Mysterious, remote, and wild, the Baja Peninsula is for those looking to visit Mexico off the beaten path. The earth’s second-longest peninsula starts from the border of California and extends south, dotted with stunning vistas of the Pacific, mountains, and blue skies.

Fishing villages are a stark contrast to the beach-front resorts of Cabo San Lucas, where high-end restaurants and a booming nightlife are the norm. Nearby, see the white bell tower and mosaics at the Mission of San Jose del Cabo Church, founded in 1730. During the day you can fish, kayak, and walk along the sand, or hit the green at one of the golf courses. At the tip of the Baja Peninsula stands a craggy arch rock formation that attracts sea lions.

At night in the countryside beyond, the sky sparkles with stars that look like diamonds hanging over the cacti, some more than 500 years old. Dive in the Sea of Cortez and watch the grey whale mothers and calves migration. Whale sharks glide through the hazy waters while dolphins jump through the surf and parrot fish swim by. This is one of the most diverse bodies of water on the planet, with over 900 species of fish. Jacques Cousteau famously called it the “world’s aquarium.” Birds like herons and pelicans fly over the mangroves and sand dunes. Tranquil inlets surrounded with copper-hued mountains, free from the bustle of resorts, can be found in Balandra Bay. Designated a protected area by the Mexican government in 2012, the waters are crystal clear, perfect for snorkeling.

On land, Sierra de San Francisco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with hundreds of vivid ancient cave paintings in red, black, and white depicting bighorn sheep, pumas, and deer.

Food lovers will enjoy the variety of fresh sea food in Baja. Chocolate clams are so named for their brown shells, while octopus tostadas and scallop and yellowtail mango ceviche is found on the menu in the restaurants. Dig into a Baja taco with battered, fried fish, crunchy cabbage, and crema sauce. Sip on wine during a visit to Valle de Guadalupe. Mexico is home to the oldest wine making traditions in North America dating back to 1707.

The Baja Peninsula is geographically and culturally a world away from the rest of Mexico and holds an air of intrigue and raw natural wonders.