After exploring Yukon and Alaska, we followed the legendary West Coast all the way to Mexico where our first real foreign country adventure began. We crossed the Mexican border into Baja California between Mexicali and Calexico in order to avoid the long wait at the Tijuana border and it worked out pretty well! On the morning of our crossing, we were all pretty stressed, but everyone working at the border was nice and helpful, so there was nothing to worry about.
Now, the fun part! Our favorite area in Mexico is hands down Baja. It is the paradise of free camping on wild beaches, of nights parked alone in the middle of the desert watching the stars beside the biggest cactuses ever, and of waking up on empty beaches at sunrise to go surf some of the best waves. Baja is to Mexico what Alaska is to the US, FREEDOM! Day after day, our camping spots kept getting better and wilder.
The only negative aspect that is worth mentioning is the condition of most of the roads in Baja. Some of them, like the MEX-1 before Guerrero Negro, are extremely narrow (exactly the width of two trucks) and have so many potholes that we often had to drive in the opposite lane for a couple of miles. If you decide to head off-road like us, you won’t be disappointed. You might have to drive on washboard roads for hundreds of kilometers and navigate around treacherous potholes, but, as we like to say, rough roads lead to the best destinations. Our favorite tool to find camping spots is without a doubt the app iOverlander. This free app lists established campgrounds, wild camping spots, restaurants, military and police checkpoints, hospitals and more. All the info and photos are added by fellow travellers, which makes this app even better.
One of our favorite spots in Baja was Bahia Concepcion and its many beaches where you can camp and enjoy the crystal clear water and the free light show of the bioluminescent phytoplankton that glows at night. We also really enjoyed Rancho El Conejo for the surf and the fishing (you can pick sea urchins at low tide), Ojo de liebre for the whale watching, and Bahia La Asuncion. We also found some of the best free camping spots in the desert on MEX-1 just before San Antonio De Las Minas. You can easily find them on iOverlander.
After our stay in Baja, we crossed over to mainland Mexico by ferry and drove the Central Pacific Coast. It was just like driving the Californian Coast, but less crowded and with more options for cheap beach camping. Our favorite spot on the coast was Playa La Ticla for the chill vibe and the good surf. Then, we continued our journey through Oaxaca and the Chiapas. Despite what we hear about the security and violence issues in these provinces, we felt safe and were never threatened by anyone. In fact, Oaxaca coast remains one of our highlights. The scenery changes when crossing to the Chiapas. We drove uphill into the jungle until we reached San Cristobal de las Casas, which is worth exploring.
There’s definitely more to see and explore in Mexico, but being on a Panamerican trip with a limited time, we couldn’t see it all. However, we highly recommend swinging by Mahahual in Quintana Roo for some diving and chilling on the beach.
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Special thanks to Catherine from Road it Up for the revision!