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Friday, May 21, 2010

SAN FELIPE - Destinations

DESTINATIONS:

San Felipe, Baja California – 31°01′39″N ~ 114°50′07″W
Just 125 miles south of the international border is a virtual paradise on Earth. If you take Mexico’s Federal Highway 5, you will end up in San Felipe, right along the Sea of Cortez. Founded in 1916, San Felipe began as a fishing port and now attracts tourists and retirees from all around the world. The natural beauty, unique arid landscape and endless outdoor opportunities for fun make San Felipe a must-see destination. One trip and it is easy to see why so many people return to make San Felipe their home, adding to the population of roughly 25,000.

The beaches of San Felipe are amongst the most pristine and natural in the world. The clean, smooth sand and the fact that San Felipe is the second sunniest place on Earth make it perfect for anyone who enjoys lounging on the beach, beach combing for one-of-a-kind sea treasures, or swimming in the warm waters. You can camp or sleep on the beaches for the ultimate beach bum experience or romantic night away from ordinary. When the tide is low, the northern beaches can extend nearly half a mile out, opening up the possibilities of finding more unique beach treasures. It can also provide entertainment, because nearly every weekend someone in their shining new 4-wheel drive will bury themselves to the axle, many taken as another sacrifice to the sea.

The desert dunes and valleys can give visitors more than just a great photo opportunity. Off-road racing in the San Felipe area is also unlike any other area in the world and plays host to world-renowned races that attract many racing enthusiasts. You can rent ATVs or dune buggies, or you can go on a guided tour. If you are a beginner, rental companies provide instruction and lessons before you head out into the dunes. Rental companies are available throughout downtown San Felipe.

Fishing is so ingrained in the culture and history of San Felipe that many regard this town as the home of the fish taco and just about anything made with the San Felipe blue shrimp that is exclusive to the area. There are a few charter fishing companies in the area that cater to both the experts and the novice. If you fish off the shores of San Felipe, you can expect to catch sierra, corvina, grouper, sea bass and a few other species. The bay of San Felipe contains an artificial reef, which makes finding the fish a littler easier. Many of the local charter companies can take you for 4–8 hours of fishing.

As San Felipe has grown, so have the amenities in this coastal town. Exclusive resorts and luxury retirement homes, along with small beach villas, have led to a burgeoning area north of town with many competing restaurants, grocers and bars. The downtown area features galleries, craft shops, clothing stores, pottery and jewelry stores; which all make for an eclectic shopping experience. There is also an active nightlife for locals and tourists alike.

The San Felipe area has that rare combination of sophisticated amenities and natural wonders galore. It is a very active community with many annual festivals and events including the annual Shrimp Festival in November, Blues & Arts Fiesta in March, Cominata Contra Cancer Walk in March, SCORE San Felipe 250 in March, Mexico Living Home Show in October, and a swap meet every weekend, October through May.

San Felipe Road Trips
Valle de los Gigantes – 30°52'56.64"N ~ 114°45'31.28"W
Valle de los Gigantes, or Valley of the Giants is home to the largest cardones cacti in the world. The shadows alone cast by these larger-than-life plants can extend as long as a few football fields. This natural wonder draws many photographers and naturalists all year long.

The natural reserve of the thousand-year-old Cardon Cactus has become a major attraction after the transport of one of these giant specimens to Seville, Spain, for Seville Expo '92. Local enviromentalists are lobbying for the protection of the valley in the form of a Nature Reserve.

Located 15 Km south of downtown San Felipe, just south of campo Punta Estrella, Valle de los Gigantes is a must-see site.

The Rob's Ranch Waterfalls – 30°51'238"N ~ W115°14'.137
There are several waters falls in the mountains above San Felipe, but a favorite is what many refer to as Rob's Ranch. The ranch is not much more than an old cattle shoot next to an area for parking. The falls are approx. 300 yards up stream of this point.

Spring time is the best time to visit the area when wild purple and yellow flowers blanet the desert floor and all the desert and mountain flora is blossoming and beautiful. Don't expect water during the summer months.

The stream that provides the falls, also provides water to several ranchos in the valley. The pipes used to carry the water are visible beside the stream and road.

The falls are 25.2 miles southwest of San Felipe. From the top of Saltito Rd. (El Dorado Ranch) turn West (right), travel 8.7 miles to the cows hide fork in the road, stay on the left fork towards Valle Chico (small sign), continue travel 6.7 miles, turn right onto dirt road and continue 9.8 miles to Rob's Ranch.

Puertecitos – 30°20'44.23"N ~ 114°38'24.71"W

Just 90 kilometers south of San Felipe is the little town of Puertecitos. Settled in 1949, this little fishing village hasn't changed much. The road to Puertecitos is paved, and is a beautiful coastal drive. By the time you've reach Puertecitos the landscape becomes nearly void of any vegetation.

uertecitos has a few establishments, basic supplies for sale, a small airstrip, a machine shop and only a handful of families who live there full time. Those who do call it home are always helpful and gracious to the occasional traveler.

The Cowpatty Cantina is a must when you visit Puertecitos. The funky little cantina is a local hangout and a favorite watering hole for travelers. It's on the highway as you enter town. Many tourists find the natural hot springs of Puertecitos to be its top draw. These springs are so intensely boiling hot, you must wait for high tide to roll in to cool the waters down enough to soak without burning. Many find soaking a necessity after the journey there, especially if you plan to continue the rough and tumble drive further south to Gonzaga Bay.

Gonzaga Bay – 29°47'48.42"N ~ 114°24'3.99"W
Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, or better known as Gonzaga Bay, is one of the most beautiful and pristine destinations in Baja. Just a 100 miles south of San Felipe, Gonzaga Bay has remained a remote and isolated place. The road from San Felipe to Puertecitos was finished being paved in 2009 and, as of this writing, the road has continued 18 miles south of Puertecitios, leaving only 30 rough and bumpy miles of dirt road to Gonzaga Bay.

Gonzaga Bay is a dream destination for many. In addition to the breathtaking beauty of the area, the bay also includes over 70 oceanfront homes, an airstrip for the planes of owners and guests, Alfonsina's restaurant and hotel, Rancho Grande market, and a Pemex.

The raw beauty and remoteness of these two settlements cannot be replicated or even described. It is basically as far from civilization as most people ever care to venture, but worth the trip for the natural beauty alone and its “you have to see it to believe it” factor.

San Felipe Lodging

RV Park
Kiki's RV Park on the Beach...........................686-577-2021

Private Rentals
Casey’s Place ................................................ 686-577-1431
Rancho del Sol ............................................... 686-231-4921
Redwagon Property Services ....................... 686-576-0081
Sandollar Condotels ...................................... 686-123-7688

Motels/Hotels
La Hacienda de la Langosta roja ................ 686-577-0483


San Felipe Dining

American
Los Arcos .................................................... 686-577-2585
Blowin’ Smoke .............................................686-576-0710
Roadrunner cafe ..........................................686-227-7668
The Beach Bar & Grill. ................................686-577-3144

Mexican
The Beach Bar and Grill. ........................... 686-577-3144
Rosita restaurant ........................................ 686-577-1903

Pizza
Fatboy’s....................................................... 686-577-4092
Los Arcos - Happy Jackass....................... 686-577-2585
Rabbit Pizza Delivery ................................ 686-577-0987

Steak & Seafood
Baja Mar & Taco Factory........................... 686-577-2648
Los Arcos .................................................... 686-577-2585

Fine Dining
The Sweet Spot........................................... 686-209-6369
Pavilion Restaurant..................................... 686-577-0022
Juanitos (el Colorado) ............................... 686-133-6500





Valle de Gigante by edgarinn

Cowpatty Cantina by unknown

San Felipe Lighthouse

Enjoying a warm breezy afternoon on the a San Felipe beach in early March. Photo by Victor Ratliff Rodriguez.


San Felipe malecón (boardwalk) at dusk. Image provided by Parkstrong (http://www.parkstrong.com/)

Bahia San Luis Gonzaga



Las Caras de Mexico 18-hole Championship Golf Course, at La Ventana del Mar in El Dorado Ranch San Felipe Baja California.