Are you looking for an amazing trip in Mexico? Paradise beaches, wildlife, the ocean and the desert. It all started when our train got stuck on the way to Belgium. We ended up sharing a long taxi journey to Brussels with a Mexican couple from Todos Santos, Baja California.
Before that, we didn’t know about the beauty of Baja California Sur. But when we saw the pictures the couple showed us on their phone, we were amazed. So when we were planning our trip to Mexico, we put Baja California Sur on our map.
Cheap accommodation = camping
We flew to La Paz, rented a car, and brought all our camping gear from our trip in the Sierra Gorda. This way we were completely free to go wherever we wanted, and also… We saved some money! There are RV parks everywhere, where mostly Americans and Canadians will put their RV’s, trailers and camper vans. Some of these aren’t very nice, just a bunch of house-size RV’s stacked together. Others are pretty nice though, and they do let you put a tent up as well. Also you can just camp on any beach, it is not illegal to do so, from what we heard. We also did this a few times, but felt more comfortable on beaches where there were already a few other people that stayed for the night.
We had a very simple life for a week, gathering wood for cooking, swimming in the ocean instead of showering (yep… gross.) And just exploring the beauty of Baja California at a very relaxed pace. We also got stuck a few times with our 2WD, as we were told about a beautiful beach that was accessible via a dirt road off Los Cabos with a car like ours… well it’s not.
Stuck and stuck again…
After several attempts, we decided it was better to turn around… By that time we already scratched the front and then the back. The latter was caused by me, reversing into a rock wall whilst taking a run-up to make it over a very soft sand hill. Don’t tell the rental company!
If you have a 4WD and get the chance to check out the snorkeling and camping spot at Playa Los Arbolitos then let us know how it was! And also tell us if they have improved the road, so that we can recommend this part of the trip to travelers like us with ‘normal’ cars. Later, on our way to Lorena the ceramicist, we also got very stuck you can read more about that and the pottery here.
What to do in Baja California Sur?
- Roadtrip and camping
- Boat trip from Loreto
- Camp on the beaches near Loreto
Who go to Baja?
There are three specific groups of people that come to Baja California with a clear mission. They are the surfers, kite surfers and wind surfers. And yearly there is a massive racing event, the Baja1000. But it is still really worth to go to Baja – also if you’re not a surf dude or race devil. The Canadian dog below is a good example.
Here’s a summary of our itinerary, and a google map below it for reference.
Playa Balandra is very close to La Paz, around 40 minutes drive. It is a really beautiful beach and bay, you can walk right across the bay as the water reaches at most to knee height! The beach is in a protected nature area, so there are no hotels or houses or anything really… just bushes and rare birds in the strip of nature behind the beach.
Playa el Tecolote
We camped at Playa el Tecolote, where you can find a quiet spot to camp. Tecolote is a 5 minute drive from Balandra beach. There are some other campers (staying each at least 50 meters apart) which adds to the feeling of security, whilst you still have the feeling of camping totally in the wild. Also it’s pretty close to La Paz, so you can just head straight here from the airport.
La Ventana and Los Barriles
These are kite surfer paradises. Small villages with mostly expat villa’s overlooking the ocean, and the ocean full of kite surfers. We camped on the beach on our way to a campsite in La Ventana that we never found because the signage suddenly stopped. Next time I might come back to do some windsurfing in either of these places!
Coming from the direction of Los Cabos, there are some fantastic beaches before Todos Santos. You have to be really careful swimming in the ocean there though, as there are some dangerous currents that can drag you into the Pacific.
A ghost town, once the biggest town of Baja California Sur, now just a few houses. You can see the ruins of the mines, and there’s a cute but overly expensive place where you can get a coffee and we heard good pizza’s too (Cafe el Triunfo). This town, or actually small village, has a totally different atmosphere than the coastal towns, which is pretty cool.
Boca de la Sierra
This was another inland excursion, to the river pools Boca de la Sierra, where we took our poor car on a difficult climb over a rocky road. It was about 40 minutes of slowly driving to the parking area near the river. It’s an amazing spot for a pick-nick and a dip in the crystal clear river water.
Surfers spot. Big waves. There was a sign after 30 minutes on the dirt road towards el Conejo, saying that we were passing into private property. Ignore this and continue, then you’ll find El Conejo beach, and a small temporary surfers community made of camper vans. We don’t surf (I only windsurf and sail), but it was a nice place to hang out and really beautiful. Also there’s some kind of sand buggy racing camp nearby so you’ll see some of those come racing by in the distance when going and coming back to their racing grounds.
A quick summary:
- We organized a (private) boat tour in the morning with one of the guys (Blackie) in the harbour area. It was cheaper than the official boat tour companies, and included snorkeling gear. we tried to bargain, which didn’t really work ;( so got it for 1900 pesos (86€).
- It was amazing.
- We swam with sea lions, that weren’t even scared of humans.
- We stayed at Riviera del Mar RV Park (clean and good for camping with a tent, BBQ area, laundry, showers). Also they have a pretty cool hand made sign, that looks a bit like African hair salon signs.
Playa el Requeson
A beautiful beach, with a small island that you can walk to during low tide. There was light emitting plankton so you can swim and it feels like you’re a VW Golf with those led strips installed under it. Either that or magic.
Quite a few people were staying on this beach (like ten other cars). There are no facilities, only some ‘palapas’ – beach huts for shelter against sun and wind. It looks like a local guy has started to earn some money. He charges people for parking and for staying the night on ‘his’ beach. According to Mexican law, the beach is not owned by anybody. So this is just a smart guy trying to make money out of thin air, literally. Still people do pay him. But we didn’t, we drove off before he caught us.
Safety in Baja California Sur
We don’t really thinks it is unsafe camping anywhere in Baja California Sur. But the bad stories we heard from both Mexicans and foreigners (who haven’t even been to Baja) and watching Narcos, didn’t really help for our feeling of safety. So we preferred staying in the wild places where there were some other campers. In towns we would stay in RV parks and sometimes we still just camped on the beach.
Other travelers in Baja
We met two cyclists, Ruby and Nick, that came cycling all the way from Portland. You can check out their pics on Ruby’s instagram
If you’re interested in cycling then there’s a lot of info on cycling in Baja by Timothy Tower on this page
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw a dutch car in Mexico! It was Alex and Julia’s car, who are making a very long journey from Canada to the Southern tip of South America their website
Check out more pictures of our trip in Baja California Sur below, and subscribe for updates. Soon we’ll be in Cuba!