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San Felipe Baja California, Mexico

San Felipe Baja California Mexico

 

 

 

San Felipe San Felipe Off Road

San Felipe Baja California Mexico

 

San Felipe is a small friendly fishing community of 15,000 - the northern most beach resort community on the West Side of the Sea of Cortez. The 2.5 hour drive south from the Calexico / Mexicali border to San Felipe is filled with diverse scenery – through the colorful business district of Calexico, then vast agricultural farmlands to barren desert framed by rugged mountains.  As the road curves towards the Sea of Cortez, salty desert sand transforms into the unbelievable blue green water of the sea – truly a spectacular sight seeming at first to be a mirage of steamy desert sun!

 

San Felipe has gradually transformed from a sleepy fishing village into a popular vacation resort with an International Airport, Nightclubs, Restaurants, Sport Fishing, Snorkeling, Sailing Cruises and Sightseeing Tours. San Felipe is also home to dirt bike and desert racing enthusiasts – with annual events throughout the year.

 

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San Felipe Off Road  San Felipe Off Road

 

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San Felipe sparkles. The water here is the color of sapphires in the sun, soft white sand stretches as far as you can stroll, and palm palapas dot the beaches.

 

Despite its location (an easy four-hour drive from the border at San Ysidro), this small Sea of Cortez city is unspoiled and underdeveloped.

 

That doesn't mean there aren't opportunities to break a sweat. San Felipe has all the beach toys and scenic lures and tours of any great strip of prime coastal real estate. You can swim, snorkel, sail, sport-fish or easily spend an entire day just shelling.

 

You can windsurf; fly across the dunes in an open buggy or mountain bike the nearby hills. It's even possible to climb Baja's tallest peak - nearby Picacho Del Diablo (the Devil's Peak) in the San Pedro Matir range. At 10,156 feet, you'll be able to see both Baja coasts simultaneously.

 

Beachcombing is a competitive sport in San Felipe, though an almost addictive occupation because of the area's unusual tides. Tide swings as high as 23 feet cause the sea to recede as much as a half mile at times. There has been more than one first-time visitor who parked a pickup at the tide line to dig clams, wandered away down the beach for a lengthy walk, then returned only to find the old Chevy abob or gone completely.

 

Back in town, you can shop at the curio stores without once being hawked by a vendor. However, shopping is hardly an Olympic sport here nor is golf. You can swing a club on the free "sand" golf course just north of town; if withdrawal seems to be giving you the shakes.

 

Late afternoon or sunset in San Felipe means time out on the malecon (waterfront walkway), feet up on a rail, watching the calm, quiet world of a fishing village as it finishes its chores. Clusters of fishermen join to push their colorful wooden Pangas up the beach, one by one, beyond the rising tide. Children stand tiptoe at the sea wall watching. Enjoy a bottle of wine or cold beverage as the sun sets.

 

A word of caution: Unless you're single and 18, you won't enjoy San Felipe during the annual two- to three-week invasion of U.S. college kids during spring break. Some 5,000 party hounds take over the town of 20,000, leaving little in the way of local scenery beyond string bikinis and beer bottles. Not that there's anything wrong with that view. Just be forewarned.

Accommodations
San Felipe’s original Hotel, Las Palmas, continues to be the favored spot for returning visitors. Nestled in a rustic hacienda-style atmosphere, with bougainvillea-covered patios, fountains and statuary, Las Palmas Hotel features a spectacular panoramic view of the tranquil Sea of Cortez and the Sierra Madre mountains. The Hotel is situated on a hilltop, 250 yards from the beach, making it the only hotel in town to have balmy breezes throughout the warmer months of the year. And don't forget, there are almost 100 miles of unspoiled beaches running north and south of town where you can always throw down a sleeping bag and build a palm-frond fire.

 

Restaurants
The malecon alone is dotted with almost a dozen fresh shrimp and fish taco stands, which also specialize in fresh seafood cocktails and freshly dug, steamed clams. At any stand, you can mix and match your favorite blend of octopus, scallops, shrimp, squid, clams and whatever else the shellfish gods give forth that day. Seafood cocktails are priced by size and mixture. A platter of 20 steamed butter clams, accompanied by a big shrimp glass of melted butter, is $4. Batter shrimp, fish or shark tacos are $1 anywhere in town. Additionally, scattered along the beach and throughout the beach town are a variety of informal restaurants and unique food finds.

 

Don't Miss:
The natural hot sulfur springs at Puertecitos are about 60 miles down the road. Take a cold six-pack and a picnic lunch, and plan your visit to coincide with the day's high tide, when breaking ocean waves cool the steaming private pools to manageable temps. The one-hour, desert-and-sea drive is as beautiful and relaxing as the pools. Tony Reyes Sport Fishing Charters offers tours of the hot springs, as well as desert eco-tours, coastal cave tours, enchanted Islands
safaris and wilderness camping safaris that include all meals, transportation and gear.

 

Where:
On the Sea of Cortez, 124 miles south of Mexicali via Mexican Highway 5, and 230 miles from the border at Tijuana. From San Diego take Mexican Highway 1 from Tijuana to Ensenada, then Highway 3 southeast to the junction of Highway 5.

 

Best time to visit:
Anytime. The climate is near perfect with a medium annual temperature of 71! Delightful in spring and fall, hot and dry but bearable in summer, with temps over 100 from June until September; pleasant all winter. November's water begins to take on a chill, but a light wetsuit will keep you comfortable through the winter months. The summer and fall seas are bath temperature.

 

Cost:
Practically none. Compared with Baja's Cape area and with other warm-water resort areas along the Mexican Riviera, San Felipe's relatively low prices on everything from accommodations to food are a powerful draw. Vacationing in San Felipe may be cheaper than staying home.

 

Culture shock:
None. Credit cards are accepted at most major restaurants and shops. English is spoken almost everywhere in the main tourist areas. Dollars are accepted everywhere.

 

Kid-friendly:
Absolutely. There is a lot for kids to do in a very safe, small-town environment with the biggest draws being huge beaches, swimming pools and plenty of other kids. On summer weekends, San Felipe is a kid's paradise.

 

 

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