April 4, 2011

La Bufadora

The world's second largest marine geyser is located in Mexico. La Bufadora (the blowhole) can reach heights of 100ft (30.5m) with its frequent plumes of water. It is truly a spectacular sight, even more so when the rarity of the marine geyser phenomena is taken into account.

A particularly large spout happens at 1.10. Note how it sprays the camera, despite its position high above the crowds.

The effect is caused by a partially submerged sea cave. As the tide comes in, with the full force of the Pacific Ocean behind it, water is rammed into this cave. It collides with the air trapped in there and the pressure mounts. What goes in has to come out and so air and water burst through the first available exit. This is a blowhole located at the top. The ocean hits the blowhole like a jet-stream resulting in those amazing geyser explosions.

Very occasionally, an even more elusive phenomenom occurs. This is the double-bufa. As you might imagine from the name, that is a double spout in quick succession.

La Bufadora

La Bufadora is one of Mexico's natural wonders and it has long been a huge draw for tourists. It is located on Punta Banda Peninsula, Baja California (around 30km (20 miles) south of Ensenada), overlooking the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Coach tours frequently leave Ensenada to come here, taking in the wonderful sights of Bahia Todos Los Santos along the way. Many people choose to travel to the attraction in their own cars. It is a pleasant, scenic drive along the main Route 23, which ends in the car park here. The way is well signposted from all directions.

Pick any day of the year and La Bufadora is filled with people. They will all be screaming in delight, as ocean water towers into the air, then crashes back down again. It is perfectly safe, insofar as no-one is going to get dragged into the ocean by it. However, raincoats and umbrellas are recommended for those who do not wish to become soaked to the skin. (Personally, I think that getting wet is half of the fun! Just leave a set of dry clothes in the car and all is well.)

Cruise ships sail by, with some of them docking to allow their passengers to visit the marine geyser. Between December and March, there are also grey whales to view from this coast, as they migrate to and from their breeding lagoons.

La Bufadora

La Bufadora has been developed into a complex, which caters for thousands of tourists. There is a restaurant and the usual souvenir shops, along with comfort amenities and ample car parking. Much of the color is added by street vendors and the mercado (market), with stalls selling anything from corn snacks to cultural handicrafts.

Buskers and other performers keep the crowd entertained, as they shop or await another eruption from the famous blowhole. Once all spectacle is sated, then there are also serene and quite beautiful gardens to wander through.

La Bufadora Market
A stall at La Bufadora Market

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