The first thing that you’ll need to do to get around in Baja California 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 on surfing trips. 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 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 trip.
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.
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 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. Flying is an excellent idea for those who need can afford it, especially if you have your own plane.
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.
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.
The Border Crossing
There are six entry-points or border crossings between the United States and Baja. 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 but must register for an FMM, Tourist Permit “Tourist Card”. You can get a multiple-entry car for up to 180 days. If your stay is less than 7 days, there is no cost.
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!