In sharp contrast to the desert scrub, prickly cactus and volcanic rock that completely surround the area, the palm covered oasis of San Ignacio is a welcome sight to travelers. The date palms and some citrus orchards were planted by the Jesuits, who built a mission here in 1728. A whale skeleton on Highway 1 marks the halfway point on the long drive from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas and also marks the turnoff into the small town of San Ignacio.
The beautiful lagoon on the road into town is actually part of the Rio San Ignacio, one of only two real rivers in the entire state of Baja California Sur. The lagoon looks more like a lake than a river and is a reminder of how dry much of the rest of Baja really is. There is a small restaurant (snack bar) on the shore which is a pleasant spot to enjoy a snack and a cold drink.
The church that is the major attraction of this small village, was built by Dominican missionaries and completed in 1786. The church was constructed entirely of volcanic rock that is so prevalent in the area. San Ignacio is very small, even by Baja standards, with a population of less than 1500. The church dominates the town square that makes up the major portion of the town. The San Ignacio town square is great place to stop, after a long drive, and grab a taco, maybe some refreshing ice cream or to have a pleasant picnic in the shade.
San Ignacio is the gateway to the whale watching area of the distant (40 miles) Laguna San Ignacio on the shores of the Pacific ocean. This area is the only lagoon visited by the California gray whales, that is still undeveloped. Whale watching tours can be arranged at the plaza. Another activity, based in San Ignacio, that is rapidly gaining in popularity is an excursion to the cave paintings of San Francisco de la Sierra. Tours to the cave paintings may also be arranged in the plaza in San Ignacio.