Baja: The Land of Endless Cacti, Dirt Roads, and Waves

Baja: The Land of Endless Cacti, Dirt Roads, and Waves

Written by: Danny Dean

One thing almost everyone can agree upon is the need for self-exploration. Whether that’s through traveling, studies, or spiritual practice. The curiosity of exploring the coast between California and Puerto Escondido has always been a dream trip. Having spent a lot of time in Puerto Escondido where my partner is from and lives, and myself growing up in Southern California, the decision to travel the coast between the two came naturally.

For me the time for self-exploration came when I finished my master’s degree, which was 3 years of continual hard work and commitment. It was finally time to put down the pen and paper and pick up my pesos and surfboard. I embarked on this journey with my boyfriend Oscar, our friend Magid, and our dog Stevie. This 2.5-week trip is a dream for campers, adventurers and surfers alike and the first part of my 3000 mile move to Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I will be calling Puerto home for the next year while I take a year off from my career to surf, create, read, practice Jiu-Jitsu and re-cultivate my movement.

We left San Diego early in the morning and decided to book it past the American catered town of Ensenada and go straight to El Rosario, about 6 hours south of the border. Once turning off the main toll road, we went through a small farming town on a dirt road for about an hour until we arrived in little fishing village. We got there a few hours before sunset.

I figured since our first surf spot was six hours south, the water would be a bit warmer. I didn’t bring a wetsuit, just a thin one mm long sleeve bikini spring suit. Wow was I wrong, the water was freezing! Had I not spent hours in a hot car to get there and the excitement of a new board, I don’t know if I could have stayed in the water for long. Luckily the waves were fun, the board was incredible, and the excitement of being in a new place fueled my motivation to stay in.

After our session, we jumped in the car and BLASTED the heater. This was definitely the only time on the entire trip the heater was on. A trip to El Rosario is not complete without stopping at Mama Espinoza’s, a small Mexican diner filled with Baja 500 photos, trophies, and signed posters. It was all smiles while drinking Micheladas and marveling at the photos of the trucks catching air. We joked about which one we would choose to race in. The excitement of adventure at our first stop was radiating off us. As a surfer, there are few things better than a surf trip, especially to places you have never been. The feeling is like no other.

The next morning we stocked up on ice, water, snacks, and gas. That was crucial because the next six hour drive would consist of hundreds of miles of cacti, no service and no gas stations. Luckily there were no problems, and I began to relax as we started to go through small desert towns again.

Upon coming through a valley, we came across a beautiful sight of hundreds of palm trees! And no this was not a mirage- It was the oasis of San Ignacio. San Ignacio had a much different feel compared to the dusty tumble weed towns that we passed through. Having access to water made a tangible difference in the liveliness of the town and people. What a relief it was to see palm trees after so many cacti.

Sitting down for tacos, we discussed the pros and cons of continuing our drive to Scorpion Bay into the night. Once it got dark it would be pitch black in the middle of the desert. The number one rule of the trip was to never drive at night. The dirt road had no gas station, no service, and no towns to stop in. Keep in mind we also had never done this drive or been to Scorpion Bay. So, as expected, we finished our tacos and kept moving (sorry mom!)

As the light began to leave the sky and darkness took over, we became more and more silent. Tension was high, and our eyes were glued to the road. We finally arrived in Scorpion Bay around midnight and another challenge arose- finding a place to stay. There were a few hotels in town, but all were closed for the night or gated up. I started to feel tired and annoyed as to why I didn’t listen to my intuition in staying in San Ignacio. I didn’t see how we would all sleep in the car comfortably. We drove past some police men in their truck and asked if there was a place to stay at this time of night. They pointed us in the direction of the only hotel open at that hour. Once our heads hit the pillows, we passed out.

To our surprise, we woke up to a great a view of the point and awesome lines of swell coming through. The late-night drive was worth it! My favorite thing about surfing at Scorpion Bay was looking back at the huge desert canyons and escarpments. I had never experienced anything like it, it was so different to the beach house filled coast line I was used to.

After we had our surf fix, we continued onwards to Todos Santos. Todos Santos is a great little town, it was clean, had great food, lots of art, and everyone was very nice. Since surf conditions weren’t ideal, we decided to stay only one night and continued our way the next morning to East Cape.

East Cape is like a desert version of Big Sur. A winding dirt road that followed the coast, and with each bend, fun A-Frames were to be found. Every few miles there was an entrance to another uncrowded beach where we could surf Rights all day.

The next day we headed for La Paz early in the morning to sign up to be on the waiting list for the ferry to cross over to Mainland Mexico. And that begins a whole other story…

Back to blog