Baja has inspired authors for generations. Baja Books are as diverse as the peninsula itself. As Baja cruise and Baja travel experts we are often asked, “what are the best books about Baja California?” Our experts share their favorite Baja California guide books, field guides, maps and adventure books in this comprehensive Baja reading list.

IN THIS POST: BAJA BOOKS
Best Baja Books – Essential Reading
Books About Baja California – Recommended Reading
Baja Field Guides
Baja Travel & Guide Books
Baja Maps
Baja Resources

Best Baja Books – Essential Reading

There are so many great books it is difficult to narrow down the best. Our selection of the best Baja books are essential reading for anyone considering a visit to Baja. Hand selected by former naturalist guides these are the best books about Baja California.

The Log from the Sea of Cortez

John Steinbeck

The classic account of a collecting trip to the Sea of Cortez with marine biologist Ed Ricketts, first published in 1941. Subtitled “A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research,” this much-loved book captures the wonders of the Gulf of California and the joys of discovery.

The Forgotten Peninsula, A Naturalist in Baja California

Joseph Wood Crutch

A classic portrait and celebration of the plants, landscapes and history of Baja. Naturalist Ann Zwinger called this book “a delightful narrative of natural history exploration at its best.” It’s a classic.

Almost an Island: Travels in Baja California

Bruce Berger

Long frequented by pirates and haunted by pariahs, Baja California has become a favorite destination for whale watchers, hikers, and scuba divers. For Bruce Berger it has been more. In Almost an Island, he takes readers beyond the Baja of guidebooks and offers a wildly entertaining look at the real Baja California.

The Desert Islands of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez

Stewart Aitchison

A biologist, geologist and naturalist on Baja expedition cruises, Stewart Aitchison brings experience — and a large photo library — to this well-illustrated natural history.

Whales and Other Marine Mammals of California and Baja

Tamara Eder

Photographs, maps, identification and natural history are all covered in this handy guide featuring color illustrations by Ian Sheldon.

The further you explore the magnificent peninsula the more Baja California books you want to read. Take a deeper dive in to books about Baja with this list of further recommended reading. These books cover a variety of topics including personal memoirs, scientific expeditions, novels and natural history. These Baja books are a great companion to Baja small ship cruise or Baja vacation package.

Baja Legends

Greg Niemann

Regional expert Niemann collects and shares the colorful history and lore of Baja California in this engaging,
easy-to-read reference book.

The Labyrinth of Solitude

Octavio Paz

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. These essays by the Nobel Prize-winning poet address Mexican culture and character. The chapters on the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead and the conquest are especially memorable.

Baja Fever: Journeys into Mexico’s Intriguing Peninsula

Greg Niemann

“The Baja Fever contains some very good, punchy writing about the author’s varied journeys through Baja. The reader can follow the author’s personal growth as he describes a lifelong love affair with Baja.”— Gene Kira, author Baja-based novel King of the Moon.

Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles Through Baja California, the Other Mexico

C. M. Mayo

Like Steinbeck (from whom she quotes in the title “the very air here is miraculous”), Mayo is enchanted with the land and people of Baja. She writes of a 1,000-mile journey from Cabo to Tijuana with insight, warmth and style.

The Desert Year

Joseph Wood Krutch

Joseph Wood Krutch celebrates the austere beauty, rugged plants and many animals of American Southwest in this classic account of his first year in Arizona, winner of the 1954 John Burroughs Medal for a Distinguished Book of Natural History — and as enchanting today. With 33 original illustrations by Rudolf Freund.

The Whales Know, Travels Along the Baja California Peninsula

Pina Cacucci

A humorous and humble travelogue by writer-explorer Cacucci. He travels the length of Baja California revisiting sites seen by John Steinbeck, but becomes enamored with all things whale.

The Girl of the Sea of Cortez

Peter Benchley

A heartwarming, eco-conscious novel about a young woman and her sixth-sense for ocean wildlife. Benchley’s protagonist, Paloma, discovers a secret ocean animal in a sea full of beauty, danger and adventure. First published in 1983.

Telling Our Way to the Sea

Aaron Hirsh

Biologist and director of the Vermilion Sea Field Station, Aaron Hirsh recounts his adventures underwater and among the islands of the Sea of Cortez with biologist wife Veronica Volny, historian friend Graham Burnett and students in this series of wondrous essays.

King of the Moon: A Novel of Baja California

Gene Kira

King of the Moon will enchant you with its cinematic portrait of Baja California fish camp life, its vivid descriptions of the desert and sea, its vibrant fishing scenes, and most of all, its deeply explored, truly unforgettable characters.

Oasis of Stone: Visions of Baja California Sur

Bruce Berger, Miguel Angel De La Cueva

Gorgeous full-color photography by award-winning photographer Miguel Angel de la Cueva, and evocative text by Bruce Berger, bring the southern half of Baja California to life. Beginning with its unique geology, and moving on to the coastal, desert, and mountain ecosystems of Mexico’s little-known peninsula, this lush coffee-table book highlights the flora and fauna of the region.

Best Baja Field Guides

Only a region as diverse, and as loved, as Baja California can have this many field guides. Our experts, former naturalist guides themselves, present the best Baja field guides. Learn and appreciate Baja nature, wildlife, marine biology and geology. These Baja California field guides will help you identify plants and animals throughout the peninsula.

Whales and Other Marine Mammals of California and Baja

Tamara Eder

Photographs, maps, identification and natural history are all covered in this handy guide featuring color illustrations by Ian Sheldon.

A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes, From Alaska to California

Larry G. Allen, Luiz A. Rocha, Valerie A. Kells

Capturing the stunning variety of fish common to the coastlines of the western USA and Canada, this illustrated, scientific field guide profiles 700 species with over 950 illustrations. Descriptions detail range, distribution and taxonomy.

Baja California Plant Field Guide

Norman C. Roberts, Jon Rebman

We can’t imagine a walk through the deserts and islands of Baja California without this book in hand. With hundreds of color photographs illustrating 715 plants of the region, this superb field guide also includes short introductory chapters on vegetation, geology and climate. This expanded third edition was revised by Jon Rebman, botanist at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert

Arasona-Sonora Desert Museum

Covering southeasternmost California, much of southern and central Arizona, most of Baja California, and much of the state of Sonora, Mexico, the Sonoran Desert is home to an extraordinary variety of plants and animals. A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert takes readers deep into its vast expanse, looking closely at the relationships of plants and animals with the land and people, through time and across landscapes.

Baja, Sea of Cortez, Marine Mammal Guide

Rainforest Publications

A double-sided, laminated field guide illustrating the whales, dolphins and other marine mammals of the Sea of Cortez and Pacific coast of Baja.

Sea of Cortez Marine Invertebrates: A Guide for the Pacific Coast, Mexico to Ecuador

Alex Kerstitch

Each of the 283 species is illustrated with a color photo. The text for each species includes description, size, habitat and distribution. Recommended for biologists, divers, snorkelers, naturalists and students.

The Edge of the Sea of Cortez, Tidewalker’s Guide to the Upper Gulf of California

Marilyn Malone, Betty Hupp

Lavishly illustrated in the tradition of Dorling Kindersley’s reference books, The Edge of the Sea of Cortez: Tidewalkers’ Guide to the Upper Gulf of California is the only guide to the diverse sea creatures that can be observed along the rocky shores of the Gulf of California.

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Jonathan Alderfer, Jon L. Dunn

This fully revised edition of the best-selling North American bird field guide is the most up-to-date guide on the market. Perfect for beginning to advanced birders, it is the only book organized to match the latest American Ornithological Society taxonomy.

A Field Guide to Mexican Birds

Roger Tory Peterson, Edward L. Chalif

With more than 700 color paintings arranged by families for quick comparison of similar species, and with detailed information on range, habitat, size, and voice, this field guide describes and illustrates 1,038 species of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador.

Handbook of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of the World

Mark Carwardine

The most authoritative reference guide to every cetacean species and subspecies in the world. Handbook of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of the World is the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to these popular mammals.

Mexico Field Guide, Baja California Sea and Shore Birds

Rainforest Publications

This beautifully illustrated, double-sided laminated card depicts 60 commonly encountered birds of coastal Baja California and the Sea of Cortez.

Mexico Pacific Marine Guide, Pacific Coast

Rainforest Publications

A perfect pocket guide to take along while exploring Mexico’s Pacific Coast and Sea of Cortez. It accordions out out to give you detailed, full color, scientifically accurate illustrations of the marine mammals, reef fish, sport fish, and sea turtles you’ll see.

Baja, Sea of Cortez Reef Fish Field Guide

Rainforest Publications

Everything you could possibly see above or below the waterline you can identify with these guides.If your plans include visits Baja, you will find these guides useful

Best Baja Travel & Guide Books

Even when you book with an award wining travel company like AdventureSmith Explorations, a good Baja guide book can enhance your experience with history, science, background information and travel insights. There are too many Baja guidebooks to count. Our Baja travel experts highlight the best Baja guide books for your next adventure.

Moon Baja: Tijuana to Los Cabos (Travel Guide)

Jennifer Kramer

Wild ocean, rugged desert mountains, and a wealth of culinary delights: Immerse yourself in this colorful peninsula with Moon Baja. Inside you’ll find: Strategic itineraries, the top activities, the best local flavors, road trips, honest advice from local tour guide Jennifer Kramer. Full-color photos and detailed maps throughout.

Off-Trail Adventures in Baja California: Exploring Landscapes and Geology on Gulf Shores and Islands

Markes E. Johnson

Off-Trail Adventures in Baja California describes—and maps and illustrates—nine hikes along outcrops on islands and peninsular shores where geography, geology, and ecology meet in singular ways. Each spot tells a story about the nature of the place—the cumulative effects of millions of years of natural forces at work.

Magnificent Peninsula: The Comprehensive Guidebook to Mexico’s Baja California

Jack Williams, Patty Williams

he Magnificent Peninsula is a comprehensive guide that covers all of Mexico’s Baja California and its areas of interest.

Cruising Guide to the Lower Gulf, Sea of Cortez

Gerry Cunningham

This Guide covers the east coast of Baja from Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Escondido, where it overlaps the Cruising Guide to the Middle Gulf. It includes the anchorages on the islands of Cerralvo, Espiritu Santo, Partida, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Santa Catalina, Monserrat, and San Cosme.

The Baja Highway: A Geology and Biology Field Guide for the Baja Traveler

John Minch, Thomas Leslie, Edwin Minch

This book is written for the enjoyment of the average person who has an interest in the natural surroundings and almost unique geology and biology of the Baja California Peninsula.

Baja California Missions, In the Footsteps of the Padres

David Burkhalter

With gorgeous photographs and useful descriptions that include both historical backgrounds and contemporary driving directions, Baja California Missions is both a photography book and a guidebook.

The Rough Guide to Baja California

Jason Clampet

While old and out of date as a guidebook, we love the Rough Guide to Baja California for its added insight into history, culture and nature of Baja. There is plenty of practical advice on a range of outdoor activities including: trekking, surfing, whale-watching and sport fishing.

Baja Adventure Book

Walt Peterson

A where-to, how-to guide to one of the most interesting places on earth, describing the full spectrum of adventure available in Baja California, Mexico. Scuba diving, hiking, backpacking, fishing, boating, bicycling, and windsurfing are just some of the exciting activities covered. THE guide to outdoor activities in Baja.

Best Baja Maps

Many travelers still appreciate a paper map to inspire, plan and track their travels. These Baja maps help you track your route and learn more about the environment, wildlife, history and science of Baja California. Bonus: these maps work in remote locations, where there is no wifi.

National Geographic Adventure Map Pack Bundle

National Geographic Maps

The National Geographic Adventure Baja Map Pack is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to travel in the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. The Map Pack includes two Adventure maps that cover the entire peninsula. Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

National Geographic Adventure Map, Baja California Sur (South)

National Geographic Maps

National Geographic’s Baja South Adventure Map covers with unparalleled detail the state of Baja California Sur, in more sparsely populated southern half of the peninsula are some of the Gulf of California Islands. Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

National Geographic Adventure Map, Baja California North

National Geographic Maps

National Geographic’s Baja North Adventure Map covers with unparalleled detail the state of Baja California and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California. Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

Mexico: Baja California International Travel Reference Map

International Travel Maps

A waterproof and double-sided road map of Baja California Peninsula to plan your trip, to prepare your itinerary, and to travel independently in this Northwest Mexican region.

Baja California Road and Recreation Atlas

Benchmark Maps

The first edition Baja California Road & Recreation Atlas showcases the diverse recreation opportunities found along the full length of the Baja California Peninsula.

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Have a favorite Baja book that is not listed here? Have a question or comment about our Baja California book recommendations? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.