One of my most favorite things about the Baja is the abundance of amazing camping spots. There are plenty of safe and secure campgrounds equipped with warm showers, flushing toilets and lush grass, all things that many travelers seem to crave and often don’t associate with Mexico. Sure, these campgrounds have their perks, I’ve even stayed in some with wifi – a total luxury – but there are also some downsides. Firstly, they cost. Not a lot, this is Mexico after all, but if you are a long term traveler there is a fairly high chance that you are watching your budget very carefully. One night is cheap, a month will add up quickly, and wouldn’t you prefer to spend your money on delicious fish tacos and cold Coronas? Secondly, you will often be surrounded by lots of other people. Again, not such a bad thing. Sharing travel stories and a cold beer with like minded individuals is wonderful, but sometimes it can make it hard to relax. Finally, you miss out on some of the most breathtaking places in the Baja.
The beauty of the Baja is its spectacularly remote secret camping spots. OK, secret is probably a little bit of an exaggeration, especially if you are using an app such as iOverlander, but remote is definitely accurate. All it takes to get ‘off the beaten track’ is to get on the beaten track. In most cases, just by turning off the main road and following it for a little while you will stumble on a little piece of private paradise. You will be probably even notice signs of other campers such as old fire pits. For the most part, we use iOverlander. This is a free app that provides information about free camping spots. It takes the guess work out of turning down those unmarked dirt tracks – there is nothing worse than driving around for hours just before dusk trying to find a safe and peaceful sleeping location. If you wish to err on the side of caution, this is a great way to get all the serenity from a secluded camp spot with the knowledge that someone else (often lots of others) have been there before. If you are slightly adventurous, I have compiled a small list of tips to help you find the ‘best camping spot ever!’
- Start Early
Whilst the Baja is safe, it is still not recommended to drive at night. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the area and check it out in the daylight. This is also gives any land owners the opportunity to speak to you. If you happen to be on private property it is always best to deal with it early on, rather than be woken up at 2am! For the most part you will still be able to camp, just maybe for a teeny, tiny fee.
- Avoid Going Through Gates and pay Attention to Sign
If you find yourself having to open and close a gate it could be an indication that the land is no longer public. ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Property’ signs are also a pretty obvious indication so pay close attention.
- Be Aware of the Weather
There is a reason the coast of the Baja is so popular with surfers – the wind. This makes it for great waves, but less than ideal for tent camping. Pay attention to what the weather is doing and always look for a spot that can offer some wind protection to make your sleep a little more peaceful.
- Trust Your Instincts
If for some unexplained reason you just don’t feel comfortable to set up camp, don’t. If you are traveling with a partner or a group and there is one person that doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t try to persuade them. Once the idea is in your head you will simply worry all night and not get a good sleep. There are plenty of beautiful, secluded and safe spots so all you need to do is move on until you find the next one!
The enormous coastline is rugged and beautiful, and the mountains are peaceful. Take your time to explore all that the Baja has to offer. You can easily find a spot to spend one night and end up staying for a week, feeling like you are the only person left on earth. It’s incredible.