Winter Baja California Norte vacation ideas
October 23, 2006 7:20 AM   Subscribe

What is there to do in Baja California Norte in early January and where is a good place to go? More inside.

My friends and I were planning a grandiose Oaxacan vacation for my time home, but the current political situation has necessitated that trip be scratched.

We have opted instead for a trip we can drive to from Los Angeles. All of us prefer to avoid stereotypical tourist things, but I am having a hard time finding ANYTHING in Baja between Ensenada and La Paz.

Our dates are 31DEC06 to 07JAN07 and the only requirement for destinations is that they be north of Guerrero Negro.

Right now our frontrunner is San Quintin, which appears to have fishing, some surfing and... well, that's about it. Fishing and surfing are great things to have, though,

Anyone with Baja experience like to give some tips? Seriously, we're the type who are up for anything. We'd be happy doing something wacky and adventurous, but we'd also be happy lounging around sipping fruity beverages.

Oh, and, as you might have noticed, New Year's Eve is in that timeframe, so suggestiosn for that would also be appreciated.

posted by bryak to Travel & Transportation around Baja California, Mexico (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Baja Norte is pretty barren place, so you're right that there isn't much between ensenada and La Paz. San Quintin is *tiny*, like one restaurant/hotel tiny. I was there in April once and the restaurant wasn't even open, so i wouldn't recommend it.

my favourite places in baja norte (in some sort of order):
- san felipe / puertecitos - san felipe is a fun little town with enough going on to keep you amused for a week or so without being too touristy. the drive south to puertecitos requires a willingness to do some off-road driving (but i've done it in a toyota echo, so it's not too crazy), but is beautiful. puertecitos itself is a tiny fishing village. i would recommend you drive down one day, spend an afternoon on the little beach (watch out for sting rays!) and checking out the hot-springs (just over the hill to the west of the main beach), camping on the beach (you might have to pay the guy $10 or so if he's there, but he often isn't) and then driving back the following day. be sure to stop at the little restaurant along the way. I can't remember the name just at the moment, but it's pretty obvious as the only thing on the road between san felipe and puertecitos, about half way along. the rest of your time, enjoy san felipe. there are some fun bars, a nice beach, and the locals, in my experience, are super friendly.

- bahia de los angeles: also very tiny, but starkly beautiful. you can stay right on the water in a little house/cabin in one of a number of places that offer rentals. there is are a number of expats here too, so you probably won't have a problem if you don't speak spanish. check out the beaches south of town, and rent a kayak and go out the little islands in the bay. also, be warned, there is no atm or bank in town so bring enough cash for the whole trip (i once lost a whole day having to drive to and from guerrero negro because i didn't know this). furthermore, the drive from san quentin across the mountains to sea of cortez is *staggering*. like being on an alien planet, giant boulders dot the landscape amid huge cardon cacti as far as the eye can see. make sure you're full up on gas, the station at the halfway mark was out of fuel when we stopped there.

- tecate: where the beer comes from! this is a quaint little town good for a day or so of amusement. wander around the town square and check out the brewery. note that the whole town smells like beer brewing. eat some delicious food.

- ensenada / la bufadora: a bit touristy but still nice. be sure you have some fish tacos on the streets of ensenada, they are delicious. the road from the 1 to la bufadora is quite pretty and has some good camping options, usually for pretty cheap. la bufadora is totally given over to tourists, but push your way though the stalls and madness to the sight itself, it's actually pretty fun.

if i had to recommend an itinerary i would say:

- go to tecate via tijuana, stay the night in tecate, explore the town a bit.

- head to san felipe, don't bother stopping in mexicali, it's industrial and yucky.

- spend the next few days in san felipe with a couple given over to heading down to puertecitos.

- with the last two days head over to ensenada hang out in ensenda for a few hours then head south toward la bufadora. camp along the road to la bufadora, check it out the next morning, then drive back up the one to la.

finally: If you're looking for typical 'spring breaky' type places (think Papas and Beer / SeƱor Frogs) , Rosarito is probably your best bet. I hate rosarito myself, but i know a lot of people who love it, so i thought i would throw it out there.
posted by christy at 3:06 PM on October 23, 2006

christy nails it, I think. I second the suggestion of going to Puertecitos. We were there last year in the week between Christmas and New Year's - not very crowded, and the hotsprings rock! The restaurant at the hot springs camp ground was excellent (Camarones a la Diabla, yummy!).

Ensenada is good fun; make sure to get the fish tacos at the fish market on the harbor. And if you're into oysters, try the foot long oysters (sic!) from one of the street stalls. We did a whale watching trip from Ensenada as well (and had tthe luck of seeing two Grey Whales), but from what I hear they can be very hit or miss.

If you decide to reverse the route christy suggested, Hussong's Cantina is probably well happening on New Year's Eve (but ask around). Andy's guest house in the sourthern end of Ensenada was chaep and friendly, and had court yard parking.

Finally, I'd recommend the Moon Handbook - a few mistakes here and there, but generally pretty reliable.

Have fun!

On preview: Oh, you could also go wine tasting in the Guadalupe Valley - some pretty tasty stuff (and sometimes not so tasty...)
posted by AwkwardPause at 3:50 PM on October 23, 2006

Response by poster: excellent answers, thank you!

i was seriously afraid that the green was going to fail me for the first time. thanks for the perfect first hand accounts.
posted by bryak at 7:40 AM on October 24, 2006

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