Down to Mexico Part 1

Feb 03, 2012 View Comments by

In early December my friend Chad McCaskill called me and asked if I would be interested in heading down to Cabo San Lucas in Baja California in the first week in January.  After a little thought, and a check of the budget, I said yes and we began to plan our trip.  The original idea had been to leave on December 30th and take 12 days, but Chad became ill, so we where delayed two days.  This created a potential issue, as the route was over 1,300 miles each way (2,700 miles round trip) and the shortened trip would require some long days to get all the way to Cabo.  So instead of leaving on Friday, December 30th, we left LA on Sunday, January 1st.  Heading out to I-5 we made a quick coffee stop in Temecula, got fuel and continued on down to Tecate to cross the border.

I had selected Tecate to avoid the hassle of Tijuana, and it proved to be a good decision.  Tecate, where they brew the popular beer, is between Mexicali and Tijuana, and makes for a quick and easy crossing, both into Mexico and back into the US.

When going further south than Ensenada or San Felipe you need a tourist card, so we stopped at the Immigration office, paid the $15 fee, and got our paperwork out of the way in about 30 minutes.  Both Chad and I had already gotten Mexican insurance on-line so once we cleared Immigration we headed south to Ensenada, our first stop in Mexico.

The road from Tecate to Ensenada is generally in good shape and goes through some very beautiful country, including Mexico’s wine country.  North of Ensenada along Mex-3 there are a number of well-regarded vineyards and wineries.  After sampling several of these wines, in the evening of course after the days ride, I can say that some very good wines come from this part of Baja.

The trip from Tecate to Ensenada is only about 90 miles, and went quickly.  Once out of the urban traffic of Tecate, the road was a beautiful, a smooth snake of sweeping turns and lovely vistas.  Being a commercial corridor, there was a fair amount of truck traffic; but the drivers, and slow car drivers as well, were very courteous.  They would pull over onto the ample shoulder, the only road in Baja that seems to have a shoulder, and allow us to pass.  In fact we found the drivers in Mexico to be generally thoughtful in allowing our bikes to get around them with a minimum of fuss.

We arrived in Ensenada about 3:00 PM and easily found our hotel.  It had been nearly 30 years since I had been to Ensenada, and I was amazed at the change from a somewhat run-down fishing town, to a sophisticated tourist town and major port. I had selected the Bahia Resort Hotel for our first night’s stay.  The room rate was reasonable, and the rooms clean, but being across the street from a carnival it was noisy.  The hotel was pleasant enough, but on our return we found a much nicer hotel down the street, the Hotel Cortez.

Leaving Ensenada on Monday we headed south along Mex-1 to El Rosario, about 180 miles away.  We had planned to spend our second night there, but due to the abbreviated schedule we pushed on to Bahia de los Angeles, a small fishing village along the Sea of Cortez.  However, we did stop for lunch in El Rosario at Mama Espinoza’s. A very well-known, and pretty good café, on the road south.  El Rosario is the last fuel stop for a long way, and I took the opportunity to fill the 4.2 gallon tank on my F650GS/twin.  A good thing, as our next stop was 182 miles away, getting toward the limits of my fuel.  However, being the careful sort I was prepared and always carry an extra 4 liters of fuel in my Happy-Trails fuel bottle holders.  I never actually needed the extra fuel, but the extra gas provided a lot of piece of mind as I got awful close to empty on two occasions.

Bahia de los Angeles is very popular with American anglers who flock to the rich waters of the Sea of Cortez to try and catch the wide variety of game fish available.  However, the season doesn’t really start until Easter and ends in late December, so we were there just after the fisher folk had all left, and virtually had the place to ourselves.

Leaving early we headed back to Mex-1, and continued south to Loreto, nearly 400 miles away.  This was one of the longest days of our trip but Chad was determined to visit Cabo and check it off his bucket list, so off we went.  Loreto is a very nice town, at least the better part of town is, and we stayed at the very nice Santa Fe Hotel (  The hot tub, the only one on the trip, was certainly welcome as we dragged our tired bodies into the soothing water, just as it was getting dark.  However, a good steak, a couple of drinks, the long soak in the hot tub, and a good night’s sleep made it all better, and we were eager to be off to La Paz early the next morning.

… to be continued, tomorrow.

Tags: Categories: On The Road

About the author

I have been road riding for many years but am fairly new at the "Adventure" side of our sport. Not a real dirt boy most of my "off-road" experience has been on road racing tracks but mostly I love touring and exploring new places. When I plan a trip I try to stay off freeways much prefering the 2 lane back roads, the road less traveled.