Planning our first trip to Baja in our airstream was overwhelming to say the least, so we want to share what we learned from the experience...
- The most useful resources when planning our route down the peninsula was THIS BOOK and the iOverlander app. I highly recommend downloading the maps so that you will have directions even without cell service.
- We crossed at the Tecate border, and it was very smooth sailing! We had no issues, but heard that Tijuana and Mexicali are a bit busier. You will need all the paperwork at the border for your vehicle and any persons/animals traveling with you. Passports are a given when crossing the border but don't forget about these other forms:
- Mexico car insurance (we used Mexpro) - if your car is financed you will need to call your U.S car insurer and your lean holder and "get permission" to cross the border.
- Pet Health Passport - if you are bringing your furry canine they will need a health certificate from a vet within 30 days prior to visiting and leaving Mexico.
Do not bring over any fruits, vegetables, dairy, plants (dirt). Some things that we wish we had brought to Mexico because they were difficult to find at the small stores:
- Good coffee grounds
- PEANUT BUTTER
- Favorite dried goods, sauces, and snacks
- Salad dressings and condiments that you like!
The food stores can range from full grocery to small corner stores. It is a little harder to find greek yogurt, half & half, and cheddar cheese so if you see these in the beginning of your trip GRAB them knowing that you might not see it again.
Understanding Baja Roads
There are 3 main highways on the Baja Peninsula: Mex 1, Mex 3, and Mex 5 ... most everything else is dirt road. We did not take Mex 5 but heard it is pretty sketchy, narrow, and washboard most of the way so exercise caution. From Rosarito to Guerrero Negro the potholes are the worst. Make sure you have a spare tire and a jack just in case! Also fill up your gas tank fully because that stretch is a gas drought. Always carry enough pesos to fill your tank, most of the gas stations do not accept cards and ATMs can be challenging to find. Currency exchange is cheapest in Mexico so hold off on stocking up until after you cross the border.
Oh and one more thing... make sure to stock up on some delicious pastries and bread at “Best Bread of Tecate” before leaving the city... seriously the best bakery i have ever stepped foot in!
Our Baja Route:
- Tecate > Mex 3 on the Ruta de Vino > Sudo Rancho Murdo - This RV park is conveniently located off the highway across from the Deaf School. It has toilets, showers, water, and full hookup and payment is by donation - all proceeds directly benefit the deaf school. The town is located nearby and has a good grocery and delicious taquerias. If you are looking for some fine dining the Dona Lupe Vineyard has a great atmosphere and pretty good pizza. The shop is stocked full of jams, wines, and bread. We did a really neat hike to hot springs - look for Russian Valley Hotsprings on iOverlander for instructions. Make sure your vehicle has good clearance!
2. Mex 3 > Mex 1 > Campo #5 - if parking on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean sounds appealing than this spot might be perfect for you. It is very rustic with a small bathroom and limited spots but the view and price are unbeatable. It is near The Bufadora, we did not actually see the Bufadora because the tides were not right but heard that it is very cool! At low tide head down the road to Punta Banda Beach. Look for steam rising from the sand and start digging a hot tub! The water is muy caliente, watch your toes!
3. Mex 1 > Catavina - We found a wild camping spot on iOverlander off the highway to stay for the night. The saguaros and sunset were pretty spectacular! Drive down the highway a bit and you will see a small sign and turnoff for cave paintings. The hike was short and a perfect stop to stretch legs and breakup the pot-hole road.
4. Bahia de Los Angeles - this is approximately an hour detour from Mex 1 to the gulf. The town is small, with a few restaurants, supermarkets, and a Pemex. There is a delicious pizza and bakery spot that delivers to the beach! We chose to do wild camping again here on the beach and had the whole place to ourselves! The sand can get soft, and make sure you have a high clearance rig before attempting. There are plenty of campgrounds on the beach that are great options also and provide wifi but this was more our speed...
5. Laguna Ojos de Liebre - Whales, whales, whales! If you are visiting in the winter/fall months then I highly recommend taking a whale tour to see the mama grey whales and their calves. The salt lagoons are large breeding areas and you will get a chance to see (and maybe even touch) these magnificent creatures! This campground is situated past G. Negro at the end of the largest salt flat in the world. Each spot is dry camping but has a palapa and beautiful view. There is a restaurant that has some tasty food and margaritas! Boats leave from the dock around 8/8:30 and you buy your ticket the morning of... afternoon tickets are half priced. This whale tour/camping is much more convenient than San Ignacio (we did both).
6. San Ignacio - A short detour from Mex 1 on a paved road. This town is small and quant, we really enjoyed walking around the square and getting the kids an ice cream. It is a good break in the road trip. If you plan on seeing the whales here it is about an hour drive past the town and half of it is unpaved and washboard. We camped along the dirt road that night by the coast since we were traveling with friends but the Kuyima whale tour also has a campground. Make reservations in the town before starting the trek out. There are other whale tours and camping options but we went with Kuyima. There is no wild camping allowed in the reserve so if you plan on boondocking then you will need to stay clear of the preserve area. I will be posting a video soon that has our whale adventures!
7. Mulege /Bahia de Concepcion - We spent the most time here because we fell in love with the town and the camping. Vendors arrive each day and offer everything from banana bread and tamales to rugs to potable water for your rig! We stayed at:
- Playa Santispac - good if you want some walkable restaurant options and to be close to town. Can get pretty packed with snow birds!
- Playa Coyote - Nice palaces and beautiful view! We rented kayaks for a few days and went horseback riding with Marcelo on a private beach- highly recommend! You can find him in town, just ask around. The kids just rode in our laps and the price included a picnic and adult drinks. They say that when the time is right you can see the whale sharks come into the bay to feed, we didn't see any but knew of people that did!
- Playa el Requeson- if you like to be surrounded by pristine, turquoise ocean and more seclusion than this is the spot for you! You can dig for clams and scallops at low tide and the dolphins can be seen feeding off the point in the morning.
We also stayed at Ray's RV Park which was about 15 minutes outside Mulege toward the mountains, it was not beachfront but the park was beautiful and very well maintained. There was a pool and orange trees that were ripe for the picking, and the friendly staff provided the juicer. This was the most expensive park we stayed at during our trip to Baja but we had nice bathroom, shower, hookups, and I am pretty sure we all ate our weight in citrus.
9. Loreto - This trip we went as far south as Loreto before turning back and heading up north. Next Baja trip we will definitely head down to Todos Santos and La Ventana but we were restricted on time. Loreto is a nice little town and I would definitely recommend getting fresh bread and pizza at El Pan (can you tell we like pizza?). We stayed at Loreto Shores RV park since we wanted to be close to town and needed to do laundry but it was $$$. If you are looking for a more secluded beach spot our friends suggest Punta Estero San Cosme just south of the city.