Baja California, Mexico, has a lot to offer: seafood, wine, craft beer, surf, science, desert and beach, all along the peninsula on the Pacific coast of northern Mexico. But not many people know about this small and magical place…
About the place
Bahía de los Angeles is a small village in Baja California, Mexico, of roughly 300 people, in which the main activities are fishing, tourism and commerce. Its breath-taking natural beauty will amaze you; the immense biodiversity in such a small place is bound to conquer your heart.
Unplug from the buzz of your daily life just forget about everything and focus on your surroundings. This is so beautiful and peaceful you will be glad you disconnected from the world for a couple of days. I discovered this was the best that could have happened to me by accident. Since I was using my phone while driving both for listening to music and as a GPS, my battery died just after a few hours of getting to our camping site. In consequence, I have barely three pictures from my trip to this incredible place. The downside is I can’t show you first hand how my experience was, but I am glad (and grateful) to use some photos from Ricardo Arce to ease your curiosity on this amazing beach. The upside: since I was not able to take any pictures, I just relaxed, observed more, lived the moment and enjoyed the ride. Plus, my memories from this trip are so vivid and intense I don’t need photos to remember.
Back in the day, this area was known to have silver mines, although none of them are still active, that I know of. In the 1900’s, most of the companies closed or were inactive and it is said that most of the miners and people who worked and lived in the area fled after freebooters attacked the region. Nevertheless, some of them courageously stayed and their descendants still inhabit the bay.
Where to stay
Family and pet friendly, you will find several options for accommodation, but more than luxurious hotels, Bahía de Los Angeles is known to have excellent camping sites and huts. My personal favorite: Archelon Camp ?
For only $8 USD a night, you get a palapa and a cot (plus other useful stuff) right in front of the sea. Hot showers (not that you really need the hot water when it’s 40ºC) and flushing toilets are included. Recycling and separating the garbage is essential and minimizing the use of water is encouraged. If you want a little more comfort or need more space because you are a large group, simple stone built houses are offered for rent at $60 USD a night (they sleep at least 6 people). It’s pretty much the same, but they do include a kitchen and more indoor space. If you ask me, sleeping under the stars is definitely way better!
This small piece of paradise is owned by Antonio and Beatriz Reséndiz, beautiful Mexican couple who established in Bahía de Los Angeles the first Center for the Study and Conservation of Sea Turtles in northwest Mexico. Both biologists worked really hard for this project now inactive) and made a huge impact in the State. Tony is very energetic and passionate about nature and conservation, he loves to talk about almost everything and will engage you in an incredibly interesting conversation before you notice.
We arrived at 8 in the morning, after driving all night from Ensenada and found him drinking coffee in an extremely hot summer morning. He invited us to his house and we shared a cup of coffee with him while introducing ourselves. He then helped us settle and gave us a table and cots. The view was amazing and the vibes were both energetic and peaceful at the same time.
There were two other groups of campers, and Tony invited us all that night to have a bbq at his place. He bought fish and we cooked and bought beers for everyone. At first I was a little bit reluctant to attend this dinner. I was traveling with 3 of my best friends and to be completely honest, I wasn’t looking to meet more people or make any new friends. Best decision ever! I got to meet amazing people who I am very fond of, so it was great! We all got along very well and enjoyed the night. After dinner we made a bonfire and stayed up talking and laughing. We did the same thing the next night and it was super fun!
What to do
Bahía de Los Angeles is known to be one of the spots in Mexico with more biodiversity, and it is famous for being lucky enough to be visited by whale sharks during summer, fin whales (also known as finback or razorback whales) which are endangered and the second biggest animal on Planet Earth, five different species of endangered sea turtles, several diverse commercial fish, sea lions, dolphins and heaps of birds, including pelicans. And, guess what? You don’t only get to see the whale sharks and sea lions at a very short distance, you get to swim with them!!
So, Tony set us up with Ricardo Arce, who owns a Diving Tours company. For about $25 USD per person, we rented a small boat (with shade) that took us sailing for at least 5 hours. We visited some small islands, and when the tour guide told us, some of us dove in to catch some fish that we would later have for dinner. I didn’t even try, but some of the guys and a girl from our group were actually pretty good at it! Then we approached an area where sea lions seem to love for hanging out. We were snorkeling (Ricardo Diving Tours Company provides the fins, maks and snorkels) and able to get actually very close to them, although not to much. As I got to prove, the alfa male won’t like it very much if you get too close to the females or any other group member for that matter.
We then sailed off in search of whale sharks to swim with. Only three people can be in the water at the same time, so we took turns. The guide was really good at spotting them just in the surface; we got as close to them as possible, and then we had to swim really fast and try to follow them. It is very important that, even as tempting as it is, we SHOULD NOT touch them! They get scared and will swim deep down. So, please be respectful! It was an ah-mah-zzing experience!!! Seriously, it was awesome!! Even if they are completely harmless, they are so big that it’s shocking when you see them face to face. Their mouths can be as big as 1m wide, so just imagine…
While looking for the whale sharks and on our way back to the camp, we got to see dolphins swimming really close to our boat. They look friendly and playful, but they do go away when you try to dive in and swim by their side. Anyways, it was another beautiful experience.
How to get there
Drive 650km south from Tijuana, all along the Transpeninsular Highway, and basically just follow the signs. The road could get many improvements, as you will see, but it’s not too bad and in constant repair. Please consider there are not many gas stations in the area, and depending on where are you coming from, it might be a looooong drive before you get to see one. Just have this in mind so you don’t run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone reception and only desert around you.
Do’s and Don’ts
Bring cash. Seriously, there are no ATM’s, no banks and most places do not take debit or credit cards, at all! So, plan a budget and be prepared.
Stay hydrated. It might seem like the coolest idea to just get to your campsite hotel, set your tent, put your bikini on, work on your tan, swim in the ocean, and drink super cold beer all day long. Been there, done that. Huge mistake!!
One beer is great; it is actually good for you since it has lots of nutrients and electrolytes, but more than one will cause the opposite effect and dehydrate you due to alcohol content, even if it’s low.
During summer time (I visited late July), it gets really hot out there, which is why you’ll find cold beer so appealing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink beer or any alcoholic beverage at all, but try to consider the extreme weather and conditions and be smart. I found out that drinking electrolyte drinks, coconut water and just regular water in between beers is a very good choice, and quite enjoyable as well.
Food and booze. Not super expensive, but a little bit overpriced, compared to other cities in Baja, since there are only a few stores and not many options. If you don’t mind, you will find mostly everything you need to survive your stay in these small convenience shops. But if you are on a budget, have special dietary requirements or simply can’t do without a special product or brand, do bring it with you.
PS: Promise to post more pictures next time 😉
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anaïs Nin