by Carlos Fiesta
The town square is a classic, perfectly shaded by six huge Indian Laurel trees. Adjacent to the town square is Mision San Ignacio de Loyola, built in 1786. It is in excellent condition, due in no small part to its 4 feet thick volcanic rock walls! A peak in the front door is a must. You haven't seen a true Mexican party until you've been here on Saint Ignacio's birthday, during the last week in July. It's an incredible 24 hour fiesta!
The town offers many basic necessities, including ice, gasoline, and a decent size market. There is an airstrip north west of town, and pilots who fly over low enough might attract someone to come out and pick them up. If not, it's not a long walk to town.
Laguna San Ignacio is a couple of hours south west of town on fairly decent dirt road. This is an excellent place to watch the California Gray whales mate, give birth, and just generally play around. Tours are available, and reserving one in advance is a good idea.
There are also some very old cave paintings in the hills out from San Ignacio. Most of them are not particularly easy to get to, but well worth the trip for those interested in such things.
The beauty of the extinct volcanos Tres Virgenes, located east of San Ignacio, has been magnificently captured by Baja aficianado John Pelafigue.
San Ignacio is an excellent place to break up a peninsula drive, get out of the car and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. If one has the time to spend the night, the La Pinta Hotel offers good, if somewhat expensive, accommodations.
It's about an hour drive from here to the Gulf of California, where the desert meets the sea.
For more information on the salt mining operations in Laguna San Ignacio, check out THIS WEB SITE.
And for a fun perspective of the quaint village of San Ignacio, check out this colorful article by BAJA STEVE.
CARLOS FIESTA'S HOT TIP: The beautiful lake at the entrance into town is the perfect place for a refreshing swim! It has been a popular watering hole for passing travelers and the locals for many years. The best place to enter the water is on the east side of the lake, near the road. Water shoes help make it easy to get in and out, but most folks go in barefoot. Cool!
Beaches, Because of it's mid-peninsula location, San Ignacio is a bit short on beaches. However, thanks to the underground stream that runs through the valley here, a nice freshwater lake does provide somewhat of a 'beach' environment. The widest part of the lake is just next to the blacktop heading into town.
There are also beaches at Laguna San Ignacio, but the whales are the main draw for those beaches, and the weather is a bit cooler.
Serious beach bums will head south to the spectacular beaches of Bahia Concepcion! Camping, RVing, San Ignacio is a great place to camp out or R.V. The lush valley provides great shady areas to set up camp, and the weather is pleasant here most of the year. Most of the organized camping spots are pretty close to town. Fishing - Boating, Fishing and boating are popular in Laguna San Ignacio. It's about 35 miles south west on a fairly decent dirt road. Boats are restricted during the whale migration period, but it's wide open the rest of the year. Launching is easy along the shore. The lagoon is much larger in person than it may appear to be on the map, offering many miles of open ocean-type fishing. Pangas and skippers are available for half day outings.
Your other option for fishing, if you don't mind heading east towards the Sea of Cortez, is the waters off of Santa Rosalia to Mulege and beyond. Santa Rosalia has a very nice harbor, and fishing tours are available. Also, Mulege is a big fishing town, with many additional options!Hotel´s, Lodging, For as well known as San Ignacio is, accommodations are relatively limited. This is probably because most Baja travelers don't spend a lot of time here. It's a great place to explore for an afternoon or two, but most visitors are usually on their way to the Sea of Cortez on the east coast, or to the Pacific side, gradually headed for home.
There is a new hotel planned out by the Laguna San Ignacio, which will be convenient for whale watchers and fishermen. But right now, your choices are limited to accomodations right in town.
DATES, This fertile valley, Arroyo de San Ignacio, features approximately 100,000 date palms which completely fill the valley floor. July 31st marks the annual date harvest and fiesta, and the town square ends up looking a lot like New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
INDIAN ROCK ART, 28 miles northwest of San Ignacio off of Highway One a fairly good dirt road heads east up into the mountains. Cave paintings, pictographs, and petroglyphs found in the surrounding Sierra de San Francisco mountains are living proof that the native Indians who originally inhabited the Baja did more than sit around at night and watch Jay Leno. See Jorge Fischer (below) for tours. For more information on the rules governing the exploring of these sites CHECK OUT THIS WEB SITE.
WHALE WATCHING, The lagoon south west of San Ignacio is one of the three main locations where the California Gray whales migrate for their annual 6,000 mile round trip journey. During January, February and March skippers will take Baja travelers out in pangas to get up close and personal with these fun mammals. Organized tours are also available.
BIKES, Cruising the village streets on a bicycle is a very fun way to see the town, and provides a little exercise at the same time. Unless you decide to peddle out of the valley, all of the streets are relatively flat. There's lots of shade in town, so even on a hot day biking can be fun!
HORSEBACK RIDING, Although there really is no organized horse facilities in town, Baja travelers won't have a problem finding some local horse owner to give up the family glue for a short ride around the valley. Prices are not set, but a gratuity of dollars, pesos, or cold beer is always appreciated.
KAYAKING, The lagoon just outside town is a wonderful place to paddle around and touch base with mother nature. The east end of the lagoon is the widest and the longest. For longer kayak adventures, the huge Laguna San Ignacio offers dozens of miles of untouched coastline.
NAPPING, A favorite recreational activity in San Ignacio! Locations are important, and everyone seems to have a favorite spot. Laying on a bench in the town square, under the huge Indian Laurel trees, is always a good choice. Under a grove of date palms down river is another good option. Poolside at the La Pinta Hotel also fits the bill.
Restaurants - Bars, The fanciest restaurant in town is at the La Pinta Hotel, everything else in town runs from casual to very casual. Part of the fun of exploring San Ignacio is trying to find a quaint place to eat. Shopping, There are three places in town where the Baja traveler can find basic supplies. The Conasupo market is located right at the entrance to town, and has a good selection. The two stores in town are right off the plaza, and offer a more relaxed shopping experience, although they are not always open.
For big time shopping, the seaside town of Santa Rosalia is less than an hours drive to the south, and offers everything one could possibly want.Transportation, The Transpeninsular highway runs right through the edge of town, so most of the transportation options are tied to the blacktop. The airstrip in town is not frequently used, as most Baja travelers are usually headed for a destination on either the Sea of Cortez or on the Pacific Ocean.
AIRSTRIP, The San Ignacio air strip is a couple of miles north west of town, and offers no facilities or avgas. The runway is usually in good condition, and the prevailing landing pattern is a right downwind to the west.
BUSES, A bus stop is available on the main highway, right at the junction for San Ignacio. Except for busy holiday weekends, these buses usually have room for last minute travelers. The buses to look for are either ABC or Aguila.
GASOLINE, There is a PEMEX at the entrance to town, and the hours of operation are pretty reliable. There are also PEMEX pumps at the La Pinta Hotel, but don't count on getting gas there.
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