Driving to Bahia de Los Angeles
After driving for hours through the parched and rugged inland Baja landscape, your eyes and emotions will explode with excitement when you come over the first hill which reveals the vibrant blue waters of Bahia de los Angeles. The view is truly stunning, and there is a great turnoff just as you come over the first hill. I highly recommend turning off the highway for a few minutes at this lookout point on the left. Simply take in the vista for a few minutes, it is absolutely gorgeous.
Driving to Bahia de los Angeles is very easy. The highway is paved and in excellent condition, and the 40 mile drive from Highway 1 takes just about an hour. You will also be rewarded with two reliable Pemex stations in town, so make sure to fill up! One of the Pemex stations had diesel fuel (if you need it).
The turn off for Bahia de los Angeles could be easy to miss if you are not paying attention. There are road signs, but they are small signs on the side of the highway. The best landmark is a gutted old abandoned Pemex station. The turn off for Bahia de los Angeles is right at the Pemex station on the opposite side of the highway.
Camping in Bahia de los Angeles
There are a number of camping and RV sites on the north side of town. As you pull into town, make sure to go left (north). The southern end of town is where all of the commercial fishing and industrial activities take place, and it is not designed for lodging. To the north you find a number of camp areas within a few miles of town. Follow the signs for Punta Gringa.
We stayed at Dagget's Beach Camp. The camp is right on the water, and it provides palapas, fish cleaning tables, showers and toilets. It is a bit rugged, but the incredible views and wide open country make it an easy place to lose track of time.
There were a number of small privately owned boats (towed in behind the owners' vehicles) that took off for a few hours during the day. When they returned, they had a number of spotted bass for dinner. We were not traveling with a boat, but I did get the itch to do some fishing. At first I tried shore fishing, but my furthest cast only got out to about 10 feet of water. So I ran and got my surfboard and paddled out about 150 yards. Now the water was 30-50 feet deep, and I caught 15 spotted bass within an hour! I used a few chunks of fish scrap the boat fishermen left behind at the cleaning table, and that worked great as bait. As the sun went down, I paddled in with the a few decent sized bass and cleaned them up and cooked them for dinner. Tasty!
Whale Sharks in Bahia de los Angeles
Bahia de los Angeles is one of the best places in the world for viewing whale sharks. They consistently frequent this area in the late September through October. I was in Bahia in February, so there were no whale sharks, but it was still a magical place to stay. Baja Airventures offers a great whale shark tour package for Bahia de los Angeles.
What I Did on Day 3
Drove from San Quintin to Bahia de los Angeles. Make sure to fill up your gas tank in San Quintin or El Rosario, because there are no reliable gas stations for the 220 mile drive form San Quintin to Bahia de los Angeles. Driving Baja Highway 1 can be slow going at times, so this trip took over six hours.
Driving San Quintin to Bahia de los Angeles:
7:00 AM - Woke up early after a restless night of free camping at Gypsies in San Quintin. There were Federales driving around all night - it turns out this is a drug smuggling route, so the Federales were driving up and down the beach shining their lights all night. It did not make for good sleep, and I don't recommend sleeping here. Gypsies is actually closed, but the caretaker said we could sleep in our van there for free.
8:00 AM - While car camping in Baja, there is always the burden of finding a nice clean bathroom to do your business in. The old La Pinta/Desert Inn hotel in San Quintin is a great place to use the restroom! The hotel is no longer called Desert Inn, but you will find near Gypsies beach. It looks like they have a decent restaurant that serves breakfast in this hotel, but we did not try it.
8:30 AM - Got on the road heading south towards El Rosario. There was a military checkpoint about 15 miles north of El Rosario, but they waved us through. One of the bridges had recently been destroyed in the floods in January 2010, but the road crews had already made a decent road that drove down into the arroyo below the bridge. All traffic, including semi trucks, can easily drive through the arroyo - but at about 10 miles per hour for a quarter mile stretch.
10:00 AM - Arrived at El Rosario. There is a Pemex station here, so this is your last chance to fill up for over 200 miles! Not much else going on for tourists in El Rosario.
12:00 PM - Drove through Catavina after winding through the high desert. The giant boulders and boojum (elephant trees) make for a truly unique landscape that looks like a planet from old Star Trek episodes. In late February, the boojums are just beginning to sprout their vibrant yellow flowers, and this makes the landscape even more surreal. Catavina has a Desert Inn hotel, and that is about it. If you feel like wandering around amongst the boulders, this can be your headquarters. There is a tiny little Pemex booth here, but it is usually closed and out of gas, so do not count on getting fuel here!
2:30 PM - Arrived in Bahia de los Angeles. Make sure to take the exit for Bahia de los Angeles which is about 70 miles south of Catavina. Then drive about 40 miles on this paved highway to Bahia de los Angeles.
3:30 PM - Set up camp at Dagget's after poking around town for a while. Scored a few chunks of fish for bait from some boat fishermen who had just returned and were cleaning their fish at Daggets. I started fishing from shore, but that didn't work well because it was too shallow. I then paddled out 150 yards on my surfboard, and started catching spotted bass on every cast!
6:00 PM - Paddled in, filleted the bass, and started cooking.
8:00 PM - Cleaned up dinner mess. This was a pain in the dark because I forgot to bring my lantern and headlamp, so it was not fun using a handheld flashlight for cleaning. Make sure to bring a hands-free light source!
9:00 PM - Goodnight - ahhhh.