San Felipe Mexico
Located off the Sea of Cortez in the state of Baja California, Mexico, San Felipe is best known for its fishing, clamming, drinking, eating fish tacos and lounging on beautiful beaches. An abundance of beachside palapas serving Tecate beer from the Baja’s famed Tecate Brewery, amongst other libations, and any kind of taco that you can imagine, are located on the beach. Add to that the many beachside campgrounds and large four-posted parking ports for RVs that offer an inexpensive way to visit Mexico, it gives one seriously bent on relaxing little reason to leave the beach. However, recently, San Felipe is caught between its rustic beach bum environ, which refuses to budge, and economic progress (read tourism development) trying to elbow its way in. So far, it seems that the beach bums are winning.
While San Felipe was initially a fishing village full of shrimp boats, it’s turned to tourism and now real estate as its main source of income. However, its fishing roots are still evident in the large commercial harbor south of town where visitors will still see those shrimp boats.
The town gets an interesting mix of college students and retirees visiting its shores, enjoying its warm, dry, winter climate and hot, humid summers. This desert, seaside community also has had a recent influx of US retirees building homes here for permanent residence. And with building new retirement developments and hotels to lure retirees in is where the town has begun to depart from its beach bum status. Fortunately, it’s been and continues to be a slow departure, and college students come in droves to it’s beaches while retirees park their motor homes for a little stop over on their way to other destinations.
Things to Do in San Felipe
Fish - Many local fishermen will take you out on their boat for a fee. Note: a fishing permit is not required to fish from shore, but it is required to fish from a boat, and collecting clams and other shellfish is legal only for locals.
Watch the tide - the Sea of Cortez is known for its incredible tide changes, some very powerful; don’t get too close when it sweeps in; it can quickly take you and your parked car along with it back out to sea. Driving on the beach is not advised.
San Felipe is credited with the invention of the fish taco. You haven't had a real fish taco until you've had one in San Felipe. Grazing from stand to stand to find the best fish taco is a tradition. These stands also offer shrimp tacos, beef tacos, seafood cocktails, and many other delectable morsels to satisfy your palate. Several restaurants are available, and fresh seafood, especially shrimp and clams can be purchased at local fish markets.
Hotels in San Felipe
Many beach campgrounds (campos) are located just north of town; several inexpensive motels can be found in town; larger hotels are popping up south of town. There are RV parks, condominiums, and fully-equipped homes from 1-bedroom rustics to newer 4-bedroom golf course homes.
How to Get to San Felipe
San Diego, California is the largest metropolitan area with a major airline and good access to San Felipe. From there, drive over the border at Mexicali and continue southeast on Mexico’s Federal Highway 5 to San Felipe. It’s about a 5 hour drive by car and it will go through a couple of Mexican Army checkpoints. There are few gas stations along the road so make sure you have a full tank of gas before leaving Mexicali or vice versa San Felipe.
San Felipe also has a small general aviation airport, Aeropuerto International De San Felipe, located a few miles south of town.
Many of the beachfront camps and vacation villages are located just outside of town, for which you will need a car to get into town. In San Felipe, park your car and travel the town on foot, or rent a motorbike. For adventurous excursions into the desert, rent a four-wheeler.
Most restaurants, hotels, markets, and outdoor eateries will not accept credit cards or personal checks. ATM machines are available and most will allow you to withdraw up to $300 (3,000 pesos) a day, but will charge you with a $5 service fee. The US dollar is readily accepted at most establishments. Spanish is the spoken language, but you’ll be able to get by; still it’s helpful if someone in your party speaks even a little Spanish.