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RANCHO GRANDE   (GPS coordinates 29'48 latitude N ~ 114'35 longitude W)   is located one of the most beautiful beaches in Baja! The fact that it is so difficult to get to has a lot to do with its lack of tourism.

Located on Bahia de Gonzaga, Rancho Grande is approximately 100 miles south of SAN FELIPE, and about 48 tough miles south of PUERTECITOS. The road south from Puertecitos has long had a reputation for being one of the worst roads in Baja. Despite the significant road grading provided by the Mexican government in the 1980's, this road is still very intimidating to all but the most seasoned Baja travelers.

Carlos Fiesta made it from Los Angeles to Rancho Grande in 2005 in a beat-to-death Buick Skylark with about 3 inches of ground clearance, so as you can see almost any vehicle can make it to Rancho Grande. The ironic thing about that trip is that Carlos made it over 400 miles to Gonzaga Bay with no problems and then got stuck in the sand 20 feet from the entrance to Rancho Grande!


Rancho Grande is located on an good natural harbor for those who arrive by boat, and it also offers two airstrips for private pilots who choose to fly in.

Rancho Grande is located on the land located just south and west of Alfonsina's Resort. Run by Rafael, the resort owner's son, Rancho Grande offers a nice market, gasoline, ice and a satellite telephone. He is a great guy and does a good job serving his customers. A true oasis in the desert!

A new Pemex gas station has recently been built on the northeast corner of the main road, right across the street form the Rancho Grande market. When it is closed Rancho Grande almost always has gas to sell.

The focal point for Rancho Grande is the 20 beachfront palapas. This is one of only a few places in Baja where one can park their car or airplane at water's edge, pull up a beach chair under a palapa and enjoy Baja at it's finest.

While visiting Rancho Grande by car is pretty darn cool, visiting the resort by airplane is the best. Where else in Baja can you taxi from the landing strip to your beachfront palapa? That's about as good as it gets.

One mile south of Rancho Grande, on the coast in the middle of nowhere, is what appears to be a mirage. But upon closer inspection it is indeed true...a Mini-Mart awaits those who are in the area. There are also 10 palapas for those in need of shade and an ocean breeze.

A few miles further south from Rancho Grande there are 5 more beachfront palapas for those who really want to get away form it all. And there is definitely no Mini-Market in this neck of the desert.

Rancho Grande 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!

Gonzaga Bay was one of the coastal stops for Carlos Fiesta on his 2,200 mile BAJA CIRCUMNAVIGATION.

The Enchanted Islands north of Gonzaga Bay offer raw nature and beauty few visitors are able to experience.

PUNTA FINAL is even more remote than Gonzaga Bay! Located about 8 miles across the Sea of Cortez on the f-a-r south end of Gonzaga Bay, Punta Final is the ultimate "drop out" location. For more information, check out "Local Interest - Side Trips" below.

If you would like to see what Gonzaga Bay and Punta Final look like FROM SPACE check it out!



The Rancho Grande area has been a gringo getaway since John Wayne discovered the place while on holiday between western movie shoots. The Rancho Grande operation (market, beach palapas and the air strip) are run by the Rodriguez brothers, mostly gringos lease out the 70 homes that front the main beach here just north of Rancho Grande



Rancho Grande Market is like a mirage on the horizon in an old cowboy movie. This is a great place to stock up on ice, drink, tampons and tequila. This little market in the middle of nowhere even has ice cream!



The best airstrip in Gonzaga Bay is the newer RANCHO GRANDE east-west strip that runs from the Rancho Grande Market near the main road to the beach. It's a wide, long, hard-packed runway and the perfect alternative when Alfonsina's airstrip is under water at high tide! Looking for the best place to enjoy a famous Gonzaga Bay sunset? Head for the sun deck above Alfonsina's! The stairs are on the north side of the restaurant and the bar is right downstairs. Bring a camera. The best mini-kayak adventure is the trek from the main beach at Rancho Grande around the island and over to PAPA FERNANDEZ CAMP. After a stop for a cold drink at the small restaurant at Papa Fernandez' keep on paddling through the back bay and then back through the 'slot' that leads back to the ocean in front of the sand spit by Alfonsina's. Visitors looking for a short boat excursion from Rancho Grande will love the calm and crystal clear private coves just 8 miles southeast at PUNTA FINAL. These coves are very protected from the winds and a good place for a picnic or a nap. The best road trip from Rancho Grande is the 35 minute drive south to COCO'S CORNER. Coco is a friendly peg-legged hermit who loves Baja and lives in a trailer in the middle of the desert. He loves it when visitors stop by! He sells cold soft drinks and cervesa and always has an interesting story to tell. Tell him Carlos Fiesta said 'hello'!








The beaches are a main draw for Rancho Grande. They are just plain beautiful. The two large bays here are spectacular in their own right, but when you add the great beaches to the bays, the combination is hard to beat.

Bahia de Gonzaga is the main large bay that faces the ocean. Most of the homes in Gonzaga Bay front the beaches on this bay, as well as Alphonsina's Resort.

Behind the main bay, and to the north, are the waters of the Inner Bay. This large open bay is very well protected from the wind, and is quiet beautiful. At low tide this bay gets somewhat shallow on the inside portions, but is still navigatable in the main areas.

Starting from the north, and working south, the beaches in the Gonzaga Bay area include:



Just a couple of miles north of Gonzaga Bay, north of the rocky point.
Take the dirt road off of the main road (north of Papa Fernandez Camp) one mile east to the Sea of Cortez.
This road can be traveled in almost any vehicle, except after a bad rain.
Private sandy beach with a few homes built above the tide line.
Usually a very quiet and relaxing beach!



The northern most bay, accessible via Papa Fernandez Camp.
This bay can also be reached from Alphonsina's, at the very north end of the airstrip, near the restaurant.
Rocky on the north end, sandy at the south end.
Extremely shallow at low tide, especially at south and east ends.



The larger southernmost bay, reaching all the way from Alphonsina's to Punta Final.
Miles of beautiful beaches! The water is protected from winds at the northern end by the large hill, so the beaches near the restaurant are usually calm and beautiful.
Heading south, towards Punta Final, the beaches become more exposed to the prevailing winds, especially in the afternoons.
Dolphins are not uncommon, occasionally whales.



On the south end of Gonzaga Bay, accessible via a dirt road off of the main highway.
Short airstrip is available behind the homes for pilots with grande huevos.
Beautiful sandy beaches, plus a few special hidden coves.
Head up into the east end bays for privacy!
Very remote.





Camping is popular for visitors to Gonzaga Bay, more out of necessity than desire. Unless you are one of the 74 lucky souls who owns a home on the beach here, camping is the main way to spend the night.

There are many places along the shore, both north and south of Gonzaga bay, where a Baja traveler can set up camp on open beaches. In addition, there are three areas to camp which offer some degree of services.



Take the gravel road off of the main road, at the intersection where the market and new Pemex station intersect.
One mile south of Alphonsina's.
20 palapas with private toilets right on the water.
No facilities. Room for R.V.'s.
Great airstrip!



Turn west off the main gravel road at the sign.
Open areas of flat land near the water's edge.
No camping facilities, small restaurant.
Very peaceful!



Turn west off the main gravel road at the sign, a mile or two past Papa's.
Sandy beaches await your tent north of the restaurant.
Bathrooms and showers available for a modest fee.
The least windy place in Gonzaga Bay!




Fishing can be good in the waters off of Rancho Grande. The bay itself offers smaller fish, SO heading out to sea is the preferred direction.

There is a boat launching ramp at Papa Fernandez, through the village to the right. Also, launching near Alphonsina's behind the old airstrip (at high tide), or over the sand (if you've got some help). If you don't have a boat, stop at Alphonsina's and ask around. You might find someone who will take you out for a few hours.

For more information on fishing in Baja drop by our BAJA FISHING section!




Alphonsina's has been hosting the Baja wild and weary since 1961, and is the only civilized game in town, if you are looking for a decent roof over your head. New rooms with beds offer nice accommodations right on the beach.

The six rooms just north of the restaurant were completed in 1996, and are actually pretty nice. Each one features a private bathroom. Three of these face the ocean, the other three face the airstrip and the inner bay.

Ten new rooms on the south end of the restaurant were completed in 1998. The five downstairs rooms are huge, and the five upstairs rooms offer big balconies with beautiful views of the ocean, back bay, and mountains. What these rooms lack in amenities, nature more than makes up for in spectacular views!



    Phone 011-52 (664) 648-1951.
    Fax 011-52 (664) 626-2626.
    Mailing address: Post Office Box 2229, Chula Vista, California, U.S.A. 91912.
    Located near the end of the sand spit, at the north end of the dirt runway, east side.
    On the beach.
    16 rooms / restaurant / bar / margarita - sunset deck.
    Joaquin Cardenas (Alphonsina's son) and his bride Susana (and their young son Joaquin Junior!) have taken over for Alphonsina at the resort, and provide excellent service for guests and travelers who stop by. Good people!
    The best way to be sure a room is available when you arrive is to fax or write Joaquin or Alphonsina 30 days in advance. The fax number is 011-52 (66) 26-1645. Rooms run $45 and sleep 4 people in two big beds. Discounted rates for one person in a room.



    Located north of Gonzaga Bay 3 miles in Punta Bufeo.
    8 minimal rooms with cement floors and wood walls.
    Tom Bodet would probably not want to sleep here, but it will do in a pinch.





PUNTA FINAL is a collection of 37 homes tucked in at the base of the mountains on the very south end of Gonzaga Bay. This area sports a small natural harbor (fun for snorkeling!), beautiful beaches, and an airstrip that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up when landing! It's a very quiet place, and offers no services for the Baja adventurer who may stop by. Punta Final can also be reached by taking a marked dirt road west from the Gonzaga Bay road, between Coco's Corner and Rancho Grande.


Taking a relaxing sea cruise around the island which separates the two bays is a wonderful way to soak in the natural beauty of Bahia de Gonzaga (or Godzilla Bay, as Tracy Fiesta calls it). It's an easy one hour loop, out around Cactus Point, along the open sea, and then back past Papa Fernandez and through the inner bay.


A wonderful piece of yesterday's Baja is alive and well at Coco's Corner, just south of Gonzaga Bay. Check out our 'Miscellaneous' section at the bottom of this page for a full report!




The pace in Bahia de Gonzaga is very slow, but allows for certain recreational opportunities. It is not the kind of place you want to hear a Wave Runner screaming by on the water at 50 miles per hour, although the calm waters of the bay seem to beg for just such an adventure. Water sports more in tune with the natural environment seem much more enjoyable.



Snorkeling and scuba diving can be enjoyed in the large bay, but the inner bay is just too shallow. Following the rocky coastline from Alphonsina's to Cactus Point one will find many places to enjoy. When the water is calm, diving on the outer part of the island is a ton of fun, and the underwater scenery in very interesting.



The waters in and around Gonzaga Bay are absolutely perfect for kayaking. The bays are very well protected from the prevailing winds, allowing for very smooth paddling. Using Alphonsina's as a base camp, excursions around the island or directly to Papa Fernandez Camp for lunch is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. For the serious kayaker who wants to cover some real territory, a trip over to Punta Final and back is a great adventure.



The roads south of Gonzaga Bay offer great offroading. For a short adventure, the dirt road to Punta Final is fun. For a longer trek, heading out towards Coco's corner (a half hour south) and then to the coast is a another good destination. The gravel road heading south from Gonzaga Bay ultimately connects back to the Transpeninsular Highway, south of Catavina.



The two separate bays of Bahia San Luis Gonzaga are excellent places to drop anchor. Both bays offer sandy bottoms. The north bay gets shallow relatively quickly, but offers enough draft to get far enough into the bay to escape the prevailing winds. The south bay has sufficient depth all the way in, and also offers a couple of inside coves for even greater wind protection. The coastline from here to Bahia de los Angeles offers few protected moorings.

For emergencies and general information, Alphonsina's often monitors the Marine Band on Channel "22".




Culinary options are not Gonzaga Bay's strong suit. As a matter of fact, if you arrive in town much past nine in the evening, you are probably going to go to bed hungry, unless you stashed a few Power Bars or bananas in your bag before you left San Felipe.

There are two places in the Gonzaga Bay area to eat a good meal, and a third one on the way.



Right in the middle of the village.
A small shack with limited menu.
Quaint and quiet. Check out the photo of Papa Fernandez with John Wayne!
Your meal will arrive manana (later).



Facing the beach, next to the rooms.
A relaxing environment, good food, bar.
The rooftop deck is perfect for sunset margaritas!
It's always a good idea to give the kitchen crew as much notice as possible as to when you want to eat, and how many are in your dining party.
Good food and friendly service.



Located approximately 3 miles north of Gonzaga Bay.
Head east at the Punta Bufeo sign.
Open more often than not, the only thing this restaurant needs to be super quaint is a location next to the Sea of Cortez, which it does not have.
But it's close, and if you are hungry, you can pass on a view.



Next to the Gonzaga Bay / Rancho Grande campground.

A nice stone building right on the water.
Not yet open as of 2006.




A small market, Rancho Grande Market, has been built near the main gravel road near the ice plant. This is a good place (actually it's the only place!) to buy ice, beer, and other basic necessities. The selection is limited, but sufficient.


Open from 7:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. Located on the west side of the road, this small market sells oil, toilet paper, film, tampons, shampoo, cold drinks, water, canned goods, bread, snacks, and an excellent selection of tequila!

A telephone is available for $1.50 per minute, but it usually only works in the morning when the atmosphere is just right.




The main gravel road brings most Baja travelers to Gonzaga Bay. The airstrips bring in the rest. There is no bus service, no taxis, and no commercial airlines. Lack of easy access is the one element that has helped Gonzaga Bay maintain it's tranquillity.

Got G.P.S.? These days, pilots, boaters, and even ground-based folks like to know exactly where they are going. For those that want to know where Alphonsina's in Gonzaga bay is, here you go:

29 DEGREES 48.0 North - 114 DEGREES 23.9 West (Elevation 10 feet).



  • LOCATION: Running between the main road and the Sea of Cortez.
  • SURFACE: Graded.
  • ELEVATION: 15 Feet.
  • RUNWAYS: 8 / 26.
  • LENGTH: 5,620.
  • TOWER: No.
  • FUEL: No.
  • COMMENTS: A hard packed strip that runs east-west, from the beach to the main highway. This airstrip is very long, and is in excellent condition. A landing fee may be charged. Slopes uphill from the beach. Market at west end of runway, palapas on the beach at east end of runway!


  • LOCATION: Located between the beach and the estuary.
  • SURFACE: Hard packed dirt.
  • ELEVATION: Sea level.
  • RUNWAYS: 18 / 36.
  • LENGTH: 2,290 feet.
  • TOWER: No.
  • Fuel: No.
  • COMMENTS: A dependable north-south strip, except at very high tides when it becomes flooded. Convenience is the name of the game here. From the time you land your bird and shut of the mags, until the time you are swimming in the water, it's usually less than 10 minutes. If weather dictates a longer, wider, or dryer runway, Rancho Grande Airport is just a spit to the south, running east and west.




Until the new PEMEX station is opened, gasoline options are limited. Follow the signs off the main highway towards the beach.

Gas is sometimes available from large drums, but it's not inexpensive.



On the west side of the main highway, west the airport runway.
Gasoline is usually available, a PEMEX station is on the way, just across the street...manana.




About 22 miles south of Gonzaga Bay, on the main gravel road, sits a mirage that has pleased many a Baja traveler! Coco's Corner is a great place to stop the vehicle, get out and stretch, drink in the dry Baja air and buy a cold beer or soda.

Coco, an ex-crop duster (among other varied professions!) is a neat guy and an excellent host! He is part Mexican, part American, and part Alien. And yep, he carved that wooden leg all by himself. His warm hospitality and witty humor are always welcome, here in the middle of nowhere. His collection of trailers are decorated very uniquely, and look a lot like the village of Puertecitos, only on a much smaller scale!

Coco is particularly proud that his little piece of paradise can be seen from space! With the hundreds of crushed aluminum cans dangling from Coco's trees, it's no surprise that this place can be seen from several satellites! Coco's Corner is a great place to unload your excess change and pesos for one of the few Baja residents-drifters who actually has a job. Well, if you call that a job! Stop by for a cold beer or soda, and sign his guest book!






Gonzaga Bay offers three different real estate locations for the Baja aficionado looking for a piece of paradise. The largest of the three areas includes the 50 homes located on the long sand peninsula just south of Alphonsina's Restaurant. The view from these homes is simply spectacular.

Just north of Alphonsinas, across the inner bay, lies the random collection of homes at Papa Fernandez camp. About two dozen homes dot the terrain here, all within a few steps of the beautiful bay.

Punta Final is the furthest south residential area in Gonzaga Bay, located south west across the large bay about 10 miles. About 30 lucky people call Punta Final home.

There are about 20 homes right on the beach, and a couple dozen more just back from the beach. The airstrip makes flying in and out of Punta Final easy, and the dirt road which connects to the Gonzaga Bay road is usually in good condition.