As sailors on the Sea of Cortez we heard a lot about Bahia de los Angeles particularly in reference to places to hole up in case of a hurricane. What we envisioned wasn’t at all what we found once we came camping at Bahía de los Ángeles.
Mex 1 criss-crosses from the Pacific to the Gulf of California (aka Sea of Cortez) back and forth as it takes you from north to the south of Baja. The spine of Baja is mountainous, covered in rocks and boulders of various sizes with a wide spectrum of cacti sprouting up here and there. It doesn’t take long in the dry, predominantly barren land to start yearning for water. So when we neared the end of the 66 kms out to Bahia de los Angeles (great highway, btw) we drooled over our first views of the bay. The afternoon sun was glistening on the water and islands of varying sizes dotted the bay.
For whatever reason, we expected to find a tropical sandy beach, some palm trees with hammocks, boats anchored in the harbour and a few rickety old mercados (grocery stores). Although still very much a sleepy town we found quite a good selection of mercados, actually, along with a cheap little taco stand to eat from, and 2 Pemex gas stations when first entering town. The beaches were long but rocky for the most part, and a solo boat was anchored near the public boat ramp. No marina.
Using our iOverlander app we checked out the beach south of town but it wasn’t suitable for our big rig. Back at the traffic circle we headed north out of town where most of the hotels/campgrounds and free camping are.
There’s a narrow strip of land directly north of the military base that you can drive down to the beach and camp for free. Enough room for several campers but nobody was there when we checked it out. We figured we’d for sure be safe there, with a guard patrolling from the top of the roof. But I felt “watched”. Too conspicuous, like somebody would always be looking over my shoulder. Because literally they would be!
We continued further along the paved road…I think a total of about 10 km and then another 2 km on rough dirt road until we got to La Gringa. There’s a big sign up on the hill that says Welcome To La Gringa; the road leads right to its base. We were immediately greeted by our caravan friends (Quebecers, Ontario/Australian) who had arrived in town the previous day, but just pulled up to La Gringa a short while before we did.
We parked the bus parallel to the bay and got a quick rundown of the area.
The first thing we noticed (besides the lack of sandy beach) was the gusty wind. Not sure we were going to like this spot but we settled in. At least for one night.
Don’t Judge by First Impressions
I’m not sure what it is about the place, but we’ve now been here a week and no definite plans to leave. This is where we chose to ring in the New Year. A real simple celebration; early in the evening Reid set off one round of fireworks on the beach while we chatted with his family around their campfire. Midnight came quietly…all of us were in bed except for Toveli who was up watching a movie. Woken up by a few “Happy New Years” by well-wishers along the beach, I gave some good cheer to the groggy kids in their beds on my way to the potty. Such big celebrations!!!
Camping at Bahía de los Ángeles has delivered some of the most incredible sunrises over the surrounding islands. We watch the osprey hunt each morning. Dolphins play in the bay. The children scout for octopi. Pelicans skillfully glide over the water…and then entertain us when they flip-flop a crash landing to catch a fish. Everette and Anders have tried fishing ‘just one more time’ although they’ve not had any luck. Yet.
We’ve had clear days to watch the near-full moon rise and fall, and end the day watching the sun set behind the mountains. The winds that blow nearly every afternoon keep the temperature in our skoolie almost perfect. Its kept cool enough in the heat of the day, and we’re comfortably warm for sleeping at night. The kids have played in the water with their boogie boards, and paddled across the bay on the surfboards although they find the waters cool even though they wear wet suits.
There’s no charge to camp here; some of us give pesos to the Mexicans who come and collect the basura (garbage) and keep the beaches clean of trash. We appreciate the absence of plastics.
Setting Up Camp
We’ve met fascinating people camping at Bahía de los Ángeles, mostly people from the USA but also from Germany & Switzerland and even other Vancouver Islanders (Canadians). Some of our neighbours are sleeping outside directly on the ground (air mattress on a tarp); in their cars/trucks; others are in tents or motor homes of all sizes.
No matter what your “camping rig” is you must take care of where you camp out here at La Gringa. Pay attention to the highest points or the ridge that runs along this beach. The farther you go down the beach the more difference there is between the actually dirt road and the ridge or beach. Believe me, you don’t want to park on the road at the far north end of the beach. Park up on the ridge/beach at the highest point, otherwise you’ll likely find yourself surrounded by water at high tide. The tide changes quite drastically, and especially this week with full moon.
When we go for a walk in the mornings we can see puddles on the roadway from where the tide was in. The ground is still wet, except for the high ridge. So be careful.
P.S. If you’re going to do some camping at Bahía de los Ángeles note that there are no ATM’s in this area…the closest is (south) Guerrero Negro or I think San Quintin (north). Our bank cards wouldn’t work at the mercados for some reason. Hope you have better luck. Must be time for us to move on
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