We knew our timeline for traveling the Baja due to the pre-purchased ferry tickets but had not yet mapped out a route. Our first destination was La Ventana due to a contact there. Free and beach front trumps most else. Eric’s middle brother’s wife’s cousin (seriously), Larry, lives on a piece of land in the area and was so hospitable. He purchased the plot of land about 15 years ago and was drawn to the area for the kiteboarding mecca that La Ventana still is. His RV is perched with a perfect ocean view right on the edge of a bluff, with only a short climb down to the beach. There was ample room for us to park, enjoy the use of his paddle board, and hang out and drink beers.
The next day we drove to Cabo Pulmo. The drive south around the East Cape was beautiful. Once we hit the washboard roads we were in first gear the whole way there, but the views were amazing. We camped on a free beach in Los Frailes. We met a couple traveling for 3 weeks from Austria, a Swiss couple who had shipped their overlanding vehicle to Argentina and a man named Jean who was local to Mexico City but had been traveling for quite some time on his motorcycle. He judged the cheap tequila purchase we had made but we shared dinner and the bottle nonetheless.
Everyone we had run into told us to stay away from Cabo San Lucas and that its reputation as a tourist destination still holds strong. We stopped for groceries and replenished the pacifico light supply outside of town and only drove through. We took a few wrong turns and got to see an area of town free of the massive hotels and golf courses. It was the usual markets and local eateries that every city has. I’m pretty sure we won’t be back to San Lucas but if you looked hard enough you could make it as authentic as you wish. Our drive that night ended at Cerritos Surf Colony. Eric’s brother, same one as mentioned above, honeymooned here and recommended that we stop in. Normally a $30 camp fee would be outrageous but we wanted to splurge. We parked the truck in the back lot and then took full advantage of the 24 hours, using the pool as long as possible. It was hard to tear ourselves away from the place but we gave each other a quick reminder that if we wanted to be lounge-chair-poolside-comfortable this entire trip, we would still be in Colorado.
The next day we didn’t make it very far. At only an hour north tops, Todos Santos was next on our radar. It was at this point that we really realized how gringo the southern tip of the Baja was. While we were seeing expats and snowbirds out and about since disembarking the ferry, the town of Todos Santos is really where it hit us. Mainly that our Spanish had deteriorated and that we were greeted with a hello rather than hola with at least the chance to see where it went from there. Maybe they had heard too many, “I need tres sandwiches, por favor”, to have the kind patience with travelers that we had found on the mainland. Other than this we truly liked the town. We enjoyed Todos Santos for the little surf town that it is, saw Hotel California and snacked and used wifi at a little cafe, La Esquina. The beach we camped at was a popular spot for local surfers. Knowing extremely little about the spot it’s always interesting and a bit magical to watch. It’s on our list of to-do’s to attempt to learn.
From here we wanted to travel north as far as we could go within our time limit. We camped outside of La Paz on the way up at Campestre Maranatha. We have been using the ioverlander app off and on and this was listed on the page. We were just in the mood to have a very low key evening and enjoyed being on the outskirts of the city of La Paz. In the morning we headed north and ended up at a small village south of Loreto, called Ligui. We drove through an arroyo or two and up to Playa Ligui. It was pretty narrow and we couldn’t trust the density of the sand for Pedro. As we turned around we noticed a fenced area and a gate with a sign. “Notice. If you wish to camp inside the fence please contact Rito Romero in the village for a key. ” Okay, off to find Rito. After only two inquiries we found him. He ended up leading us through the fenced land to his favorite spot to camp, as close to the beach as we could get without getting stuck. He left the key with us and said to just leave it with his mom when we left. We love the level of hospitality and trust. That night before sunset we hiked up to the top of the cliff to see the beach from above, enjoy some beers and sunshine from a new perspective.
Loreto was calling our names and we drove north. The town was pretty and well kept, with a quaint downtown square. Again you could see the gringo influence everywhere. The best part of this little town was the haven of Casa Palmas Altas. The place was similar to a hostel idea, but more long stays and only tent camping. And although we never met the owner Mariana, she was gracious enough to let us park and enjoy the place. We arrived at the perfect time, as they were only one more day away from filling the pool. The people who were staying at Palmas Altas had truly made it their home, while people like us would pop in for a few days stay. Gareth, Jean, Raimon and Alex are all currently bike touring Latin America, which made us feel incredibly lazy. Listening to their stories and different experiences, some coming from the north and others from the south, were so interesting and while we know we cannot see it all, gave us a boost of excitement to get further south. We also ran into another Durango, CO native, Julie. Goes to show that even though there is an unending amount of culture and people to see and meet, the world remains a small connected place.
We had heard great things about Bahia Concepcion and decided that would be our north most point of the trip. The drive was a beautiful windy road, with vistas of the bay once we reached the water. We pulled off onto a few roads before we reached Playa El Coyote. This place was stunning, with white soft sand, palapas for shade and teal water. Here was the closest we could park Pedro to the ocean yet. We met a few Canadians travelling for a month or two, Christian from Mexico City and a Swiss couple heading north who gifted us a map. Mainly out of sympathy that we were traveling without one. We spent the evening around the campfire with fellow travellers and Eric spent the morning trying to swim with the whale sharks that were visible from the shore.
Agua Verde was a place that kept coming up as a MUST on the places to see, recommended by almost everyone we crossed paths with. We had passed it on the way north based on the description of the road and our lack of a high clearance vehicle, let alone 4x4. However, on the way back we decided to go for it. The pavement ended 7 km in and left us with 37 km to go on a dirt road. I had to start reading out loud to Eric to avoid panicking at every turn, dip, arroyo, rock slide, etc. The road eventually passed through a small valley and opened up to a view of the ocean with large mountain peaks along the coastline. Getting to the very small town was long and stressful on the truck. While it was secluded and beautiful with three bays all within walking distance, we probably wouldn’t do it again. When we stopped to talk to the woman at the mini super about where we could camp Eric asked her if the water was really green somewhere. She laughed and said no, only blue. The adventure of getting to Agua Verde was fun. Everyone we met was so friendly. We sat and had lunch with Sergio who we met on the beach and eventually ran out of Spanish vocabulary after a few hours. We met a few couples traveling by sailboat and had a bit of jealousy about our landlocked status. The next evening a couple from Oregon, Taylor and Nan, invited us for a great dinner sharing experiences of being on the road and how life led us all to Agua Verde. The next day we booked it south for another stay at Cerritos. That pool was hard to beat, and especially after a few free camp nights we could rationalize the extra expense.
We stayed two more nights with Larry in La Ventana, enjoying a mountain bike ride, dinner with Canadian visitors and more beach time. We then drove northeast of La Paz to catch our ferry back to the mainland on April 2nd. Knowing what to expect with the ferry this time around made things seem worse rather than being pleasantly surprised like we were last time. We met a fellow American, Murphy, who rides dirt bikes in endurance races. We picked his brain a bit for places to go and we are looking forward to Sayulita after his recommendation. Sleep in general was interrupted by changing positions every time a different limb went numb in the chair and a symphony of snores. The process of getting off the boat back in Mazatlán was much easier than La Paz. Eric found me easily and we jumped in the car to navigate our way out of the mass of crowds in the city for Semana Santa and return to our home away from home on the Isla de la Piedra.