Our next few weeks were planned to be spent on the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula for some snorkeling, swimming, and exploring.
After leaving the surf camp, we headed to San Ignacio for a different kind of landscape. San Ignacio lies in the middle of the peninsula and has one of the few flowing rivers leaving it full of palm trees and much more green than the places we’ve been lately. It was a beautiful town, once we found the “cultural district” as Paul calls it.
The town center was vibrant and full of life with busy cafes and restaurants, local kids playing soccer in the park, and in the middle of it all was the beautiful Mission San Ignacio Kadakaaman founded in 1728. We wandered around reading about its history, and then went to get some breakfast from a street food cart. Meridian hunted down a date pie (more like banana bread with dates), which is a local treat due to the huge number of date palms in the area (yum!).
Once we felt like we’d seen enough, we got back on the road to head over to the turquoise waters of the Bay of Conception. We went decided to stay on the beach at Playa Escondida (the hidden beach) for many reasons:
- It has a rough road getting in, which prevents huge RVs from getting in there (aka no generators)
- There isn’t much for “services” (aka bathrooms, water, and such) leaving it less crowded than other beaches along the bay. This bay is very popular among “snow birds” (people avoiding winter) and can become overcrowded during the winter months.
- We were told it is stunningly beautiful, who could say no to that?
As we pulled in we knew we were in the right place. There were lots of little islands just off shore, beautiful clear water, and a wonderful beach surrounded by rocky hills.
We settled in to our new home at the end of the beach away from the palapas and a majority of the other campers. To Paul’s surprise, this beach had three different Toyota Motorhomes (like Cici), and one was even 4wd (just like Cici!). On top of that, two of the three Toyotas were from Oregon! What luck.
We were quickly greeted by another Toyota Motorhome enthusiast and made new friends right away. This happens almost anywhere we go, apparently Cici is not just cool to Paul, but to every single person who likes trucks/campers/4×4 etc. We constantly get stopped to talk about how unique Cici is, our sweet little unicorn.
As soon as we got set up, we jumped in the water to test out our snorkeling options (of course we forgot the camera). We swam around getting our bearings and found lots of things to look at right away including rays, tropical fish, and schools of bigger fish too.
We ran into some guys we had met at the surf camp and hung out with them a bit around a campfire. As Meridian walked along the beach, someone pointed out the phosphorescent glow coming from the sea. We threw rocks in the water and watched a shimmery light show, Meridian danced in the water and saw the glowing water fly through the air and cling to her feet. Turns out there was a red algae bloom that caused the aquatic light show. What an amazing experience! We knew that this could happen, but had never experienced it in Baja. It couldn’t be captured by a camera, but that could be for the best – an experience we get to treasure in our minds. We finished off our first night with drinks and dancing at a local bar/restaurant.
The rest of our time at Playa Escondita was spent snorkeling, doing yoga on the beach, walking in to towns and to various nearby places, playing croquet, and chatting around the campfire with the other beach campers. We got to borrow kayaks and paddle out to the nearby islands too, thanks to some of our new beach friends.
Everything was wonderful at Playa Escondida, but there were more places near by that we wanted to check out as well, so after a week we headed out on the road again.
Next stop: Juncalito.
This is a free public beach protected and maintained by the Federal Government that is enjoyed by locals and travelers alike. Cici had been to this beach three years ago when Paul drove down with some friends, so we knew there was good snorkeling. As with most beaches in Baja, there were wonderful people camping there and we quickly made friends.
On a side note: There are two different aspects to consider when camping with other travelers.
1) Both of us want to practice our Spanish as much as possible and our goal is to be closer to fluent by the end of the trip. Once you get to the beaches with other campers though, the Spanish practice drops quite a bit.
2) It is wonderful to make new friends and have people to talk to and hang out with. We have truly enjoyed some of the connections we have made on this trip so far. It is a great way to share information, get recommendations on places to go, and learn about other people’s experiences.
We plan to make it a priority to immerse ourselves in the local communities to become better acquainted with the language and culture.
So, the snorkeling at Juncalito was amazing, there is a little fishy super highway just around the rocky outcropping on the beach. Meridian got to borrow a SUP and Paul enjoyed fishing off the rocks. We relaxed in the sun and had a grand old time! Still, we had one more destination we were itching to check out – Agua Verde. So after another week(ish) on the beach, we headed out.
Agua Verde came strongly recommended to us by some friends who completed a similar trip last winter (thanks Jess and Carlisle!) and seemed right up our alley. Meridian got a little nervous about the road in, because so many people had warned us about the drive. Those people obviously didn’t know Cici, and didn’t understand she can do ANYTHING.
The drive in was amazing, absolutely breath taking. You will get to read all about it, and see the pictures, in our next post. (Mostly because we haven’t uploaded all the pictures yet…)
Thanks for reading, hope you are enjoying the blog!