San Felipe scene
S A N - F E L I P E

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    San Felipe scene
    249 Starters at San Felipe 250

    Southern California's Mark Post and Jerry Whelchel teamed up to a conquer the elements and a near-record field of 249 starters, capturing the overall victory at the 18th Annual Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 desert race held February 27 & 28, 2004. Splitting the driving time in the Riviera Racing Ford F-150, the pair won the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck class, covering the rugged 227.79-mile course in a race-record 3 hours, 36 minutes, 44 seconds with an amazingly high average speed of 63.06 miles per hour.

    With the second-most racers in the history of this race competing in 24 Pro and Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, American Honda factory team stalwarts Steve Hengeveld, Oak Hills, Calif./Johnny Campbell, San Clemente, Calif., were the overall motorcycle winners on a Honda XR650R while the overall ATV winners were the Mexican team of Ruben Martin and Gilberto Santana of Tijuana on a Bombardier Baja X. Racers came from sixteen U.S. States, Canada, Japan and Mexico. Of the 249 official starters, 149 finished within the nine-hour time limit.

    For more information and race results, contact SCORE at its Los Angeles headquarters, tel. (818)225-8402 or visit the official web site of the 2004 SCORE Desert Series.

    S  a  n    F  e  l  i  p  e 
    History, Statistics:
        San Felipe was named San Felipe de Jesus in 1721 by Father Fernando de Consag, who organized the first expeditions.

    San Felipe  is considered the second most important tourist port in the state due to the development acquired since1925. The place is known for its low tides, small bays of thermal water, brooks and inlets in the mountains of San Pedro Martir and the "Valle de los Gigantes." San Felipe is a natural attraction in itself, due to its sunshine, its bay, its warm beaches, quiet sea and abundant fauna. San Felipe has all services for family tourism. The tasty dishes made with fish from the sea of Cortez, are a must and can't be missed. Dive many times in its various beaches and enjoy the splendor of the state.

    San Felipe, a "Nature Wonder" It is not commonly known that in San Felipe there is a unique sea phenomenon. The tide retracts approximately 600 Mts. and people can walk over the wet soft sand, admiring the great array of sea shells and snails, then (the tide) returns twice a day depending on the movements of the moon.

    San Felipe is considered as one of the most beautiful beach destinations of Baja California. It can be reached
    by the Mexicali or Ensenada Highway as well as through the International Airport.
    The moderated waters, tides and its comfortable hotels as well as the tourist activity development are attractions to be known.

               SAN FELIPE gained much of its popularity with the invention of the three day weekend. This charming beach side town is the first of many towns to be found as one travels south, down the east side of the Baja Peninsula. It is just close enough to the U.S. border to make it a long weekend destination, and it's just far enough from the big cities for tourists to feel like they really got away from it all.

    San Felipe is a very easy two and a half hour drive south of the border from Mexicali ( about 123 miles) on a good paved road, and worlds away from any typical gringo environment. The road from Mexicali is four lanes for the first 30 miles through the Mexicali suburbs and farmlands, and then it narrows down to two lanes when it reaches the wide open spaces. Shortly after the road turns to two lanes, the unique Baja scenery begins, and the stark open Baja frontier is nothing short of spectacular!

    The waterfront areas around San Felipe are very active. The city has recently initiated a plan to beautify the waterfront area, and dozens new palm trees have been planted in 1998 on either side of the seaside main drive. Both visitors and locals like to cruise the seaside drive near the center of town, and vehicles of all kinds can be seen parading by.

    There are dozens of campgrounds located on sandy beaches north and south of town, and San Felipe is finally begining to offer some nice hotels. Basic services such as gasoline, ice, beer and food are plentiful in the various markets located throughout San Felipe. One of San Felipe's claim to fame is the extreme tidal changes. When the tide goes out, it goes way out! This makes for excellent beachcombing, but makes launching a boat more of a planned event than a random act.

    The weather in San Felipe is very pleasant most of the year, and very hot in summer. Fortunately, the Sea of Cortez is never too far away for a refreshing dip. Strolling along the seafront walkway in the evenings is a great way to enjoy the eveinings all year long.

    Speaking of food, if you haven't had a fish taco in San Felipe, put it up on top of your "to do" list when in town. The fish taco craze that is catching the world by storm started right here on the waterfront in San Felipe. They are delicious!

    The beaches south of San Felipe run uninterrupted for almost 50 miles. There are hundreds of vacation homes located right on the beach, all the way south to Puertecitos. Most of these homes are located in 'Campos', which provide some sence of community in this otherwise desolate stretch of Baja. There is one "oasis" of sorts, about 20 miles south of San Felipe, at Km. 35. CHELO'S CAFE is not much to look at when you are headed down the highway at 60 m.p.h., but upon closer inspection this little rest stop has plenty to offer! In addition to serving delicious breakfasts (and usually lunch) in a quaint courtyard environment, this roadside haven also features a full-on medical clinic, complete with a shiney ambulance! Dr. Jose Lopez is a very capable and honorable M.D., and is always happy to help travellers in need. Phone 011-52 (657) 7-1987. In case you didn't get all of your shopping done in San Felipe, a small curious shop next door has a moderate selection of goodies, and usually cold sodas!

    Beaches, Many of the activities in and around San Felipe take place at the beach! The beaches start well north of town, where the once mighty Colorado River drained into the Sea of Cortez. Good beaches continue south, through San Felipe, and all the way down to Puertecitos. For a detailed list of San Felipe beaches, check out the "Campground" section below.

    BEACHES NORTHThere are dozens of miles of open beaches north of San Felipe, accessible via dirt roads off of the blacktop. If you are looking for desolation, these definitely fit the bill!

    PLAYA BONITA  Just north of Punta San Felipe (the big hill at the north end of town) there are a few small beaches tucked away. It's a bit more laid back than the main beaches in town.

    PLAYA SAN FELIPE The main beach in town always seems to have something going on, either in the water, on the sand, or on the waterfront. A good place to hang and watch the action!

    BEACHES SOUTH  From the main beaches in town all the way south to Punta Estrella and beyond, Baja travelers will find over 50 miles of beaches, all the way to Puertecitos. Bring ice!


    Starting approximately 18 miles south of San Felipe, a series of "Campos" (camps) line the Sea of Cortez for dozens of miles, south towards Puertecitos. These campos are basically clusters of homes on or near the coast, easily accessible off of the main Baja Highway headed south. Even if you don't own one of these hideaways, you can find value in their existance. The roads leading to these various campos usually provide easy access to the beaches along this coast, and are generally in good shape. The campos themselves are generally owned and operated by local Mexican families, who are usually happy to let you traverse their property to access the Sea of Cortez. Since all beaches in Mexico are open to the public, these campos are a great way to get down to the sand all along the coast south of San Felipe.

    CAMPO SANTA MARIA Located just off the blacktop at Km. 30.5. Once of San Felipe's closest campos also happens to hold the distinction of being one of the best. This first class collection of homes is located on two sides of a beautiful bay, and south as well. Most of the homes are newer, very nice, and built with conforming materials to add to the aestetics.
    The beaches here are wide and beautiful, and the bay provides good clamming at low tide. Getting to the homes on the north end of the bay can be challenging at high tide, but access to the south end is usually pretty easy. Keep in mind that this area is privately owned, and that registering at the entrance is sometimes required.

    CAMPO MAYMA  Located right past Bahia Santa Maria, at Km. 31 off the blacktop. Located about one half mile east of the highway, Campo Mayma is a small collection of well-kept homes, connecting on the north end with Campo Santa Maria. The beach is very nice, and it's just a short walk to the tidal flats of Santa Maria Bay to the north. 

    NUEVO MAZATLAN Just east of the highway at Km. 32. This beach is located between Campo Mayma to the north, and La Jolla to the south. It's a good beach, although at low tide there are rocks exposed in the surf area. 

    CAMPO LA JOLLA Off of the highway at Km. 32.5.  A very quiet beach with homes on the bluff, very similar to Nuevo Mazatlan. Food and drinks can be obtained a few miles to the south on the main road, on the west side of the street. 


    Campgrounds & R V Parks,Nowhere else on the peninsula are so many campgrounds available to the Baja traveler. The vast majority of the campgrounds north and south of San Felipe are very basic in nature, although there are a few that offer extra amenities.

    Fishing - Boating, The waters off of San Felipe offer fairly good fishing, although the quality does improve as one heads further south. Fishing also improves at the small island seen offshore, called Roca Consag. Local fish include bass, sierra, triggerfish, and further offshore lucky fishermen might find yellowtail and corvina. Because of it's close proximity to the border, many visitors to this area trailer in their own boats. For those who do not have the time or ability to B.Y.O.B., fishing charters are readily available in town.

    LAUNCH RAMPS  There are at least 4 official places to launch a boat in San Felipe, and more than a few un-official places! Try the ramps at: EL CORTEZ MOTEL - CLUB DE PESCA - RUBENS and EL JACALITO RV PARK. Because of the extreme tides, planning your launches with a current tide chart is a must!

    Hotels - Lodging,For a town so famous for tourists, San Felipe is a bit short on quality accommodations. This is partially because most people visiting this part of Baja are not looking for anything fancy. Where the Cabo crowd demands rooms with color T.V. and telephones in each room, most of the Felipe crowd seems content just to have running water and a pillow. Still, for those who must have a some luxury, San Felipe does offer a few nice hotels.

    Restaurants - Bars   If you like seafood, your in luck in San Felipe. If you like fish tacos, you have died and gone to heaven. San Felipe offers dining options across the board, from small street-side taco stands, to full-on restaurants with air conditioning, bathrooms, and fake silverware. Eating around is half the fun of any good trip to San Felipe!

               CARLOS FIESTA'S HOT TIP: Fish Taco stands used to be scattered along the entire waterfront, along the main drive in San Felipe. The sidewalk became so thick with taco stands that tourists were often forced to walk in the streets to travel the Malecon. In an effort to organize the city's pride and joy, San Felipe has set up a "Taco Central" of sorts, down on the south end of the waterfront drive, on the west side of the street. Called "Plaza Maristaco" this area boasts the same taco stands that have satisfied hungry hombres for years! In addition, there are still various taco stands scattered around town. You haven't had a real fish taco until you've had one (or two, or three, etc.) in San Felipe! "Grazing" from stand to stand to find the best fish taco is not only acceptable, it is a tradition. These stands also offer shrimp tacos, beef tacos, seafood cocktails, and a host of other fine culinary delights!

    Shopping  For a small Mexican town located in the middle of nowhere, San Felipe offers a very good selection of shops and stores to get lost in. The main shopping street is Avenida Mar De Cortez, and runs parallel to and just behind the beach. The other shopping street is Calzada Chetumal, and runs east and west, starting at the ocean, and heading out towards the main highway. A market on the south east corner of these two streets is a great place to load up on essentials.

    Local Interest, LAGUNA DIABLO DRY LAKE BED Do you ever think about what it would be like to drive a vehicle 100 miles per hour? How about letting your 9 year old drive the family car with you in the back seat? Or maybe being pulled behind a motorcycle with ski ropes while riding a skateboard? The long dry lake bed north west of San Felipe is just the place for such shenanigans. The lake bed surface is as hard as a rock most of the year, but watch out if there has been a recent rain.

    GUADALUPE CANYON  A fun place to stop on the way to San Felipe! Natural hot springs combine with waterfalls and pools to create a very special hideaway in Baja!

    Recreation,Seems like there is always some type of recreation on the calendar for San Felipe! Between the wide open spaces of the desert, and the seemingly never ending seas, there are lots of options for outdoor enthusiasts.
    KAYAK  San Felipe is the starting point for serious kayakers headed south to Puertecitos, Gonzaga Bay, and for the truly brave, Bahia de los Angeles! On the lighter side, novice kayakers can enjoy the calm waters right in town, with a short jaunt around Punta San Felipe and back being an easy 2 hour adventure.

    OFF ROAD  San Felipe is a magnet for dirt bikes, dune buggies, sand rails, ATV's and anything else with two or more wheels! The terrain outside town is perfect for cutting loose and letting the dirt fly. In addition to endless miles of trails heading in all directions from town, a dry lake bed north east of town adds additional off-road options. For tours to the wilderness outside of San Felipe, check out the nice folks at BAJA WILDERNESS TOURS.

    Closer to town, there are some very fun sand dunes at the south end of town, conveniently located just up from the hotel zone. These dunes are perect for 4 wheel ATV's and motorcycles, but the area is not really large enough to accomodate dune buggies and sand rails. Remember, even though most of this area is open land, the ecology is affected by reckless treks by vehicles. Staying on existing dirt roads and trails when possible is always a good idea. The SCORE INTERNATIONAL Baja 500 really gets the town hopping once a year!
    Four wheel ATV's can be rented in two places in town. One shop is on the waterfront, just north of the new Fish Taco Plaza, and the other is directly behind it on the main shopping street.

    SAILING  The waters just off shore are excellent sailing waters. The waters in the bay are usually pretty calm, while the prevailing winds from the north west are easily found not too far east. Catamarans have been enjoying the good sailing conditions here for years, and an annual sailing regatta always brings in a good crowd. Watch out for the 'big northern' winds that sometimes last for 3 or 4 days in Spring and Fall.

    VOLLEYBALL  The main beach right in town is a good place to play volleyball, and is close to all the necessities such as hot tacos and cold beers. For even more convenience, Rocodile features a fun outdoor court right next to the bar, with music pumping away all day long.

    WATERCRAFT  San Felipe Bay is a great spot for watercraft of all types, including Wave Runners, Ski-Doos, Jet Skiis, etc. Also, it is common to see tourists flying along the water just offshore on a huge rubber 'banana', barely hanging on when the tow boat hits a wake! You too can enjoy the thrill of re-aligning your back for just a few pesoes.

    WINDSURFING  The waters off the main beach are usually pretty calm, and perfect for board-head wannabe's. Around the point to the north, and further out to sea, the waters become more exposed to the prevailing winds, and wave hopping and lateral screaming can be fun. At low tide launching can be a chore, as the water goes w-a-y out.

    Realestate,  San Felipe is a growing area, and real estate activity is increasing in town and south along the coast to Puertecitos. There are two distinct areas where vacation homes are popular here. The first area is right near town, mostly near the beaches just north and south of San Felipe's main beach.

    The second area that has exploded with homes over the last few years is the coastal areas south of Punta Estrella, just below of San Felipe. From this point south, for about 50 miles, there are hundreds of homes built right on the beach, just above the high tide line on the Sea of Cortez. The close proximity to the U.S. border makes this a great location for a getaway casa!

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