SAN QUINTIN (GPS coordinates 30'49 N ~ 115'90 W) is home to one of the largest protected bays on the west coast of Baja. It actually consists of 3 different bays which includes the outer bay of Bahia Santa Maria to the south, as well as the two inner bays of Bahia Falso and San Quintin Bay. This mostly agricultural area is 190 miles south of the U.S. border, roughly a four hour drive, and it is the last coastal tourist town before the Baja Highway heads down and over towards the east side of the Peninsula.
San Quintin has several different focal points. The first one that most visitors see is the long commercial sprawl along Baja Highway One. This stretch is Worth a visit for gasoline and supplies, but most visitors who want to spend time here head for San Quintin Bay, located about 3 miles west of town. The dirt access road south of town heading towards the Old Mill Hotel and Don Eddies Resort is a good place to start. This area is located on the east end of the bay and fishing is the name of the game here. A third and more remote San Quintin locale can be found on the ocean side of the bay...miles and miles of empty beaches!
Boating and fishing are popular in the local waters here, and so is claming. There are no large tourist centers here yet, however the few small hotels and restaurants that cater to tourists here have developed a strong following.
A variety of goods and services can be found along the Transpeninsular Highway which runs several miles through the San Quintin Valley, including four gasoline stations, several banks, restaurants and a variety of other miscellaneous services.
Just south of San Quintin lies the Rancho Los Pinos agricultural area. Hundreds of acres of land is farmed on both sides of the highway and up into the hills, with tomatoes being the largest crop here. The Rodriguez brothers seem to expand their operation more every year.
Because of the relatively close proximity to the border several different large scale plans are on the drawing boards to develop this area for tourists. Waterfront homes, a marina, and a golf course are all down on paper, but time will tell if these projects ever get off the ground. Until then, San Quintin is still considered the pivotal town where northern Baja civilization ends, and the raw Baja frontier begins. Heading south from here, Baja travelers find that vacation 'decompression' kicking in much more completely, and that 'Baja mode' really sets in!
A Visitors Center and rest stop for the San Quintin area is sometimes open on the main highway about 8 miles north of town on the west side of the highway at Km. 178.3. You can't miss it...it's the only newer building along the highway! This small but nice building has brochures for the various tourist areas around San Quintin and is the perfect place to stop, stretch, and get your questions answered!
Visit our EL ROSARIO page to see what awaits you an hour south of San Quintin!
San Quintin was the third night's stop that Carlos Fiesta hit on his 2,200 mile SOLO BAJA CIRCUMNAVIGATION!
To purchase a good map of the Baja Peninsula visit the web site of MEXICO MAPS.
THE GRINGO FACTOR
Gringos have been coming to the San Quintin area for years to enjoy good fishing and good friends. Most of the gringo activity tends to center around the hotels on or near the San Quintin Bay, including the Old Mill Motel, Don Eddie's, the Old Pier Hotel and Cielito Lindo. Ten minutes south of town the Desert Inn (old La Pinta) hosts visitors looking for a nice hotel on a large sandy beach, outside of Bahia San Quintin.
YOUR FIRST STOP IN TOWN
Driving south on Highway One through San Quintin past all of the local businesses and shops leaves a visitor with the initial impression that there's not much here for the tourist. Don't fret, amigo. Head straight through town for the "Old Mill" resort sign just south of town (at the power plant substation turn-off). Take this unpaved but decent road all the way to the end, hang a right at the sign, and then drive to the bay and park. The old wood sidewalks and mining town flavor of this waterfront location are the perfect place to enjoy the fantastic view of the bay, smell the salt water, and order up a cold drink at the Don Eddie bar and restaurant!
If you would like to see what San Quintin looks like FROM SPACE check it out!
CARLOS FIESTA'S HOT TIP: Much of San Quintin city is located on either side of the main Baja Highway, well east of the Pacific Ocean. To find the 'real' San Quintin, turn west at the sign for the Old Mill Motel. Next to the motel there are two launch ramps which will accommodate most trailered boats. The motel restaurant and bar at Don Eddie's are also a great places to relax, grab a bite to eat or drink and enjoy the spectacular view of the beautiful bay!
San Quintin has great beaches, without question. Also, part of the uniqueness of the area is the large bays that have made San Quintin so popular over the years. Collectively, these bays are some of the biggest on Baja's west coast, and offer excellent opportunities for fun and adventure!
There are miles and miles of open areas to camp both north and south of the San Quintin area, both inland and at the beach. Since these beaches are not far from the main highway, security is not assured. There have been a few isolated incidents where tourists camping on the beach have run into trouble with bandits. Something to keep in mind.
South of San Quintin near the km. 16 (head west at the sign) is Palapas Alvinas, just up from the beach. Camping, showers in a quiet environment.
If some degree of civilization, amenities, or security is desired, the following camping and RV areas are available.
The fishing in the 3 large bays here is particularly good! Access to the bays by large commercial boats is not particularly easy, because of the ocean waves and shallow harbor entrance, so the bays do not get fished out very easily.
Halibut, mackerel, perch, croaker, are readily available in the bays, and yellowtail, yellow fin, sea bass, rock cod, link cod, and sometimes dorado can be found in the open sea. Surf fishing can be good on the beaches south and north of the bay entrance.
Boat rentals can be arranged at the Old Mill Hotel and the Cielito Lindo Hotel.
To help flatten out your learning curve, BAJA DIRECTIONS offers excellent fishing charts for the San Quintin waters!
For more information on obtaining the proper fishing documentation required for dipping your hook in Baja waters check with the professionals at MEXICO ADVISORY SERVICES.
For more information on fishing in Baja drop by our main BAJA FISHING section!
First class hotel accommodations are not San Quintin's strongest suite, although there are grand plans on the drawing board to change that.
Meanwhile, the existing hotels and motels provide a good place to hang your hat while exploring the San Quintin area.
There are quite a few small hotels scattered on both sides of Highway One, most of them very affordable. However, the tourist hotels tend to be near the bay, just south of town, and to the west.
The National Observatory is approximately 60 miles north-east, off the main highway on a fairly good dirt and gravel road past Meling Ranch. Regular passenger cars should have no problem during dry road conditions.
The observatory sits on a high peak in the mountains of Sierra San Pedro Martir. The road goes all the way up to the observatory, although a 'do not enter' sign indicates that they prefer that you walk the last half mile of paved road.
On a clear day the view from the nearby rocks allows you to see both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez!
A fun excursion includes grabbing a room at Meling Ranch on the way up, enjoying a good home-style dinner and breakfast, and then heading up to the observatory in the morning!
Visiting the observatory after November can be risky, as snow often falls on these mountains when cold fronts drop down from the north.
Beach activities are the main focus in the San Quintin area. Both the bays and the open beaches offer plenty of opportunity for recreation.
Hunting is also an option in the San Quintin area, and several places offer guide services.
Check out the WHALE WATCHING section of Baja Expo for mucho mas information on Baja's Whales!
Above and beyond the list here, there are many other restaurants and bars scattered along the Transpeninsular Highway for several miles from Lazaro Cardenias to San Quintin. There are also quite a few taco stands, which offer a great way to grab a quick snack (plus they are cheap!).
EL JARDINES restaurant and bar located south of town on the Old Mill road. Great prices, good service and they will cook the fish you just caught!
Highway One goes through town for quite a few miles, offering just about everything a Baja traveler might need! Gasoline, pharmacies, liquor stores, taco stands, tire repair . . . you name it.
Load up now because these things are in short supply over the next few hundred miles. Next significant shopping down the highway is Guerrero Negro.
Looking for a big supermarket? Mercado Avical is located on the south end of town on the east side of Baja Highway One. It's a big store and has most of the items you would find back at home. Even Oreo Cookies!
Visit the web site of JOHN RAMOS to review his unique and colorful Mexico art work.
Buses traveling the Baja Highway make a stop in Lazaro Cardenas, just north of San Quintin, on the west side of the street.
There are a few taxis in town for local transportation.
3 PEMEX stations are available to the Baja traveler in this area. The north station (Pemex #2881) is located at the traffic signal and also serves up diesel fuel. There is a bathroom at this station but it is not pristine.
The second one (PEMEX #6671) is located further south in San Quintin at Km. 191 serves ice, snacks, sodas, and Red Bull (for those long halls). It is open 24 hours a day and it also offers air and water for your vehicle, and clean restrooms!
The newest PEMEX (#7574) islocated a bit south of town near KM.market '0' is very large and offers a market and clean restrooms. A good place for RV's because it is so large and has extra room for parking.
The Bays of San Quintin are excellent for boats and yachts in need of temporary shelter. The entrance to the main bay can be tricky, especially at low tide. Current charts are very important!
For more general information on transportation in Baja check out our main BAJA TRANSPORTATION section.
Don't even think of heading south from here with the hope of finding gasoline or supplies! There are some services in El Rosario, but not many. If the gas station in El Rosario happens to be closed, your out of luck. Best bet is to fill up here, which should get you to Guerrero Negro.
The PEMEX at the Bahia de Los Angeles junction has been closed for some time, although locals sometimes sell gas at that intersection from large drums.
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.
Your ATT i-Phone and other cell phones with AT&T service will work in the San Quintin area.
LARGA DISTANCIA LUCY
Located north of San Quintin in Lazaro, on the west side of the street.
Located in San Quintin on the west side of the road, just south of the traffic signal.
ROAD TO OLD MILL
About a mile west of Baja Highway One, on the road to the Old Mill, north side of the street.
Telephone 011-52 (616) 6-2034.
San Quintin real estate tends to mark the southern boundary for Baja fans looking for real estate within a reasonable driving distance from the U.S. border. The four hour drive is tolerable for most folks who want to invest in Baja, and it's far enough south where they actually feel they are in the remote 'Baja' that most tourists never see.
Many potential Baja homeowners have had their eyes on the large, beautiful bay here for years, and several developers are currently in the process of helping to make those dream homes a reality. Large sections of land near the bay have been master planned for residential communities, and other large tracts are now being offered for sale. Unlike much of the residential development further north in Baja, where homes have been build randomly with no central theme, it is likely that much of what gets built in the San Quintin area will consist of specific ideas on zoning, lot size, and aesthetics. This forward thinking should result in communities that hold their values well for many years.
There are several different plans in various stages of development in San Quintin, although most tend to be in the early stages at this time. Large land holders and project developers in these early stages can often offer special incentives and price discounts to potential buyers in order to build sales momentum.