Escape to Paradise in Mexico!
Los Barriles, East Cape, Baja California Sur
|Tecate||El Rosario||San Ignacio||Loreto||Los Barriles|
Los Barriles is located halfway between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas in southernmost Baja California on the Sea of Cortez. GPS coordinates are: 23 degrees 67 minutes N, 109 degrees 69 minutes W. This area along the Sea of Cortez has long been a favored hideaway for anglers and adventurers. Windsurfers and kite boarders also claim it has the best wind in all of Mexico! The region around Los Barriles, also known as the East Cape, consists of a string of small settlements and villages, beautiful white sand beaches, rich fishing grounds and top-notch diving. Non-beach activities include hiking, biking, golf and horseback riding. There is a rustic “out-back” feeling to Los Barriles, and for the very adventurous, a dirt road takes you along the coast, past postcard-perfect beaches to La Ribera, Punta Colorado and Cabo Pulmo – the latter being a superb dive site within a national reserve. For dining, you will find everything from taco stands and family-style restaurants to fine dining with grilled seafood and lobster.
There is jet service from many major US airports to San Jose del Cabo (SJD), about a 45 minute drive from Los Barriles. After deboarding the plane you will pass through immigration. You will need your passport and the blue and white immigration form that was given you on the airplane. They will stamp your blue and white form and give you one of the copies. Keep this form with your passport. You will need it to get out of the country.
After retrieving your luggage, you will go through Mexican customs. It's a little like playing the lottery. You push a button. A red or green light will illuminate. If it's green you just walk through. If red, they look through your luggage.
After customs you will pass by many time-share sales people from Cabo San Lucas on your way to pick up your luggage. If you do not want to waste your time right then with time-share, just pass by saying, "No Gracias".
After customs, you will need to pick up your rental car for the drive to Los Barriles. You can save money by booking your car rental in the US before your trip. Many credit card companies will provide collision/damage insurance on the rental car if you use their credit card to rent the car. However, you WILL need to get liability insurance on the rental car as the credit card company does not cover liability. Your US car insurance will not transfer to a Mexican car rental.
Ecobajatours (part of the ABC bus company) operates a shuttle van from the LB bus station to SJD Airport - Terminal 1 and to La Paz. They go 3 times daily. Tickets can be purchased at the LB bus station. One way trip to SJD Airport is $165 pesos. The van is an 8 seater, brand new, and does not stop along the way. For more information see their website. (ecobajatours) US 888-822-9925 888-822-9925 Mex 01-800-026-8331
Another option is taxi. Here are some options:
Los Barriles is 41 miles (68 km) north of the airport on Transpeninsular Highway 1. After leaving the airport, follow the signs to La Paz instead of going to Cabo San Lucas. I would recommend you make this drive in the daylight only, since many cattle and goats roam the area freely and are very difficult to see at night. A point of interest along the way is a sign denoting the Tropic of Cancer, just past km marker 81.
What?! Going to Mexico isn't enough excitement? Now you want me to drive?! Well, for the more adventurous of you who have more time, the drive down the Baja is wonderful. It is about 1000 miles from the US/Mexican border to Los Barriles, and there is something different to see in each section of the Baja. Highlights include:
I would recommend you take some time (at least 4 days) to make the drive your first time. Towns we like to stop at along the way are El Rosario (Baja Cactus Motel 616-165-8850 info@bajacactus), San Ignacio (Ignacio Springs Bed & Breakfast 615-154-0333 email@example.com), and Loreto (Hotel Angra 613-135-1172). Here is a map of where to find these places. If you have other places you recommend, please let us know so we can add them. Also, just e-mail us if you would like more info on the drive. Also, if you are driving a diesel truck and want reliable info on operating this truck on diesel fuel in Mexico, you can find good information from Ted White here.
Sorry, there is no train service in the Baja. But wouldn't a train ride down the length of the Baja be spectacular? At least we can dream.
Well, the Baja is a peninsula, surrounded on 3 sides by water. So, sure you can get there by boat if you have one.
Using the phones in Mexico can be confusing, even to the locals. Here is a table decoding how to use the phones.
The most economical way we have found to call home from Mexico is with VOIP (voice over internet protocol) using a computer. There is wireless internet service at the condo, and you can use Skype. You can use the internet service but will have to bring your own laptop. If you have never used this service before, it is a good idea to get it working on your laptop BEFORE going to Mexico.
The only US cell service that works reliably around Los Barriles is AT&T. If you do have AT&T wireless, call them and tell them you would like to sign up for the Viva Mexico plan for while you are in Mexico. This costs us an extra $15/month and makes calling to/from/within Mexico on your cell phone cost no more additional charge other than using your minutes as if you were in the US. You can discontinue this service after you return home.
Another economical way we have found to call home from Mexico is to use AT&T pre-paid calling cards. You can buy these at Sam’s Club for 3.47 cents per domestic minute. They charge 6 domestic minutes for each minute you are calling from Mexico to the U.S. This is 20.8 cents per minute.
To use an AT&T pre-paid calling card directly:
The Roadrunner is a perennial Los Barriles favorite, located in Plaza del Pueblo. The Roadrunner provides free wireless internet and delicious food. The Roadrunner hosts an open mic night every Wednesday evening from late October until June. If you're in the area join them for dinner and entertainment. If you are a musician, bring your ax and a song and join in. Your hosts are Bob Farmer and Donna Ryan. Their phone numbers are 151-5897 and 044-624-156-2820.
The Tropico de Gemini Deli and BBQ in Todos Santos has a nice, quiet ambience and wonderful cuisine, all at a very reasonable price.
While the US dollar is accepted virtually everywhere in Los Barriles, you will get the best deal if you use Mexican pesos.
For an authentic 3-2-1 Margarita recipe, go to this page at Felix's web site. The only suggestion I have for improvement would be the addition of ½ ounce of Damiana (see below) to this drink, making it a 3-2-1-½ drink.
Remember the Baldwin sisters on The Waltons? The ones who were always making "the recipe?" My husband, Craig, experimented for 3 years with all sorts of complicated recipes for a frozen margarita. In the end, the tastiest recipe he could invent was also the easiest! So here is his recipe for "the recipe!"
The secret ingredient to the most delicious and easy-to-make frozen margarita is Damiana Tequila Liqueur, a light herbal-based liqueur from Mexico. It's made with the Damiana herb, a natural aphrodisiac that grows in Baja California, Mexico. It has great mixability and tastes great as a shooter. The bottle is shaped like a pregnant woman and is modeled after the Incan God of Fertility. The Damiana Margarita is very popular in the Los Cabos area of Mexico. Thanks to Pepe, the bartender at the pool at Misiones del Cabo, for teaching us about Damiana.
Craig makes the frozen margarita in a 1½ quart automatic ice cream maker. The ingredients are:
Put all these ingredients in the ice cream maker tub (limeade last), and turn on the ice cream maker. You will have delicious frozen Margaritas in about 20 minutes.
If you are not in a hurry and you do not have an ice cream maker, it works to just mix the ingredients and place them in the freezer for 24 hours. We like to make several batches ahead and keep them in the freezer for guests.