Northern Baja: La Bufadora

Three hours south of San Diego hides a special place that time seems to have forgotten and even the sound of its name creates a sense of wonder: “La Bufadora.” There is contention regarding the name’s origin (translation: buffalo snort), but many believe it has a direct connection to the blowhole, the main attraction here. This captivating geyser regularly spouts seawater over 50 feet in the air, often spraying unsuspecting visitors. Reactions to this phenomenon can be quite comical.

While the blowhole may be a popular tourist attraction, La Bufadora’s most magical appeal is its ability to make time stop. A visit to La Bufadora is so much more than your average dive outing; it is the only way I have discovered to turn a two-day weekend into a full-blown vacation, packed with the perfect mix of diving, wonder, and relaxation. Picture this: You arrive at the campsite shortly after sunset. After setting up your tent on a cliff overlooking the ocean, you are hypnotized by the black, starry sky and the sound of the ocean rushing over the rocks below. You drift off to sleep in a blissful peace you can only truly understand if you have experienced it firsthand. You awaken to the birds chirping and the ocean’s call. Here, time is an afterthought; life’s stressors simply melt away.

Your dive days consist of waking up early, yet well rested. Dale’s Dive Shop (www.labufadoradive.com) is located a stone’s throw away from the campsite and will plan the dive schedules, dependant on ocean conditions and boat availability. Calling ahead prior to your visit is recommended. Directions to La Bufadora and services offered can be found on the website. I was extremely impressed by the staff’s friendly disposition and intimate knowledge of the local dive sites. These locals know the area well and have a sixth sense; they can feel in their gut which sites are best to dive each day. I was never disappointed by their recommendations.

A typical day consists of two boat dives ending around lunchtime, but may be followed up with additional shore dives if your heart desires. During my visits, I prefer spending my afternoons taking in the sights and sounds of the local Mexican shops and restaurants, located within a short walking distance from the campsite. Here you will find an abundance of friendly, hardworking locals who aim to please, offering everything from authentic Mexican cuisine to inexpensive keepsakes to share with friends and family. Negotiated prices are common.

While I hope many of you will be inclined to visit this top Pacific dive spot, several dives here fall into the “advanced” category with depths in excess of 100 feet and significant current and surge at certain sites. Disclaimers aside, “La Boof” offers something for every diver, from rookie to seasoned expert. Individuals prone to seasickness are encouraged to plan accordingly, due to the unforgiving nature of the local “panga” boats. Do not let this intimidate you.

La Bufadora diving is virgin and unspoiled, offering a virtual “cold water Caribbean,” with visibility ranging from 20-80 feet and temperatures in the 50s and 60s (F). The color here is endless, concurrent with the sheer abundance of sea life, ranging from sponge colonies to nudibranchs; sheer walls blanketed in starfish to huge canyons coated with urchins and anemones. Diving here is something very unique, reminiscent of a time when our oceans were not taken for granted, but were respected as a gift to be treasured by all.

I often wonder if many Americans are afraid, as I was, of driving in Mexico to explore the hidden wonders of Baja. While I cannot tell you that there is no risk involved with visiting a foreign country, I can share that my visits to La Bufadora have been well worth any perceived risk associated with crossing the border into the unknown. My experience tells me that all it takes to have a successful trip here is a trustworthy companion, the proper paperwork, and an adventurous spirit. May your trips to La Bufadora be as magical as mine have been.

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