Photo Essay: The Search for Raw Baja, From Cabo to the Sea of Cortez
Photographer Christian Ramirez and friends explore Mexico’s Baja California to shoot CamelBak’s new spring line among their source of inspiration
On the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula sits Cabo San Lucas. Depending on who you ask, it’s either the epicenter of spring break nightlife or the gateway to remote white sand beaches, secret point breaks, and hidden waterfalls. We went for the latter.
On assignment to document the CamelBak spring 2023 collection of bottles and drinkware in the very locations that inspired their vivid colorways for the season, we assembled a small but stacked crew to seek out the region’s untouched beaches, picturesque lagoons, and vibrant sunsets.
Our team consisted of Christian Ramirez, an outdoor and adventure photographer with a background as a pro surfer, outdoors-centered chef Brian Lee, and Lexi Kaili, an environmentalist and expert in all things fishing. At the center of this Venn diagram was a shared love of adventure and a passion for sustainability.
Many of us had been to Baja before, on surf trips and to camp at remote destinations, but this was our collective first time in Cabo. At first glance, it was what we expected—a tourist Mecca with palm tree-lined golf courses and seaside resorts blocking out the beaches. But as I said, we were there to see a different side of Baja Sur. Our little house on the edge of town provided the first taste, but what we found beyond—by way of our 1993 Toyota 4Runner rental rig—delivered the whole enchilada.
Venturing out into rural Baja, we navigated rugged coastlines in search of iconic settings for our photo shoot—and a few waves here and there in the process. We traveled north along the Pacific and east to the Sea of Cortez, finding distinct characteristics and breathtaking beauty unique to each region.
"Beyond the frenzied resorts full of tourists seeking only a suntan, a more raw Baja exists for those willing to seek it out."
We chartered a boat and spearfished in the Cortez, one of the richest bodies of water in the world home to over 2,000 species of marine life and more than 900 species of fish. This is where Lexi came alive, sharing her vast knowledge of local fish and their environment. And in our final hours, we happened upon a remote river and inland waterfall complete with vibrant trees and lush plants surrounding the oasis—a stark contrast to the cactus-filled landscape we'd been traveling through and a welcome way to cap off the trip.
Baja holds a special place in our hearts, as it no doubt does for many that have been fortunate enough to visit. Beyond the frenzied resorts full of tourists seeking only cheap drinks and a suntan, a more raw Baja experience exists for those willing to seek it out. It's the fresh lobster you buy from a local fisherman, the street tacos found on a rural dirt road, and the rugged beauty of an arid landscape that make the place unlike any other.