San Felipe Baja Mexico Travel Guide

San Felipe Mexico is located in northern Baja on the Sea of Cortez. It’s a short drive from the US-Mexico border to town and it’s a popular spot for visitors from the US and Canada. It has plenty of options for lodging with hotels and RV parks and it’s an easy road trip overall. 

The turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez are a major attraction but many folks also come for the off-roading and desert interior. We love visiting here throughout the year and especially during the Baja 250. Use this guide to get a feel for the place and plan your trip! 

Where is San Felipe, Mexico?

Most visitors will cross the border in Mexicali and drive directly south on Mex Highway 5. It’s only two hours and 200 kilometers on a nice road surface with little traffic once you leave the city limits. You can also cross the border at Tecate or San Ysidro and drive to Ensenada before jotting across the entire peninsula but those are far less direct routes.

San Felipe does have an airport but it doesn’t have any regular commercial flights running. Most flights are private or chartered. Being so close to California and Arizona, groups might find reasonable rates on group charters with some research and patience. Driving remains as the primary method of reaching town however. 

Being located in a desert, the climate is mostly sunny with weather ranging from warm to hot. It can run cooler in the 50’s and 60’s (Fahrenheit) on occasion but temps are generally 70+ in winter and pushing 90-100+ in summer. The Sea of Cortez means it gets a nice breeze off the ocean and the climate is pretty ideal overall.

Things to Do on Your Visit

You might come for the climate and beaches but there is so much more to discover. These are just a few ways to stay busy and make the most of a trip across the border.

#1 – Visit the Beaches in San Felipe

Easy access off the malecon!

This is a beach town after all! The first and sometimes primary activity on any vacation involves walking and just enjoying the beaches. Right in town, you will find several very long and perfectly sandy beaches. One is directly off the Malecon (waterfront) and all are easy to access.

If you want to walk beaches with little traffic and a ton of space, take a drive north or south of town. Going south will deliver you to less populated areas but the northern beaches are also amazing. 

Here’s a quick list of some favorite beaches in San Felipe:

Playa Las Almejas

North of town, this beach is tucked behind the Venta del Mar community. You can also access this beach by staying at Pete’s Camp. It’s a quiet, long sandy location with plenty of elbow room. It’s good for swimming when you get past the long shallow flats. The tide can move a long way in and out here.

The Town Beaches

As mentioned above, you don’t even need to leave town for great beach access. Between the lighthouse and a rocky point, there is an excellent beach that has public access and is also bordered by several RV parks and hotels. Just south of the lighthouse, it turns into the Malecon beach which has very easy access via stairs from the street. 

Playa San Felipe

Moving south from the Malecon, you essentially have a long stretch of beachfront that borders town. There are hotels, rentals and camping areas scattered throughout this area. The beach is public and you won’t have a hard time finding a place to set up an umbrella for the day.

Punta Estrella Lighthouse

This is pretty much the end of San Felipe proper. You will pass a series of condos and rentals that have some stunning beachfront and you might even find access to that area. It’s a more narrow strip of land however and can become somewhat tide dependent in areas. When you reach the lighthouse, take a tour of the structure and enjoy the expansive views. There is a campground adjacent for folks who want to stay the night as well.

South of San Felipe

Between the lighthouse and Puertecitos, access becomes more difficult. The roads are frequently private and owned by campos and lodges. There are some amazing camping opportunities however and they are worth exploring because you gain access to very uncrowded beaches.

#2 – Ride with San Felipe ATV Rentals

san felipe atv rentals

Are you ready for a real adventure? One of our favorite ways to experience the region is off-road! San Felipe ATV rentals make it possible to drive the washes, sandy arroyos and the mountains. It’s also super easy to rent ATV’s and you will see multiple operations in the malecon area. 

A few of the rental companies include Quadman ATV Rentals, Quadgirl ATV/UTV Rentals and Tours and CanDoo ATV’s. Rates are typically divided into a series of hours, a full 24-hour day or into multiple days and weeks for longer vacations. For example, QuadMan charges $129 USD for 8 hours, $149 for 24 hours and $475 for 7 days. 

#3 – Visit for the Baja 250, 400, 500 and 1000 Races

If you want to visit when San Felipe is full of parties and races, the Baja 250 is soooo much fun. I drove into town incidentally on one occasion and was quickly wrapped up in the excitement. The race is usually in late March and can coincide with Semana Santa (a big event in itself).

Additional races occur throughout the year with some really intense events. The Baja 400, 500 and 1000 are all major races that attract some of the best off-road talent in North America and beyond. Each race is divided into different categories with trucks, buggies, side-by-sides, dirtbikes and more.

Plan ahead for these events because lodging gets booked in a hurry. You will want a good camp or rental for staging. Personally, I think something close to town is fun for the nightlife and easy access to restaurants.  

#4 – Charter a San Felipe Fishing Trip

Baja is known for having excellent sportfishing and chartering a trip is one amazing way to experience the Sea of Cortez. The waters immediately off the shores of San Felipe aren’t extremely productive for off-shore species but they have plenty of action. You can catch a number of species like cabrilla, pargo (snapper) and triggerfish from the shore or through a short paddle in a kayak. 

The real treasure is a 30-40 minute boat ride away. Konsag Island and the waters off-shore offer world class sportfishing for yellowtail, dorado and many other species. It’s a true fishing paradise and booking a trip is super easy from town. You can charter a panga right off the docks or through a booking service along the malecon. For longer trips, look to the cabin cruisers and larger fishing vessels.   

Whether you choose a DIY fishing option or a chartered trip, the odds of finding something to catch are good. For anyone fishing from watercraft, make sure to purchase a Mexican fishing license. For shore fishing only, it’s not required.

#5 Walk the San Felipe Malecon

On any given day, the Malecon is the perfect place to spend a few hours or entire day. It has restaurants, shopping and direct access to some amazing beaches. I like that the vendors aren’t overly aggressive but they will approach you on occasion. I’ve had positive experiences and they are generally polite. 

Several great restaurants (Taco Factory is fun) and bars make it very easy to grab tasty food and a margarita or cold beer. Street carts also have some amazing food and snacks. Shaved ice is hard to beat when the weather is especially hot. 

To access the Malecon in San Felipe, you can park right in front of the restaurants or find more parking one street over. When big events and festivals hit town, they will close off parking but the street parking remains open one block off the main strip.

#6 – Visit the Lighthouses

san felipe lighthouse
The San Felipe lighthouse is a prominent landmark.

The San Felipe Lighthouse is easy to access from the malecon or the beach in front of Kiki’s and other RV parks. It’s a visible landmark from around town that shoots up into the sky. It also sits on a rocky point that divides the RV beaches from the malecon beach. The natural barrier is kind of neat and fun to walk around.

The other option is the aforementioned Punta Estrella lighthouse which is really cool. If you enjoy finding and photographing these landmarks, I’d recommend visiting both as they are very easy to locate and are accessible. 

Where to Stay

Camping in San Felipe Mexico

Not many towns are better suited to camping than San Felipe Baja. In fact, there are so many RV parks and tent camping options, we wrote an entire page dedicated to them. Prices vary greatly with some offering simple parking at rates that run in the $10-15 USD per night range and others have electric and even sewer hookups with rates pushing closer to $30-40 USD.

You might want to take a close look at the setups and security as well. Some of the lower priced campsites in town are fantastic but you should lock up valuables and camp equipment at night. They are accessible from public beaches and petty theft is a minor risk and occasional occurrence. Others are fully walled off with security. 

Finding camping with on-site restaurants, restrooms, hot showers and other desired facilities is also something that will factor into your search. The fact that you can stay right in town or find a more isolated location is a major bonus for camping in the region.

San Felipe Hotels and Vacation Rentals

For the visitors wanting a fresh bed and nice bathroom, look to the hotels and rentals. The rental market specifically is robust with condos and developments that have seasonal residents and open space when owners aren’t present. Some are even dedicated to the sole purpose of tourism without any resident visitors. While we are covering the primary hotels and rentals here, there are many more to choose from.

These are a few of the places you might consider booking for a vacation:

Hotel Las Palmas – Located in the heart of town, the hotel has good rates, nice rooms and a big pool with a bar. There’s also a restaurant and the location is just fantastic for staying in town and having access to everything.

El Dorado Ranch – It’s not on the ocean but the privacy and seclusion is pretty amazing. The El Dorado Ranch is a private community in San Felipe with vacation rentals and owner residences. A golf course, pool, tennis courts and many more amenities make it a good choice for returning visitors who want an all-inclusive feel.

Kiki’s Hotel – Many people don’t realize there’s a hotel AND RV park here. The rooms are nice and it’s a longstanding favorite for seasoned visitors.

Hotel Costa Azul – As a beachfront hotel in San Felipe, you’d think this hotel is ideal. Unfortunately, it’s had a rough recent history with reported thefts and rundown facilities. Hopefully things turn around because the location is everything you could want.

Stella del Mar Hotel – Another beachfront option, the hotel is clean and has a boutique feel. It also has a restaurant and bar for a complete experience. With the ocean access and restaurant, it will be hard to leave this little piece of paradise.

Start Planning Your San Felipe Vacation

As a year-round destination, there’s never a bad time to visit. Winter is the most popular time as the warm weather draws numerous travelers from the northern states and Canada. Always look at a calendar while planning your trip because it’s an active town with festivals, concerts and the obvious off-road race events. Plan for around these dates to make the most of your Baja vacation!