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Road trip Baja in 2020

By Rodrigo Manterola

A road trip through the Baja California peninsula is a trip of a lifetime and a love relationship with this piece of land forever.

 

Road trip to Baja in 2021 update

This an update on our past article Road trip Baja 2020

Lots of things have changed since I wrote that article, it feels like a million years ago yet, just under a year.

For the more experienced Baja traveler a road trip in this peninsula has very little surprises as time almost seems to stop in Baja.

Ranches and ranchers are the same all along, the roads are either bad or decent to drive, the beaches are alway beautiful, and fishing, kayaking, sailing, snorkeling or scuba diving are always great.

This year was very different, even the seasoned traveler found things he or she couldn’t answer.

Border crossing to Mexico changed policies overnight, and while these changes didn’t really alter the old way, just added some things to consider when crossing to Mexico from the USA.

So in this article I’m going to focus on these changes, those details that make people worry about a road trip in Baja in 2021 after or even during the COVID 19 pandemic.

We  mention the most common questions asked by travelers in this article

Our trip started some years ago when we first came to Baja and still going,  as Baja’s beaches and towns are dotted all over the map and the roads to get there are tough, making them remote and pristine.

You need to give it time; you wouldn’t try to explore Italy in a week, right?

The Baja peninsula extends 1,247 km (775 miles) from MexicaliBaja California in the north to Cabo San LucasBaja California Sur in the south.

It ranges from 40 km (25 miles) at its narrowest to 320 km (200 miles) at its widest point, and has approximately 3,000 km (1,900 miles) of coastline, and approximately 65 islands.

The total area of the Baja California Peninsula is 143,390 km2  (55,360 sq mi), roughly the same area as the country of Nepal

Road trip to Baja
Baja California Peninsula

To explore Baja by car means at least two main trips or segments: Baja California (North) and Baja California Sur (South) and then break each trip or segment in at least 2 smaller trips.

We recommend no less than two weeks for a proper road trip around Baja; if you are traveling for a shorter time, stick to a small area.

We’ll focus on the South of Baja or Baja Sur for this first article, stay tuned for the North bit soon.

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Driving your own car? Perfect, follow the steps described here to get your “TIP” (Temporary Import Permit)

And don’t forget you need a Mexican insurance required by law.

Check the options our friends at Baja-bound have for you in the affilate link below

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One week short road trip around Los Cabos Baja California Sur.

In three simple steps

  1. Fly to Cabo. You can find direct flights from several US and Canada cities
  2. Rent a car online and pick it up at San Jose del Cabo airport
  3. Set off for adventure!

Cabo Pulmo

If you are a scuba diver drive to straight to Cabo Pulmo and stay 2 nights there If you are not a scuba diver skip to next step.

While in Cabo Pulmo, go scuba diving the very next morning and afternoon; you’ll experience some of the greatest diving spots in the world.

When you get back on land enjoy dinner and even a few drinks, but don’t stay up too late, in the morning you hit the road again!

Cabo Pulmo
Photo by Pascal van de Vendel on Unsplash

If the underwater world is not your world, start your road trip in San Jose del Cabo and stay for 1 or 2 nights and enjoy the art walks, and the amazing restaurants, and hotels in town.

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Cabo San Lucas Photo by John Cafazza on Unsplash

Cabo San Lucas

Our next stop in our road trip is Cabo San Lucas, where you can enjoy the Medano beach vibrant activity.

Take a short boat trip to the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, snorkel or Scuba dive the famous Cabo’s Land’s end, and have some drinks and dinner by the beach, or in any of the great dining options around the marina of Cabo San Lucas.

Spend at least  2 nights in any of the hotels in Cabo San Lucas and enjoy the food, the activities, and nightlife of Cabo San Lucas

Todos Santos

Todos Santos
Photo by Andre Hawkins on Unsplash

The next morning drive to Todos Santos and visit the old Hotel California; some say the birthplace of the famous song Hotel California by the rock band The Eagles.

Explore the many shops, art galleries and coffee shops, and end the night with drinks and dinner in any of the many bars and restaurants in Todos Santos, but remember, don’t stay up too late, the next day is a big day

Surf’s Up in Pescadero and Cerritos

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Surf’s up in Pescadero and Cerritos. Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash

Surf’s up at Pescadero, Punta Lobos and Cerritos beach, don’t worry if you’re not a pro-surfer, you can learn at this place.

You will also find alternative accommodation to Todos Santos here. Spend at least 2 nights in Todos Santos and the nearby beach towns whether you stay in one or the other.

San Jose del Cabo

Drive back to San Jose del Cabo from Todos Santos through the old road that takes you to the Sierra de La Laguna mountains or driving back the same way through Cabo San Lucas and spend your last night here if you have an early flight.

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Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

One week medium road trip in Baja California Sur

  1. Fly to Cabo. You can find direct flights from several US and Canada cities
  2. Rent a car online and pick it up at San Jose del Cabo airport
  3. Set off for adventure!

Cabo Pulmo

As with the previous road trip, if you are a scuba diver drive to straight to Cabo Pulmo, If you are not a scuba diver skip to next step

Stay 2 nights in Cabo Pulmo, go scuba diving next morning and afternoon to some of the greatest diving spots in the world, come back and enjoy dinner and even a few drinks but don’t stay up too late, in the morning you hit the road again.

If the underwater world is not your world start here

To Todos Santos thru the Mountains and Old Towns

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Photo by BCS Noticias, Sierra la Laguna

Drive to Todos Santos from Cabo Pulmo stopping at Santiago, San Antonio and El Triunfo to explore these old small mining towns in the hearth of Sierra La Laguna Mountains.

Stop at Todos Santos for the night and enjoy a well-deserved world-class dinner in of the many restaurants in town and spend the night in one of Todos Santos boutique hotels.

Walk Todos Santos or Surf Pescadero and Cerritos Beach

The next morning you can explore Todos Santos beautiful streets including the arguably original Hotel California, alternatively, you can go for surf lessons on the beaches of Pescadero and Cerritos; you can also spend the night in Pescadero or Cerritos.

Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo

Today you drive to Cabo San Lucas for the day and enjoy the Medano beach vibrant activity. Take a short boat trip to the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, snorkel or Scuba dive the famous Cabo’s Land’s end, and have some drinks and dinner by the beach or in any of the great dining options around the marina of Cabo San Lucas and spend the night here or if you prefer to drive to San Jose del Cabo about 1 hour away depending on when your flight departures the next day.

This is our last night. Enjoy an art walk and dinner in San Jose del Cabo and get ready for your trip back home

Road Trip and Whale Watching in Baja California Sur visiting Loreto, San Javier, and San Ignacio

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Photo by Lorna Hill

Our road trip starts in Loreto; Baja’s ground zero of all the Missions of the Californias both north and south of the border. Today Loreto is a laid back community and a perfect city to fly to from the U.S. or Canada. Alternatively, you can also find flights to La Paz international airport from the US and Canada and rent a car for your way up but consider there’s at least a 5 hours’ drive between Loreto and La Paz

Loreto

Day 1; Arrive in Loreto and walk it, particularly Loreto’s main plaza and the Mission of Nuestra Senora de Loreto. You will find great options for dinner and drinks in Loreto’s Downtown area and countless arts and crafts shops around the center of town and the Malecon, but don’t stay up too late; the morning is going to be full of adventure.

Coronado Island

Day 2; Coronado Island waits so we start early in the morning. White sand beach and turquoise water just under 30 minutes by boat from Loreto enjoy the beach which is probably going to be all for yourself. If you want the captains can set lunch up for you, 100% local fish and seafood are available at great prices. Ask your boat driver to take you to La Picazon restaurant for Margaritas by the beach. Their food is incredible too! By the time you come back, you may want to stroll the town for some handcrafts and Mexican souvenirs

San Javier

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By Farwestern Photo by Gregg M. Erickson – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Visit San Javier near Loreto. This small village is part of the mission trail that extends from Loreto to California in the US. It’s not far from Loreto and the drive is worth it as you wind your way up to Sierra de la Giganta, one of Baja’s Mountain ranges. The locals are olive and wine producers amongst others. Walk around San Javier with a guide, they are local families with centuries of history to tell. Make sure you make your way back before sunset.

Don’t drive at night, too many cows on a windy road. Finish your day by having dinner in any of the restaurants in Loreto and try the chocolate clams, you are going to love them (they don’t taste like chocolate).

Bahia Concepcion

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Lorna and Ro in Bahia Concepcion, Baja

Drive from Loreto to San Ignacio, but not so fast, we are going to stop in a couple of beaches in Bahia Concepcion. After breakfast drive north on Highway 1, this is one drive to remember as this bay is majestic.

Stop in El Requeson beach to dip your toes in the Sea of Cortez, but don’t stay too long, there is another beach you want to stop at; Santispac beach some 45 minutes from Requeson beach.

Have some of the fresh seafood sold by the local fishermen, have ceviche and swim in crystal clear waters, the local fishermen can take for a boat ride and when in the season you can swim with whale sharks in Bahia Concepcion, definitely the best place to do this in Baja.

Mulege

Our road takes us to the Heroic city of Mulege a small town in an estuary with a ton of history, spend the night in Mulege if you like or keep going to San Ignacio some 3 hours up highway 1 if you decide to stay in Mulege, don’t forget to visit the Mission of Santa Rosalia de Mulege and the old prison now the Mulege’s community museum and enjoy dinner  and drinks in Mulege but don’t stay up too late we’re up early in the morning for our next activity in Mulege

Cave Paintings

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Baja Cave paintings

 Visit the rock art of La Trinidad and San Borjitas with a local guide, some of these paintings are 7000 years old. These cave paintings are very close to Mulege.

You can read about our Trip to the Cave Paintings of Sierra de San Francisco in this article

Our next stop is waiting so leave Mulege early, don’t drive at night, and if you have some time stop in Santa Rosalia and visit the Eiffel church.

Santa Rosalia

Santa Rosalia is an industrial town with a glamorous past a complex present and a hopeful future; visit the church, this is allegedly designed by Gustave Eiffel, yup, that tower guy. If you decide to spend the night in Santa Rosalia you may want to check in one of these options.

The Tres Virgenes Volcano

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San Ignacio is a bit over an hour drive from Santa Rosalia, don’t forget to take a good look at the Volcan Tres Virgenes or the 3 virgins volcano on your way north; the three virgins is a 3000 ft. active volcano, but don’t worry, the last eruption was more than 100 years ago. During the winter you can visit the area for hikes and hunting trips to the volcano

Whale Watching in San Ignacio

San Ignacio in Baja California Sur is a beautiful sleepy town in an oasis in the middle of the desert, there is plenty of things to do here.

Walk its narrow streets and enjoy the peaceful life of this town, have some ice cream in the main square and the most important go whale watching in the San Ignacio Lagoon, you can stay in town and do the 60 Km road to the lagoon or stay in any of the whale- watching camps around the San Ignacio lagoon

Lorna and I work in one of these camps every winter, and we love it!

If you want to read about what it is to spend a few days surrounded by whales click here

Additionally, you’ll find some of our Guide reports click on this link.

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Photo by David Nieto on Unsplash

Road trips should not be rushed, especially in Baja; distances are great and its majestic landscapes command attention.

Try to make your way at a slow pace, tune in to Mexican time and enjoy the ride.

Where to stay in Baja for a road trip

As you know we own a campervan so we don’t really need to look for accommodation, yet, sometimes we like to pamper ourselves and book a night here and there while traveling the Baja roads.

Find a Hotel in Baja

The following list is an affiliate link, if you decide to book any of these options, you get promotional rates and we make a commission,

Where to stay in Loreto

Where to Stay in Cabo San Lucas

Where to stay in San Jose del Cabo

Where to stay in San Ignacio

Where to stay in La Paz

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