Baja beach camping is for truly adventurous folks who know it’s all about the journey and the destination. Road trips down the *Baja Peninsula lead to stunning, quiet beaches suitable for sleeping out. Camping here abounds with natural beauty, total isolation and freedom to go almost anywhere in any season. This guide highlights what to expect, what you need, where to go and how to get the most out of camping in Baja California.
Specifics for 12 different Baja California beaches are given in this article along with a general overview of the where these beaches are located.
*Note: The Baja Peninsula of Mexico consists of 2 states; Baja California and Baja California Sur. The ENTIRE peninsula is commonly known as Baja California and is often referred to simply as Baja Mexico. This guide uses the former and latter to denote the ENTIRE peninsula and each individual state will be noted where applicable; “B.C.N.” for the state of Baja California and “B.C.S.” for the state of Baja California Sur.
Getting To Baja
Border wait times getting into Mexico are seldom a concern. Where to cross depends simply on where you are coming from, although crossings at either Tijuana or Tecate offer more direct routes down the main road, known as the Transpeninsular Highway, or Highway 1. Crossing the border at Mexicali is suited for Highway 5 to San Felipe, Puertecitos and Punta Willard beyond.
Again, getting here is about the journey and the destination. To make the most out of your Baja California beach camping road trip consider the drive involved. Road conditions, driving habits and the remoteness here differ from what you’re used to at home. Do you need a vehicle permit or insurance in Baja California? For information on these considerations and more read my guide on what you need to know before any trip down the Baja Peninsula.
What To Expect
Aside from endless adventure possibilities, stunning blue water and plenty of sunshine year-round you must understand beach camping in Baja Mexico is a bit different from what you’d expect north of the border, for quite a few reasons. Several of these differences can be pleasantly refreshing while some can be just the opposite. Be on the lookout for the following:
- First come first served: There are no reservations for Baja beach camping. Simply find a spot and camp.
- Toilets: DO NOT expect clean, maintained toilets. DO expect dilapidated wooden sheds with a seat above a hole in the ground.
- Vendors: Friendly locals arrive in the morning and throughout the day selling food, water, firewood, trinkets and tours.
- Bugs: Sand flies (chitres) and regular houseflies haunt the beaches here. Come prepared with fly paper or repellent.
- Heat: There is little to no natural shade when Baja camping. Have an awning on your rig or seek out beaches with palapas (see below).
- Lack of organization: Camping in Baja California is free of restrictions and oversight, however you will pay to camp on certain beaches.
- Crowds: Winter months see plenty of snowbirders in RVs. Beach camping in Baja Mexico is VERY popular this time of year.
- No hook-ups: Looking for hook-ups for your RV? Head to a proper RV campground instead.
- Haggling: The price of Beach camping in Baja California is negotiable. When paying, ask for a receipt.
- Litter: Trash barrels are provided but efficient means to dispose of the litter is sorely lacking. Trash barrels are often overflowing.
What You Need
Rely only on getting the most basic of supplies in Mexico like food, ice and water. Finding quality goods and especially camping necessities in Baja California is rather difficult. Consider these Baja Mexico camping supplies before you cross the border:
- Saw and hand axe: There is plenty of dead wood, even in this desert climate; make sure you have a way to cut and split it.
- Bug spray: The price and lack of variety of decent insect repellent in Mexico means you’re better off importing it yourself from home.
- Fly paper: We searched for this in Baja Mexico; fly paper doesn’t exist here. You’ll need this on the beaches. Trust me on this one.
- Sun block: The selection, quality and price of sunblock here means you’re best supplying your own. Come prepared.
- A sturdy cooler: Throw-away styrofoam coolers are easily found here and you may find quality used ones at secondhand shops.These shops are found along the highway in every town. I suggest you come prepared with your own sturdy cooler.
- Water containers: To save money avoid buying purified water or spring water in stores. Instead, look for businesses called Purificadoras, available in every town and often found along Highway 1. Simply present your empty container(s) and watch as they’re filled with purified water from a filtration system. Expect to pay pennies per liter of water – a huge money saver.
- Maps and guide books: Nothing beats a real map and a real book to hold in your hands. Use them to figure out where you’re going, where you’ve been and where you want to go next.
Your Camping Style
No matter your style, Baja Mexico camping is possible in an RV, car, truck, van or even with a tent or hammock. Many formal Baja RV parks are scattered throughout the peninsula, but even the biggest rigs can find a secluded spot for beach camping. This article focuses more on informal Baja beach camping on the Sea of Cortez suitable for any camping style, even if you hitchhike the peninsula and camp along the way as we did in 2013.
Shelter from the sun is critical for beach camping in Baja Mexico; having just a tent means you need a palapa overhead. Even camping out of your car or van means you need shelter from the sun. What is a palapa? Simply put, a palapa is an open-sided structure with a roof and often several walls. They are crudely built of organic material – wood, palm fronds, etc. but are sturdy and provide needed shade. Look for these.
Where to Go: Great Beaches for Baja Camping
The areas below are given much more detail later in this article, but here’s a brief overview:
So, where should you go? The short answer is just about any beach you can physically get to, but I’ll narrow it down to several locales, with detailed information later for many beaches throughout these locations. But first, a little information on each area:
Bahía de los Ángeles, B.C.N. features a gigantic arc of beach suitable for all vehicles. Bahía de los Ángeles camping is convenient to town, so basic supplies are just several miles away. The bay contains an astounding variety of marine life. Bahía de los Ángeles appeals to those looking for a less busy Baja camping experience in winter, and it’s free.
South of the town of Mulegé, B.C.S. is Bahía Concepción, featuring a handful of very easily accessible beaches perfect for camping. The premier destination of Bahía Concepción is 12 mi (20 km) south of Mulegé along Highway 1. Sea kayaking here is among the best in the world and many folks in RVs return here each winter for Baja camping.
The big city of La Paz, B.C.S. offers all the services you’d expect and great Baja beach camping nearby. Deep sea fishing, nightlife, restaurants, museums and tours to protected Isla Espíritu Santo round out the great beaches in La Paz. Considering everything available here, La Paz is a rather handy area for Baja camping.
When To Go
High season in Baja California runs roughly from November to after Easter. The weather is always dry here however the temperatures in winter are not as extreme as the summer months. High season means peak time for RVs from Canada and the U.S. and Baja Mexico camping can be rather crowded at this time as many of these folks return to their “spots” annually. Beach camping in Baja California is possible at this time, just expect a bit more company.
Low season means hot temperatures, even throughout the night. However, if you’re seeking quiet beaches in Baja California for camping, consider the months of May through early October. Many Mexicans go on vacation from mid July through mid August looking for lugares para acampar en Baja California. Beaches will be a bit busier July through August although not as bad as winter RV season.
Great Beaches for Baja Camping
As promised, here’s a better description of some the best spots for beach camping in Baja California.
Bahía de los Ángeles, B.C.N. or Bay of L.A.
Although not as popular as areas further south, Bahía de los Ángeles camping certainly has it’s advantages. The beach is only 5 miles from the town of Bahía de los Ángeles and getting in to get basic supplies is easy.
Also, camping here is free and there is plenty of firewood on the roadside for the taking. The calm water in Bahía de los Ángeles is crystal clear, however the beach is pebbly rather than sandy.
Where Is It?
Bahía de los Ángeles is reached from an extension of the Transpeninsular Highway, or Route 1. This extension, also called Route 1, begins at the locale of Punta Prieta and continues for about 40 mi (65 km) east to the town of Bahía de los Ángeles, on the gulf side of the peninsula.
From the entrance of BahÍa de los Ángeles head left from within the traffic roundabout. The road soon makes a very sharp right; continue on this road for several miles. The paved road ends and leads to the beach, Playa la Gringa, roughly 1mi (1.6 km) further. The unpaved road to the beach is suitable for all vehicles, as is pulling onto the pebbly beach.
Playa La Gringa
There is no shade here in the form of palapas; come prepared for that. Also, Bahía de los Ángeles weather can see extreme temperatures and the risk of red tide in summer months – check ahead. There are no hook-ups for an RV.
Marine life abounds here and beachcombing is quite good. We were here Christmas morning 2017 and witnessed an Italian family dispatch a good sized squid languishing near the shore. They promptly cut it up and prepared it for their Christmas dinner!
You can easily spend the day walking on the beach or hiking from your campsite here. Kayaking, SUPing, fishing and snorkeling in Bahía de los Ángeles is very good. Chartered fishing excursions are available in town.
Crude pit toilets at Playa La Gringa – a wooden stall atop a shallow hole in the sand and a blanket acting as a door – let you know you are indeed Baja beach camping.
Mulegé, B.C.S. and Bahía Concepción Beaches
Mulegé is a pleasant little town with many services and an amazing clutch of Baja California beach camping spots about a dozen miles south. The waters of Bahía Concepción are clear and blue with white sand beaches. These beaches are surrounded by stunning desert landscape and no large-scale tourism infrastructure.
Mulegé really is a great little community year round. Here, you’ll find a laundromat as well as very useful notice boards at several of the small grocery stores throughout the town. Make sure you visit the museum and the Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé while you’re here. And don’t skip Mariscos Peralta’s as you enter Mulegé for some of the best fish tacos in Baja Mexico.
Bahía Concepción camping is very popular with American and Canadian RVers in winter and Mulegé is full of seasonal homes. That said, this area remains pleasantly low-key all year round and you simply cannot beat the beaches here. All the Bahía Concepción camping beaches mentioned below have palapas to keep you from wilting in the sun.
Where Is It?
Mulegé and the Bahía Concepción beaches are all easily reached from Highway 1. Mulegé is 175 mi (280 km) south of the state borders of B.C.N and B.C.S. at Geurrero Negro. The beaches of Bahia Concepcion begin about 12 mi (20 km) south of Mulegé – the first being Playa Santispac.
Of the six beaches highlighted here, all but one (Playa Escondida) are obviously signed from the highway and all are accessible by any vehicle. Driving distances between the first five beaches (north to south) are only several minutes apart. The last beach, Playa Requeson, is approximately 9 mi (20 km) south of the other five beaches.
Bahía Concepción Camping Beaches, From North To South:
Just before reaching Playa Santispac you’ll find several pull-ins off the highway with breathtaking views of Bahía Concepción opening up in front of you. One look at the white sand, clear blue water and nearby islands is all it takes to let you know beach camping in Baja California is as good as it gets anywhere.
Several palapas are strung out on the beach here and during the seasonal winter months the on-site Restaurante Bar Ana make Playa Santispac a great choice for Baja Mexico camping. If you have a kayak Isla San Ramon awaits just offshore and behind that is a reef perfect for snorkeling. Within the mangroves behind Playa Santispac are a lagoon and a (rather brackish) hot spring.
Ramshackle toilets here round out the Baja beach camping theme.
Cost: Beach camping on Playa Santispac ranges from 150 pesos to 250 pesos depending on the whim of the caretaker and the demand for space – haggling is acceptable.
Living up to it’s name, Playa Escondida (Hidden Beach) can be easy to drive past and miss altogether. Just south of Playa Satispac is Posada Concepción, a small collection of villas on the waterfront. Immediately beyond the entrance to Posada Concepción you may or may not see the mangled sign pointing the way to Playa Escondida. Turn left at this sign and follow the rough road for several minutes to a perfect slice of beach. Low clearance vehicles may have difficulty making it along this road.
This really is a hidden little gem of a beach, not at all visible form the road. About 8 palapas can be found here along with 3 pit toilets. A small trail leads up to an image of the Virgin Mary painted on the side of a rock formation and at night small solar-powered lights twinkle around her. A small island (Isla Liebre) with a beach is just offshore from Playa Escondida, about a 2 minute paddle away.
Baja camping really doesn’t get much better than at this beach. Playa Escondida is a very quiet and scenic spot; in summer 2018 we had this beach to ourselves for several weeks.
The caretakers at Playa Escondida have even planted some vegetation in front of the palapas and the toilets here are not as run-down as those at the other beaches. Still, don’t expect fancy facilities!
Cost: Playa Escondida is 100 pesos per night, making this one of the cheapest spots for Bahía Concepción camping. The caretakers come by on an irregular basis to collect money and empty the trash barrels.
Playa Los Cocos
Just beyond the turn for Playa Escondida is Playa Los Cocos, where about 25 palapas line the beach. A small footpath at the left end of the beach leads over to Play Escondida. A small lagoon and mangroves are located just behind Playa Los Cocos.
If you have a kayak, follow along the coastline to the right of Playa Los Cocos toward Playa El Burro for great fishing. There is a small reef between these 2 beaches, about a 5 minute paddle away. If you don’t fish you can instead view the teeming marine life around this reef.
Cost: Expect to pay between 150 and 200 pesos per night for beach camping at Playa Los Cocos.
Playa El Burro
Playa El Burro is most noteworthy for the popularBertha’s Restaurant and Bar located just feet from the water. The beach here is a somewhat private community, although limited beach camping is available – ask around.
We’ve never camped here due to the apparent “community” look and feel of this beach compared to the others. Playa El Burro also seemed too congested for our liking with RVs and palapas very close to one another. There’s no harm in popping in yourself to see what the deal is if you like the look and sound of Playa El Burro.
Cost: Unknown – we didn’t camp at Playa El Burro although the price must be similar to the other beaches; just ask around.
Playa El Coyote
This long expanse of beach has plenty of open sand as well as areas with a concentration of palapas. There is a trail at the far end of the beach leading to a hot spring and up through the hills behind. You can also paddle out to the spring with a kayak. Expect water that is fresh rather than hot.
Directly off shore from Playa El Coyote is Isla Coyote. On the far side of this island (about a 20 minute paddle away) is a perfect white sand beach ideal for a swim and exploration – you’ll likely have it to yourself as a reward for getting out here on your kayak. Also, there is a secluded beach to the right of Playa El Coyote reachable by kayak – follow the coast line for about 10 minutes to find this unnamed beach.
A few locals have set up a spot to rent kayaks, snorkeling and fishing gear on Playa El Coyote in the July through August months, when many Mexicans are on vacation. If you don’t have your own kayak but wish to explore Bahía Concepción, beach camping at Playa El Coyote may be just for you.
There are plenty of crude toilets at Playa El Coyote.
Cost: Pay 150 pesos to 200 pesos per night. The caretaker makes his rounds in the evening to collect fees.
Playa El Requesón
Roughly 9 mi (20 km) beyond Playa El Coyote is the rather unique Playa El Requesón. What makes this beach unique is a narrow spit of sand that is exposed briefly throughout the day leading to a small island. You can walk out to the “island” or even wade out when this spit of land becomes submerged in water. About 10 palapas are here along with plenty of open space if those palapas are occupied. Kayaking here is very good.
As you approach Playa El Requesón from a paved road just off the highway a dirt road soon curves right, leading to a few other small beaches. Several secluded palapas are located along the water here.
Cost: Camping on Playa El Requesón is 100 pesos per night, making this the other cheap spot for Bahía Concepción camping.
Beaches Near La Paz, B.C.S.
La Paz certainly has it all – secluded beach camping and every service you’d expect from a big city. In that sense, La Paz offers the best of both worlds. A pleasant malecon (paved waterfront walkway) extends for several miles along the municipal beach in La Paz and many hotels, clubs, bars and restaurants line the waterfront here.
Where Is It?
La Paz is 300 mi (490 km) south of Mulegé, reachable from Highway 1. Despite it’s size the city is very easy to get around and the 5 camping beaches near La Paz I mention are an easy 30 minute drive from the center of the city. Look for Highway 11, which begins off Highway 1 as you enter La Paz; this road runs along the waterfront of the city and continues to the La Paz beaches.
Beaches Near La Paz
The following La Paz beaches are listed from the closest to the furthest from the city:
Highway 11 takes a very hard right at a PEMEX storage facility about 4 mi (6.5 km) from La Paz with Playa Erendira just beyond. There are no palapas here and the beach is little used. You’ll likely have this beach to yourself at night.
The name here says it all, really. This spot is just up the road a minute or two from Playa Erendira. Again, no palapas here to protect you from the merciless sun and you’ll have this stretch of sand to yourself as you camp.
Playa El Manglito
The isolated La Paz camping beaches continue along Highway 11 beyond Playa Solitaria. Thankfully there is some shade at Playa El Manglito due to the namesake mangroves here. You are in a narrow bay at Playa El Manglito and the clear, shallow water makes for excellent swimming and kayaking. Out of the 3 La Paz beaches already mentioned here, Palya El Manglito is the best.
Only 17 mi (27 km) north of La Paz is her most scenic beach, Playa Balandra. Although you cannot take your vehicle onto the beach here people still camp in the beachfront parking lot. Palm frond parasols line the beach and you are permitted to set up a tent or sleep on the sand underneath the stars.
Kayaking here is amazing! There are several secluded, pristine white sand beaches reachable by kayak only, a mere 5 minute paddle away. Much of the water in front of Playa Balandra is knee-deep and you can wade out for quite a distance. Kayak rentals are available here.
Reachable by kayak or by a hike up over a hill to the right of Playa Balandra is the the famous rock formation Hongo de Balandra, or the Mushroom of Balandra. You’ll be glad to know this is a free sight.
Port-a-potty toilets were on site during one of our visits and were not there on another visit – be prepared for anything.
Playa El Tecolote
Along Highway 11 less than 1 mi from Playa Balandra is an area filled with beachfront seafood restaurants known as Playa El Tecolote. To the left of these restaurants is a stretch of beach packed with people there for the day; to the right of the restaurants is where you pull onto the sand for beach camping.
The water here is slightly less suitable for kayaking as this point of land often sees more wind and choppy seas. Beyond Tecolote on a rough road are several grey sand beaches also suitable for camping. Isla EspÍritu Santo is visible just offshore from Playa El Tecolote.
Basic toilets here are designed for the ultimate in public shaming; find them scattered among the dunes.
So now you know where to go beach camping in Baja California, you may be wondering what to do when you get there. As you move from camp to camp consider seeing what awaits in between.
What To Do
Baja Mexico is a dream come true for adventurous people. If your vehicle can handle it you can get off-road just about anywhere. In fact, dirt roads far outnumber paved roads here and all you need beside good suspension is a good map and a sense of true adventure.
Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cotez “The world’s aquarium” and for good reason. Locals provide scenic boat tours around the bright blue waters and charter boats take folks out deeper in pursuit of game fish. You can even swim with whale sharks here.
More active folks enjoy sea kayaking on the waters of Bahía Concepción. The water here is clear blue and the conditions are mostly favorable year round depending on the wind. From the handful of beaches around Bahía Concepción numerous uninhabited islands are easy enough to paddle to.
Also, make a point to check out some of the most accessible Baja California missions. Are you doing your beach camping in Baja Mexico on a budget? Find out where to find the tastiest budget bites as you get from one Baja beach camping spot to the next!