No plans for the weekend in Southern California? Head south of the border for a “quick” Adventure Hit and satisfy your wanderlust cravings. Warmer weather, fewer layers and more sunshine make spring time a great time for a Baja Norte sojourn. You can be sipping a cold margarita or dipping into colder barrels within 90 minutes of leaving your home in San Diego. That’s why NOW is the time to head to Mexico.
The road from the party-hub of Rosarito south to Ensenada is dotted with resort communities, fishing villages and surf havens. We especially like the area around K38 for the range of surf options, good food and the ability to stay at the Las Rocas Resort and Spa. You can reach this area quickly from the border, but it still has the authentic Baja vibe to feel far enough away from home.
While this area boasts a million places to stay and I can totally recommend renting a house on the beach Air B n B if you plan ahead or have a big group, if you want absolute ease, stay at Las Rocas Resort and Spa. Even in winter or during the week, people congregate here for poolside margaritas and pina coladas (by the way, they seem to turn a blind eye to non-guests using the pool if you don’t end up staying here). The centerpoint of the resort is the two “rock” jacuzzis and epic pool that looks over the surf.
Baja Norte Surf:
Why go to Baja Norte now? Well, south swell season is about to swing into gear and spots like K38, Roberts and Teresa’s face south. Plus, this area seems to somehow avoid the dreaded May Grey and June Gloom. If you like long rights and don’t mind wearing a 4/3 and booties (the water in Northern Baja is always colder than San Diego), you can score really great waves with a pretty mellow crowd. The rocks and the icicle water help you out in that department.
If you live in Southern California and don’t like Mexican food, life must be hard. So assuming you’re a lover of all things spicy, covered in avocado and delicious, there is no shortage dining options in this area. A standout for post-surf lunch is the taco shop perched just above the surf break “Roberts.” They have the best fish and shrimp tacos for next to nothing and have become a destination for Baja foodies. For a proper dinner, try Splash Restaurant a few k’s south in Primo Tapia for amazing views, margaritas and lobster in an ocean themed, multi-story hot-spot with live music and a party on weekends.
As you drive towards Rosarito from Las Rocas, you will pass a million souvenir and homeware shops that have everything you could ask for from a Sponge-Bob piggy bank to rad blown glass margarita glasses to Frida Kahlo bags and more. Truth be told the best deals are really found on your way to the border in Tijuana. People tend to stay clear of Tijuana but if you are really after the best Mexican goods to take home, try out your bargaining skills at the end of Calle Revolucion.
Here’s a day trip from your mini-adventure that is so much fun especially if the surf is flat or the wind is up. You can surf in the morning and wine taste in the afternoon from Las Rocas in the Valle De Guadalupe. Since you will be wine tasting, ask the hotel to arrange transportation for the day or I’ve heard you can use something called UberValle to hire a driver for the day. We’ve chartered a 20 person Mercedes Benz Limo bus before from the beach and returned just before sunset. The Valle De Guadalupe is Baja’s wine country that has grown exponentially in size and acclamations recent years. I especially like to taste wine (and cheese) at the beautiful Finca La Carrodilla, which is the first certified organic winery in the region. We also enjoyed Vena Cava because the winemaking process there takes place in salvaged discarded boats. Follow your tastings with a late, lazy lunch at Finca Altozano or the new-comer, TrasLomita (pictured).
Something you should know:
The border wait is notoriously long. On weekends and during peak hour, you can be stuck in your car for hours upon hours. To avoid border purgatory, you must first try to travel during off-peak times or on weekdays. You can check the waits at each border online but it’s almost always a good call to try the Otay Mesa border crossing over San Ysidro. Otherwise sit back and enjoy the churros.
Mexico is calling! There is no place like Baja Norte for Southern Californians to feel freedom, taste exotic delicacies and have a blast. So get familiar with the lay of the land just over the border. Use these tips as a starting point and you will find many Baja gems of your own to share or not share with your friends. Mexico is always a good idea.