San Felipe, Baja California
History and Overview
San Felipe Today
The history of the San Felipe
region dates to more than 150 million years before present (to the formation of
the Baja California peninsula) while its written history goes no farther back
than the days of the first Europeans to set foot on its soil. Beyond that,
nothing is known of the first humans to enjoy the local shores although
information begins to appear from about two thousand years ago.
Dispatched by Hernon Cortés to map
the coastline of the then known "Southern Sea," Fransisco de Ulloa recorded his
presence in this area in September, 1539. With him was cartographer Domingo del
Castillo who identified the San Felipe cove (on a map he was then making) as
"Santa Catarina." What's more, because the existence of the Baja California
peninsula was unknown at the time (the Spaniards thought La Paz was on an island
some of them called "California"), it was Ulloa who reported it at the
conclusion of this voyage. That voyage, by the way, included circumnavigation of
the peninsula as far north as the approximate location of Ensenada.
One year later, Hernando de Alarcón
sailed into the area on an unsuccessful mission of support for the Coronado
Expedition (to the Seven Golden Cities of Cíbola). With Alarcón was the same
Domingo del Castillo who, by virtue of the Viceroy of New Spain's orders to sail
as close as possible to the shore (to enable sighting Coronado's
representatives), was enabled to improve upon the map he produced during the
Sailing in the first ship built on
Baja California soil, Juan de Ugarte landed in the bay on July 5, 1721.
Twenty-five years later, Padre Fernando Consag landed here and formally
christened the place San Felipe de Jesús. San Felipe's modern history dates from
1876 when the Mexican government signed a colonization contract with one
Guillermo Andrade who acquired some 30,000 hectares but died before his plans
Although the first fish camp was
formed in 1906, it was not until 1925 that the first sub-delegation was created
and San Felipe began to develop as an organized community. The first fishing
society was founded in 1928, the first school established in 1929, and the first
tourist facilities in the early 1950's. Electricity was provided in 1963 and the
first potable water in 1967.
on the Arch in San Felipe reads:
"Our Hearts Go out to You ...
Your Friends from San Felipe"
San Felipe is a thriving community of more than 20,000 permanent residents, with
an additional 10,000 from the United States, Canada and Europe. The town is of
sufficient size that a significant variety of goods and services are enjoyed by
the entire populace.
Digital telephone service is
provided by Telnor (the high technology division of Telmex) and cellular
telephony by Baja Cellular and TelCel. We here at the Net offer dial-up and walk
in connectivity to the internet and there are two different mail services that
cross the border to check your snail mail. There are three Pemex stations that
have unleaded gas in both regular and high octane. In addition one station has
diesel. There is a propane plant to refill portable tanks as well as tankers to
refill large tanks at your home. The are numerous lumber yards and hardware
stores as well as auto part stores. There are grocery stores, furniture stores,
and clothing stores. In short almost everything most people think they need can
be found here without the need for a drive back across the border.
The snowbird residents are active
and involved in the community through various civic organizations. There are
numerous recreational and social pursuits to fuel an active retirement
lifestyle. Life is so comfortable here that many transplants now consider San
Felipe their main home.
The natives are friendly and very
tolerant of the many outsiders that come into town each year. The residents also
actively support the same kinds of community recreation that we are used to in
the States. There are ball fields, basketball courts, a swimming pool, and of
course soccer fields where young and old alike compete. There are several
different denominations of churches here as well as doctors, dentists,
engineers, and lawyers. With San Felipe's proximity to the USA border, and the
new developments of El Dorado Ranch and the San Felipe Beach Club, this area is
rapidly becoming a very desirable, yet affordable vacation resort community.
The Great Sonora Desert encompasses a
large and diverse subtropical region extending from the west coast of Baja
California to the western flank of Mexico's Sierra Madre Mountains. Within this
vast expanse, the area surrounding San Felipe (an area of transition between the
Lower Colorado River Section and the Vizcaino Desert Section) was determined to
be sufficiently unique to enable its identification as The San Felipe Desert.
Many mountain ranges lie within the
San Felipe Desert. The most prominent of which is the Sierra San Pedro Martír.
This range, which is the tallest in Baja forms the western boundary of our
The terrain varies from relatively flat sandy brush land to incredibly rugged
almost impassable canyons.
With some areas receiving as little
as 3 cm of annual rain, many unique plants have chosen to call this area home.
The most impressive has to be the Cardon cactus. These are the largest cactus in
the world and the San Felipe Desert is the northern most extent of their range.
While many of these plants have spines or smell and taste bad they also have
brightly hued blossoms that attract lots of birds.
Birds are not the only animals that live here either. There are lots of bugs,
insects, and reptiles as would be expected. But there are also coyotes, bobcats,
mountain lions, mountain sheep, and vicious cholla chomping jackrabbits.
While deserts tend to appear as
rather bleak places, they are an ecosystem literally full of diverse life forms.
Even the dry sandy earth forms an alliance with algae and lichens to create what
we know as a cryptogramic soil.
The San Felipe Desert is a highly
varied and very unique ecosystem. It only takes a short time to fall in love
with it. You can spend a lifetime discovering it.
SAN FELIPE DAYS & NIGHTS
Within a few short blocks are over 38 restaurants, offering a wide variety
of cuisine. Not to be missed, of course - the Famous & excellent
Fish and Shrimp Tacos, never more than a step away from any block on the
Discos, bars, & late
nite dining are
also ready and waiting. Enjoy a fantastic "moon-rise" from any of
the sea front patios without even setting down your cocktail!
Shopping in San Felipe
is a sampling of the best of Mexico! From classic tourist items to
unique creations by local artisans, and imports from around the country -
no two stores are alike.
along the sea borders the main street in town - warm breezes & clear skies
late into the night, combine to create a memory for life.
ECO-TOURISM & SIGHTSEEING
Great Sonora Desert
encompasses a large and diverse subtropical region extending from the west
coast of Baja California to the western flank of Mexico's Sierra Madre
Mountains. Within this vast expanse, the area surrounding San Felipe has
been designated as The San Felipe Desert.
The terrain varies from relatively flat
sandy brush land to incredibly rugged almost impassable canyons. With some
areas receiving as little as 3 cm of annual rain, many unique plans have
chosen to call this area home.
The Valley of the Giants -
Reserve of the 1,000-year old Cardon Cactus. The largest cactus in the
world, the San Felipe Desert is the northern most extent of their
Konsag Island -
Konsag is visible from the beach at any point around the bay,
appearing at first glance to be a sail. The Island offers an
assortment of sea lions, seals, and vast colonies of sea birds.
Punta Estrella -
Punta Estrella has a breathtaking panoramic view beyond the
meaning of the word as it encompasses the whole bay to the west and
northwest and the
to the east.
Sierra San Pedro Martír - The tallest mountain range in Baja, the Sierra San Pedro
Martír forms the western boundary of the San Felipe Desert.
- In addition to an assortment of sea
and desert birds, the San Felipe Desert is home to a variety of
insects, reptiles, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, mountain sheep,
and vicious cholla-chomping jackrabbits.
Whether you bring your own boat or hire the
services of a local "Panguero," The Sea of
Cortez offers good to excellent sport fishing, depending upon the
season. Although December through March is the premier season, an
abundance of seasonal game fish will satisfy most anglers year round.
Corvina, Lisa (mackerel family), and Cochito (triggerfish) are the most
abundant of the local game fish – off shore in deeper waters, White Sea
Fishing trip rates vary and are negotiable based on season, gas prices,
fishing duration, supply and demand, number of anglers etc. Expect to pay
anywhere from $90 - $120 to rent a Panga for 5 hours. Mexican
Fishing licenses are required - sold at the Port Captain's office in the
The cost per person is approximately $6 per day, $16 per week, and $31 per
year. Boat licenses range in price based on boat size, starting around $26
per year, for boats under 23’.
TONY REYES FISHING
fish boils, feeding frenzies, massive groupers capable of towing pangas
and severing the heaviest of lines - nothing new for Tony Reyes.
He has experienced these
sights year in and year out for over 42 years. When it comes to
putting the angler on the action spots or the diver right in the middle of
awesome underwater worlds, probably no one is more qualified than Tony
Let him share with you
the endless, explored beaches, the simplicity of the people and, of
course, countless varieties of fish.
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