.com) offer full-immersion programs.
Photo Safaris -- Road Scholar (tel. 800/454-5768 in the U.S.; www.roadscholar.org) and Jim Cline photo tours (tel. 858/350-1314 in the U.S., or 877/350-1314; www.jimcline.com) organize Baja tours to some of the greatest photo ops, and help photographers make the most of them.
Art Tours -- Several tour companies organize guided tours to the missions and the ancient cave paintings of mid-Baja: Tour Baja (tel. 800/398-6200 and 707/942-4550 in the U.S.; www.tourbaja.com) and Mulegé Tours (tel. 615/153-0232; www.mulegetours.com; at the Las Casitas Hotel in downtown Mulegé). Baja Outback's 4-day Mission Trail Expedition (tel. 624/142-9200; www.bajaoutback.com) combines cave paintings with visits to the missions of Loreto, Mulegé, La Purisima, San Miguel, San José de Comondu, and San Javier.
For a look at some of Baja's present-day art, check out the art tours of San José and Todos Santos offered by Cabo San Lucas Tours (tel. 866/348-6286 in the U.S., or 800/822-4577; www.cabosanlucastours.net). Turista Libre (http://turistalibre.com) offers idiosyncratic walking and bike tours of Tijuana street art and galleries.
Adventure & Wellness Trips
Motorcycle Tours -- Cabo BMW Rentals, on Lázaro Cárdenas across from McDonald's in Cabo San Lucas (tel. 866/241-9899 in the U.S., or 624/143-2640; http://jimster.net/bmw_rentals/index.htm), offers guided and self-guided motorcycle tours around Southern Baja. A good resource for motorcyclists in B.C.S. (Baja California Sur) is the Cabo Loop Riders Guide, available for $25 through their website.
Outdoor Adventure -- Baja has as many tours into its natural wonders as there are wonders to explore. Mule treks, Humvee expeditions, ranch living, and beach camping are just a start; check out trips organized by Baja Expeditions (tel. 800/843-6967 or 858/581-3311 in the U.S.; www.bajaex.com), Tour Baja (tel. 800/398-6200 or 707/942-4550 in the U.S.; fax 707/942-8017; www.tourbaja.com), Natural Habitat Adventures (tel. 800/543-8917 or 303/449-3711 in the U.S.; www.nathab.com), Sea and Land Eco Tours (tel. 613/144-7294; http://loretoseaandland.com), and Baja Outback (www.bajaoutback.com). Baja Trek (tel. 619/937-1546 in the U.S., or 665/391-1682; www.bajatrek.com) organizes carbon-neutral surfing, hiking, and beach tours aboard their retrofitted school bus or in more comfortable vans.
Sea Kayaking -- The Sea of Cortez is one of the world's great kayaking locations, with a wealth of offshore islands to explore. Experts and beginners alike are welcome on trips by Sea Trek (tel. 415/488-1000 in the U.S.; fax 415/488-1707; www.seatrekkayak.com), Mountain Travel Sobek (tel. 800/227-2384, 888/687-6235, or 510/527-8100 in the U.S.; www.mtsobek.com), and Sea and Land Eco Tours (tel. 613/144-7294; http://loretoseaandland.com). In addition to Sea of Cortez trips, Sea Kayak Adventures (tel. 800/616-1943 or 208/765-3116 in the U.S.; fax 208/765-5254; www.seakayakadventures.com) has the exclusive permit to paddle Magdalena Bay's remote northern waters, and they guarantee gray whale sightings.
Surfing -- Baja's waves are world-famous, and whether you're a beginner or a veteran, this is a great place to hang ten. Baja Surf Adventures (tel. 800/428-7873 in the U.S.; www.bajasurfadventures.com) organizes trips to Northern, Central, and Southern Baja's Pacific coast; they do surfing lessons too. Baja Trek (tel. 619/937-1546 in the U.S., or 665/391-1682 in Mexico; www.bajatrek.com) organizes low-budget surf tours from its "hostel on wheels" that hit all Baja's major surfing sites. Women only need apply at Milagro Retreats' Surfari (tel. 866/373-4316; www.milagroretreats.com), a women's surf retreat in Todos Santos.
Yoga -- Spiritual wellness is a growth industry in Baja, and many yoga centers offer weeklong retreats centered on a daily schedule of yoga and meditative practice, often held at the off-grid Prana del Mar on the West Cape. Contact Prana del Mar directly, or go through Milagros Retreats (tel. 866/373-4316; www.milagroretreats.com).
Food & Wine Trips
All the wineries in Northern Baja offer tours and tastings by appointment or are open to the public. Local hotels can help arrange transportation to visit a few at a time, working in wine tastings, lunch, a cheese tasting and even a horseback ride. Talk to Casa Natalie (tel. 619/246-9772 or 646/174-7373; www.hotelcasanatalie.com) or Adobe Guadalupe (tel. 649/631-3098 in the U.S., or 646/155-2094; www.adobeguadalupe.com).
But Northern Baja's foodie destinations are also close enough to the border for a day trip from San Diego. Baja California Tours (tel. 858/454-7166 in the U.S.) offers a day tour of three wineries and lunch in the Guadalupe Valley. The Baja California Lobster Culinary Tour takes in tourist sights in Tijuana and Rosarito, with a lunch of guess what in Puerto Nuevo; contact Destination Store (tel. 866/431-1634 in the U.S.; www.destination-store.com) for details.
Volunteer & Working Trips
A variety of sea turtle conservation organizations offer visitors the chance to participate in nest monitoring and hatchling release in summer, and research and tagging year-round. Check out trips from Earthwatch (www.earthwatch.org) and Baja Expeditions (www.bajaex.com), as well as summertime activities at Zoetry Casa del Mar and Las Ventanas al Paraíso.
Discovering Baja's cities and towns from the inside is easier with a local who knows the turf and can open doors. Most of the companies listed under "Adventure & Wellness Trips" offer day trips from La Paz or Los Cabos. La Paz-based dive operator Fun Baja (tel. 612/106-7148; www.funbaja.com) offers walking tours of San José and Todos Santos, as well as the lesser-known villages of El Triunfo, near La Paz, and Pescadero, near Todos Santos, with offbeat stops like a silver smelter and a strawberry farm. Family-run Todos Santos Eco Adventures (tel. 619/446-6827 in the U.S., or 612/145-0189; www.tosea.net) will take you bird-watching, hiking, or walking along the cliffs and beaches near Todos Santos. Turista Libre's (http://turistalibre.com) offbeat cultural tours of Tijuana include art and architecture walks.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.