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San Felipe, Baja California


Brief History and Overview

San Felipe Today

The Ecosystem


Brief History and Overview

San Felipe Baja Mexico

San Felipe Baja Mexico  San Felipe Baja Mexico  The Red Lobster Hotel  San Felipe

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 Ulloa voyage.

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 were realized.

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.


San Felipe Today

Banner on the Arch in San Felipe reads:
"Our Hearts Go out to You ... Your Friends from San Felipe"

Today, 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 Ecosystem

San Felipe Baja Mexico

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 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 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.



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 street


San Felipe Baja Mexico



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.

The Boardwalk along the sea borders the main street in town - warm breezes & clear skies late into the night, combine to create a memory for life.


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 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.


San Felipe Baja Mexico  San Felipe Baja Mexico  San Felipe Baja Mexico

The Valley of the Giants - A natural 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 range.

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 Sea of Cortez 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.

Wildlife - 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.

San Felipe Baja Mexico Map


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 Bass. 

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 local Marina. 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’.


Mile long 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 Reyes. 

Let him share with you the endless, explored beaches, the simplicity of the people and, of course, countless varieties of fish. 

Tony Reyes San Felipe

Tony Reyes






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