Driving to Baja California
Everything you need to know about visiting Baja California by car,
truck, van, motorcycle or RV.
- Events in Baja
- Our Favorite Baja California Destinations
- Flying to Baja
- Crossing the Border
- Driving to Baja
- Driving Directions in Baja
Insurance Laws in Baja California Sur
Always remember as you drive in Rocky Point you are in Mexico! Even if you have superior insurance in the US that covers damage to your car, they are not able to provide 3rd party damage in Mexico. Without Mexican liability insurance, you could be in trouble. See for yourself by getting a quick quote for Mexican Insurance by clicking here.
Mexico Federal Law: Civil Liability is REQUIRED.
Sonora State Law: Civil Liability is REQUIRED.
At Fault Compensation: The MINIMUM payment for property damage is about $22,405 with no maximum. The actual owed amount will be determined by the courts. For bodily injuries there is no minimum or maximum and the amount owed will be determined by the courts.
What Insurance is best for Baja California?
While liability is required, we would suggest getting complete coverage to make sure your vehicle is covered in the event of an accident. Because There is a minimum of $22,405 that will be owed in the event of an accident, any of our plans will work for you. However because there is no maximum for the ammount you might have to pay, at least $300,000 USD liability is suggested for Baja California.
Getting Around in Baja
The first thing that you’ll need to think about when planning a trip in Baja California is how you will travel. Below are three of the most popular methods.
Driving in Baja
Most people that travel through Baja 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..
Flying to Baja
Taking an airplane flight to a big city in Baja is becoming an increasingly popular way of getting around the area. The main reason that so many people are choosing to fly is because flights to Baja have become cheaper. Flying is an excellent idea for those who can afford it.
Crossing the Border
Once you know how you’re going to get around in Baja, 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. Learn more about crossing the border here.
Tips on Driving in Baja California
Things to See and Do in Baja
Golfing in Baja
There are few areas in the world with golf courses more beautiful than those in Baja California. But as every golfer knows, a beautiful golf course is nothing without challenging holes, a solid layout, and a great overall feel. Luckily, many of the courses in Baja have these characteristics as well. Whether you’re looking to pay big money for an amazing round of golf at a championship course or you don’t mind playing on something a little bit rough around the edges (but with a much smaller price tag), Baja Mexico has you covered. So remember your clubs on your next trip, force yourself up off of the beach, and head down to the nearest golf course – you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Because they are all situated on portions of Baja’s gorgeous coastline, many of the world-class golf courses in Baja offer spectacular views that truly are second to none in the world. Imagine teeing off onto a long and tricky dog-leg left with a perfect view of the Pacific on your side – a whale might even pass by as you swing your club. That’s only part of what you get when you go golfing in Baja. Many of the best courses even incorporate natural elements of the coastline into course. Baja Mar is a good example of this. The course’s superb signature hole, number 5, is a 185-yard par 3 shot over a menacing cove.
Many golfers claim that Baja Mar is the absolute best course in the entire country. In fact, it is widely known as “Pebble Beach South of the Border.” With 27 holes in total, the course offers a little something for everyone. Golfers of all skill levels and abilities will be happy after a round at Baja Mar. Better yet, they have one of the most extensively stocked pro shops in all of Mexico – if you forgot something important at home, then this is the place to pick it up.
Baja Mexico also offers a number of golf courses that are perfect for those on a budget. While they’re definitely not of the same quality as the top courses, these resorts offer high-quality golfing that won’t break the bank.
If you’re visiting Baja Mexico and are hoping to grab a round or two on the links, you won’t be disappointed. The peninsula is full of golf courses that suit players of all skill levels, abilities, and preferences. Many of the best golf courses are even located in the northern part of Baja and are easy to get to on a day trip from San Diego. Just don’t forget your MexInsurance®!
- Baja Mar
- El Dorado Golf Course (in Los Cabos)
- Real del Mar (in Ensenada)
- Club Campestre (in Tijuana)
- The Villas de Cortez Golf Course
- A variety of par 3 golf courses
- Miniature golf establishments can be found throughout the Baja region for the amateurs and less serious golfers in your travel crew.
El Valle de Guadalupe – The Baja California Wine Country
The Valle of Guadalupe is an increasingly popular tourist destination in Baja California, Mexico. Previously it had little renown on the international radar because of its out-of-the-way location. However, the rich winemaking and culinary scene have made it a must-go vacation spot for any wine connoisseur.
Baja California has lived and breathed wine tourism since the 1990s, with the local winemaker’s association even hosting The Grape Harvest Fiesta there annually. Come during the celebration to enjoy wine tasting sessions, concerts, exquisite Mexican cuisine, and, of course, sample the luxurious Baja California wines.
As the most celebrated wine region of the country, Guadalupe Valley is the heart of Mexico’s wine industry. The land and climate of particular wine-making regions like Guadalupe Valley ideally nurture the growth of such grapes that produce red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Ruby Cabernet and white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Palomino, Chenin Blanc, and Saint Emilion. Yet, experts assert that the success of the region isn’t only due to its excellent climate for growing grapes; the innovative techniques and drive of its winemakers are also part of the area’s formula for excellence in wine. Situated just fifteen minutes from Ensenada, Guadalupe Valley is easily one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Many tourists also visit the valley by way of the mountainous city of Tecate. Beginning in the early twentieth century, farmers and winemakers began to transform this paradise-like region into a world-class wine-producing region. More than twenty official wineries now make their home in Guadalupe Valley.
With over so many wineries to choose from and an ever-growing number of first-rate restaurants and hotels, you’re missing out if you don’t make Baja California your next vacation spot!
To help you start planning your trip, here are some of the best wineries and hotels that the Valle of Guadalupe has to offer.
- Xecue Vinicola was founded in 1999 by Jose Luis Hernandez and Alberta Ceja, who have 35 years of winemaking experience. They’ve used their expertise in agricultural engineering and food-based biochemistry to provide a truly unique experience to their customers. While there, you can expect to enjoy your choice of quality wine, freshly baked bread, assorted cheeses, and friendly service. For more information, see their website here.
- Casa Magoni’s founder, Camillo Magoni, has worked on his vineyard for over 50 years to cultivate only the finest fruits. His studies in Italy on winemaking have allowed him to provide only the most exceptional wines to his customers. Casa Magoni itself is built around crafting a relaxed atmosphere perfect for an evening of wine tasting by yourself or with company. The friendly staff offers your choice of wine in addition to a plate of assorted cheeses, almonds, cranberries, and bread accompanied by olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. From there, you may sit indoors or on their patio, where they occasionally provide live music. Visit the website for more photos and to contact this special vineyard.
- Monte Xanic is the best place to experience good Baja California wine and a bit of history, Mexico’s first boutique winery. It was founded in 1987 by five partners with a simple goal in mind: to create the best wine possible no matter the cost. This achievement was done when it was assumed that foreign wines were superior to domestic ones, but Monte Xanic quickly built a reputation for quality. Their wines would go on to be served to dignitaries and high-ranking business people, with the revitalization of Mexico’s winemaking industry being credited to its success. Today, their wines are still considered top-quality, and their wineries are a significant draw for tourists. They offer guided tours of their vineyards and play a large part in the annual harvest celebrations. Find more information at their website here.
- El Cielo Valle de Guadalupe is a full-service winery and resort, offering customers what they’d expect from other wineries paired with the exceptional accommodations of a world-class hotel. The staff is professional and friendly, offering guided tours of the facilities and hosting wine tasting sessions. Professional chefs provide delicious meals to go along with your drink, providing a wholly fulfilling experience. Click here for the website.
- Trevista Vineyards was founded by the husband-and-wife team, James and Hilda Pacheco Taylor. It’s a smaller winery and vineyard, but this is designed to focus on customers as individuals and craft a more memorable experience. They offer several Tempranillo vintages and pair them with homemade tapas-style appetizers crafted to match the wine perfectly. Click here for Trevista website.
- L.A. Cetto is one of the oldest wineries Mexico, and unsurprisingly one of its best. This winery offers regular wine-tasting events and tours. When visiting Ensenada, this is the one winery that wine-lovers should not miss. For more information, look at their website here.
- Adobe Guadalupe is located in the Guadalupe Valley, and also has an inn, making it a popular tourist destination. Pairing delectable wine with gourmet cuisine is at the heart of this winery experience. Click here to visit their website.
- Bodegas de Santo Tomas is situated in the Santo Tomas Valley. This unique winery offers tours, but also boasts a special wine-tasting room along with an art gallery. Click here for their website.
- Chateau Camou was founded in 1995 in the center of Guadalupe Valley. This winery has old-world grafts that have become some of the most excellent grapes of the region. This winery is a popular choice because it provides elegant wine tastings and tours. Click here for the website.
- La Casa de Doña Lupe has a cottage setting. Its earthy enchantment stems from its commitment to organically produced grapes and other foods like honey, cheese, and herbs. Click here to visit their website.
Spas in Baja
With beaches and oceans of activities, Baja also boasts some of the country’s most magnificent spas. If you are looking for a peaceful retreat for rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit, consider Baja California for a relaxing vacation. The following resorts are well known for their fine service and unforgettable treatments.
Rancho La Puerta, in Tecate, is a family-founded and operated Baja spa that has been rejuvenating visitors for over 65 years. The spa is located around 3,000 acres of breathtaking mountains and meadowlands. Many have dubbed this resort as among the first “eco” spas. Guests stroll the various gardens that surround each facility and the healing treatments are found not only within the retreat itself but in the surrounding lands that have been sacred to Native Americans. The space is an aromatic sanctuary that makes use of its healing plants for many of its soothing treatments. You’ll also enjoy delectable fresh cuisine during your stay and you may also opt to participate in a wide array of activities like hiking, swimming, or evening lectures.
La Rocas Resort & Spa, in Rosarito Beach, is located within thirty minutes of Tijuana, so it is no wonder that it is a popular Baja spa and resort among vacationers. It’s beautiful seaside location in Rosarito is complemented by a glorious holistic therapy. Treatments make use of local ingredients like seaweed, jojoba oil, sea salt, and other herbal blends that awaken and rejuvenate the skin. Many guests enjoy beauty treatments in the relaxing salon that features a magnificent view of the ocean. Couples massages are also popular pastimes at this renowned spa.
Sante et Beaute Spa boasts an enchanting environment that will enhance your spa treatments with tranquility and beautiful surroundings. All spa treatments are delivered by expertly trained spa technicians who specialize in ancient and contemporary therapeutic and beauty treatments. The spa features state-of-the-art equipment used to achieve their healthful treatments. Visitors will find that the facility is the perfect place to lose their cares, tension, and stress. You can even begin or end your spa session with a visit to the spa’s renowned fitness center to enjoy an energizing workout. The spa offers affordable pricing for innovative skin treatments like microdermabrasion, oxygen therapy, radiofrequency, and Lumi facials to name just a few. You’ll be able to select a skin treatment that reduces fine lines, removes acne scars, or deeply cleanses for restorative beauty. Sante is just minutes south of San Diego in Tijuana.
When you imagine a trip to Baja Mexico, kayaking is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Though it is not nearly as popular of a vacation activity as soaking up the sun on the beach, fishing, or surfing, sea kayaking is becoming increasingly popular among tourists in the Baja area. Because of the warm year-round temperatures, a kayaking trip to Baja Mexico can be set up for almost any time of the year. However, the balmy temperatures and warm waters present October through May make it the most popular time for kayakers. The Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) is one of the best kayaking spots, although the other side of the peninsula, is also highly acclaimed.
Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez is an experience unlike any other in the world. It is a wonderful way to reach rocky outcroppings, small islands, and hard-to-reach beaches that most tourists don’t even think about. It is also a great way to see more of the local plant and animal life – and there’s a lot of it. The Sea of Cortez is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world and kayaking lets you get up close and personal with much of the life that calls it home.
Experienced kayakers will feel confident in planning their own excursions in the waters around the Baja Peninsula. It is a relatively safe area to kayak in and the only real worry are the sudden high winds (colloquially known as El Norte). However, if you’ve kayaked in rough conditions before and use your common sense of safety, you should be totally fine while kayaking in Baja.
If you’re new to kayaking, you’re still in luck. Baja is a great place for beginners as well. A number of guided kayaking operations are available. Most offer both single kayaks and double kayaks so that you can learn at your own pace. Many visitors even chose to embark on guided kayaking tours of the surrounding area. Some of these tours last five, six, or even ten days. It’s a completely unique way to see the secrets of Baja and fit a fair share of adventure into your vacation as well.
Kayaking in Baja is still an under-the-radar activity but it is quickly becoming more popular. Whether you want to spend a few hours on the water or a full week trekking along the coast, Baja has you covered.
Surfing in Baja
Baja’s beaches are for more than just sunbathing or snorkeling. If you have experience surfing, you should know that the Todos Santos Islands is famous for its big waves. For more information about surfing in Baja, check out these pages:
Exploring Nature: Plants and Animals in Baja
Mexico’s Baja Peninsula is chock-full of amazing plant and animal life. In fact, it is one of the most biologically diverse regions on the entire planet. Though most people visit Mexico to indulge in sandy beaches, extremely surfable waves, excellent restaurants, or world-class fishing, there are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities available for those who love nature. For those who are in Mexico for other reasons, just knowing a bit more about the region’s plant and animal life can make your vacation that much more enjoyable.
Baja Mexico is home to more than one hundred species of birds, however the area is very popular for its seabirds. Because Baja is so warm all year, many types of birds migrate there in the winter for better weather. Brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, cormorants, turkey vultures, royal terns, frigate birds, and osprey are only a handful of the most well-known bird species that populate the area.
For a truly once in a lifetime experience, head on one of the many tours offered to the Midriff Islands, just off the Baja peninsula’s eastern shore in the Sea of Cortez. Here, thousands of birds go about their daily lives in total isolation far away from human encroachment.
If you are on the West coast of Baja, check out the Coronado Islands! These islands are full of wildlife that attracts eco-tourists, partially because they are uninhabited by humans. If you want hands on experiences, the islands also have great kayaking and snorkeling!
Both the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean are home to more types of fish than can be counted. Because of its calmer waters, most nature tourists head to the Sea of Cortez to see fish. Cabrilla, leopard grouper, spotted bay bass, white sea bass, halibut, barracuda, lingcod, sailfish, yellowtail, roosterfish, and marlin are only a few of the types of fish that are known to be abundant in the area.
There are a variety of snorkeling opportunities and many of the colorful fish that you can see are similar to those that you can find in tropical waters.
Fishing in Baja Mexico is a hit because even the most inexperienced fishermen are nearly guaranteed a catch. (You don’t even have to worry about disrupting the ecological balance. Many tour groups offer catch and release fishing programs so that you can get a feel for the fishing lifestyle without taking away from nature.)
Check out San Felipe, if you want a gorgeous place to fish! Located on the Sea of Cortez, this beautiful beach city is also known for its camping, restaurants, and hotels.
There are so many fun activities to do in Baja that many tourists overlook whale watching. These people are missing out! Whale watching is one of Baja’s absolute best attractions and the expertise of several of the tour groups practically guarantees that you will see whales during winter excursions.
Baja California is well known for whale watching, in fact, hundreds of people flock to the area every year specifically to see the whales and their young. However, there are so many other things to do that many people who only have a casual interest in whales will often opt out of a whale watching tour. You shouldn’t! Even if you don’t have a passionate interest in whales, a whale-watching trip in Baja Mexico is worth it. Tours are cheap, absolutely amazing, and only take half of a day at most. It’s the chance of a lifetime. They’re amazing creatures that are quickly becoming endangered. Who knows when they won’t be around any longer? A whale-watching adventure is a great way to see them before they are gone and to learn a thing or two about how to keep them around long into the future.
Check out this Baja whale watching tour!
Why Whales Migrate Through Baja
Baja is such a great whale-watching destination because of its warm and calm waters. Because the water is so peaceful, many species of whales migrate to them during the winter to rear their young. If you are lucky enough to go on a tour from January to April, you might just see whales actually giving birth! During those months, many types of whales swim into the shallower and gentler lagoons and bays to have their young.
All of the species of whales that frequent the ocean around the Baja Peninsula are amazing, but the most popular – the crowd favorite, if you will – is the gray whale. Reaching lengths of over 50 feet and weighing more than 35 tons, gray whales are truly extraordinary animals. They also are very friendly and will oftentimes come close to ships. Best of all, over 10,000 gray whales migrate to the Baja area each year, so you are pretty much bound to see a pod if you arrive in the winter months.
In addition to gray whales, finback whales, whale sharks, and the occasional blue whale can be spotted both in the Pacific near Baja and in the Sea of Cortez off of its eastern shore. You’re bound to see something on a whale-watching trip in Baja Mexico.
Other Ocean Life
Fish and whales aren’t the only creatures that live in the oceans around Baja – not by a long shot.
Dolphins, sea lions, manta rays, exotic fish, giant squid, white sharks, jellyfish, crabs, starfish, mollusks and a number of other sea creatures also dart happily around. There are amazing animals just under the surface of both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez!
Insider Tips. Before you drive your boat to Mexico, make sure to get your watercraft insurance. The dock master will require it!
Other Land Life
Though much of Baja California has harsh desert-like conditions, a wide variety of animals other than birds call the area home. Jackrabbits, mice, squirrels, coyotes, mountain lions, foxes, desert bighorn sheep, and deer are all mammals that a keen traveler can spot. A number of turtles, snakes, and lizards can also be found in Baja. They include the desert iguana, coast-horned lizard, leatherback turtle, loggerhead turtle, green turtle, western blind snake, western diamondback, and the yellow-bellied sea snake.
Many visitors to Baja don’t really consider how absolutely amazing it is that plant life is able to survive – and even thrive – in such unforgiving desert conditions! Even if a nature walk isn’t high on your list of vacation activities, it is interesting to be able to identify the most common species of desert plants that you will see, even around town. Over 100 species of Cacti, 19 types of agave, a number of palm trees, ironwood trees, conifers, mimosas, and wild figs are all found in the region.
Vacationing in Baja Mexico shouldn’t only be about relaxing and sitting on the beach. Simply being able to identify a few of the most common plant and animal species can make your travels that much more enjoyable. Plus, you’ll have more interesting stories to tell your friends back home. Whether you’re a nature lover or just want to see a few animals when you can, Baja Mexico is one of the best places on Earth for it.
Animal Sanctuaries of Baja
If straying off the beaten path isn’t really your style, you should know that Mexico has many zoos throughout the country and the animal sanctuaries of Baja boast an extraordinary array of wildlife. Many of the region’s representative wildlife can be viewed in the peninsula’s zoos and aquariums. Whether you are looking for family-friendly outings while traveling in Baja California or you simply wish to encounter some amazing creatures include them in your travel plans. Some options include:
El Serpentario De La Paz is in Baja Sur’s capital city of La Paz. El Serpentario is best known for its resident reptilian population. However, the venue also focuses on amphibians. Within walking distance of the sea, the zoo allows visitors to make eye contact with tortoises, rattlesnakes, and even alligators. It’s a must-visit attraction if you are visiting the beautiful La Paz located on the Sea of Cortez.
The Tijuana Zoo is home to jaguars, bears, pumas, and a myriad of other animals. While the zoo is not as large as its famous cousin to the north, the San Diego Zoo, the Tijuana Zoo has more than 500 animals. The zoo is a splendid attraction to enjoy during the day when visiting Tijuana.
Santiago Zoo is less than forty miles north of San Jose Del Cabo. The Santiago zoo makes a fine day trip for anyone wanting to break up their beach vacation with something different. The zoo collects animals that are native to the region. The wonderfully crafted exhibits of this zoo are a delight to see. They give visitors an intriguing picture of the peninsula’s natural habitats. With gardens full of mango trees and cacti, the zoo is a refreshing attraction that will please visitors of all ages.
Other Must-Sees for Nature Lovers
Parque Nacional Constitucion in the Sierra de Juarez range is near the city of Ensenada. This beautiful woodland area is famous for its pine trees and wildlife.
Sierra de San Francisco Caves are under the protection of the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. They feature prehistoric cave paintings were crafted by indigenous peoples in the region thousands of years ago.
The Baja Peninsula is, of course, home to beautiful beaches and incredible terrain. It’s easy to forget that the setting also features zoos and animal reserves when the sun and sea beckon. However, these attractions afford something out of the ordinary that everyone can enjoy. Set aside a morning or afternoon to visit any of these venues if you happen to be in Baja. You won’t be disappointed; on the contrary, viewing these creatures will likely be an unforgettable experience.
Events in Baja
There is always some event happening in Baja. The question is, what are you in the mood for? Whether you love to kick back and relax on the beach with a good book, explore ancient Mayan ruins, or just party the night away, you can do it all in Baja. Filled with great things to see and do, Baja features a wide variety of activities for visitors of all ages and interests.
Here are some of the highlights of Baja, including the goings-on in Tijuana, Ensenada, and Rosarito.
Several times a year SCORE puts on off-road races in Baja.
Baja 500 is a race around San Felipe that is 500 miles! This is one of the biggest events of the year, you don’t want to miss it.
Baja 1000 is a race around Ensenada and La Paz. There are several different events that include point to point races as well as loop races. People from all over the world to attend this event.
Check out the schedule here.
To learn more about Off Roading in Mexico check out out Ultimate Guide to Off Roading in Mexico.
Craft Beer Adventures
If wine is not your thing, you can still enjoy some adult beverages the next time you visit Baja. Tijuana is not all about all-night partying and drunken shenanigans – there is an amazing craft brew scene here, one that is focused more on quality than quantity.
Beyond Tijuana, there are craft breweries throughout the Baja region. Whether you crave a rich dark stout, a light ale, or something in between, you can find it south of the border. Just grab your glass, call your friends and get ready to have a great time. Remember, don’t drink and drive in Mexico!
Water Sports Galore
The Baja peninsula is right on the water, and that is good news for fans of adventure sports. From kiteboarding to waterskiing, from surfing, scuba diving to deep-sea fishing, you can enjoy some wet and wild adventure no matter when you visit.
You don’t even need to bring your own gear, although you can if you wish. There are plenty of local outfitters who can provide everything you need, from fishing tackle to surfboards.
Tijuana Toy Run
The Tijuana Toy Run takes place in December every year for the children of Tijuana. Get your bike ready, put on your helmet and strap a few gifts to the luggage rack because San Diego Harley Davidson and the Solo Angeles are firing up everyone for the kids.
Rosarito Ensenada Bike Ride
The famous Rosarito Ensenada Bike ride takes place twice per year. As far as Baja Events go, this is is a must-try.
Rosarito’s Baja Beach Fest
The Baja summer season is the ideal getaway for beach lovers. While it’s always a good idea to head south of the border to enjoy the state’s glorious beaches and seemingly endless sunshine, summer promises a wealth of festivals and beachside events like Baja Beach Fest.
The Baja Beach Fest is a live music festival that is especially known for its Latin and Reggae performances. The fest attracts throngs of music lovers to the shores of the Pacific. There are loads of vendors at the fest that sell a wide array of food and drink. To get in, you’ll need a ticket and will have to present your ID or passport. Tickets and VIP tickets sell out quickly so be sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible.
Spring Break in Baja
For more things to do in Baja during spring break visit:
Fishing Tournaments in Baja
For information about fishing tournaments in Baja visit:
No matter what you plan to enjoy in Baja, make sure to remember your Baja Insurance. Your US or Canadian Insurance is not valid in Mexico and as of Jan 2019, it is a federal law to carry at least minimum liability from a Mexican company. Check out MexInsurance.com® where the program is exclusively online, fast and convenient and you won’t find better prices anywhere. Get your Baja Insurance Quote here.
Our Favorite Baja California Destinations
Travelers from the United States and Canada can enter Mexico but must register for an FMM, Tourist Permit “Tourist Card”. You can get a multiple-entry card for up to 180 days. If your stay is less than 7 days, there is no cost.
If you’re already in Baja and want to cross the Sea of Cortez over to Sinaloa or Sonora, or vice-versa the ferry is an option. You can drive your motorhome, RV, or car right onto the ferry and relax during the trip.
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. Be sure to check the Baja Map and … have a good time!
Driving to Baja
Driving to Baja is as simple as crossing the border. Once you cross, you’re in Baja! But to go further south you’ll need to get through Tijuana. When driving from San Diego to Rosarito you can easily get there by either the Free road (Carretera Libre) or the Toll Road (Carretera Cuota). Just follow the signs!
The toll on the Carretera Cuota is currently 60 pesos or around $3.00 depending on the exchange rate. You also have emergency telephone lines located every mile alternating sides along the road and emergency services such as the ANGELES VERDES (Green Angels) who can reach you in case of an incident or accident (dial 078).
Here is a more extensive guide about what to know when driving in Baja.
Important driving tip
When driving on the free road and you want to make a left turn, if you have incoming traffic on your rearview mirror, pull to the right shoulder and wait for traffic to clear before making a left turn, or you can continue until you reach the nearest return.
Driving Directions in Baja
Tijuana to Ensenada
As a major border city, Tijuana acts as an essential gateway to the state of Baja California as well as the nation of Mexico. When driving in northern Mexico, Tijuana is a great place to begin a journey since highways easily connect it to other major Baja cities as you can see on the Baja map. The 73-mile trip to Ensenada from Tijuana takes less than two hours.
Tijuana to Ensenada Free (Libre)
- Going north on Avenida Constitucion and turn right on Calle 4TA.
- Turn left on Avenida Revolucion and then right on Calle 2DA.
- Veer slightly left to merge onto Tecate/Mex 2.
- Then, make a slight left on Via Poniente.
- Via Poniente will become Avenida Internacional and then Periferico within a couple of miles.
- Head onto the ramp for Mex 1D/Ensenada and then merge onto Carretera Ensenada-Tijuana.
- Remain on Carretera Ensenada-Tijuana and then follow the signs for Mex 1 Carretera Transpeninsular.
- Head slightly left onto Mex 1/Esmeralda and then turned left on-ramp where you’ll merge onto Ejercito Nacional.
- At Avenida Cortes, take a right. At Avenida Mexico, make a left.
- Go right on Avenida Manuel M. Ponce and head straight into Ensenada.
Tijuana to Ensenada Toll (Cuota)
Hop on the Toll road in Tijuana for Rosarito/Ensenada, exit in Ensenada.
Mexicali to Tijuana
As the state capital, Mexicali is also a popularly visited border town. The 114-mile trip takes roughly two and a half hours to complete across the northern stretch of the state. You can see from the Baja map, the trek is approximately a straight shot west from the capital city.
- Head east on Rio Ticolutla and turn left on Calle Novena.
- Make a left on Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas and follow the signs Tijuana.
- Take the Heroico Colegio Militar exit, which becomes Mex-2.
- Mex-2 becomes Mex-2D which you should take to Boulevard Industrial by making a slight right onto the ramp.
- Merge onto Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas which becomes Avenida Internacional.
- Take a left at Boulevard Cuauhtemoc Norte and then head straight to merge onto Boulevard Cuauhtemoc Sur.
- Make a slight right at Rio Suchiate and then turn left on Boulevard Cuauhtemoc Sur Pte.
- Make a right on Boulevard Agua Caliente which becomes Avenida Revolucion.
- Turn left on Calle 5TA then west on Avenida Constitucion and head into town.
Mexican authorities try to maintain a balance in the prices of gasoline so you can expect the price to be around that of the U.S. You can find Pemex Stations all around Rosarito but remember that on long U.S. holiday weekends there are more tourists and more demand. As always is a good idea to plan ahead and come prepared while driving to Baja, you don’t want to be running on empty and have to wait in a long line because you are desperate.
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.
Taking the Scenic Routes: RV Camping in Baja California
Why bring your RV to Baja California for vacation? Because it is a picturesque state on the Baja Peninsula and one of the best ways to explore this glorious landscape is through an RV camping trip. Keep reading for our complete breakdown of the best RV campgrounds you should explore on your next RV Camp in Baja California.
Thankfully, most RV parks in Rocky Point also allow tents, but if camping in an RV park is not your idea of camping, then head a few miles north or south of town (just make sure that you’re outside of city limits) where beach camping is legal. It’s a bit of a drive but it is worth it if you want to wake up to the ocean nearly lapping at your tent flap!
Los Olivos RV Park is a four-acre campground, known for its serenity and cleanliness. Located in the San Quintin Valley, Baja California, Mexico, visitors get to relax surrounded by green grass, beautiful flowers, and palm trees. Los Olivos is situated on an olive grove, which is the origin of the campground’s name.
Address: San Quintín, Baja California 22830 Tel: +52 616 111 3205
Playa Saldamando is a beautiful, family-friendly campground with over one-mile of coastal property. The property offers private campsites on the beach or the cliffs above. Playa Saldamando has employees on-site 24/7 to help guests with any of their needs. As the property is so large, Playa Saldamando can accommodate large groups.
Address: Carr. a Tijuana Km 94, 22760 El Sauzal, B.C., Mexico Tel: +52 646 118 5974
Rancho Ojai is a beautiful countryside campground full of oak trees. The campground offers full amenities, including electricity hookups, drinking water, a clubhouse, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and more. This is the perfect spot for a quiet, relaxing few days with other touring families and visitors.
Address: Mexicali, 21506 Tecate, B.C., Mexico Tel: +52 665 655 3014
Costa Carel RV Park is a seaside campground in Tijuana. This RV park is gated with a private pool and affordable prices. During your stay, you get quick access to the ocean, and you’re only a ten-minute drive away from downtown Ensenada!
Address: Carr Tijuana-Ensenada Km 107, Zona Playitas, 22870 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico Tel: +52 646 183 9583
Club de Pesca RV Park is a family-owned and operated RV campground. This beach-front property offers full amenities and gorgeous views. The Club de Pesca RV Park is known as a “fishing club,” so it’s ideal for people who are interested in fishing during their stay.
Address: 21850, Playa 229, Mar de Cortés, San Felípe, B.C., Mexico Tel: +52 686 577 1180
El Valle RV Park is a complete experience offering guests accommodations at campsites, an onsite restaurant, or recommendations for the best local wineries to visit. The RV campground offers full hookups with clean water, a free dumping station for guests, washroom and bathroom facilities, and 20-amp power for RV charging.
Address: Rancho San Marcos s/n, El Porvenir, 22750 Valle de Guadalupe, B.C., Mexico Tel: +52 646 276 1494
Insider tips for RV Camping through Baja California, Mexico:
- In the event that the covered vehicle runs out of fuel, MexInsurance will arrange and pay for bringing enough fuel to the vehicle so that you may drive it to the nearest gas station (within Mexico).
- Plan your trip so you can make sure you never run out of gas in between campsites.
- Plan which scenic spots you want to stop for, so you don’t drive right by them!
- Prepare for tank dumps.
- Don’t get locked out of your campground! Many RV parks require you check-in by a particular time before they close the gates for the night. Make sure you get to your campsite with plenty of time for check-in.
- Pack snacks!
- Don’t forget that you’ll also need Mexican car insurance when driving your RV into the country. However, if you plan only to drive in the peninsula, you will not need a driving permit.
Enjoy the Outdoors: Tent Camping Baja
Although Baja California is full of hotels and resorts to suit every budget, many travelers simply prefer to camp in order to immerse themselves the in the beautiful surroundings of the Baja Peninsula. Camping near the coasts allows vacationers to fall asleep to the soothing sound of the waves. Camping in Mexico also affords travelers a suitable destination to drive to and experience all the attractions this region of Mexico has to offer.
Locating Campgrounds. The Baja Peninsula has tons of campgrounds for vacationers. Some are quite rustic while others have a wide array of amenities. It’s always helpful to search online for campgrounds located where you plan to travel. Cities like Rocky Point, San Felipe, and Cabo San Lucas, for example, are home to a wide array of campgrounds that are great for both RVs and people with tents. You can often easily find online reviews for many of the campsites too.
If you are visiting remote areas–possibly in search of great surfing destinations–you will also want to search online for possible campgrounds in the area. Camping is extremely popular throughout the peninsula. Planning, however, will help you create a great itinerary for your camping trip.
Insider Tips. Remember to create a checklist so that you bring everything that you need. If you are planning to camp at a remote site, you may not have easy access to purchase items like water, matches, or any other items you might need.
Depending on where you camp, evenings can be cool while days can be quite hot. Once you know where you are going to hoist your tent, you can do a search for upcoming weather conditions associated with your destination.
Enjoying the Attractions of the Baja Peninsula
Camping allows travelers to get to know the climate and terrain in a memorable way. The peninsula boasts enchanting vistas of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Many campers love to fish, as well as hike the natural surroundings. If you want to get away from the seaside for a bit, you can drive inland toward the vineyards of beautiful Valle de Guadalupe or explore the ancient caves and archaeological sites of the landscape.
While camping can be economical, it is also many people’s preferred way to experience an eco-vacation in an exotic locale. Cooking your own meals over a fire and feeling the ocean breeze as you sleep is a delightful way to enjoy getting to know a foreign country. When traveling to Mexico, don’t forget to bring your travel documents and keep them in a safe place at all times. While many adventurists like to camp off the beaten track, it’s always a safe idea to camp in designated areas.
Where to Stay: 5 of Valle de Guadalupe’s Top Hotels
El Cielo Valle de Guadalupe is both one of the best wineries in Baja California and one of the best hotels. Located on the winery property, the hotel features three villa suite options, each overlooking a lake reservoir with a furnished terrace.
Suites range from 592 square feet with space for four people to 2,669 square feet with space for ten. Each suite features a full bathroom and living room. The Master and Presidential Suites also have a full kitchen, fireplace, jacuzzi, and, of course, a wine cooler.
El Cielo Valle de Guadalupe is dog-friendly and offers free Wi-Fi as well as 24-hour room service. There’s even a pool and tennis court. Click here to make a reservation.
Encuentro Guadalupe is a mountain vineyard with a hotel, wine tasting room, and wine cellar tour that offer a truly unique experience. The hotel features 20 loft suites built separately from one another all along the hillside.
Each loft features a private bath, fireplace, and jaw-dropping view. You can also take in that view from the outdoor pool or the Resguardo Silvestre, an on-site restaurant and bar. Pets are allowed, but children under 13 are not. Free Wi-Fi and complimentary bottled water are included. Click here for more information or to reserve your room.
Grupo Maglen isn’t actually a single hotel—it’s three. All three are owned by the Maglen Resort Group, located on the same property, and are fantastic places to stay in Baja California. You can take your pick from Hotel Encinal, Las Villas, or Tesela.
Each hotel caters to a different style, but all three have a pool, internet, brewery, winery, and restaurant access—what more could you ask for?
Encinal lays among shady oaks and features a family-friendly atmosphere with warm, inviting colors and an open-air theatre. Las Villas is the largest of the hotels and the most luxurious with an upscale feel and modern style. Tesela is for nature lovers with stand-alone “cube” suites with floor-to-ceiling windows and rustic décor. Click here for more information or to book a room.
Agua de Vid is perfect for you, if you’re looking for eclectic flare and stunning architecture. An interesting indoor/ outdoor, modern chic meets industrial mix that goes heavy on recycled materials, the hotel is a sight to see. It also features a night bar, kitchen, pool, and spa.
There are 24 luxury rooms with air conditioning, pets are allowed, breakfast is free, and there is a lot to do within walking distance—including several public winery tours. Click here for more information.
Hotel Boutique Valle de Guadalupe offers a little something to please everyone, with a charming yet modern hacienda-style and a myriad of room options. You can opt for anything from a single-bed standard room to a two-story suite with two bathrooms and everything in between. Click here for more information.
Touring Valle Guadalupe and Other Baja California Wine Regions. Besides Guadalupe Valley, other important state wine regions include: San Vicente Valley, Santo Tomas Valley, and Calafia Valley. Each of these regions is in close proximity to the Pacific Coast; close to major tourist towns like Ensenada and Rosarito they are a popular pick for visitors. Many of the wineries of these regions boast popular vineyard tours and wine-tasting events. Although the wineries have adopted many new techniques, especially in irrigation, their landscapes still retain a pristine and natural setting. Often, acclaimed wineries lie off simple dirt roads. The provincial air of the wine regions is just one reason why tourists love the way Mexico produces its wines.
History of Baja California
In 1853 William Walker with 45 men captured La Paz and declared himself President of “Lower California”. Ultimately, Mexico forced him to retreat a few months later. Then, in 1930 the peninsula was divided into North and South Baja. In, 1952 Baja California becomes the 28th State of Mexico.
In many ways, the history of the state reflects the history of the Baja Peninsula itself. The earliest peoples to the region began to settle throughout the landscape as much as 11,000 years ago. Some of these hunter-gather peoples include the Cochimi, Cocopa, Quechan, and Kiliwa. Besides practicing hunting and gathering, many groups took part in fishing as part of their sustenance. Eventually, even small-scale agriculture played a part in life for many areas of the peninsula where herding animals or planting crops was geographically permissible.
In 1530, a monumental occurrence hit the peninsula when Spanish conquistadors arrived. Unlike other parts of Mexico, the Spanish threat to the indigenous people came centuries later. The harsh climate was a deterring factor to Spanish settlement just as the sea, desert, and mountains made travel there particularly difficult. Also, the indigenous people were openly hostile to the Spanish and rebelled against any form of subjugation by foreigners. A few centuries after the Spanish “discovered” the peninsula, missionaries like the Jesuits began to settle in the region of Baja California. Eventually, this upper part of the peninsula was annexed to Mexico as a state with its lower “Baja California Sur” remaining as a territory until 1974, when it became a state.
The Indigenous Tribes of Baja
Which Indigenous tribes are from Baja California? Mexico has a rich history, but much of that history isn’t known to the general public. There are several tribes that played a large role in the early history of the Baja Peninsula, southern California, and Mexico as a whole.
Somewhere between the Kiliwa, Kumeyaay and Cocopa in northern Baja California are the Paipai. The Paipai first encountered Europeans when Sebastián Vizcaíno‘s expedition mapped the northwest coast of Baja California in 1602. Paipai focused more on hunting and gathering than agriculture, as was the case for many indigenous tribes in this area. The main Paipai settlement is located in Santa Catarina, a community that is also shared by the Kumeyaay and Kiliwa. Unfortunately, the Paipai language has all but faded.
The Kumeyaay live right at the border of Baja California and southern California. Actually, the Kumeyaay are made up of two separate groups: the Ipai and Tipai. These two groups are divided by the San Diego River. According to some evidence, the Kumeyaay settlement may be as old as 12,000 years. While the population was once believed to be over ten thousand, there are only a few thousand Kumeyaay left today.
The Cochimi were the original settlers of central Baja. The Cochimi language bears a resemblance to the Yuman language of the area. As far as the indigenous Mexican tribes go, the Cochimi were very unique in the food they ate and the practices they followed.
The Cucapás are a group of Native Americans from Baja California, Sonora, and Arizona. The name translates to “cloud people,” which originated from the fog on the Colorado River. Cucapás was originally a part of Patayan culture, which is why they were big on agriculture in addition to relying on hunting and gathering food.
The Kiliwa live between the Cochimi and the Pai Pai in northern Baja California. While the Nakipa group is often considered separate from Kiliwa, there is also evidence to suggest that both groups spoke the same Kiliwa language. While the Kiliwa were believed to have been a large group at one point, the population had severely declined by the time of Mexican independence in 1821.
Mexico has a rich and storied history that goes far beyond a single group of people. If you want to learn more about some of these indigenous tribes, to learn more about the mainland Mexico indigenous tribes see this article here.