In the Mexican state of Baja California, the beautiful seaside town of San Felipe is a must-visit destination. Its position on the northern Sea of Cortez makes it popular with tourists. It is also just a two-hour drive from the state capital of Mexicali heading down Mexico Route 5. Popular for its beaches, cuisine, and recreational activities like off-roading and sport fishing. San Felipe beckons many visitors to travel down Mexico Route 5 to its sun-kissed shores. When you visit San Felipe you will experience captivating scenery, vibrant entertainment, and gorgeous weather!
San Felipe is known as the Gateway to the Sea of Cortez due to its position at the north of the sea. It is at a crossroads where the desert meets the sea. Likewise, the region is wild and remote. In the summer, the weather is Floridian (hot and humid). However, in the winter, it is warm and dry. Also, its beaches are rich in aquatic life and cleanliness. Sometimes, during the new and full moons, sea tides become extraordinarily high. The sea is home to a wide variety of sport fish as well as staples like shrimp. Migrating whales are in these northern waters of the Sea of Cortez and attract many tourists. In the outlying areas of the city, flora like giant cactuses and other desert vegetations thrives. In the outskirts of San Felipe and into the surrounding desert, giant cactuses can be seen along with other desert flora.
Like elsewhere on the Baja Peninsula, evidence of hunting and gathering peoples can be found around the region of San Felipe. Although the Conquistador Hernando Cortes discovered the region in 1535, it remained largely unsettled for centuries. Indigenous tribes were hostile to the Spanish and missionaries who threatened subjugation. The terrain was also a barrier to settlement and a lack of freshwater deterred Europeans from colonization of the peninsula.
San Felipe’s bay was listed on a European map in 1536, but it was not officially known as a city until 1916. Before cityhood, it remained a small fishing village. Even as late as 1940, San Felipe only had one hundred official residents. Yet, as tourism grew, so too did the population. Today, it is a popular vacation destination during winter and spring break.
Tourism in San Felipe
Like Ensenada, Rosarito Beach, and Tijuana, San Felipe is one of the state’s most popular places to vacation. The beaches, with their high tides, are its most popular attraction, but water sports of all kinds are the most popular activities along with sport fishing and off-roading. Eco-travelers may come to see the migrating whales or witness the unusual eco-systems of the landscape. But it seems everyone comes for the glorious weather and views of the sea. Vacationers to San Felipe enjoy fishing, boating, sunbathing, snorkeling, kayaking, off-roading, camping, and much more. The city boasts many fine accommodations, but many vacationers, especially during spring break, enjoy RV or Van camping on the beaches. With its fresh seafood and beachside clubs, San Felipe also has a fun nightlife that always has the sea as its backdrop.
Things to See and Do in San Felipe
The Coast: Enjoying the beaches and water sport is why most people flock to San Felipe. Soak up the sun, watch the tides, snorkel, scuba, or kayak along the coast for a memorable time here.
Sport Fishing: Most tourists head out with local fishermen for a small fee to reel in fish like sea bass, yellowtail, and grouper.
The Valley of the Giants: This popular nature reserve is home to giant cactus species like the thousand-year-old Cardon Cactus. Hiking and photographing the flora and fauna are popular pastimes in this area.
Enjoy the Local Cuisine: Regarded as the home of the fish taco. Many restaurants boast celebrated takes on this must-eat dish. Fresh seafood is a hallmark of local cuisine.
Konsag Island: Located off the coast, this island is a fabulous eco-destination filled with sights of sea lions, sea birds, and marine life.
Off-Roading Adventures: With annual races run near San Felipe like the Baja 500 and Baja 1000, visitors often come to participate or watch the entertaining spectacle of off-roading. The terrain outside of the city is perfect for enjoying this adventuresome pastime. See more about off-roading in San Felipe here.
Puertecitos: This small port to the south is known for its soothing thermal waters. It’s an attractive destination for tourists in search of a remote locale.
Entertainment: Clubs are near the beach and are always hopping on weekends. Dancing, enjoying cocktails, or playing beach volleyball are just some of the activities to enjoy. There are also many hotels and fabulous restaurants that sponsor entertainment, too.