Looking to get away from it all, but unsure as to which direction to head? May it be a remote campsite not far from your home base, or a far off trek in the middle of nowhere, adventure awaits on any given weekend. Baja bound is precisely what the crew over at Method Race Wheels (MRW) has set out to do in this episode of their “Go! Destinations,” series.
The wheel specialist has gone to great lengths to showcase some epic locales across the North American continent. Codenamed: Go! Destinations, this is an informal and entertaining outdoor adventure travel brochure, designed to inspire your next adventure. Off Road Xtreme caught the excitement and we felt compelled to share it with you all. The first of this multi-part installment goes Baja bound with heading down south to the timeless Baja California, Mexico Peninsula.
Baja Bound Or Bust
Method Race Wheels takes us on an epic south-of-the-border journey that many have traveled but little has changed. “GO! Baja Surf” is a place where MRW claims “…you live on tacos and cervezas while driving endless dirt roads that may (or may not) lead you to the best wave you’ve ever surfed.”
Long considered to be one favorite “quick escape” trip for those living in the Southern California area. This is a 3-4 day getaway and places your ass a quick jaunt past the border town of Ensenada. Once you have reached that southern latitude, the coastal wilderness reveals nothing except an occasional fishing village and some Baja-style accommodations.
Like any voyage into the unknown, proper prep is required. This is especially true when adventures down in Mexico are in the cards.
Most of the year, the weather here lives in its own microclimate. Dramatic sunrises over the Sea of Cortez give way to azure blue skies most of the year, with spring and fall offering the best choice for travel. Stay away in July and August, it’s humid and as hot as a tablespoon of habanero salsa. — Method Race Wheels
The Best Route South Leads To Some Seriously Scenic Surf
According to MRW, the San Ysidro border crossing is the fastest and easiest way to access some sensational surfing and scenery. Just be sure to follow the street signs and not just the directions within your Navi app. Stick to the “CUOTA” Mexican toll road. and avoid the back-road streets. Those local traffic routes can be a hot mess and a bit dodgy in places. Also, bring at least $20 worth of Pesos, about $350. Foreign currency is not accepted but you can “make change” at all three toll booth convenient marketplaces.
Simply hop over the border at Ensenada, cut through the mountain via the toll road, and then take a right for Eréndira. That, or stay the course until you hit Camalu, where a quick turn at the Cuatro Casas sign places you in the heart of the “Baja Surf!” Upon arrival, MRW’s staff suggests heading just north of the town of Ejido Eréndira, where a backroad along the coastline leads to some really wicked waves and scenic spots for playing a little “beach blanket bingo.” Seriously ya’ll. Don’t hate until you participate.
There’s also San Quintin and Camalu, which according to MRW, have their own unique zones for surfing. Of particular note is the jutting land mass called Cuatro Casas, a place where a high tide wave rests beside a series of kick-ass-looking rocky outcroppings, and entry points are a blast. The Cuatro Casas Hostel is located right there on the beach, and it comes with a pretty fun bowl for dropping into if skating is also your thing.
Baja Bound: Silt Beds, Back Roads, Beach Driving, And Brewskies
While the nearby silt beds inevitably come with their own challenges and unbelievably badass slow-motion shots, MRW explains that the drive down the coast is the most enjoyable journey. Method’s crew describes it as a place where you can take a chill cruise down on the beach in some places, make dusty four-wheel-drive fun, and then quickly get back to the cantina for some refreshments.
Eat your heart out Yasmine Bleeth fans of both old and new. This bay-watcher parties in beadlocks, and there’s a method to the mayhem. And it all starts with getting the right gear…
MRW’s List of Mandatory Baja Surf Gear
+ All Terrain Tires: You’ll want an all-in-one compound for this trip. Preferably something with heavily reinforced sidewalls like the Yokohama Geolander X-AT line for traversing the rock-strewn terrain surrounding the beach.
+ Shovel(s): Sifting sands and seriously well-constructed sand castle battlements will come in handy while in a jam.
+ Traction Boards: Try to get your traction boards to match your surfboard for additional cool points.
+ Tire & Wheel Gear: Planning to send those “Baja Proven” center caps of yours spinning down the beach? You’ll first need to deflate your tires and then re-inflate once you’re back on the highway. Keep that air deflator gauge handy, and check those valves for sandy debris.
+ Trash Bags: When outdoors, the MRW crew lives by an old Oskar Blues decree: “Pack it in, pack it out.”
+ Tow Strap(s): For all recovery purposes and if you run out of fuel before reaching the Pemex station.
+ Positivity: Both toward yourself and everyone else in your party.
+ Spanish: Allow your language skills to surpass talk of just beers and baños.
+ GPS Exploring App: 5G isn’t always guaranteed, so preload those maps, hit save, and always use a trusted trail-oriented service like Garmin, Gaia GPS, or OnX for discerning direction and tracking progress.
+ Garmin InReach: For when service is nowhere near, your GPS tracker is MIA, and an emergency requires assistance.
+ Cash: Cash transactions make everything easier. Just be sure to stow rations of cash in a few secret spots to play it safe from thieving badged banditos.
Baja Bound: How To Avoid Unexpected Headaches
In an unforgiving environment like Baja, incidents do occur. Having both a water-safe 10-gallon jerry can of H20 and a contrasting-colored tank just for fuel will come in handy. Stock up on both of these forms of liquid before heading out. We recommend the convenience and extra capacity gained from a Titan Fuel Tank Trekker for extended adventures in Mexico.
Luckily, llanteras (tire shops) and many a local la mecánica are a peso a pound down this way. So while the gas station may be closed, the guys who are fixing your rig are more than happy to help. Just be wise about it and look up these resources beforehand. Like in America, a trusted shop will have reviews and shade-tree mechanics can be sketchy.
A few other important points to ponder include:
+ Military Checkpoints: The MRW guys swear that these stops are “mellow” but tedious. Just take your sunglasses off, remain patient, and be polite.
+ Passport & Car Registration: Carry them everywhere with you if possible. A valid green card will also work.
+ Cellular Service: Unless your carrier covers Mexico in your plan, you will need to temporarily upgrade your coverage.
+ Car Insurance: Legally, you can’t drive in Mexico without insurance coverage. Bajabound.com has long been the MRW go-to here.
Baja Surf Parting Departure Angles
As for libations, gluttony, and having an unrestrained hedonistic good time, well that’s up to you. Do your research, book well in advance, and always have a backup plan. Regardless of whether you are wheelin’ in the wild or backing into a parking spot. For the rest of the insider tips, on food, drink, and stay, visit the GO! Baja Surf feature.
GO! Baja North Cortez
While surfing is indeed the primary reason many people visit the Western portion of the Baja peninsula, there are other attractions of note on the other side of this jutting strip of sand and rock that have little to do with waxing down your board. We are talking about the Northern Baja coastal deserts and a beautiful aquamarine sea environment. GO! Baja North Cortez!
Following a border crossing down in Calexico, California, and a 2-hour drive down Baja Highway 5 to Highway 1 at Chapala will land you in San Felipe. A Gulf of California getaway where you will encounter a far more 4×4-focused adventure and stunning natural landscapes.
There are many points of interest and most require a bit of off-pavement travel. Like any off-road adventure, make sure your vehicle is well-prepared for the all-terrain travel. Also, with little to few landmarks and plenty of opportunities to get lost, make sure you are well-informed when it comes to navigating.
Baja North Cortex Points Of Interest
+ Dry Lake Beds: Laguna Salada and its dry lakes are a staple of Baja. Just load up on water and recovery gear before heading out.
+ Baja Waterfall: About an hour’s drive inland from San Felipe, lies Picacho del Diablo, where a 30-minute hike provides a freshwater finale.
+ Hot Springs: Take your pick, but the hot springs mixed with tide pools at Puertecitos south of San Felipe are MRW’s recommendation.
+ Sand Drags: Uphill racing at the sand drags typically takes place on Sunday afternoons just south of San Felipe.
+The Chenowth Legacy Lodge and Museum Just a quick hop away from all the sand drag action, lies a gem in Rancho Percebu. According to MRW, booking a stay at this lodge brings with it “…off-road racing memorabilia, a huge bar, and overnight beachfront lodging.”
+Valle De Gigantes (Valley of the Giants) Following a 25-kilometer drive south down Highway 5, a sandy entrance road will test your rig’s 4×4 knuckles even before entering the park. Afterward, offer the gatekeeper for Valle De Gigantes some suds and you should be golden. From there, massive cacti (some reaching 30 feet) tower above, and make for both beautiful and hilariously inappropriate backdrops.
+Gonzaga Bay Book your stay here via email well in advance, as the Alfonsinas Hotel, fills up quickly due to its modern offering and picturesque views, as it is surrounded by water and has a surprisingly sophisticated restaurant.
+Rancho Grande Beach Camping The complete opposite of the aforementioned hotel, this down-n-dirty way to stay requires posting payment prior at a nearby market for El Sacrificio and results in a little “organized gringo beach camping.” You can also venture out and find your own spot if amenities don’t matter so much.
Baja Bound Hassles And Unexpected Headaches
While Mexico’s mighty Pemex gas stations dot the landscapes of San Felipe, Puertecitos, and Gonzaga, there are other considerations to consider during this sort of south-of-the-border expedition. Keep your keys and cash close, and always stow a little extra in a bag or two inside the truck just in case.
For all matters of repair, try out Gallos. If you need a 4×4 tow, then Los Gueros is your best bet. If you would like to stick with a familiar face, there is an Auto Zone in San Felipe for over-the-counter parts.—Method Race Wheels
+ Military Checkpoints: Same story as before, just with different military mustaches and more isolated locations.
+ Passport: Last we heard, traveling abroad typically requires one of these nowadays.
+ Cellular Service: San Felipe itself is fine, but head south and your cell service will likely worsen, even with an upgraded international plan. Keep those aforementioned GPS trackers and emergency lines handy.
+ Car Insurance: Policies intended just for usage in Mexico can be obtained from AAA if Baja Bound doesn’t strike your fancy.
North Cortez Parting Departure Angles
It may not involve nearly as much surfing, but the opposite side of the Baja peninsula is just as adventurous and fulfilling of an experience. Be sure to say hi to the MRW crew for us if you bump into them if you ever visit because chances are they might be down there right now. For the rest of the insider tips, on food, drink, and stay, visit the GO! Baja North Cortez feature.