San Felipe Baja California is a hidden gem on the coast of the Sea of Cortez. It is far from the touristy places you may have heard of.
In this post, I’m including everything you need to plan your perfect trip to San Felipe, from the best time to visit, how to get there, where to stay, what to do, and what to eat.
I visited San Felipe during my epic road trip around the Baja California Peninsula and although I didn’t particularly like it, I could appreciate its charm and I believe it’s a great place to stop for a couple of days to relax and explore, during a long road trip.
In fact, there are quite a few interesting things to do in this small town. Read more to learn all about it.
How to Get to San Felipe Baja California
Getting to San Felipe is not difficult, but it does require some planning and preparation as it’s kind of remote if you come from the South as I did.
If you are flying into Baja, the best option would be to take a flight to Tijuana International Airport, and then take a bus or a car to San Felipe.
There are several bus companies that operate on this route, via Mexicali, Baja California Capital City.
Another popular option is to drive your own car in Baja California as part of a road trip.
Many people choose to visit San Felipe by driving along the coast of the Sea of Cortez and stopping at other charming towns and attractions along the way.
If that sounds like your thing, you can start your road trip from San Diego, or even Phoenix, and enjoy the stunning views and diverse landscapes of Baja California.
Or you can fly to Tijuana or Mexicali and rent a car from there. I recommend using DiscoverCars.com to find the best deals in Mexico.
Is it Safe to Drive to San Felipe?
In general, the northernmost part of Baja California is considered kind of a hot zone, so you need to take your precaution.
I did drive from San Felipe to Ensenada and everything went perfectly okay and the views were spectacular, despite the bad weather.
However, things happen, so make sure you are cautious and follow good practices, especially NEVER driving on that road at night.
Here below are a few precautions you might want to take. Make sure you read them.
🚘 Before embarking on the trip, make sure that your car has enough gas and is in good enough condition for a 5-hour road trip (assuming you’re coming from San Diego). Check your tire pressure often!
🚘 Never, ever drive at night!
🚘 Check the weather forecast in advance and only take the Baja California road trip if the conditions are clear.
🚘 Avoid taking the road trip at night. Not only is there much less traffic at night on these roads, but the road conditions also aren’t good in some stretches, increasing the risk of accidents.
🚘 You will encounter military checkpoints along the way, where you’ll be asked to stop and show your documents. Keep the relevant documents handy (such as your driver’s license and passport).
🚘 If you’re taking jewelry or any other valuables with you, keep them hidden. Petty crimes like pickpocketing and car break-ins can happen, and flashing valuables will increase the risk.
🚘 If you are traveling from Ensenada to San Felipe, keep in mind that it’s not one of the safest areas, and although it’s okay to drive during the day, which I did, absolutely avoid the night.
When I asked the military police if it was ok, they told me that during the night it’s easy to get assaulted. So please avoid that!
🚘 A dash camera will give you extra security.
Is San Felipe Safe?
The town of San Felipe is a very safe place to visit. It is a charming fishing town on the eastern coast of Baja California that is far away from the major crime hotspots in Mexico.
The town attracts many tourists and ex-pats from the US and other countries, and there is not much danger other than the usual petty crimes that happen everywhere around the world.
You can significantly reduce the risk of even those petty crimes by following these tips:
📌 Avoid being flashy. As I mentioned before, don’t wear expensive jewelry, clothes, or accessories that might attract unwanted attention.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash or show it in public. Use a pickpocket-proof money belt or a secure wallet to store your valuables.
Whenever you’re going out, only carry enough cash to last the day and a little bit extra.
📌 If you drive to San Felipe or are renting a car, make sure to park your car in a well-lit and secure area, preferably with a guard or surveillance.
Don’t leave any valuables or documents in your car. Lock your doors and windows when you leave your car.
📌 Keep in touch with loved ones. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
Keep your phone charged and have a local SIM card or roaming service. Save the local emergency numbers and have them handy in case of an emergency.
📌 Learn some basic Spanish phrases. You never know when it might come in handy.
📌 Don’t walk through dark and deserted areas at night, especially if you’re alone.
📌 Don’t leave your valuables unattended at any time, even if you’re in a crowded place. As I’ve said earlier, petty crime does occur in San Felipe.
📌 Last, but not least, stay aware of your surroundings. If you suddenly feel unsafe for any reason, it’s best to get out of that situation as quickly as possible.
When is the Best Time to Travel to San Felipe?
The best time to travel to San Felipe is anywhere from December to April.
These months see the lowest temperatures, humidity, and precipitation in the area, making it a great time to explore San Felipe to your heart’s desire.
What’s even better is that tourist activity is not at its peak during these months, so you can score great deals on flights and accommodations.
May through August see the greatest number of tourists, as the weather is absolutely perfect, not too cold and not too hot.
If you’re traveling during these months, however, make your bookings (both flights and accommodations) months in advance and be prepared to pay higher prices because of demand.
If you love being in the water this is the best time for you to travel because in the other time of the year the water is pretty cold.
Remember, it’s Mexico but it’s not the Caribbean Sea, so the temperatures are very different.
Things to Do in San Felipe Baja California
👉🏽 Take a Walk on the Beach
San Felipe has a great long stretch of beach right by the town promenade, great for a long walk, a swim, or a boat trip.
Whether you are looking for a lively and crowded beach, a quiet and secluded beach, or a private beach, I’ve got a recommendation for you.
🌊 If you’re looking for something lively and crowded, check out the main public beach in San Felipe, which is located by the boardwalk (also called the Malecon).
🌊 Playa Hermosa is also quite lively, but less so than the main public beach. Playa Hermosa literally translates to “Beautiful Beach”, and if you go here, you’ll see why the locals named it so.
🌊 Playa Blanca also offers great views of the Sea of Cortez with calm waves and is usually not crowded so it’s perfect for relaxing with your friends and/or family.
🌊 Laguna Percebu is for you if you want a place with miles of unspoiled beaches.
You’ll have to go about 18 to 20 miles Southeast of San Felipe, but once you get there, it’s like you have the whole place to yourself.
It’s also a great place to see marine life and for kayaking, camping, fishing, and snorkeling.
👉🏽 Take a Fishing Trip
San Felipe offers a variety of fishing options for anglers of all levels and preferences.
You can choose from different types of fishing boats, such as pangas, cruisers, or yachts, and fish for different species, such as flounder, grouper, snapper, or amberjack.
I highly recommend booking a fishing charter with a local guide.
A fishing charter will not only provide you with all the essentials, such as a fishing trip, such as rods, reels, tackle, bait, license, and ice, but you’ll also have the benefit of the guide’s knowledge and experience.
The guide will take you to the best fishing spots and help you land your catch.
👉🏽 Go Kayaking
Kayaking is a great way to explore the calm and clear waters of the Gulf of California, admire the scenic views of the coastline and the mountains, and encounter the diverse marine life that inhabits the bay.
You have a couple of options when it comes to kayaking in Baja California: you can either rent a kayak and do it yourself, or you can book a tour with a local company.
Even if you’re experienced in kayaking, I recommend booking a tour with the company.
The reason is that half the fun in kayaking lies in knowing the best places to do it.
Even the best online guides can’t substitute local knowledge, so make sure you take advantage of it.
👉🏽 Visit the Hotsprings of Puertecito
Puertecito is a small town on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, about 80 kilometers (an hour and a half drive) south of San Felipe.
The town has tons of natural beauty, but it’s most famous for its natural pools of hot spring water mixed with seawater, creating a soothing and therapeutic soak.
The hot springs of Puertecito are located on the rocky bluffs overlooking the ocean, offering quite a view.
They are formed by geothermal activity that heats up the groundwater and creates sulfur springs.
It’s a great place to relax and unwind, but the hot springs also have some health benefits.
The mineral water is said to have healing properties for skin conditions, arthritis, and stress. The sulfur smell can be strong, but it is not harmful.
👉🏽 Take a Tour to the Sierra de Los Gigantes
Sierra de Los Gigantes, also known as the Valley of the Giants, is an ecological park that hosts some of the largest cacti in the world.
The area gets its name from these cacti, some of which can grow up to 18 meters tall and can weigh 20+ tons.
What’s even more amazing is that a lot of the huge cacti are 100+ years old. Scientists believe that they can live for up to 200 years.
The valley is only a short, 20-minute, drive from San Felipe. You can use a local tour operator (like) to take you there and show you the best sights.
I went with CG Glamping and enjoyed it very much. It takes about 3 hours in total and will show you the best of the valley by jeep.
Where to Stay in San Felipe
CG Glamping offers an urban oasis for its guests, with themed accommodations that reflect an eclectic and avant-garde aesthetic.
Christian and his wife built this place from scratch and put their own creativity and passion into it offering their guests personalized attention.
The hotel staff prides itself on prioritizing the well-being of its guests, making them feel at home while enjoying the experience of San Felipe with all the necessary luxuries for a comfortable stay.
They also sell delicious chees in their little shop together with other goodies and they can organize customized tours for you.
Hotel Las Palmas is a unique resort in San Felipe that offers history, hospitality, and amazing views.
It’s a family business and the hotel is built in a traditional hacienda style, with patios, gardens, and fountains that create a charming atmosphere.
You can see his photos and memorabilia at the hotel, and taste his legacy of delicious food at the hotel’s restaurant.
The hotel is situated on a hill 250 yards from the beach, which gives you a breathtaking view of the Sea of Cortez and the Sierra Madre mountains.
You can also walk to the town center and explore the local shops and attractions.
Where to Eat in San Felipe
🍽 Alfredo’s Restaurant at Las Palmas Hotel
If you are looking for a place to enjoy authentic Italian cuisine with a touch of Mexican flair, look no further than Alfredo’s Restaurant at Las Palmas Hotel.
Alfredo’s Restaurant is named after Alfredo Bellinghieri, the creator of the original fettucini Alfredo sauce.
His creamy, nutmeg-tinged Alfredo sauce is pretty much universally loved.
Here, you can savor the same delicious sauce and other dishes made with fresh ingredients and local produce.
Whether you choose to dine indoors or outdoors, you will be treated to a spectacular view of the Sea of Cortez and the mountains.
You will also enjoy the friendly service and the cozy atmosphere that make Alfredo’s Restaurant a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
🍽 La Vaquita
If you are looking for a place to enjoy fresh seafood, friendly service, and a relaxing atmosphere, you might want to check out La Vaquita restaurant.
Their menu features a variety of options, from fish tacos to ceviche to lobster and octopus, all prepared in the Mexican style.
You can also order grilled meats, salads, soups, and desserts.
It is easily one of the best seafood and Mexican restaurants in the area, making it an easy recommendation for one of my must-try places.
I ate a delicious seafood soup whose taste I still remember. 🙂
🍽 El Kikiriki
El Kikiriki is another great place to enjoy authentic Mexican food (and you can never have too much of that).
It’s a small, family-owned joint close to the Malecon, which is perfect because you get to enjoy their heavenly food with stunning views.
They’re famous for their tacos, which I highly recommend you try.
And best of all, it’s a place that won’t break the bank, the food is cheap but so delicious it’ll have you licking your fingers and asking for seconds.
What to Pack for San Felipe
So far so good, right? But before you hop on a plane or drive across the border, let’s make sure you have everything you need for your trip.
Here is a packing list for the things you will need.
✔️ Plenty of sunscreen and a hat. The climate in San Felipe is mostly sunny (that’s why you’re going there), which means you’ll need a lot of sunscreen; sunburns are not fun, guys.
Also, the sun can also get quite intense so make sure you also take a hat with you.
✔️ Swimwear and beach towel. The town is famous for its wide sandy beaches and warm, enjoyable seawater.
You can swim, snorkel, kayak, jet ski, or just relax on the shore. Bring your swimwear and a beach towel so you don’t miss out on all the fun.
✔️ Light clothing. You don’t need to dress up too much. Light clothing made of cotton or linen is ideal for the usual weather in San Felipe.
You can wear shorts, t-shirts, dresses, or skirts. Sandals are also comfortable and easy to wear. Avoid wearing dark colors or synthetic fabrics that can make you sweat more.
If you’re visiting in December or January, you might need to pack a jacket and warm trousers for those chilly nights.
✔️ Local currency. You can use US dollars or Mexican pesos in San Felipe, but it’s better to carry local currency.
You can exchange money at banks or ATMs in town, but the fees and exchange rates they give you aren’t good.
Some restaurants and businesses will also accept USD/GBP/EUR, but they’ll charge you 10-20% more as compared to using pesos.
So yeah, make sure you’re carrying enough pesos for the duration of your trip.
✔️ Insulated water bottle. Make sure to bring your trusty insulated water bottle with you, or buy one if you don’t have it.
It’ll be really helpful when you’re out and about and get thirsty. Plus, you’ll help the environment by not having to use plastic bottles.
✔️ First aid kit. This one goes doubly for you if you’re the adventurous type.
Bring a first aid kit with you to treat common injuries and illnesses like cuts, scrapes, bruises, insect bites, headaches, upset stomachs, allergies, etc.
Just make sure that if you’re bringing prescription drugs, you also have proper documentation for them.
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How Many Days Do I Need in San Felipe?
This is a super common question that people often wonder about, I recommend spending 3-4 days in San Felipe if you want to experience the best this city has to offer.
If you’re short on budget, then 2 days will pretty much cover all the highlights of the city.
However, if you have more time (and your budget allows it), you can spend up to 6-7 days here and have a great time; you can take your time exploring all the activities, history, sights, and food that San Felipe can offer you.
Remember, there’s no universal answer to this question. It all depends on how much you like San Felipe, what kind of activities you enjoy, how many days you have, and, of course, your budget.
San Felipe Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
San Felipe is a wonderful destination for travelers who want to experience the best of both worlds: the stunning beauty of the Sea of Cortez and the rugged charm of the Baja California desert.
We covered a lot of ground in this article, including things to do, places to stay, and which restaurants are a must-visit in San Felipe.
In short, the city is a place where you can create unforgettable memories and discover new horizons.
In your next vacation, don’t miss this opportunity to visit one of the most amazing places in Mexico.
You’ll definitely be amazed by this charming city and all it has to offer!
Before You Go…
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