Tag Archives: Fishing

Your First Taste of the Sea of Cortez

If you’re not ready to drive all the way south, try a week-end trip in San Felipe; four hours away from San Diego, you can  relax, eat great Mexican food and feel like you have really visited somewhere new. This town used to welcome many spring breakers but due to economic problems, now has a more quiet atmosphere. Nevertheless, you can`t go wrong with a week-end on the Sea of Cortez.

Morning rowers on the Sea of Cortez. Who knew Baja had crew?
Morning rowers on the Sea of Cortez. Who knew Baja had crew?

In San Felipe, fishing, relaxing and camping are popular activities. Just make sure you aren’t in town in the summer (tourist season) or you won’t be able to it peacefully. The temperature is very high and the tourists are loud and enjoy riding quads, not my idea of relaxation.

Rice and Beans, unusual name, great food.
Rice and Beans, unusual name, great food.

When in town, make sure to check out the many seafood restaurants, the fish is fresh and delicious. Try to avoid the ones that seem to cater to Americans, they are usually overpriced and not as good as local restaurants. We were kind of skeptical of eating at Rice and Beans but decided to try it and were pleasantly surprised, the food is delicious and cheap; my mom got a huge plate of steamed clams for 50 pesos (less than $5!). Our total meal was what her clams would have cost in the US. Delicious…

Time to wake up
Time to wake up

Around town, there are many campsites available, and who wouldn’t want to wake up right in front of the beach on a quiet winter morning? However if you do not feel like facing the cold winds and dark nights, there are plenty of hotels you can check into. 

San Felipe is proud of its desert landscaping
San Felipe is proud of its desert landscaping

Driving directions: There are two ways of getting to San Felipe, you can go through Tecate and through the Rumurosa, an impressive mountain formation before Mexicali (the more expensive route as the tolls are pretty steep, between 50 and 90 pesos each way, only cash, no foreign credit cards) or drive down the Pacific coast (due to the San Andres fault you will have to take the “Libre” which is in pretty good shape). Both are pretty roads that will make you feel that you have left civilization.

Advertisements

Have you been to the “World’s Aquarium” yet?

After driving south for eight and a half hours, you will see a metal sailboat welcoming you into la Bahia de los Angeles (the Bay of the Angels); which Jacques Cousteau once called “the world’s aquarium.”

Welcome to the Bahia de los Angeles
Welcome to the Bahia de los Angeles

Unfortunately, your first impression will leave you wondering why you drove so far to get to this place. The town is dirty and seems unwelcoming to visitors, however, one does not come for the town, one comes for the bay. This majestic bay is world famous for its scenery, marine life and unusual cactus.

The world famous bay
The world famous bay

There are a couple of hotels in town. In the winter, the village shuts down and the seasonal activities are unavailable, it`s windy, cold at night and it gets dark at 5. And after five there is not much going on as there are few restaurants and no bars. We were told that spring and fall are the best times to visit because the temperature is just right. There are various turtle conservancy groups that help guide baby turtles into the water. And in the  fall (August to October) the whale sharks are in town.

Enjoy the many palapa style camping spots for a truly Mexican experience.
Enjoy the many palapa style camping spots for a truly Mexican experience.

Since we were there at a quiet time, we went kayaking. We were told permits were needed to reach the islands;  we did not get very far as one of our kayaks started to sink! It was a fun ride, the water is crystal clear and we could see schools of fish swimming under our kayaks. A nice way to enjoy the marine life is on a kayak,  the right sport for the Sea of Cortez (non-polluting and you get a work-out)! But paddle boarding could be pretty cool too.

Steering a sinking ship
Steering a sinking ship

I do not recommend visiting in the winter, the water is cool but the town is shut down and the sun goes down at five. If you are going to take the time to drive down, try to do so when the sun is up longer and the nights are warmer. It was quite windy and dark and we did not get to fully experience the Bahia de los Angeles.

Dirt road to get to an incredibly clean beach.
Dirt road to get to an incredibly clean beach.

Driving Instructions: There are two ways to get to this quiet bay. One from San Felipe which requires driving on a dirt road for about 2 to 3 hours that ends up connecting to the main highway or the easy way, driving on Mexico 1 the entire way. According to Google Maps, driving the main way is 8 hours 33 minutes. I would recommend leaving early in the morning so that there are no problems with driving in darkness or missing the turn to the Bahia (it’s off the main road).

We didn't run out of gas but we did have to empty our kayak as it was slowly filing with water!
We didn’t run out of gas but we did have to empty our kayak as it was slowly filing with water!

Make sure you have gas and cash! There are no ATMS or banks in town and sometimes the gas station decides to close (it can take a couple days to reopen). Make sure you come prepared! Otherwise you may not get to experience the true Bahia de los Angeles.