Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Best Boondocking Beach in Baja

Whenever I thought about spending my winter days lazily boondocking on a beach in Baja, this was always the scene I always imagined—RV’s (not too many, not too few) parked around an emerald bay with views of islands in the distance.

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When we first drove down Baja Highway 1 and crested the hills south of Mulegé to see this stunning picture postcard in real-life for the first time, I knew I wanted to come back ASAP to camp at Playa Santispac along the Bahía de Concepción.  So after a few days together in Loreto, when Hans and Ursula continued south to La Paz to visit their old sailing buddies,  Millie and I backtracked 70 miles north to find a bit of paradise on the beach!

It was a gorgeous December day for a drive along the Bahía.  Light winds and sunny temps in the upper 70’s.  Baja 1 hugged the emerald shoreline as we rounded each cove towards Santispac.

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Before we knew it, there she was!  Plenty of room for our little View to find a front-row spot along this beach.  Santispac is one of a half-dozen RVing beaches along the Bahía.  It’s the easiest to get in and out of with a large, wide straight ramp to get you from the highway down to the beach, and has various vendors who come calling each day to provide water tank fills, fresh fish, bread, and even Mexican blankets and jewelry.

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After getting parked and leveled, I opened up the Winnie door to this relaxing scene.  Not bad for 100 pesos (US $7) a night!

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Millie wasted no time in testing out the crystal clear waters.  Santispac met her requirements for “paradise” too!

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Santispac’s southern-facing crescent-shaped cove provides a bit of protection from the northern winds that often blow each winter along the Cortez-side of the Baja coast.  Its emerald waters are the result of a rather shallow sandy shoreline that becomes quite apparent when the tide is out.  Take a look at these 2 photos to compare the tide in versus the tide out! (our View is the last RV on the right).

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Millie woke me up just before sunrise on our first morning at Santispac.  What a magnificent scene when opened the door of the rig!

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I quickly ran back inside to get my big camera and tripod to try this wide, wide panorama of the scene.  What a way to start the day!

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After breakfast, it was time to inflate the Sea Eagle and get out on the silky smooth waters.

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There were always a small handful of sailboats anchored in the cove, so we paddled up closer to take a look at them.

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Then Millie began fidgeting in the front of the boat.  Darn!  In my haste to get on the water, I had forgotten to take her for one last walk.  We’d now need to find a good place for a quick doggie pit-stop.

I paddled around the bend to a tiny, uninhabited cove with just a few feet of a sandy beach. 

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Just the right spot for Millie to jump out and quickly take care of business.

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Millie quickly returned back to her seat at the front of the boat, and we next headed out to paddle around the largest island in the cove.

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As we rounded the island, our RV neighbors were coming the other way in their long wooden sea kayaks.  Just a perfect day to be out on the water!

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Even the pelicans were enjoying their day!

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While a bit hard to photograph with my point & shoot, the waters were so clear, I could see dozens of fish swimming around the rocks a few feet below us.

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After an hour or so, Millie was ready to head back home

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Once she recognized her RV, she was standing at attention ready to navigate us to shore!

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The more I paddle this second-generation FastTrack 385, the happier I am with the upgrade.  The only complaint I’ve had is that the long skeg can get hung up a bit before reaching shore in some of these shallow beaches.  But I just recently noticed that SeaEagle now offers a shorter “shallow water skeg” for this boat.  Problem solved!  Can’t wait to order that when I get back to the U.S.!

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Over the next few days of beach camping, I saw vehicles of every shape and size on the beach.  Some were here in their big overlander vehicles…

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While another neighbor camped here in his old European ambulance turned into a camper van!

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Lots of sand buggies here too.  No doubt, a few Baja 1000 racer wanna-bees! IMG_3905IMG_3906

Alas, the best boondocking beach in Baja was not without a few downsides—there was no cell signal (or internet) to be found unless one drove 10 miles north to Mulegé, and no larger grocery or produce vendors unless one drove even further (Mulegé did not offer much above a “corner store” in terms of food selection).

Santispac, while protected, wasnot completely immune to the northern winds.  Two of the four days we were there, the winds were too strong to kayak or even sit outside.

But Millie was still able to get her swims in most every morning, and her complete happiness was my main goal for this Baja trip!

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Mission accomplished!

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Our final night at this magical place concluded with a moonset over the water, right between a panga boat and the Winnie.  All in all, a very relaxing time camping on the beach and celebrating the winter solstice!

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31 comments:

  1. I wanna' go there too ... hopefully someday, nice photo's!

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    1. No place else quite like it (but mainland Mexico is quite nice too!)

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  2. it goes without saying, you were a good neighbor and retrieved Millie's "present"

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  3. Looks like one happy dog! What a beautiful sunrise and a grand beach.

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    1. Millie has loved her Baja beaches... (and I have too!)

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  4. What a fabulous spot. If ever we go down there (in something smaller than the beast) this is on the list!
    Nina

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    1. Aw heck, just friendly up to a nice Mexican bus driver and hire him to drive the Beast down here for you. I'm amazed at how they manage to steer those big, fancy 45' tag-axle passenger buses down these narrow roads without breaking a sweat!

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  5. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful!! We were at Santispac September 2013, I suppose the water is too cold now for snorkeling?? No produce vendors coming by?

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    1. The water wasn't too cold in December, but I'll be headed back there again next week and it will be interesting to compare. I snorkeled yesterday down at Cabo Pulmo without a wetsuit and was o.k. in shallow water, but it's definitely a bit cooler up there. Yeah, I was really bummed to not see any produce vendors. Even the fish vendors were just selling very small quantities and varieties of fish, so I was glad I had stocked the fridge up in Loreto first. Guess I really got spoiled in Mazatlan last year with their overflowing produce trucks (but of course Sinaloa has much more farmland than Baja, so it should not have been such a surprise!).

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  6. You rock Millie!! Lynne why ever would you leave such a perfect ocean front vista and camp site? So funny you think the veggie trucks here were great yet someone else new this year thinks they are very bad. A 10 mile drive for internet is well worth your effort...at least for us your readers :))

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    1. The vendors at Santispac were a bit sad-- no bottled water guy, just guys with a big grubby-looking tank of water in the back of their pick-up trucks (um, thanks but no thanks!). Food vendors looked as if they were selling just trying to sell a grocery bag or two worth of food (that they, no doubt, had bought at a grocery store themselves). My internet connection near Mulege consisted of just 1 bar of "E" (Edge) service. Only good enough to check the weather and email via my phone). So, while I would have dearly loved to stay here a full season, 4 days was about as long as I could last.

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  7. Oops, meant to mention that I love how Millie keeps waking you up in time to shoot some spectacular AM photos. Hope she is getting extra treats.

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    1. Well, now that she just turned 10 yesterday she's slacking off and didn't get me up today until after 7am!

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  8. What a wonderful spot. Can you share the GPS info?
    Enjoy

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    1. Hi Garth: Take a look at my "Where We've Stayed" interactive Google map on my homepage side bar. It's one the listings at the bottom. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zlkP-vtTBFVo.kM6eRp9OKBsk

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  9. Santispac has been on the bucket list for some time, you bring it to life in your words and photos. Thanks for sharing another wonderful adventure.

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    1. You're welcome! Come on down-- only a 2-day drive from San Diego!

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  10. Looks like heaven to me (and my dogs)! Someday I will head down that way for sure!

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  11. Lynne,
    Your photos are beautiful. I m so envious of your lifestyle. My husband & I planned on this for quite some time, but health issues for him & I have slowed our travel plans. Things are improving, so hopefully soon. Thanks for the help on posting here and the info on the scooter.
    Barbara (Nashville)

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    1. Yeah! You successfully commented! Well, I'll think good, healing thoughts for you both so you can enjoy some traveling soon!

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  12. This is the first blog post I have seen about camping in Mexico that has actually made me really want to do it! We haven't adventured into Mexico with our rig as of yet. Not sure I can convince Mo, but maybe someday. Would love to get my kayak on that water!

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    1. Baja is a world-class eco-tourism destination. You won't find as many rich historical and cultural sites as you will in mainland Mexico, but instead, you'll find fantastic kayaking, lots of marine life, great snorkeling & diving, as well as vast ranges of untouched mountainous and desert lands.

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  13. Woo hoo...........we have been hitting 80 here in San Miguel! Come on down.........

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  14. Wow! Beautiful! We have to add this to our future places to visit list.

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  15. It looks perfect. I'd love to go swimming with Millie!

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  16. You have such a way with your pictures ... puts me right there!! That beach is going on my list of future boondocking spots. I am retiring from teaching this June and Michael, Sydney (our blue heeler) and I will be wandering about in our Arctic Fox. I have been reading your blog since way back...before your fulltiming days! Your posts are wonderful. Hope Millie and Sydney get to swim together sometime.

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  17. Is it possible to camp at this beach with a trailer pulled by a 4wd truck? Are other beaches and campsites in the Baja accessible to a trailer pulled by a 4wd truck?

    Thanks. Larry

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    1. Yes, Larry, absolutely no problem to bring a trailer to Santispac or the half-dozen other camping beaches on Bahia Concepcion. Also, Tecolote beach near La Paz is a great one as well. I only ventured out to the well-known and well-visited camping beaches during this first trip as I wanted to camp with either cell coverage or other people nearby if a problem might arise. One area I wanted to try but could not really get to (without getting stuck) was Rattlesnake Beach south of Loreto. Some other campers we met at the RV park in Loreto had camped there with their truck campers and small trailers, but my Class C wouldn't cut it.

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