What's your idea of fun? Volleyball? Water skiing or jet-skiing? Wind surfing? Fishing? San Felipe's beautiful beaches offer a variety of activities. Or do you like solid ground underfoot? If so, dunes and mountains are ideal for back- and off-road motorcycling, four-wheeling, and horseback riding. Hikers, nature lovers and history buffs will also want to explore.
Bird's eye view of town from Virgin of Guadalupe shrine
One of the first things you'll notice in San Felipe is the incredible tidal change, up to a mile of beach can be exposed on some days. It's said to be the second biggest tidal change in the world. Nevertheless, beach combing can be incredible, but you must also be aware that the tide comes in as fast as it goes out.
Just in the last few decades has San Felipe's main economic source turned to tourism, before this fishing made this town & there is still alot of good fishing available to the visitor. March through October seems to be the high season with catches of white sea bass, corvina, cabrilla, yellow tail & grouper. San Felipe has a few large boats available for the one day or multi-day trips to the local fishing grounds. Also popular if the local fisherman & their pangas for a 1/2 day or 3/4 day of fishing.
The Bay of San Felipe provides for endless watersports. It's calm waters are perfect for water & jet skiing, as well as kayaking. Many kayak adventures start here headed south. Both jet skiis & water skiing are available from local rental agencies. You'll also find young men trailing "banana boats" from their pangas looking for beachgoers who are eager to jump on the yellow rubber boats and be pulled through the wake.
Catamaran's on San Felipe's beach
Windsurfing enthusiasts also come to San Felipe for a quick weekend getaway when they don't have the time to hit the hotbeds of the East Cape to the south. Spring seems to offer the best winds.
Catamarans are also available for rent in San Felipe and the winds of the outer bay provide for exhilarating rides. A catamaran regatta is held each year.
Sail boats aren't as common as points south, but more & more sailors are towing their boats down & putting into the water here, many for the beautiful sail to Bahia de Los Angeles about 200 miles to the south.
San Felipe can become windy in the late fall & early spring. The storms which cause these winds are called chubascos. The winds shoot down the coast from the north and can last 3 or 4 days at a time. Depending on the strength of the storm, sailing may be hazardous except for the expert.
San Felipe is a border between the desert & the sea, so naturally off road enthusiasts and nature lovers make up a significant number of visitors here. You'll see & hear dirt bikes, ATV's and dune buggies pass through town headed for the desert or the nearby sand dunes at the southern edge of town. This is the transport of choice for many people staying on the outskirts of town. Rentals are available in town. We recommend enjoying the surrounding area, but please show a healthy respect for the fragile desert environment.
The Baja 1000, 500 & 250 also pass through or nearby San Felipe. Sponsored by Score International Racing, these racing bring a festive attitude to town.
San Felipe is an isolated desert beach town located on the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez which one of the reasons this small fishing and retirement village attracts so many outdoor enthusiasts.
In order to get a proper feel for the town, visitors are recommended to hike the short distance up a small hill to the Shrine of the Virgin Guadalupe. Here you'll command a near panoramic view of the town and bay which makes up San Felipe.
South of Town
Puertecitos can barely be considered a town, more like an American retirement colony. Houses surround the small cove. A small airstrip, one or two tiendas, a cantina serving beer & tequila plus a gas station which is rarely opened make up this settlement. There is a reason to visit and it's the hot springs in the rocks on the seaside of the small point. One of the best times to visit is after high tide when the sea water has cooled the scolding mineral water enough to relax in the pools.
The Valley of the Giants
You'll find miles of sandy beaches, some with collections of vacation and retirement homes and others completely isolated. A somewhat maintained paved road leads past these beaches and camps to Puertecitos (Little Port) 80 kilometers away. On the way you'll notice giant Cardon Cactus, among other species, in an area called the "Valley of the Giants". In fact Mexico donated a 60 ft.+ tall Cardon from this area to the World Fair in Spain a couple of years ago.
After Puertecitos, the road is dirt track and only 4wd or other sturdy vehicles should venture further. Make sure you have supplies including water and gas if you plan on heading south. You'll come along various fish camps and small settlements such as El Huerfanito and Punta Bufeo plus a retirement home or two. You won't find any hotels, but you may be able to rent a cabin. Be prepared to camp.
The largest settlement you'll reach is the scenic bay of Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, 75 kilometers (5-6 hours) after Puertecitos. Here a cluster of fisherman and their families scratch out a living off the sea. You'll also find American vacation homes and Papa Hernandez' and Alfonsina's Camps where you can buy supplies, find meals, go fishing or just set up camp. You'll also come upon the airstrip as many Americans fly their planes down. From here you can drive another 65 kilometers on a graded dirt road to Highway 1 coming out 30 kilometers north of the Bahia de los Angeles turnoff.
West of Town
If you head towards the Sierra de San Pedro Martir, you'll cross a dry lake bed to reach Cañon Diablo (Devil's Canyon) near the base of Baja California's highest peak, Picacho del Diablo. In the spring the Canyon is known to have waterfalls and pools of cool Sierra runoff from the winter storms. You'll also find Indian caves and fossils if you know where to look. If you adventure to the Canyon, please make sure you are well supplied and be prepared to camp as you won't find any supplies or settlements here. Also, make sure you have a sturdy vehicle to make the trip, this is Baja 1000 country!
If you prefer something a bit more tame, try the beautiful drive across the peninsula to Ensenada on Highway 3. To get there, head north out of town on Highway 5 towards Mexicali, then, after about 50 kilometers, take the turnoff at Crucero La Trinidad east on Highway 3. This 145 km drive takes you out of the desert and into the higher elevations with various farmlands and chaparral. You also pass the dirt road exit (sturdy vehicles only) to pristine Parque Nacional Constitución de 1857 and Laguna Hanson (please see the Ensenada Directory for more information). Other highlights of the trip include the turnoff for Mike's Sky Ranch, a famous guest ranch high in the rugged Sierras.
As you drive on you'll pass the towns of La Trinidad and Ojos Negros where you'll be able to find fuel, meals and supplies before arriving in Ensenada.
The Las Caras de Mexico Golf Course
An 18-hole championship golf course on the Sea of Cortez
Named the "Faces of Mexico" to give it an archaeological,
historical and social Mexican character.
San Felipe * US Tel: 800-404-2599 + 9 + 4417 From Mexico 686-576-0517
San Felipe * Tel: (686) 577-1442
Charters Mar de Cortez
San Felipe * Tel: (686) 577-1278
Sea of Cortez Sportfishing
San Felipe * Tel: (686) 577-1778
San Felipe Off Road Services
Offroad Vehicle Rentals, Tours & Instruction
Drive Portions of the World Famous Baja 1000
3 Types of Vehicles
Quads, Vans & Buggies
San Felipe * Tel: (686) 576-0094
Charters Mar de Cortez
San Felipe * Tel: (686) 577-1278
Enchanted Island Excursions
San Felipe * Tel: (686) 577-1431
Tito's ATV Rentals
Next to the Tourism Office