How does driving through a beautiful place – past beaches and mountains and cacti forests…and taco trucks! – with your significant other sound? What about sleeping right on the beach!? Sound appealing? Then Baja should be your next romantic getaway!
I’m going to share some highlights and information about my and John’s 2-week, part-tenting, part-vacation-home-rental romantic getaway through Baja; discuss what we did and discovered in each little town; and provide tips if you’re interested in doing something similar in the future!
We did not go to the touristy locations of Baja, like Tijuana and Cabo. This article would be helpful if you and your partner….
Want your romantic getaway to have:
But don’t need:
Note: I included links for the places that had websites, but given that many of these location are are small towns, several of my recommendations do not. However, the bolder items are all searchable on Google / Google Maps and should be easy to find.
If you’re road tripping from the U.S., you’ll be crossing in either through California or Arizona. Anyone even remotely familiar with US-Mexico politics can presume that the border is a stringent place. However, if you have no plans of breaking the law (please don’t), then there’s no reason at all to be nervous. Just be respectful, be polite, and be honest. Make sure you have your passports ready to present to the border patrol officer, and any other documents they may ask for (i.e. driver’s license, Mexican visa, and car registration). If you have a car full of items (like we did) where things would be easy to hide, you may be searched. Don’t be alarmed. If you have nothing to hide, they’ll have nothing to find, and you should be on your way in no time!
We traveled in late December to early January. In January, places are starting to become a bit more lively, and we believe it’s due to the fact that January is the beginning of the whale-watching season.
If you’re coming during the winter, make sure you bring appropriate clothing and gear (especially if you’re camping). Although it is the dessert and it can still get pretty hot during the day, the climate can get quite cool and windy at night.
The best time to go weather-wise, according to several locals we spoke with, is March. March would be great if you’d like to see the dessert bloom as well!
Worst times: Also according to the locals, summer is *extremely* hot, and the temperature of the sea is hot too, so it won’t help you cool down. November and October should be avoided if possible as well, since it is hurricane season.
Our first stop was San Felipe, a very cute town, but much less populated and much colder than expected. This is not the place for nightlife, although there were a few bars on the malecón. It’s a great stop on the way down to rest and relax before continuing your romantic getaway.
We stayed at La Palapa RV camp, a opens, welcoming, no frills camping spot with bathrooms and hot showers, a grill to cook fresh fish (we bought a whole bag of fresh jumbo shrimp for $5 US! …with some bargaining 😜) and a bench to eat on. The campsite is a big lot that is easily accessible from the street, but some of the spots are right in front of the beach!
Driving back up, we stayed at Hotel Las Palmas, a basic 3-star hotel with the basics like wifi, free parking, a simple continental breakfast, and a hot shower, which is all we needed after the month-long trip. Although not on the beach, it also had a “beach volleyball” section if you just need sand in your life (I don’t blame you).
Although it’s a relatively small town, there were enough stores that we could get items we needed to cook (charcoal, oil, etc.) and some vegetables. There are also quite a few restaurant options if cooking isn’t your thing. For a simple, local, inexpensive meal, go to Tortas y Desayunos El Boty (menu and food pictured below).
I also highly recommend Restaurante Rosita. This is on the malecon, but on the edge of it, and definitely had a more authentic feel than restaurants front and center on the malecon. I had shrimp veracruz-style, and it was one of the best meals I had the whole month.
Hang out on the beach!
You can also eat your heart out with all the budget-friendly restaurant options, or just walk around the malecón and maybe haggle for a few touristy items if you feel so inclined.
Our second stop was Bahía de Los Ángeles , another relatively small town with a beautiful beach to set up camp. Don’t expect to have any reception in this town, but also don’t expect to need it when you make it to the beach!
We set up our tent in a palapa at Campo Archelon, an eco-friendly campsite. There’s a palapa to guard you from the wind, with a table and two chairs inside, and a pit to start a fire at each campsite – all Of which are directly on the beach! Close enough the gorgeous water to have the waves put you asleep, but definitely far enough away to not have to worry about a wet tent.
Before making our way to Camp Archelon, we ate a taco place called Mariscos Bahia de Los Angeles (admittedly because we were just really hungry and it was close to us) and got a fish taco and a pork torta. John enjoyed his torta, but at $12, the meal was definitely overpriced for Baja.
I’d recommend making some camp food on the beach if you are stopping at this town, or drive to other more highly rated restaurants. The problem is, a lot of them are family-owned and very casual; if there aren’t a lot of tourists in town at the time, they might be unexpectedly closed – so be prepared!
There’s not much to “do”, and that’s the beauty of Bahía de Los Ángeles. Friendly fireside chats and drinks – right on the beach – with our camping neighbors coupled with a gorgeous sunset made Bahía de Los Ángeles a highlight for us.
Taking the same road (the 1), you can easily make your way to the western edge of Baja to visit yet another small town (though bigger than Bahía de Los Ángeles) called Guerrero Negro. There isn’t a stereotypically pretty beach super close, but there is a bit more to do in the town itself. And at the very least, it’s worth a stop for the Dunes of Solitude, the delicious tacos described below, and a whale watching tour!
A 15 minute drive north of town, you can find a quiet yet mesmerizing hidden gem. Sweeps of sand creating unexpected dunes, named Dunas de Soledad or “the Dunes of Solitude”. It’s aptly named, given that you will likely have a whole lot of solitude; we were there for a total of 18 hours and there was only one other family who visited.
PLEASE GO TO TACOS EL MUELLE / FOOD TRUCK – I’m not an all-caps type of person (okay I am), but it’s necessary for this taco truck. So. Delicious. I rarely ever eat fish in the states, by the way, but I was absolutely *in love* with these fish tacos. The fish, dipped in what I’ll call a magical batter then fried, was truly to die for.
And the process is simple. Just park your car anywhere around the truck, walk up, choose between pescado (fish) and camaron (shrimp) then your preferred tortilla – maiz (corn) or harina (flour). Then you get in line to put all the fixings in front of the truck (try the spicy salsa all the way on the end for an extra kick.) About $1-$2 roughly (20 – 35 pesos) for each taco. Amazing.
Besides playing in the Dunes of Solitude and eating delicious fish tacos, you can also walk around town (a few clothing shops, a couple of coffee shops, an outdoor market, etc.). The best thing to do from the town, however, is going on a whale watching tour! Whale watching season is typically form January to April, so if you’re going during this time, don’t miss this opportunity!
We also saw many dolphins throughout Baja, but especially (perhaps ironically) on the whale watching tour).
We stopped in Mulege, yet another small town, primarily as a base for a cave painting tour. It’s a quaint little town, but there’s plenty of space for camping and lodging of all different kinds if you plan on stopping here.
We set up a tent at the Huerta Don Chano RV Park. It was a nice space with a grill and a table. If you’re planning on camping, we recommend staying here instead of on the beach because this particular beach can get very windy (as we were warned by our cave painting tour guide!).
We cooked at the campsite with the provided grill, but we were able to stop into town and get vegetables and meat. I also HIGHLY recommend getting homemade coconut or pina colada ice cream from Mago’s Coffee and Sweets. Delicious.
Going on a private tour with Salvador to see ancient cave pictographs and petroglyphs was by far the highlight. It was $75 US per person, which is cheap compared to similar cave painting tours in places like Cabo, and Salvador was an incredible, informative, and funny tour guide. The cave paintings are between 3,000 and 9,000 years old! And the tour also included a very unexpected lesson about how to survive in the dessert with the help of the plants! (Still don’t know if I’d survive but it’s the thought that counts, right?)
Bahía de Concepción is a scenic bay with a string of beautiful beaches. We visited Playa El Coyote, a gorgeous beach with islands dotting the horizons, and Playa Requeson, beautiful in it’s own right, with a narrow strip of sand connecting the beach to an island, thus creating the effect of two side-by-side beaches!
You can camp or park an RV at either Playa Coyote or Playa Concepcion for about $8-$10 US dollars per night.
Camping food is my recommendation. There are a few restaurants on and near the beaches, but you’ll likely just want to be on the beach all day and not drive – trust me – so I suggest bringing something of your own to eat/cook.
Be lazy! Play in the water, read, take a nap, meditate, talk to your camping neighbors, or just enjoy the view (especially the sunset/sunrises)! There’s a lot you can do when you don’t have to do anything… (The lack of pictures for this area is an indication of what I’m trying to convey here about complete and utter relaxation!)
Loreto, still a small city to most people, is definitely a bigger city relative to the aforementioned. Here, you can easily get your nightlife fix by bar hopping, especially if you’re going during the winter holidays where everyone is very festive. There are also several hiking and day trip options as well; our main event here, however, was going on an incredible sea kayaking tour. I discuss it and share pictures below, but visit John’s more reflective take on the experience of sea kayaking in Baja if that is something you’re particularly interested in doing!
La Damiana Inn was a great place to stay with extremely friendly and helpful owners. The rooms are clean and big, and there’s a beautiful open area in the middle for guests to eat, chat, and just hand out. Keep in mind though, they have a cat that roams around the premises, so if you’re allergic to cats this might not be the best place to stay.
There are several restaurants in town, but I’d be wary of some of the ones catered to tourists (e.g. Orlando’s, La Palapa, etc.). Although good, they end up a bit overpriced and lacking flavor compared to other options.
If you’re looking for a cafe for a treat, or just good WiFi to catch up, Sea Coffee has a lot of inexpensive pastry options and Café Olé has better WiFi, as well as more food and drink options (including domestic beer).
Mi Loreto was decently priced for a sit down restaurant in the area, and more delicious than some of the others we tried. They serve great tortilla soup, bare fish tacos you can put own fixings on at the table, and a free savory pork pastry appetizer that was a refreshing switch up to the typical chips and salsa.
If you’re looking for some of the best fish tacos / seafood, definitely check out El Caloron. Although technically a sit down restaurant, it is very casual, and the tacos are the price of street/truck tacos (the equivalent of $1 – $2 per taco) while remaining absolutely scrumptious. It was VERY difficult to just have one (….so I never did…). A popular item here are tacos de pulpo / octopus tacos.
The highlight was going on the Kayaking Trip around the Sea of Cortez, with Sea Kayak Adventures. We paddled through gorgeous scenic areas, slept in tents on the sand, woke up to beautiful sunrises, did some fun day hikes, ate well-prepared meals, saw a wide variety of fish while snorkeling (including moray eels!), and chatted over wine, beer, and margaritas on the beach. Visit John’s post for a more reflective take on this experience.
We also went on a beautiful hike in Tabor Canyon, and visited a gorgeous island called Isla Coronado on a day boat trip. Both options were presented to us through the Sea Kayaking Guides. One of the guides, Rafa, took us to the Canyon and the fisherman, Ramón, took us on the boat ride to Coronado. This goes to show that you can really get more bang for your buck out of any excursion if you make friends!
La Paz is the largest town we visited during our romantic getaway in Baja. Like any city (in my opinion), it was fun to simply walk around and explore! You can also go to the popular Balandra Beach, skateboard/roller blade in the skate park on the malecón, or eat a wide variety of ice cream at the different “neverias”.
As La Paz is more of a “city”, there are many lodging options for all different budgets. You likely won’t be able to camp on the beach, but you will be able to find a decently priced airbnb or hotel (or a more luxurious one if you’re looking to treat yourself from all the driving)!
We ate at several great places in La Paz, but the “mariscos” seafood restaurants are the best. Mariscos Bismarkcito is a fine option with nice outdoor seating, but not as tasty and flavorful (more catered to tourists).
Mariscos Los Laureles has absolutely delicious seafood. The whole table enjoyed their meal; it was a huge fan favorite. I got the coconut shrimp (pictured below), and it was fun to try the 10 (literally) different hot sauce options on them.
If you’re looking for something off of the malecón completely, try Mariscos el Toro Guero. One of our kayaking guides claimed this was the best seafood in town, and after trying the ceviche and shrimp burrito there, we couldn’t disagree!
For ice cream, go to La Michoacana or La Fuente a little further down on the Malecon.
You can easily find a tour guide company for swimming with whale sharks, which is a highlight for many people. You can also take day trips to Espiritu Santo, Cabo Pulmo, or Todos Santos for beach hopping and snorkeling.
I’d highly recommend visiting Balandra Beach. The water is so clear and shallow, so it’s the perfect place for relaxing in the water. We were able to walk in an eighth of a mile before the water actually came up to our chests! Make sure to go during the week and as early as possible though, as this is a popular beach that can get crowded.
The malecón is also a great place to meander, and it’s beautifully decorated with international art, meaningful sculptures, and lots of lights during the holiday season.
There you have it! A road-trip-centered guide to exploring Baja on your next romantic getaway, based on my and John’s 1-month experience there. Please feel free to comment with questions or further suggestions!
Loving the old; exploring the new,