DESTINATION: BAJA SUR
An interview with Bill Boyce
By Ali Lohrman
On June 26th 2015, Solomon’s Landing Restaurant in Cabo San Lucas hosted a celebration for the a culmination of the filming of the travel and fishing documentary/reality series Destination: Baja Sur. Executive Producer and Host Bill Boyce and his crew filmed their adventures and experiences while traveling down the southern half of the Baja Peninsula.
Bill Boyce and Associate Producer Bryan Solomon joined in this venture to show the world the mystical and rugged beauty of Baja California Sur. Destination: Baja Sur will air in January 2016 before the eyes of 128 million viewers in the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, Central America and Africa. This international exposure is very exciting for Los Cabos and Baja California Sur.
Destino Magazine’s intention is to provide essential information to visitors so they have the best vacation experience possible, as well as to share the local culture and beauty. It seems that Destination: Baja Sur has the same intention as we do, to show the world how magical Baja California Sur is. We enjoyed chatting with Mr. Boyce as he shared his passion for the Baja.
Bill Boyce, tell me a bit about yourself; what is your background?
I was born and raised in Southern California. My family had boats since the day I was born, so boating, camping and fishing were always a big part of my life. This created in me at a very early age the addiction to the sport of fishing, and I decided that I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. At 13 years old, I decided that I wanted to go to college and get a bachelor’s degree in Fisheries Science. I did so, and I worked as a Federal Fisheries Biologist for 16 years. Television and photography never entered my mind as a lifestyle or a career choice. I always had a very good time doing what I did. I spent four years in Alaska, then Colorado, Oregon, Tahoe, and 12 years at Scripps Institute of Oceanography for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission as a tuna biologist. That’s what really got me into marine fisheries.
In the middle of all that, while I was in between jobs in 1980, I brought a little travel trailer down to Bahía de los Ángeles. I thought I was just going to take a four week vacation, but in those four weeks I absolutely fell in love with Baja, with its people and with its culture. I thought to myself, this is life changing. I then leased a piece of land and left my trailer. I started coming down with my parents, who also fell in love with Baja, and we eventually towed their trailer all the way to Los Barriles. Those Baja trips were the most memorable times I spent with my parents. They’re both gone now, but every time I come down here, they’re with me.
How many times would you say you’ve driven the Baja?
I can’t even remember how many times, it’s been hundreds of thousands of miles from 1980 to now! And in the early years the roads were like Swiss cheese, there was no gas, no ice, and no hot showers. The road now is impeccably maintained compared to those days. There now are plenty of gas stations and convenient stops everywhere.
How is the road now after Hurricane Odile last September?
It’s in great shape, there is only one 1.5 mile stretch of dirt road north of La Paz, but it’s very well grated, we even towed a boat down. On Destination: Baja Sur we wanted to show a different Baja experience, other than flying down and taking a taxi to a hotel. We drove down with all our gear, towed a boat, made many stops and filmed the show’s episodes in different places. The members of our crew that were driving the Baja peninsula for the first time thought that it was magical. It’s the same thing that happens to every one of us, you get bit by the “Baja bug.” We got to film it and to share it with the world.
Do you have any tips, recommendations or “must-sees” for people driving down the Baja?
Definitely have a well maintained vehicle, though the roads are not the issue they were 20 years ago certainly do bring a spare tire, maybe an extra fan belt and make sure all your fluid levels are up. I don’t recommend driving at night, as there are cattle on the roads and that’s when the semi-trucks drive. Plus, you don’t want to drive at night because you don’t want to miss the scenery! It’s too beautiful to miss anything when it’s dark. Give yourself plenty of time because you’re going to stop, you’re going to take photographs. Don’t be afraid to stop in cafes and restaurants to enjoy the local cuisine and culture. Spread the money and the love around and you’ll have a much more full-framed view about what the Baja is all about.
I really see a boom in Baja if they finish paving the last 22 miles of dirt road that takes you from MEX 5, which originally goes from San Felipe to Gonzaga Bay, to MEX 1. You would have a beautiful road from Mexicali, it will be quicker and it will open the Baja area for Arizona and Las Vegas, people who avoid the Baja because they don’t want to drive all the way to San Diego.
How did the idea of Destination: Baja Sur come about, what inspired you?
I’ve always wanted to turn my friends on to Baja. Every time they come down here, it changes their lives. This is how magical it is. When I began doing television production, I thought that it would be very cool to do some shows on Baja. We had been doing a series called IGFA Anglers Digest, which has been on the Sportsman Channel and the World Fishing Network, and the Los Cabos Tourism Board sponsored us for the last few years. With our love for Baja, we felt like we should do a whole series here. We pitched Destination: Baja Sur to the World Fishing Network about three years ago, and after we shot and submitted the pilot they got on board, financed a network show and named it Bill Boyce’s Baja. It immediately became one of the top-rated shows on the WFN. They offered us to continue with another season, but we decided to move on and do our own show. Destination: Baja Sur is now on NBC Sports to 80+ million homes, Pursuit Channel to 40+ million, as well as the World Fishing Network with 8+ million subscribers and Wild TV Africa, putting us at 128 million homes. The Baja deserved it.
How did you get involved with Bryan Solomon?
Bryan said he would love to be involved with Destination: Baja Sur, and he offered his support in the production of the show with all of his contacts down here. We were already connected with the board of tourism, and I know a lot of anglers and boat captains in the area, but we really needed someone that has the influence that Bryan has with a 20 year prominent business such as Solomon’s Landing. He’s done it all for his love for Baja. We owe a big part of this production to Bryan, it wouldn’t have happened at this scale without him.
Consider us as an extension of what Destino Magazine provides to tourists here, you can pick up a copy anywhere in the town, and go, “Wow, if I want to do this you’ve got all the information.” If you need a map, there it is, if you want to know about fishing, there are the times to go, the information that Destino puts out in that monthly magazine, for a tourist, it’s essential information. So you’re providing a service, and all we want to be is an extension of what you are, but on the silver screen. *