BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES (GPS coordinates 28'95 N ~ 113'55 W) is located 42 miles south east of Baja Highway One approximately 350 miles south of the U.S. border. The road was re-paved again in 2008 and is an easy drive for almost any vehicle. Because of the easy access via the paved road Bay of L.A. has always received its fair share of Baja aficionados.
As the Baja traveler drives the last few miles down the road towards Bahia de los Angeles, the Sea of Cortez and the offshore islands explode into view. This is one of the most spectacular vistas in all of Baja and well worth a stop for photograph (up the small hill on the left side of the road). Bay of L.A. lacks the organized charm of many Baja villages. However, whatever this small town lacks in manmade beauty, nature has more than made up for with the incredible scenery of the surrounding mountains, seas, and the dramatic islands floating just offshore.
One of the nice things about Bahia de los Angeles is that it is a very walkable town. The main parts of town can be walked in well under and hour, with no significant hills.
Early developement in the area came from the rough and tumble miners in search if gold and copper in the local mountains. Much of this amazing early history of the area can be enjoyed today at the local museum behind the town square.
This remote village has changed some, but not significantly, since the Papa Diaz and his wife opened their small hotel here in 1963. When they first arrived in the area they slept under a mesquite tree near the Sea of Cortez and used newspapers for blankets (this story was told by Mrs. Diaz to Carolina, who runs the amazing museum in town). The raw beauty of Bahia de los Angeles, coupled with the Diaz' imagination, charisma and hard work soon led to their quaint oceanfront hotel. It's still there today, hosting fishermen and Baja adventurers from near and far. Those were the 'golden years' of Bahia de los Angeles when the waters off shore were flooded many different kinds of fish and offshore 'boils' were the norm, rather than the exception.
Water in town comes from two sources. There is a well at the south end of town, in a rock separation just up from the blacktop. Locals can fill their cans once a day until 10 a.m. and then the well re-fills for the next morning's supply. Water also comes to town from underneath the dry lake bed 40 miles northwest of town and then piped to town.
L.A. Bay still maintains a unique and desirable charm and the fishing is usually good. As a matter of fact, the town's economy relies heavily on fishing, squiding and shrimping. This isolated village offers basic supplies such as gasoline, beer, ice and food. And the small market on the right side of the road, Market Lizeth, has telephones which are usually working during the store's open hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On the other side of the street Islas Market offers Internet access, tampons, tequila and a whole lot more.
Boaters will have no problem launching off of the three boat ramps in town. Exploring the half dozen offshore islands can be spectacular!
Private pilots will find that the local airport is in good condition (after a brief stop in San Felipe as an Airport of Entry). The runway is paved, and the south end has recently been paved again. The main runway runs north and south. For a ride to town (1.5 miles) just buzz the town before landing, while monitoring 122.8. Jose the local taxi man will hear your plane when you fly over and contact you on the radio before you land!
Kayakers have been coming to Bahia de los Angeles in increasing numbers and the island-dotted waters are perfect for short and long term excursions.
Electricity in this quaint village was provided by a large generator which usually ran daily from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. But the town received 24 power in 2007 and most residents feel the power poles on the main road to town are a small price to pay for the convenience of being able to watch Sabado Gigante on television after 10 p.m.
Bahia de los Angeles is perfect for travelers who want to experience a true Baja adventure, but who don't want to stray too far from the blacktop. The town's zip code is 22890.
Mission San Borja is a tough off-road excursion located 23 miles south of the L.A. Bay paved road. Plan on a full day for this amazing offroad adventure!
The University Autonoma is active in Bahia de los Angeles as a whale shark and ecosystem conservation area. Whale sharks crusie the local waters from June through November every year. Pods of Finback whales live in the local waters all year long.
One of the more interesting places to stay south of LA Bay is LAS ANIMAS WIDERNESS RESORT located a hald hours south of town via boat. The yurts on the beach are a great way to escape from reality.
PUNTA SAN FRANCISQUITO is a Baja hideaway not often visited by the average Baja explorer. Located about 75 miles south of Bahia de los Angeles, Punta San Francisquito is one of the best places in Baja to really drop out. Long on character and short on conveniences, it's one of Carlos Fiesta's favorite places in Baja!
L.A. Bay shares the same arid climate as SAN FELIPE. An average of only 2 inches of rain falls here per year. And there are times when the area goes years without any rain!
Bahia de los Angeles was one of the coastal stops for Carlos Fiesta on his 2,200 mile SOLO BAJA CIRCUMNAVIGATION! It was near the end of his trip and the perfect place to spend the night.
If you would like to see what Bahia de los Angeles, Punta San Francisco and the offshore islands looks like FROM SPACE check it out!
Bay of L.A. does not have cell service. Telephones are available at Lizeth Market and the bar at Guillermo's. Internet access is available at the room on the south end of Isla Market and in the office at Casa del Sol Hotel.
THE GRINGO FACTOR
The general population in Bay of L.A. is not large (under 1,000 people), so the Gringo Factor is not dominant. The locals like the gringos and there are very few of the "let's raise hell for the weekend" type of gringos that sometimes take over places like San Felipe and Cabo San Lucas. Several dozen gringos own homes in the area, most of them on the beach north or south of town. Because this is the most out of the way destination you can reach in Baja from the U.S. and still stay on the blacktop, many gringos choose this little corner of paradise for fishing, camping and just exploring nature. Most of the Mexican service people in town speak enough English to meet your needs and your U.S. dollars are welcome at all restaurants and places of business.
YOUR FIRST STOP IN TOWN
No matter which way you come into town you will be needing a well deserved rest once you get here. Head straight for Guillermo's at the south end of town. Turn your vehicle east towards the Sea of Cortez, park by the tables and palapas next to the sand and get out and stretch those bones. This is the perfect place to drink in the fabulous view of the ocean and offshore islands and to order up that welcome margarita. Sticking your toes into the Sea of Cortez is optional but highly recommended!
THE BEST OF BAY OF LA
Top quality hotels are in short supply in Bahia de Los Angeles but if you are looking for the newest place in town to hang your hat COSTA DEL SOL has your name on it. It's newer, clean, conveniently located and the service is good. A good place to beach camp in Bahia de Los Angeles is Punta Gringa about 25 minutes north of town on the coast. It's remote, the views are spectacular and it's free! Closer to town CAMPO GECKO offers good camping just a few minutes south of town and DAGGETT'S CAMPGROUND offers good camping and cute casitas just north of town on the beach. Bahia de Los Angeles visitors looking for a nice place to enjoy a cold drink or a warm meal can also head to the oceanfront palapa at GUILLERMO'S RESTAURANT right on the beach. The service is Baja slow, the food is fair but the views of the ocean and offshore islands are always spectacular! Bahia de Los Angeles' best kept secret is the MUSEUM located in the center of town about 2 blocks up from the park and plaza on the main street. It offers excellent photographs and artifacts of the history of this special Baja destination, cool whale information, and has really interesting souvenirs, books and shirts for sale. It took 4 years of fund raising and four years of building, but Baja fan Carolina is proud to say the museum she dreamed about as now been opened for 22 years. The best remote road trip from Bahia de Los Angeles is the 2 hour drive west of town to MISSION SAN BORJA. This abandoned settlement is best reached by 4 wheel drive vehicles and offers a piece of Baja history most folks never have the opportunity to enjoy. Bring a camera! And if you have a boat the best place to sneak away for a half day lunch getaway is beautiful Puerto Don Juan, a very protected cove about 3 miles east of town. There is a sandy beach at the very south end of the bay.
CARLOS FIESTA'S HOT TIP: There is no better place in Bahia de los Angeles to enjoy sunset (and sunrise!) than the beachfront restaurant palapa at Guillermo's. Order a bucket of Pacificos and watch the mountains on the horizon change colors as the sun sets. If the pangas are getting ready for a night on the water on the local boat ramp the show is even better.
Bahia de los Angeles has some very nice beaches, both right in town and also north or south of town. The beaches alternate between rock and sand, both north and south of town, and access is generally pretty easy.
Since the paved highway ends right in town, having a vehicle that can accommodate dirt roads is important to reach the out of town beaches. Most of the coastline of the offshore islands consists of cliffs and rocky beaches, so if you are looking for beaches, keep your focus along the coast! The islands are great for snorkeling, diving, and kayaking.
Beach lovers looking for a "completely" remote beach experience with no other people will love the well protected cove and sandy beach on the island just south of La Gringa. This spectacular cove and beach is located two miles form shore on the third island from the shore at La Gringa (the first two islands are smaller, this third island is a bit bigger), and can be reached by kayak or small boat. The cove opens to the north and can get windy when the winds come down the channel from the north. It's a great place to spend an afternoon looking for meteorites or an overnight adventure with mother nature!
Best beach to take a dip in town is in front of the rooms at Hotel Diaz. You can park your car right up front.
Camping is fun and easy in Bay of L.A. There are miles of beaches north and south of town, and it's usually no problem just pulling up to a good spot and setting up camp.
Most of the camping is done north of town because of the easy proximity to town. But don't discount the beaches on the south end of the bay, especially when the winds are calm. They are just as beautiful, and usually less crowded.
One of the great places to camps south of LA Bay is LAS ANIMAS WIDERNESS RESORT. Drop by their web site for more information.
Baja's biggest selection of campgrounds can be found north of Bahia de los Angeles in SAN FELIPE. Check it out on the way down.
Fishing and boating are very popular in Bahia de los Angles, partially because of the blacktop access all the way from the U.S. border. This makes it an easy trek for trailered boats coming down from the southern states. The quality of fishing has gone through various stages over the last few decades, and appears to be on an upswing as we head into 2011.
There is no question that over fishing from commercial boats has caused a significant drop in the fishing in the waters off of L.A. Bay. Recent regulations against long lines and such seem to have helped stem the tide of over fishing, and good fishing seems to be on the increase. There are 3 boat launching ramps right in town.
And for a gander at Baja's biggest fishin' hole, drop by CABO EXPO to see what's happening!
Lodging option locations are either in town or north of town on the beach.
Luxury accommodations are not an option in Bay of L.A. However, the accommodations that are available are generally clean, and well priced.
All of the hotels are located just a stone's throw from the water, and close to the other services in town.
Looking for something newer and clean like a Motel 6? The newer kid in town COSTA DEL SOL is a great place to stay. It is located mid-town on the west side of the street.
And if you want to wake up and stumble to the Sea of Cortez GUILLERMO'S at the south end of town is a great option. This is also a good place to pull up a plate in the morning and watch the pelicans dive for breakfast!
If you would prefer to stay in a private home just steps from the ocean, head just north of town to LARRY AND RAQUEL'S BUNGALOW.
One of these great rustic places to stay south of LA Bay is LAS ANIMAS WIDERNESS RESORT. Drop by their web site for more information!
Fishing and camping have been the main stay in Bay of L.A. for many years, but there are a few other places to explore while in town.
One of the great things about spending time in the Bay is that you really have a chance to drop in on "Baja Time". Although this slower pace is conducive to relaxing, it also allows you the time to gradually wander around town checking things out that you are usually to busy to explore.
PUNTA SAN FRANCISQUITO is where you head if you are looking for an adventure in the real Baja outback (Yes, even Jimmy Buffet has slept here). This remote Baja hideaway is not easy to get to but it is even harder to leave. After all...who wants to leave paradise?
Punta San Francisquito is a small rustic resort (and we use the word 'resort' rather loosely here) tucked away on a pristine two mile stretch of beach in the middle of nowhere. Services are basic here and include a very casual restaurant, 4 beachfront palapas with cots plus restrooms and semi-fresh-water showers. Pilots love the place because of the well maintained airstrip (see stats below) and Baja adventurers of all types drop by for an evening or two for a little R. & R.
The staff does a fair job of running the facilities and the meals are usually good. Plan on $10 for a meal and $2 for a cold beer.
Plan on a rugged three hour drive south from Bay of L.A. The north road to paradise is recommended for high clearance vehicles and 4X4's only, although lesser vehicles have made the grade.
The world's record for getting to Punta San Francisquito on the north road was established in 1997 by Baja aficionado Dave Denis. Dave actually made the trip in a stock Toyota Tercel and lived to tell about it. Damage to the vehicle was significant, but it didn't matter because it wasn't Dave's car.
Got G.P.S.? Here's the bar location at Punta San Francisquito:
28 DEGREES 24.616 North - 112 degrees 51.603 West.
SAN FRANCISQUITO AIRSTRIP
LOCATION: Just behind the resort, steps to the ocean.
SURFACE: Hard packed dirt.
ELEVATION: 15 Feet
RUNWAYS: 15 / 33
LENGTH: 3,725 Feet
AIRPORT OF ENTRY: No
COMMENTS: The runway is usually in good shape. Transient parking is over by the north west end of the field next to the small rocks.
The wild and rugged nature of this beautiful area compliment many types of recreation. Both land and water sports can be enjoyed here all year long.
With the spectacular backdrop of the Sea of Cortez and the offshore islands, recreation is given a new spirit in these parts. Kayaking in the waters offshore is a dream!
Whale and wildlife excursions in the waters off of Bahia de los Angles can be enjoyed with the Baja experts at LINDBLAD EXPEDITIONS in their first class boats.
Snorkeling and scuba diving off of the local islands can be very good. Some of the islands offer a rather bland view of rocks smaller fish, while other islands offer a nice display of soft corals, sea fans, sponges, and a variety of fish.
Wetsuits are recommended November through June. The water gets into the 80's in late summer, then drops down into the 60's by February.
Bahia de los Angeles is a great place for kayaks. The calm waters of the protected bay allows for easy paddling, and the water is clear. It can be fun to paddle out to the island group just offshore, or to head south along the beaches and bluffs at the lower end of the bay. Long excursions north and south are becoming increasingly common for experienced kayakers.
If you want a taste of kayaking here, but did not bring any equipment, you have two options. The newest hotel in town COSTA DEL SOL offers kayaks for rent. Also, head on out to DAGGETT'S CAMPGROUND about a mile north of town on the dirt road. Rueben and Amanda run the campground, an offer kayak rentals and tours.
Dirt bikes, dune buggies and most 4 wheel drive vehicles will find no shortage of open terrain to explore. For short trips, the roads north and north-east of town make great runs. For longer runs, the road south to Punta San Francisquito is great all day or overnight adventure. For a tough interior road, try the dirt road which spurs off the main Bay of L.A. road to Mission San Borja. This road starts 28 miles from the Transpeninsular Highway at K-44, and heads south up into the rugged terrain. Very remote, but worth the effort.
For information on the Baja 500 and the Baja 1000 off road races check out the web site of SCORE INTERNATIONAL.
Most sailboats don't quiet make it this far north in the Sea of Cortez. Those that do will find several excellent anchorage's in the Bahia de las Angeles area.
Just a few miles south and east of "downtown" Bay of L.A., Puerto Don Juan offers a natural bay almost completely sheltered by winds. And there are two additional beautiful places to drop the hook, just around the point past Puerto Don Juan.
Unlike most of the coves north and south of town, most of the islands in the bay offer little in the way of beaches. Still, they can serve well as protection from the wind, although they are a bit removed from town access.
A good book for sailing in Baja waters and the islands off of Bay of L.A. is MEXICO BOATING GUIDE by John and Pat Rains. This book was exclusively used by Carlos Fiesta on his solo BAJA CIRCUMNAVIGATION.
The calm waters of the bay are great for beginning boardheads, and the winds increase further from shore to give experienced riders a good run for their money. Launching is easy anywhere in town, or up and down the coast.
The islands can twist the local winds up a bit, so staying clear will produce more consistent winds.
The prevailing winds during the winter usually come from the north, and during spring and summer sometimes wrap up from the south.
Having a good breakfast to get started in the morning, or winding down with a good dinner after a full day outdoors is a great way to enjoy L.A. Bay.
The number of restaurants is not large, but the quality of food is good, and the prices are reasonable.
Don't bother to dust off your Master Card when paying for a meal at most restaurants in town, 'cause last time we checked they had a pretty big preference for cash (dollars or pesos).
And just like most of Baja, tipping is appreciated for good food and service. 10% of the bill is normal, more if you think they really took good care of you.
Just looking for a quick taco? Try the taco stand on the south wall of the Xital market on the south end of town. Fresh beef!
There are a few stores in town where the Baja traveler can stock up on the basics. Three of them are on the right side of the road as you enter town. All seem to offer a potpourri of items, and the inventory runs very inconsistent. Still, the determined Baja traveler should be able to muster up whatever essentials may be required to get them to the next stop.
The biggest of all the markets in town is Xital Market, located a the south end of town, heading a bit up the hill. Now this is shopping!
If there are certain items you feel you really have to have to enjoy your stay in the Bay (like Kit-Kat bars or Snapple) your best bet is to obtain those items in SAN QUINTIN, before departing the Baja west coast.
Visit the web site of JOHN RAMOS to review his unique and colorful Mexico art work.
In the old days, most visitors to Bahia de Los Angeles arrived by private plane. And some still do. However, the number of Baja travelers arriving by vehicle increased significantly when the government paved the road from the Transpeninsular Highway.
Each year more tourists realize how easy it is to drive to this little hideaway, which seems a million miles removed from the day to day dramas left behind at home.
The road that heads north of town past the airport towards La Gringa is now paved well past the airport (2010).
Check out the BAJA BUSH PILOTS Message Board for updates on bringing your bird to Bay of L.A. His Mexico Guide Book is extremely detailed.
For detailed information on the airport at LA Bay, as well as other parts of Baja get yourself a copy of Air Baja by Galen Hanselman. He offers one awesome package for Baja Buffs heading south. Order at (888) 574-9702. Remember...no drinking within 8 feet of an airplane.
There is no bus service directly to Bahia de los Angeles, but regularly schedules buses do stop at the L.A. Bay Junction at the Transpeninsular Highway.
Gasoline is no longer a tough call in L.A. Bay. They usually have it, thanks to a new pre-pay, self service PEMEX in town (with clean bathrooms!). The Pemex station at the LA Bay / Baja Highway One turnoff has been closed for years, but individuals selling gasoline from drums at that location are sometimes available. Don't be surprised if the cost here is over $4 U.S. per gallon.
Gasoline is much more dependable in town than just a few years ago. After the new PEMEX location, the best place to find it is just as you enter town, on the right side. Look for the hand made sign that says 'gasoline'. These nice folks usually seems to have plenty of gas in cans just waiting for your American dollars! There are also a few other places in town that offer gasoline...just look for the "gasolina" signs as you drive through the back streets.
Visitors headed to Bahia de los Angeles from the north would be wise to top off at the 24 hour Pemex at El Rosario, and at Catavina if possible on the way down. Carrying extra gas cans just in case is also a good idea.
The sea life in Bahia de los Angeles is really something special. And folks who visit the Bay who don't leave the shore rarely have a chance to experience the special wonders that are offered here.
Whether you bring a boat, or have to rent a panga and a skipper in town, getting out into the sea is strongly suggested. Planning a set destination beforehand is a good idea.
The offshore islands and remote beaches offer sea lions, dolphins, and plenty of fish and birds. The resident finback whale is a local in these waters, reaching a length of 60 to 80 feet. Watching a pod of these huge mammals cruise just below the surface is a very special treat. Whale sharks cruise the local waters from June through November, usually not far from shore.
One of LA Bay's best secrets located south of town is LAS ANIMAS WIDERNESS RESORT. Drop by their web site for more information!
For information on obtaining travel documents for Mexico such as Tourist Cards, boat permits, fishing and hunting licenses check out the web site of MEXICO ADVISORY SERVICES.
Bahia de los Angeles offers vacation homes in two basic locations. Many Baja aficionados have homes located right near or just south of town, close to all of the action and basic supplies. Most of these homes are right on, or very close to, the ocean.
The other group of homes is located at the south end of the bay, about 5 miles away, via the south road towards Punta San Fransisquito. There are approximately 40 homes at this south end of the bay, ranging in size from very modest to rather large.
Thinking about moving south of the border? Visit the web site of BAJA RELOCATION for a head's up for what awaits you.
Organized real estate has yet to hit the Bahia de los Angeles area, so the best way to track down properties for sale is to drive through the areas you are interested in and look for 'for sale' signs. Also, it's not a bad idea to ask around in town. Most folks are happy to share whatever information they may have on properties they know are for sale.