Drive 630 lonely miles (or not-so-lonely if you bring a 3 year old) south of the Mexico/San Diego border and you arrive, bug-eyed and a little seat sore in a desert paradise. Around hour 11, as you approach the Sea of Cortez, the road ascends the coastal mountains. Awaiting you at the top is a breathtaking view and a well-deserved break from the preceding hours of desert landscape.
When I tell people that we drove 12 hours in one day with our just-turned-3 year old, they look at me like I am crazy. Will you believe me if I tell you that it really wasn’t a big deal? And that we did it without using movies or an iPad? Don’t let a long drive deter you from exploring the world with your child and trust me, an iPad doesn’t have to be your lifeline. We had so much fun talking to each other, telling stories, singing songs, creating window art with removable stickers, reading books… she spent time gazing, daydreaming out the window. As a child, those were the times my imagination went wild. I still remember, to this day, the stories I created in my mind with the passing landscape.
My husband has deep ties with the rugged isolation of Southern Baja. 30+ years ago his parents bought a piece of land and spent subsequent school holidays building a home on this hillside in paradise.
What they have accomplished year after year, stone after stone, is an impressive feat. Every family vacation he can remember involved building this home, fishing in the Sea of Cortez, and exploring the volcanic hilsides, unsupervised (like real outlaws!), with his little brother in tow.
Because this beautiful spot in paradise has so much meaning to him, Peter wanted nothing more than to share this special place with our daughter.
Once you arrive, the turquoise water and a horizon painted with rocky volcanic soil, cactuses, and fan palms create a unique and stunning sight.
This area sits on Bahia Concepcion (Conception Bay) and
is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful spots in Baja. The bay is approximately 25 miles long and varies in width from two to five miles. It is a spot with more to do than any amount of time you will have, as the opportunities for adventure are endless. Be careful- once you get down there, you may decide not to come back.
The adventurers that call Bahia Concepcion home are folks who want isolation and beachfront property.Some of the many activities include sailing, fishing, kayaking, camping, diving, snorkeling, spear-fishing, whale watching, cliff jumping, waterskiing, windsurfing, etc. If you can do it on water- you can do it here.
I was surprised to find out as well that there is some decent hiking if you are up for trail blazing.
The thing that makes this part of Mexico so special is that it’s relatively undeveloped. There are beautiful homes but their electricity
comes from solar panels and their water is either drawn from ground-wells or trucked in. So even if you are lucky enough to stay in one of the homes on the water, a bit of it is going to feel like camping.
Many people bring their RV’s or car campers and set up a few feet from the water.
If you want to feel the rugged isolated experience of Baja but you don’t have in-laws with a house, you will feel right at home in a tent, camper, or RV. Another option is the Playa Frambes Lighthouse Resort. I only saw this resort from the water but it looked very clean and quiet. This would be a great option if you don’t have a boat or gear to bring as they will set up activities for you.
I also checked out Dive Mulege and it looks like they have a lot of organized scuba/snorkel/fishing trips for tourists coming without their own gear. If you have a kayak, canoe, inflatable boat, paddle board, and snorkel gear throw it in your RV and check out this great list of campgrounds.
Plan to pack your own food with enough to last your entire stay. Mulege has some grocery stores but the items are limited to fruit, vegetables, and the basics. If you have special dietary needs and don’t want to subsist on quesadillas and packaged foods then start packing your cooler.
I don’t feel comfortable writing this post without mentioning the drive. While the road is in very good condition, some sections are extremely isolated and aren’t the types of places you would want to break down or get in an accident. Many parts of the road twist and turn, have little to no shoulder, and do not have cell service. We felt very safe but it would have been a long wait had something happened to our car.
Drive carefully and be extra cautious when passing. If you wish to do the drive in two days, we found some great spots.
We stayed at the Baja Cactus motel to break-up the long drive on the way home. There is a restaurant and another hotel next door called Mama Espinoza’s. I really liked their beef tacos. Email ahead to reserve a room.
Hotel Mission in Catavina. It’s pricey but It has a pool so it could be a good stop with kids.
Once we arrived, our daughter lived like an island queen. She had her baths in the ocean, slept in her bath suit, and spent hours swimming in the warm salt water and digging in the sand. It’s an unplugged paradise for family connection and active rest.