La Salina, Baja’s Northern-most Marina, is just 45 minutes south of the US border.
By Tom Gatch
Let’s say you are heading south from the border, looking for La Salina, Baja’s northern-most marina. If you happen to be meandering south along the well maintained coastal highway that stretches between Playas Rosarito and Ensenada, there are a couple of interesting side trips that you might consider taking if you have the time.
One of the most popular of these is the famed lobster village of Puerto Nuevo; a place where throngs of hungry visitors seasonally congregate in search of one of the tastiest crustaceans on the Baja peninsula …the spiny lobster.
Only a few miles down the coast, just beyond the long sand beach at La Mision, the small community of Puerto La Salina offers Baja’s most northerly marine and launch ramp facilities. Although compact in its dimensions, the marina offers over 200 slips; as well as accommodations for luxury yachts up to 100 feet in length. And because of the deep water currents just offshore, this can also be an excellent location to observe the yearly migration of California gray whales as they make their way along the Baja coast.
The acreage surrounding the navigational basin hosts a wide mix of residential housing with newer, upscale properties often situated within a stone’s throw of quaint, shack-like dwellings suitable for a beachcomber.
But this picturesque area has not always been so accessible to the masses. Before construction of the coastal toll highway in the mid 1960’s, the only main road north of there turned abruptly inland before eventually working its way down to the city of Ensenada. Back then, about the only way to access the inhospitable coastline between Alisitos and Salsipuedes was by way of a dependable 4-wheel drive vehicle. And even then, the going was not always easy.
For the most part, this trek used to be made primarily by adventurous anglers and divers in search of the rich plethora of fishes and marine life that once thrived in this remote region. Even today, the onshore, inshore and offshore angling opportunities around La Salina can still be exceptional depending upon the season and prevailing weather conditions. Whether fishing the surf zone for barred perch and corbina, drifting the sandy bottom just outside the jetties mouth for halibut, fishing offshore for tuna or dropping down to the rocky bottom for ling cod and other deep water species, this rural stretch of coast can be remarkably productive.
However, if you don’t have your own boat and are unfamiliar with the waters, you might want to consider hiring a professional guide to help put you on the fish. The most active professional operation of this type that works out of the La Salina Marina is Campos Sportfishing. Victor Campos Jr. and his dad speak excellent English have an outstanding knowledge of the local fishery and offer very reasonably priced pre-planned fishing trips on their 21-foot center counsel. If you are interested in booking a trip with them, perhaps the best way is to do so through their Campos Sportfishing page on Facebook.
And after an active day out on the water, what could be more relaxing than a trip to one of the most popular regional watering holes, the La Salina Cantina, to enjoy one of your favorite libations. The cantina is also serves tasty Mexican fare and is a popular local gathering place that regularly hosts festivals, chili cook offs and other recreational events. La Salina Cantina, run by Larry and Sue, is definitely right out of the Jimmy Buffett play-book — funky but friendly and a great place to have Bloody Mary’s overlooking the beach on a warm Sunday morning.
For those looking for overnight lodging, RV hookups and beach camping, The Baja Seasons beach resort is located within a mile of Puerto La Salina, and also features amenities such as a pool, Jacuzzi and wireless Internet access. Yet it remains a region that is far away from the crowds and congestion often found in populous tourist destinations.
After taking the southbound ramp out of La Salina onto the main highway, it is only a few more miles before you begin heading down the winding grade toward Ensenada’s bustling harbor. And while it is a drive that may only take about 45 minutes by the clock, there remains a great contrast between these two places in regard to finding the relaxed, bucolic ambience that has inspired so many visitors to seek out the laid back Baja lifestyle over the decades.
‘Hooked on Baja’ author & columnist, Tom Gatch, is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and southern California.
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