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Baja Road Trip Itinerary

Taking a Baja road trip has been one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. The Baja peninsula (split into two states – Baja California in the north and Baja California Sur in the south) has some of the most incredible ocean views, giant cactuses, hot springs, and more. You can park on the beach, watch dolphins play in the water, and spend the winter relaxing in the sun.

But of course, taking an international road trip can feel intimidating – there are factors you might not be used to if you’re coming from the US. But, it’s absolutely worth it and beyond incredible! This guide will give you a Baja road trip itinerary (the exact one I followed!), tell you the best things to see and places to stop, along with some tips for enjoying the adventure.

Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because I was going to share anyway, and this helps me keep making free guides for you!

How Long Do You Need for This Baja Road Trip Itinerary?

The entire peninsula is 775 miles (1242 km) long, and the most direct route from Mexicali to Cabo would take 18 hours to drive. How long you need for a Baja road trip will of course depend on your travel style and what you want to see, but I recommend at least a month.

I traveled Baja in my van, and I like to stay in one spot for at least a few days at a time to settle in and work. I did this Baja road trip itinerary in about 2.5 months, but it can definitely be done faster, or slower.

How to Prepare for This Baja Road Trip Itinerary

There are definitely a few things you’ll need to do before you drive to Baja, and some things you’ll need to bring to prepare for sandy beaches and remote roads.

Car Insurance

A Mexican car insurance policy is required for driving to Baja. By law, you at least need liability coverage – and US insurance policies typically are not accepted (though it may be worth calling your insurance company to check). Driving without insurance is illegal in Baja, and can get you in serious trouble if anything were to happen. Make sure you get insurance before you get to Baja!

The car insurance that I used for my Baja road trip was Baja Bound. They insure cars, camper vans (including self converted ones), motorcycles, RVs, and more – and the process is really quick and easy. You can get a quote online in minutes, and the prices are fairly reasonable.

If you’re going for more than about three weeks, it’ll likely be cheaper to get a six month policy – and this way you don’t have to have an exact date in mind for when you’re leaving Baja. I paid $363.50 (USD) for car insurance though Baja Bound, with a six month policy. I didn’t have to use it, but have a few friends who have needed to in the past – and they have all said that their experience with Baja Bound was easy and that they were super responsive when it came to claims.

A few things to note about your Baja car insurance:

  • Baja Bound only works on conventional roads (which is typical of insurance both in Baja and in the states). Beaches, off roading, and anything off of “real” roads isn’t covered.
  • My US car insurance is through State Farm, and I was able to call them and suspend my US policy for the time I would be in Baja, saving some money. I definitely recommend calling your insurance company to do the same!
  • Make sure to print out your insurance documents before your trip. You will need them if something happens, or if you’re asked for proof of insurance by a cop or at a military checkpoint.

Documents

There’s one document that you’ll need to get when you cross the border – the FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple). For more information on how to get that, check out this post about crossing the border!

Other documents that you should have include the ones you should have with you anyway, like your car registration and title, driver’s license, and passport. It’s also recommended to make copies of all of these, just in case. And if a police officer asks for any documents, give them a copy instead!

If you’re doing your Baja road trip with pets, you will also need to print out their vaccine records. I know several people who brought dogs or cats to Baja who say they have never been asked for their records, but of course, it’s better to have them and not need them than the other way around.

Cell Phone Plan

It’s also a good idea to look into cell phone plans before you go. Check with your carrier to see if your current plan will work in Mexico. I have Mint Mobile, which allows you to buy roaming credits as needed. This is perfect for me, since I planned to mostly use the Starlink for wifi, and just have the roaming option available if I needed it.

Offline Maps

One great thing to do before you leave for camping in Baja is to download offline maps. You can do this in Google Maps, and it allows you to get directions when you don’t have service – which is pretty often in Baja.

Google Translate

One great thing about the Google Translate app is that you can actually download a language, and be able to translate things without service! So before you leave for Baja, download Spanish just in case you need it.

Traction Boards

Recovery boards are important for getting out of the sand! If you get stuck on a beach, these help a ton. I bought some cheaper off brand ones, and have used them a few times and they’ve worked well and held up just fine. But, MaxTrax are typically the recommended option and likely would last longer.

Tire Stuff

Another great tool for driving on the beach is the ability to air down your tires. This increases traction, and helps you drive on soft sand. Having a tire deflator allows you to do that, and then you’ll need an air compressor to reinflate your tires!

Starlink

You don’t need a Starlink of course, but there’s minimal service in Baja, especially once you get away from the big towns. If you’re working during your trip, this is definitely the best way to ensure Internet access.

Walkie Talkies

Walkie Talkies are super useful for caravanning, as it lets you communicate about pit stops, hazards, and anything else you might encounter. If you’re traveling with friends, these are great to have, and also really fun!

The Best Time for This Baja Road Trip Itinerary

The best time for a Baja road trip is definitely winter, as the weather is warm and sunny. Summer is definitely hot, so winter offers the best, most comfortable weather for camping, and for visiting Baja in general. Winter is also the most popular time to go, so expect to see plenty of other travelers!

Where to Stay During This Baja Road trip Itinerary

There are a few options for places to stay during your road trip.

Free Camping

There is so much gorgeous free camping in Baja. In a lot of places, you can park right on the beach and enjoy the views, all for free! Some places are definitely harder (or impossible) to reach without 4×4, but I was in a FWD Promaster van for my Baja road trip, and had no problem getting to some incredible spots. I’m a big fan of free camping over paid sites, but paying for a spot can get you some amenities.

A note about free campsites: in this post I’ll give you my Baja road trip itinerary, and will mention general areas that I camped in, but I won’t be naming the exact free campsites I stayed in, in order to prevent them from becoming overrun and risking damage to the land. I found most of the campsites through iOverlander and by looking at satellite maps, and I have a guide on how to find free camping so that you can do the same!

Two vans parked at La Gringa, a campsite along the Baja road trip itinerary.

Paid Campsites

Another option for places to stay during a Baja road trip is paid campsites. These might have amenities like toilets and showers, and some people feel safer staying at paid sites. Campsites in Baja tend to be about $10 – $15 USD per night, though RV parks are more pricey. Campsites are first come, first serve, and usually will only take cash – if you have the option, I always recommend paying in pesos rather than USD, as it will be a little cheaper.

Hipcamp

Hipcamp is similar to Airbnb, but for camping and glamping sites. It’s a really great place to find unique places to stay, and you book sites in advance, which can give some peace of mind as you’re traveling. There are several Hipcamps along the peninsula, and you can get $10 off your first booking!

Hotels and Lodges

If camping isn’t your thing, you can also book hotel rooms in Baja. Booking.com is a great place to find places to stay, whether you’re looking for a cheap hostel or a high end resort. I recommend trying to support locally-owned places while you’re here, whenever possible – it’s a good way to give back as a visitor!

Check out this map for some places to stay all over Baja – make sure to zoom out and change the dates to see all of your options!

Booking.com

Airbnbs and Rental Homes

Hotel rooms tend to be less pricey than Airbnbs, but renting a home to yourself gives you more privacy and usually more amenities, like a kitchen. VRBO is a great place to find accommodations!

Baja Road Trip Itinerary

I recommend crossing the border in Mexicali – it’s much less busy and hectic than the Tijuana crossings. I opted for Mexicali east, and had a smooth, stress free experience crossing into Baja. I crossed back into the US in the same place, and though the wait was longer going north, crossing was easy.

Here is the Baja road trip itinerary I followed, and some recommendations for incredible places to see!

San Felipe

After crossing the border, stopping in Mexicali is not advised, as any area near the border is where tourists are most likely to encounter police shakedowns or other issues. Keep driving until you reach San Felipe. This is a nice fishing town, with a gorgeous (though popular) beach.

Things to Do:

  • stop at Calimax for groceries and to use the ATM
  • walk on the malecón (boardwalk) and visit some local shops
  • soak in the Puertecitos hot springs
Three vans parked along one of the stops on this Baja road trip itinerary - a beach in San Felipe.

Bahía de Los Angeles

I’ve had a few people tell me that you should skip through the north part of Baja and head straight to Baja California Sur and south of Mulegé – and honestly, I disagree completely. There were so many beautiful places in the north, and this one was one of my favorite campsites, ever. Camping at Playa La Gringa is absolutely beautiful, it’s a great place to snorkel, and we saw dolphins every day!

Things to Do:

Guerrero Negro

Guerrero Negro is the first city as you enter Baja Sur, and it’s a great place to stock up on groceries, as it’s a bigger town. It’s a great place for whale watching, and also has what many have referred to as the best taco place in Baja – Tacos el Muelle. Unfortunately they only have fish and shrimp tacos, so as a vegetarian I can’t speak to whether the rumors are true, but my friends had some and they said that it was every bit as g˙xcood as people say!

San Ignacio

San Ignacio is a great little town, and if you’re willing to take a break from the beach, it’s a great place to explore for a day or two. The Paraiso Misional campground was one of the few places I paid for camping – they have bathrooms and showers, and will even do laundry for you. It’s also walking distance from town, and overall just a great place to stay. The town is cute and full of history, and definitely worth exploring.

    Things to Do:

    • get a date cake from Nevería Danya
    • check out La Mision de San Ignacio
    • see the cave paintings

    Places to Stay:

Mulegé

Mulegé was a really cute town, with kind locals and a beautiful beach. I camped on the beach and took a walk into town, which was less than 3 miles (4.8 km) each way. You can walk along the river, see lots of pelicans, and just explore the town!

Things to Do:

  • snorkel at the beach
  • walk around town

Bahía Concepción

Bahía Concepcion is a gorgeous bay not far south of Mulegé, with turquoise water and stunning views. This was the first place I saw a whale down in Baja! There are a few paid campsites, but plenty of free spots – more as you head to the bottom of the bay. You can also head east to the peninsula on the other side of the bay for some really remote views, but 4×4 is recommended.

Things to Do:

  • visit Cafe Nomádico – an iconic cafe with delicious ceviche
  • paddle board in the bay

Places to Stay:

  • Playa Santispac – a nice campground with bathrooms and two restaurants
  • Playa Punta Piedrita – just down the road from Santispac, but smaller and quieter

Loreto

If you like trying local restaurants or bars, Loreto is a great town to stop in. Either way, it’s a good place to stock up on groceries, as there are several bigger grocery stores that had a great selection! I didn’t stay in town other than to run some errands, but just south of town there are several great beaches for camping.

Be careful if you get gas in town, though, as many of the gas stations are known to be scammy, even by locals – read reviews before you choose one! Better yet, get gas in Mulegé instead.

La PAz

Around La Paz, and south of it, is where you get to the more “touristy” parts of Baja, so there will be fewer remote, private beaches, but lots of opportunities to meet van lifers, travelers, and locals! La Paz is one of the bigger cities in Baja, with lots of restaurants and activities. The Walmart in town is a good place to stock up on essentials that might be hard to find elsewhere.

Things to Do:

  • Snorkel with whale sharks
  • Camp at Playa Tecolote – a popular beach for camping, with blue water great snorkeling
  • Hike to Playa Balandra (or drive and get there early to find parking) for a view of a unique rock formation
  • Swim with sea lions

Todos Santos

I ended up staying in this area for longer than expected, and then coming back again! Todos Santos is definitely getting more popular (gentrified), but it’s still a charming little town with lots to do. There are a lot of shops downtown, and tons of restaurants to try!

Things to Do:

Los Cabos

The Los Cabos area (often just referred to as Cabo) includes Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo – and while it’s perfect for travelers looking for resorts, bars, and party spots, I recommend not spending too much time here if that’s not your thing. One thing that is worth doing is taking a water taxi to Lover’s Beach – it’s inexpensive, and the snorkeling is amazing! This is where you’ll see the iconic arch in the rock formations over the water.

Cabo Pulmo

The road to from Los Cabos to Cabo Pulmo is doable for any car, but it is very bumpy – so you’ll be driving on a washboard road for about two hours. You can come from the north instead, if you want to, but the drive from La Fortuna to Cabo Pulmo is so pretty, I think it’s totally worth the bumpy ride. Nine Palms is a beach along the way, great for surfing and for breaking up the drive a little.

Cabo Pulmo has some of the best snorkeling and diving in Mexico, with incredible reefs. If you’re certified to dive (or want to get certified here!), I highly recommend it – this was the most incredible dive spot I’ve ever been to, with turtles, a huge school of jack fish, eels, and tons of different, vibrantly colored fish. Because it’s a national park, you do need a boat and guide to take you out to the sites. The beaches here are incredible too, but known for shark activity – so be careful swimming!

Cañon de La Zorra

As you head north from Cabo Pulmo, take a detour to Santiago to hike this gorgeous canyon, which leads to the Sol de Mayo waterfall. The hike is only .6 miles (1 km) long, and you’ll end up at the base of the waterfall, which cascades down into a swimming hole. Taking a dip in fresh water felt great after weeks of swimming in the ocean! Many people also cliff jump from the top of the waterfall.

A view of a waterfall - Canon de la Zorra is a great stop along this Baja road trip itinerary!

La Paz (again) & back north

When you’ve completed the loop around the southern tip of Baja California Sur, you’ll be back in La Paz! From there, I took the same route north that I did on the road trip south, but you could also take the 1 west when you get to the northern state to explore Enseñada and Tijuana.

Baja Road Trip Itinerary Map

Here’s a map of all the places mentioned on this Baja road trip itinerary!

Ready for A Baja Road Trip?

Baja is truly magical, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the winter. If you have any tips of your own, or questions about taking a Baja road trip, let me know in a comment below!

For more Baja resources, check out this guide to camping in Baja, and this one about crossing the border. If you’re traveling in a van, here are some tips for an life in Baja!

Pin any of these photos to save this Baja road trip itinerary for later!

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A Pinterest graphic that says "Baja road trip itinerary."
A Pinterest graphic that says "Baja road trip itinerary."

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