By Monica Garcia
As one of the top destinations in northern Baja California, San Felipe is a region that has a lot to offer visitors. The beautiful waters of the Sea of Cortez, a relaxed and easy-going pace of life, seafood and other culinary treats, and the famous Valle de Gigantes with huge cardon cacti. From San Felipe to Rancho Percebu to Puertecitos to Gonzaga Bay, the beaches are beautiful and true Baja adventures await. Here are some pointers and recommendations for traveling to the area.
Where We Stayed:
Discover Baja Members get a 10% discount
Houses are closed July – September
Baja Rentals has 3 ½ houses that sit on the sea-view bluff in Rancho Percebu, about 20 minutes South of San Felipe. It’s close to town but far enough away to feel like you’re on a deserted island. It’s also only a 4 ½ hour drive from San Diego. Sounds like a win-win to me!
The beach of Percebu is one the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever visited. Baja Rentals has kayaks that you can rent, full kitchens to cook in and a grill to BBQ. If it’s not too windy they also have bonfire pits. What more do you need?
Franco, the owner, lives on the property. If you need anything he most likely has it and will be more than happy to lend it to you. He will also tell you great spots to eat or visit while you’re there. He’ll make sure to make your trip one to remember. He was wonderful and treated us like royalty!
The newest of the houses is a single room with a bed, bathroom and refrigerator and would be very cute for an anniversary or a romantic getaway.
Casa Cielo is a studio style house with waterfront views. It has 2 double size beds, a queen size futon, a living room, full kitchen and bathroom. This cozy house sleeps 4 guests comfortably.
Casa Baja is a waterfront round house featuring a panoramic view of the Sea of Cortez, 3 bedrooms with 3 queen size beds, a queen size futon and a spacious living area. Sleeps 6 guests.
The Casa Grande has 3 separate bedrooms with 3 double size beds and two single beds. The rooms have amazing mountain views and are quaint and comfortable so you get a good night’s rest after enjoying the splendors Baja has to offer.
All houses are equipped with a full pantry, refrigerator, stove, dishes, pots and pans, TV, DVD player, cable, stereo and board games.
We enjoyed our stay at Casa Baja and we even got to watch the historic boxing match between Pacquiao & Maywether at the Cantina in Rancho Percebu. This was a fun night all the people in town brought food for a potluck and raffle. Definitely a night to remember!
Border Crossing and Roads:
I recommend crossing thru the Calexico/Mexicali East border if you have to take care of your FMM. Or, you can buy it ahead of time from the Discover Baja office so that you don’t have to go to the bank. If you’re going thru the West border, the immigration office is to the left and there’s very little parking. If you’re towing it will be almost impossible to park.
We traveled the road from Percebu to Gonzaga Bay. Make sure to take your time when going through Puertecitos, there are a lot of dips on the road that can be difficult to see until it’s too late. The new road, on the other hand, is excellent. It’s paved all the way to Gonzaga. The last 20 kilometers to Hwy 1 still isn’t finished, but it’s grated and drivable. There’s a gas station at Alfonsinas, so if you’re low on gas you can fill up there. Expect a military check point right before Alfonsinas.
It only took us an hour to get to Alfonsinas restaurant from Percebu. The view was gorgeous and the food was absolutely delicious! I had the shrimp burrito. A must try!
The stores in San Felipe don’t take U.S. dollars unless your purchase is at least 90% of the bill that you’re paying with or you have exact change. We recommend getting your pesos before you cross or using an ATM machine at a Mexican Bank after you cross the border.
We got stuck in the sand the second day we were there. We were rescued pretty fast since there was only one road in and one road out. You should either carry a chain (so someone can hopefully tow you out) or take out 5 lbs of air from your tires and go forward then reverse over and over again until you get out.
Places to Eat and Internet:
Churros La Bufadora is a great spot if you’re a churro lover like us. It’s right across the street from the Costa Azul Hotel. They will start up the fire for you and make the churros fresh for 25 pesos a bag. We went three days out of the five we were there!
Mariscos La Palma is a good place if you like shrimp and fish tacos. The fish was fresh and tasty and the service was good and quick.
We had the BEST breakfast in San Felipe on the Malecón at BajaMar Seafood and Steak House. They have everything from pancakes to chilaquiles.
A local favorite is Chelos Cafe just south of Percebu, right off the main road. It’s a popular taco and tequila bar. They’re only open on the weekends – Friday through Sunday.
We really wanted to try out the Cowpatty on our way to Gonzaga Bay, we heard they have the best hot dogs and cold beer, but unfortunately they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
La Taza is the place to go if you can’t live without internet or need to get on a computer to renew your membership or insurance. This place is equipped with computers and wifi. The coffee is delicious too! It’s also located across the street from the Costa Azul Hotel (get your coffee then head over to get your fresh churros).
Places to visit:
Valle de los Gigantes — $10 or 150 pesos to go in and see the famous giant Cactus. If you don’t have 4 wheel drive you’re limited on how far you can go in, but you can park and walk the rest.
Puertecitos Hot Springs — $10 a car load. It’s located at the Puertecitos seaside campo. In addition to the hot springs the campo offers palapa camping, sandy beaches, bathrooms and a restaurant.