The estuary at the south end of Bahía Todos Santos is protected by a sharp, rocky peninsula that extends northwest and ends at a cape called Cabo Banda. The name Punta Banda is used to reference the peninsula, the cape, and a settlement on the bay.
A large-scale real estate development, including a golf course designed by Tiger Woods, has been in the works for several years but has made little progress to date.
If you miss the chance to see gray whales spouting offshore Punta Banda, this blowhole on the south side of the peninsula is not a bad substitute. A frequent stop on the tour bus circuit—and popular with locals as well—La Bufadora (The Snorter) creates a spectacular display as incoming swells push seawater into an underground canyon and out through a hole in the rocks. The resulting explosion of water and spray reaches heights of 25–30 meters.
The sight has been developed with a small visitor center and restrooms. A number of food vendors line the road to the parking area.
Dale’s La Bufadora Dive Shop (Rancho La Bufadora, tel. 646/154-2092, www.labufadoradive.com, open weekends or by appointment) is a multisport operation on tiny Bahía Papalote that offers panga fishing (US$35 pp, min. two people), unguided dive trips (US$35 pp, min. two people), and kayak rentals (US$20 per half day, US$30 per full day).
La Bufadora is an excellent place to begin a scuba-diving tour of the Baja Peninsula if you don’t mind cold water. Its pinnacles, kelp beds, and giant green anemones make for memorable dives. Conditions in the bay are best for intermediate to advanced divers, as there is a good amount of surge except on the calmest of days. Currents keep the water here a few degrees colder than temperatures in San Diego. You’ll need lots of neoprene or, preferably, a dry suit to be comfortable. You can rent gear and reserve a boat from Dale’s, or through the Almar dive shop (Macheros 149, tel. 646/178-3013, almardive [at] hotmail [dot] com) in Ensenada.
Another option for fishing is Vonny’s Fleet (tel. 646/154-2046, www.vonnysfleet.com, US$139/boat up to three people), which launches pangas from the beach at Punta Banda.
Camping and RV Parks
La Jolla Beach Camp (Km. 12.5, BCN 23, La Jolla, tel. 646/154-2005, US$15) is a large, basic park that faces Bahía de Todos Santos. Its 200 sites come with access to hot showers, boat ramp, tennis court, and dump station (no hookups, except for a few sites with electricity). The park also has its own market and restaurant.
Next door, smaller Villarino RV Park (Km. 13, BCN 23, La Jolla, Ensenada, tel. 646/154-2004, US$22–28) has a little more character, plus some of its sites have full hookups. The park has clean restrooms, hot showers, picnic tables, a boat ramp, boat rentals, restaurant, and market. The office is open daily 9 A.M.–noon and 1–5 P.M.
Three ejido-run campgrounds on the peninsula have restrooms and water but no other facilities (US$5).
You can walk to Dale’s La Bufadora Dive Shop from Rancho La Bufadora (tel. 646/178-7172, US$15), which overlooks Bahía Papalote. It has primitive campsites, and there are flush toilets and 24/7 security.
Getting to Punta Banda
To get to Punta Banda from Ensenada by car, follow Mexico 1 about 25 kilometers south to BCN 23, a right turn that comes before Maneadero. Take this road west through the retirement community of La Jolla and along the peninsula. The road will climb over the rocks and around to south-facing La Bufadora. A taxi ride from Ensenada to La Bufadora runs about US$15–20.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition