Baja California is the twelfth largest state by area in Mexico. Its geography ranges from beaches to forests and deserts and is simply beautiful. Whether surfing is your passion or you are a hike and trail enthusiast Baja has something for everyone!
Our journey path
From the border town of Tijuana we head south taking in Catholic missions, lagoons and coastline. Then we cross the Sea of Cortez heading for the Copper Canyon on Mexico’s mainland, home of the modern cowboy and the ancient Tarahumara Indians.
On the Road
When you travel in Baja, you have to take everything that people tell you with a grain of salt. Be adventurous if you are driving your own car, and explore the side roads, even if somebody has told you that they are impossible, just make sure you’ve got a decent off road four wheel drive vehicle.
There is only one road in Baja California. It was built about 20 years ago and it goes all the way from the south to the north. And one of the best ways to travel on it is hitch-hiking, if you can get a lift. If you’re patient it’s easy to get a ride because on these long journeys through nothing people go a bit mad without someone to talk to. Tijuana to San Quintin is about 200 miles, a journey broken only by a quick stop at Baja’s natural shower, just off the main highway.
Travelling in Baja is not exactly frenetic. There is a cheap bus service but it’s only occasional and there is a lot of waiting involved. Around 3 buses a day go up and down the trans-peninsular highway, and they are reliable and on time. But if you plan on getting any sleep, then forget it, they are really crowded and noisy.
The rancheros in San Ignacio rent out mules for just five dollars and for another five are happy to guide you where there are no paths, towards the caves in the cliffs of the Baja interior.
From La Paz you can cross the Sea of Cortez by either plane or boat to get to the Mexican mainland. The plane costs about $40 and only takes an hour, the boat is a quarter of the price but takes most of the day.
Heading inland to the wild and famous Copper Canyon is an 8 hour train journey from Creel, but it only costs 20 pesos. You’ll pass through stunning and breathtaking countryside so it’s possibly the best way to sea some of the Mexican interior. One of the best things that you can do is stand right at the very front of the engine – but you’ve got to speak nicely to the guards and it helps to flash some cash. On the engine there’s nothing between you and the tracks – except for a metal grid to scoop mashed cows off the line.
Where to Stay
Cielito Lindo, San Quntin
The Cielito Lindon hotel in San Quntin was built for 50’s Hollywood stars now fading into the 21st century. They serve excellent margaritas, we have excellent cracked crab dinners. But instead of having numbers on the doors, they are named after the celebs that used to frequent the joint, take your pick and stay in the John Wayne, Henry Fonda or Jimmy Stewart room. In each room you can imagine the scenes of scandal and showbiz, as all the big stars would get together – Charlton Heston, Big John, Big John, Jimmy Stewart – talking about their latest movie.
The Cielito Lindo was originally a retreat from the hustle of mexico City, and it is still very much a home from home and a great place to explore the island of Isla Mujeres with its ancient ruins and snorkelling and fishing trips. It is in a great location both on the beach and within minutes of the town. It’s an apartment block providing all luxuries and a lot of privacy for celebs or nowadays packpackers and visitors. Rooms start from as little as $50 off season.
Cielito Lindo Beach Studios
78 Rueda Medina
Q. roo, Mexico 77400
Food & Drink
Sea food is of course the main staple around the waters of Baja California, but it not as abundant as you may think as much of it ends up being quickly packaged and exported.
Fish taco is the staple in Baja fast food and comes in several different varieties, all served in a taco shell. It is said the original recipe came from a Japanese fisherman.
Many restaurants will claim their fish tacos is the authentic product, but like a hot dog you’re better off with a roadside stall than at a sit down restaurant where the fish is fresh and prepared in front of you. The taco is served as battered fish in a hot corn or wheat tortilla. At a roadside stall many different salsas are on offer – red chilli, radishes, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, Mexican crema.
Making your own fish taco is quite simple. Use any white fish, as long as the flavour isn’t too overpowering. Squeeze the fish fillets with lime until they are soaked.
Make batter using eggs, flour and seasoning. Dip the marinated fish thoroughly in batter then deep fry the fish in a wok using 1 – 2 inches of vegetable or olive oil and deep fry the fish hot for about three minutes until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve on tortillas with fresh salsas.
Cahuama was a green sea turtle, which has now been replaced with Manta Ray fish in making Cahuamanta a chunky stew, either fresh or salted. It is served in small tacos with shredded cabbage, lemon and salsa. The stew is also sold in bowls with meat or as a broth. The taco version will cost you around 3 or 4 pesos.
Roadside stalls will sell various fish taco and also Marscos – shellfish like oysters, octopus, squid and crab cocktails. A cocktail will contain tomato, onions, and cucumber plus a spicy salsa and cost around $3.
Delicious tostadas are a crispy corn tortilla covered in mayonnaise and piled high with crab meat, shrimp, or ceviche (raw fish mixed with salsa and soaked in lime juice) and garnished with salsa, onions, chilis and lemon. Another corn delicacy to try in Baja are corndidas which are made of corn with beans, salad, melted cheese and chilli.
If all the spicy Mexican salsa and chillis combined with lashings of tequila just get too much, you may need to take a trip to the Hospital Para Crudos, which translates as “a hospital for hangovers”. The cure? Beef stomach, or goat’s stomach, fish tripe and fried cactus. And of course you have got about four or five different chillies you can put on them as well. On the other hand, you may be better off with a paracetemol and a coffee….
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