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A Gringo in Mexico’s 10 Travel Warnings for Baja California

Thinking of Visiting Baja California? Check Out our Advisories Before You Go

BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO – I’m often asked by stateside friends about our family’s experiences traveling in and around Baja California. We drive just south of the border from San Diego 2-3 times a month for weekend stays on the beaches of Rosarito Beach and Ensenada, great food and wine in the Valle de Guadalupe, art and culture in Tijuana and to check out other Baja California destinations and bring the story back to you, our readers. We enjoy sharing tales of our adventures and of course always encourage our amigos and amigas to visit for themselves or join us on a tour.

However, travel is never without its detours and potentially life-changing experiences. To make sure you get the most out of your trip, here are El Gringo’s 10 travel warnings to keep in mind when visiting Baja California…

1. You will be exposed to new and interesting cultures.

From the indigenous Kumiai to migrant families from all over Mexico, visiting Baja California may expose you to new and interesting people, food and cultures.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

Basket and plate weaving from the indigenous Kumiai at the Community Museum in Tecate, Baja Calfornia.

 2. You may develop a decreased tolerance for boring wines.

The Valle de Guadalupe supplies 90% of the vino consumed in Mexico. It’s also home to a burgeoning artisanal wine scene that is producing some imaginative and delicious blends.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

Wine tasting at Adobe Guadalupe, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California.

3.  Street food.

El Gringo knows that street food in Baja California can be scary – scary good! From adobada(marinated pork) tacos and carne asada tortas in Tijuana to ceviche tostadas in Ensenada, there are many delicious and inexpensive options.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

Carne asada NY strip taco at Tacos Don Esteban, Tijuana, Baja California.

4.  Tijuana has a graffiti problem.

Not really, but the city does boast a lot of thoughtfully rendered street art. Check outPasaje Rodriguez, Avenida Revolución, Playas Tijuana and the parking lot/street art gallery at restaurant Verde y Crema for just a taste.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

Street art from local artists El Norteño and Glow in Pasaje Rodriguez, Tijuana, Baja California.

5.  Friendliness is contagious.

Baja Californians are notoriously friendly and typically easy-going. Locals welcome visitors with warmth and are always ready to help you with recommendations and directions to their favorite restaurant or cantina.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

Taking a picture of the picture guy in Puerto Nuevo, Baja California, Mexico.

6.  You will develop an aversion to frozen seafood.

Baja California has an abundance of fresh seafood. Fish and shellfish from the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez are found everywhere from vendors on the beach to several of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in Baja California.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

The day’s catch on display in Popotla, Baja California, Mexico.

 7.  You may notice an increased tendency to relax.

The sound of rolling waves through an open window at night. A glass of wine in a vineyard on a warm summer afternoon. Baja California has a reputation for relaxation. If not alert, you may experience a siesta. In a hammock.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

The tranquil view from restaurant El Poco Cielo in La Mision, Baja California.

8.  You may be bitten by the Foodie Bug.

Tijuana, Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe have become culinary hotspots on an international scale. You may not be able to resist taking a shot of that perfectly plated dish and posting it to Instagram before devouring it.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

Blue corn tostadas with mussels and beans, La Terrasse San Roman, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California.

9.  You will experience spontaneous occurrences of fun.

Baja California provides its tranquillo moments, but the peninsula knows how to have fun too. FACT: There are more festivals than days of the year in Baja California – from the Rosarito Art Fairto the Baja California Culinary Fest.

Travel Warnings for Baja California

The Rosarito Beach Art Festival, Rosarito Beach, Baja California.

10.  You will develop an urge to return.

El Gringo’s señora is fond of saying that a single day in Baja California feels like three. Living in Southern California makes it easy for us to visit south of the border often. And we suggest that you do the same. Just heed these 10 travel warnings and it’s sure to be a great experience.

Your Gringo in Mexico,

Scott is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurants,  hotels  and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at



Food journalists are also Baja California’s tourist advocates

(Thanks to SDRed for this excellent story about writers advocating for Baja California. is proud to include stories by Kristin Diaz di Sandi on our website, along with great articles and posts from other food and travel writers on the team.  Stay tuned for more articles by and about them.)

 Kristin Díaz de Sandi Life Food Blog

Writer-columnist shared experience helped boost Baja’s tourism industry

According to the Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia, “Food critic” can be used to describe a writer who analyzes food or restaurants and then publishes the result f their findings.

To be a food critic, food writer, and restaurant critic, one needs endless curiosity, understand the art in food preparation and have the sensibility to see beyond than the usual people sees. To accomplish this, good food-journalist need to slowly taste their way around the world and wrote about it, with the understanding on how climate, culture and ingredients interact in many different and incredible ways. And above all, have the language ability to pass on their opinion through simple down-to-earth narrative that can be understood by everybody.

The same way we take friends recommendations, since we know what they like or don’t like. We value our favorite food writer opinion, even if it reflect only their own taste, because we know them, we trust their judgment, they are our guides. Many food writers not only invited us to try new flavors, also to visit interesting places, even places we never consider to visit before.

Nowadays, culinary-themed articles about restaurants in Baja California are featured on the cover of many national magazines and prestigious newspapers. A great example of a writer that understands the area and the culture is food writer Kristin Díaz de Sandi. As she said on her website : “We are fortunate to live in Southern California where we have the accessibility to experience both the Mexican and American cultures. There are so many new places and foods to discover.”

Thanks to her we discovered little eateries with quality food, great places in San Diego and many, many more south of the border in Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada. From oyster bars, crispy fish taco stands, and traditional Mexican food restaurants to the most exquisite five course meal in Baja. On her last article about Ensenada’s Manzanilla Restaurant, one of the “must go” places in the area, the ingredients of Baja California and the cuisine truly shine.

The fact that many people set its eyes on Baja California is mostly thanks to Kristin, who has dedicated a vast amount of her time to promote local culinary talent. Making dinning in Baja became a travel motive for American tourists in Mexico.

She is not only one of the best food critics in the region, but she is also a Baja California tourism ambassador.  Her food reviews change people`s perception of the state.

That`s why for, having Kristin Díaz de Sandi collaborations, it’s not only a pleasure but also a great honor.

Kristin and Antonio blog at Life & Food and you can follow them on Twitter at @lifefoodblog and Facebook. is designed as the first portal in Spanish that provides information/entertainment and news in SanDiego and the Tijuana / Baja California region. Our main objective is that you find all the information that you need in SanDiegoRed and BECOME  your preferred portal. We are committed to working tirelessly to meet your expectations and deliver the best website in Spanish. Contact or call (858) 454-511. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Flyfishing in the Sea of Cortez

By Jim Terborg and Jim Pickell

What kind of person wakes up at 4:30 AM with a smile?  A fisherman.  On this morning of Dec. 30, Jim Pickell from Todos Santos, and Jim Terborg, visiting from Oregon, were going fly-fishing outside La Paz at Bahia de los Suenos in the Sea of Cortez with La Paz guide and local Leo Bishop.

Our morning drive began on this chilly morning (about 50 degrees) at 5:00 am with a star filled black sky that turned into a beautiful sunrise near El Triunfo. By 6:30 am we were looking at sailboats docked in the bay and fishermen casting nets for sardina, the local bait.

Catching Bait at Sunrise in Baja de los Suenos

After paying 200 pesos (about $15) for more sardinas than you could count, Efrain, our captain revved up the 90 hp Honda 4-stroke outboard and headed out in our panga.  These boats are designed to provide a smooth and dry trip regardless of weather, but we had calm water with gentle swells.  Perfect for casting the flies Jim Terborg tied while thinking about the trip in Oregon.

Jim Terborg’s home tied white fly with a green tint seemed to do the trick today and it wasn’t long before the first of many Bonita was landed and the layers we were wearing for warmth started peeling off.  Even on a 10wt fly rod, these fish put up quite a fight with repeated runs into the depths that bent the rod nearly in half.

For some diversity, Jim Pickell tried trolling some live bait and caught a Ladyfish, a Green Jack, and a Cabrilla (sea bass), which we kept for dinner. The captain offered to filet the fish before we left. Afternote: it was as tasty as Leo promised!

Leo, who moved to Baja years ago from British Columbia, provided drinks, lunch, fishing rods, and instruction. While Leo specializes in fly-fishing, he indicated many of his clients use conventional fishing gear.  However, he estimated that about 20% of the clients in the area are now using fly rods so it’s clearly a growing niche.

The Home Tied Fly Wins Every Time

By 1:00 pm the fishing slowed down and we called it quits.  We never hooked a Dorado, but that is why they call it “fishing” and not “catching.”  With over 10 fish, we actually did well, especially considering that December is one of the “off months” for most local fish.

Jim Terborg planned a second trip with Leo when he comes back to Todos Santos in March.  Jim Pickell hopes he’s invited again:) Next time the season would likely call for fishing outside out of La Paz and we could expect many different type of fish.

The drive home included fresh squeezed lemonade and a fresh baked cheese and rosemary loaf for the road at the Il Triunfo Café, a beautiful restaurant and bakery in El Triunfo (with great thin crust pizza) located adjacent to the former silver mine (a great place for a day trip with plenty of hiking and photo opportunities).

We pulled into Todos Santos at 2:30 pm, just in time for Jim Terborg to take a nap before going to the beach to look for whales and enjoy another magical Todos Santos sunset.


How to Get There: The drive takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Todos Santos. Here’s a map from Todos Santos to the launch in Los Planes (Bahia de los Suenos). Seems like it’s about 75 miles, most on well-paved highways.

View Flyfishing – Todos Santos to Bahia de los Suenos in a larger map

What to Bring: The only things you need are sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.

Cost: About $300 all inclusive for the guide, food, gear, gas etc.

How to Book:  You can find more information and book Leo as your flyfishing guide by clicking here.

La Paz Fishing Season:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Marlin Azul / Blue Marlin
Marlin Rayado / Striped Marlin
Pez Vela / Sail Fish
Sierra / Sierra
Jurel / Yellow Tail
Atun / Yellow Fin Tuna
Pez Gallo / Rooster Fish
Pez Fuerte / Amberjack
Wahoo / Wahoo