The first thing that you’ll need to do to get around in Baja Mexico is deciding on your method of travel. Below are three of the most popular methods.
In the early days of surfing, hitchhiking was the most popular way to travel through Baja Mexico on a surfing trip. Surfers from San Diego and Southern California would cross the border with little more than a surfboard, a sleeping bag, and a little spending money. Today, with the increased criminal dangers, hitchhiking isn’t as safe or as popular as it once was, but adventurous travelers still sometimes do it. Before setting out on a hitchhiking trip through Baja, understand that there are often long stretches of roads without towns or even other vehicles. Simply put, you might find it hard to catch rides at times.
In the same vein as hitchhiking is taking public transportation. The public transportation system is a little lackluster in Baja Mexico so it can be difficult to get exactly where you want to go when relying solely on it. However, with a little preparation and research (and a lot of patience), you can use buses for most of your Baja surfing trip.
Driving in Baja
Most people that travel through Baja Mexico choose to use a car or other motorized vehicle for getting around. Driving is a great way to see the country. It is also cheap and easy. It allows you to get to the more isolated villages, beaches, and mountains that public transportation limits you from seeing.
If you’re planning on driving in Baja, make sure that you read up on the rules of the road – they’re different than in the states. You will also want to get Mexico insurance before beginning your trip. In addition, if you’re planning on surfing at any out-of-the-way spots, you should strongly consider using a 4×4 vehicle – the dirt paths connecting many parts of the peninsula are often extremely bumpy.
Flying to Baja
Taking an airplane flight to a big city in Baja Mexico is becoming an increasingly popular way of getting around the area. The main reason that so many people are choosing to go this route is that it is becoming cheaper and that the dangers of drivers are becoming more pronounced. While flying is an excellent idea for those wishing to surf only a few spots, it isn’t as good for those who want to surf out-of-the-way areas. Luckily, it is easy to rent a car at the airport.
Once you know how you’re going to get around in Baja Mexico, you have to go about getting into the country. If you’re flying in, then it is reasonably straightforward. It is just like entering any other country as a tourist. Simply, bring your passport and other required pieces of identification and pass through customs at the airport. If you are hitchhiking, driving, or taking public transportation, then things get a little more complicated.
The Border Crossing
There are six entry-points or border crossings between the United States and Baja Mexico. You will have to go through one of these to enter the country. Most people choose to go through the main border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana. While it is the most crowded, it is also the most efficient and the safest.
Travelers from the United States and Canada can enter Mexico without a passport (but with an Enhanced Driver’s License) or tourist card. However, you can only cross if you plan on staying north of Ensenada or San Felipe and don’t stay for more than 72 hours. If you want to stay longer, then you will have to invest in one of several tourist card options. One tourist card lets you stay in the country for seven days. The other, slightly more expensive card, allows you to stay for up to 180 days.
Once you’re in Baja, finding your way around is remarkably easy. There are not nearly as many highways as in the United States or Canada. There are a few main highways and as long as you stick to them (and drive only during the daytime) you will most likely be fine.