My Favorite Weekend: Camping Edition

Pack your bags, grab a tent, and hit the open road

By Beto Haro Romero

You hear “Los Cabos,” and the region’s incredible beaches are likely what first come to mind. Los Cabos—and the greater Baja Peninsula—is home to some of the loveliest and most unspoiled beaches in the world. The water is warm and gentle in many areas and great for surfing in others, not unlike what Cortés discovered upon his arrival hundreds of years ago.

Baja is the ideal location for a camping adventure on one of the seemingly endless beaches that line the Sea of Cortés on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west.

Camping is, of course, a favorite pastime for locals. Every major holiday in México, residents fill up their SUVs, trucks, or cars to go find the perfect beach and enjoy a retreat with friends and family. As a child growing up in La Paz—just a couple of hours north of Los Cabos—I would eagerly look forward to our trips to San Juan de la Costa, Los Cerritos or any place on the East Cape or Pacific Ocean, where my family and I would settle in for days of playing soccer, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, and grilling.

Many of the best beaches are in remote locations, far from any facilities, stores, gas stations, or other services. This makes selecting a solid rental car and having—and following—a camping checklist very important. You will want to ensure you have enough beverages, food, and snacks, as well as proper camcamping_OO_38_1ping and grilling gear.
For more on this, check out our checklist and rental car resources at our online guide,

The Pacific Ocean’s shoreline is almost undeveloped, so it’s easy to find camping beaches. Most of these, though, will require a four-wheel-drive vehicle to traverse the sand and get closer to the water. Once you’ve packed your car, start driving north from Cabo San Lucas on highway 19.

The more you drive, the more you will start to see unique vegetation. Then, about 30 miles north of Cabo, views of the Pacific Ocean take over. There are miles of miles of beaches; feel free to explore them. Most of these locations don’t have official, or, at least, well-known names. There are no big signs marking beach access. Sometimes you just have to follow an arroyo bed to access the beach. As long as you don’t see a sign saying “propriedad privada” (“private property”) or “prohibido el paso” (“no thoroughfare”), you should be OK. Our suggestion: Follow your adventurous instinct, taking a few calculated risks to find the perfect campsite. Your reward could very well be a couple nights of breathtaking sunsets and star-filled night’s skies. An added bonus for those camping January through March: These beaches are ideal spots for viewing whales up close to the shore. San Pedrito (km 59) and Los Cerritos (km 66) are two favorite locations, where you will find people happily camping throughout the year. These particular spots allow you to camp and sleep in your tent. Then, if you don’t feel like cooking, you’re also close to beach restaurants and fish taco stands.

Photographer Oscar Ortíz frequently leads camping expeditions to various islands in the Sea of Cortéz. Here he Shares some of his photos from those incredibles trips.

The eastern side of the Baja Peninsula also boasts several excellent campsites along the Sea of Cortés. Take off from San José del Cabo marina, and you can follow the old road to the East Cape. Once you leave the paved road, you will start to experience what many people call the “real Baja experience.” The good-condition dirt road lets drivers average about 45 miles per hour. The slower speed is a small price to pay for the wonderful views you get along the scenic road, where the semi-desert area meets the blue waters of the Sea of Cortés.

As you travel along the dirt road, you’re likely to discover a quiet beach area every couple of miles. You can stop, check out the location, and decide whether it’s the right spot for you. Some places have parking, which you can access with most vehicles. Others are accessible only by four-wheel drive but allow you to go right up to the shoreline and unpack. Many of these beaches appear in Baja guidebooks and on the website They’re well suited for surfing and boogie boarding; some of the waves hit two to six feet at beaches like Nine Palms, Shipwrecks, Punta Perfecta, Los Frailes South, and more.

If you have children, it’s best to keep driving till you reach Los Frailes or Cabo Pulmo, where the water is calmer. The main attraction—other than the beautiful beach and warm water—is what lies beneath the surface: The famous coral reef of El Pulmo is part of a national marine park. Don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive in one of the best spots in the world. Don’t worry if you don’t have the necessary equipment; there are certified companies in Cabo Pulmo that can take you scuba diving or rent out the equipment. If you decide to set up camp, take care when selecting your site. Sea turtles nest in the area. You will also want to carefully select where you build any fires and be sure they are completely put out before you retire for the night. Ensure a great feast by picking up freshly caught seafood from local fishermen.

Still looking for more options? Continue driving north on highway 1 toward La Paz, the state capital. From there, you can charter a boat to take you to the beautiful Espíritu Santo Archipelago. A special $5 U.S. bracelet is required for those wanting to access the park that encompasses the islands, so speak to the charter company about purchasing it. Ensenada Grande is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and El Corralito provides a safe place to snorkel in a coral bed just 10 feet deep. Bring your bug spray and remember to close the tent if you’re planning to camp during the fall; the one downside of the season is a pesky mosquito presence.