It is a little sad to begin the return trip North. The good news is now you know all the great spots to stop for a swim, grab delicious food and buy cold beers. Another piece of good cheer is the inviting town of San Ignacio.
The friendly village of San Ignacio offers stunning vistas, a beautiful misión and a real taste of life on the Baja Peninsula. We were a little worn down by this point in the trip, but made sure to take advantage of one of the many hiking trails on offer. Information on the city and trails are expertly provided by Jane Beard Ames at Casa Leree.
We followed a path from behind Casa Leree toward a large cross on the hilltop. After so many hours and days of viewing cacti from afar, it was so lovely to be up close and personal. Don't get too personal, though, as even a light brush against certain cacti can be painful.
La Paz, our furthest point south, is a lovely change of pace. Situated around four hours South of Loreto, this bustling city is named 'Peace' for a reason. With it's long and beautiful Malacón (seafront walkway) and plenty of stunning beaches on the outskirts of town, La Paz is bound to be a favorite to many. For us, other than being able to say we drove the entire peninsula, we found no reason to continue the additional 130 mile trek to the resort town of Cabo San Lucas.
While there are cheaper options in town, we splurged on the two room penthouse suite at Posada Colibri. At 120$ per night this was by far our most expensive room, but there were three of us and at this point in the trip we were happy to have such spacious and comfortable digs. The rooms have strong wifi, great views and come with an excellent poolside breakfast of coffee, tea, fresh breads, fruit, yogurt and eggs. Our hosts were incredibly friendly, helpful and even supplied us with snorkels and tips for exploring the coastline via kayak.
We were drawn to Pichilingue beach with the promise of kayak rentals, access to other private beaches and a small island nearby which was home to a colony of sea lions. Pichilingue beach is a short and pretty drive out of town taking the Malacón south until it turns into the 11 highway, a total of around 12 miles. We stocked a foam cooler with drinks and snacks and headed on out.
Once you have soaked up plenty of sunshine and have accumulated an appropriate amount of sand in your car, load up and head to the charming seaside town of Loreto. Small and easy to navigate, with a beautiful misión and town center, Loreto is a relaxing place to spend a few days. This town has quite the history and is thought to be the oldest human settlement in Baja.
We have twice stayed at La Damiana Inn and it is a great and affordable option. Clean and with good wifi, coffee in the mornings, a fabulous garden area and exceedingly friendly hosts.
Plus, from here you are so close to the clam extravaganza of your dreams! At Almejas Conchos, clams are literally the name of the game and you will be glad they are. Did I mention the owner here is super friendly? He is.
After this morning's whale adventure, it is actually refreshing to get in the car for the quick 4 hour drive to Mulegé. The scenery remains breathtaking and about every five minutes someone will exclaim--I can't believe I touched a whale! And you did! Way to go!
Now we are crossing the Baja Penninsula from the Pacific Coast to the Sea of Cortez, passing through (you guessed it!) more desert. The scenery on this leg of the trips changes a bit from the typical desert scenes we have seen thus far to dramatic fields of boulders.
Additionaly, there are some beautiful mountains and old volcanos on display. Plus, some spectacularly steep and narrow highway curves, enjoy!
Driving down the Baja Peninsula is one of the most rewarding road trips I can think of. The diversity of this area, on land and in sea, is truly unmatched and exploring this thin strip can offer some of the most impressive memories you can imagine. Oh, and did I mention the food?
I have made the long trip only twice, but have made many many short jaunts down while living in Southern California. Planning the trip is fairly straight forward, as the Peninsula offers only a handful of accommodations coordinating with the activities in each area.
A logical starting point is Tijuana (unless you are one of the lucky folks living in San Diego). Tijuana is such a joy to visit these days. If you enjoy tacos, get ready. Tacos in Tijuana are a truly special treat and should not be missed. There are several spots worth seeking out and many more dotted throughout the city. Look for smoke and a good crowd of people and order up.
We have consistently found delicious fresh tacos a bit outside of the tourist zone, around the red light district on the corner of Calle Baja California and Avenida Constitucion.
These little tacos pack a punch. Carne asada (grilled steak) and birria de res (stewed, shredded, saucy beef) are the only meats on offer and they are fantastic. Get them 'con todo' (with everything) or 'con verduras' (with veggies)--both mean the same thing: onions, cilantro, salsa and guacamole*when applicable*-- to be sure you don't miss out on the best bite possible. At this puesta, the carne asada is so smoky and beefy, the birria tender, dripping down your chin juicy and delicious. Birria comes sans guacamole, because that is the way it comes. At around a dollar each, get two at least, three if you are smart. It is also typical here and throughout Mexico to throw a few pinto beans on top of your carne asada. Don't get me wrong, these beans are delicious, but for my taste, and keeping in mind I want to eat at least a million tacos, I forgo, but by all means, do it up!