Beautiful Calm Beaches and Crazy Storms, pretty much sums up our weekend on the East Cape.
As I’ve mentioned before we decided to stay in Todos Santos because of its proximity to many of the areas in Southern Baja that we want to explore.
This weekend we decided to head south to the East Cape on the southern most edge of the Sea of Cortez. We had heard from a few friends that Cabo Pulmo is beautiful and that there was some awesome snorkeling. In fact Cabo Pulmo is home to the only living coral reef in western North America.
We had planned on leaving Friday morning but due to some last minute maintenance on the 4runner, Jamie built up the roof rack because it was breaking the gutter rails that the rack connects to, we decided to push it a day and leave on Saturday morning.
We got up bright and early Saturday and hit the road for Cabo Pulmo. While driving through the desert it was obvious that we were in for a treat! It hasn’t rained this much in the Todos Santos area in 3 years and you can tell that the desert is happy! It is so green and lush. At some points we were beginning to wonder if we were in a desert or a rainforest.
After cruising through the desert (rainforest) we made a right and headed up into the mountains that separate the pacific side of Baja and the Sea of Cortez side. Driving those winding roads reminded us of driving up the Sierra Nevadas to Kings Canyon, with the rock walls and bright green trees. At one point we drove through a sleepy little village with an awesome church and cobblestone streets.
When we came out on the other side we stopped in Los Barilles to load up on supplies because there isn’t much in Cabo Pulmo this time of year. One of our first views of the Sea of Cortez after Los Barilles was breathtaking. There are so many different shades of blue, its unbelievable. Once we hit the dirt track it took us a while to get into town, which is so small that we actually drove right through it and then asked ourselves “was that it?”. It was!
Instead of backtracking we just decided to move on and look for a spot to camp for the night. It was still fairly early but we like to be able to set up camp and then have some fun. J We had a couple spots in mind… The first spot we checked out was Los Arbolitos. It was beautiful but pretty small and you couldn’t park your car right next to your campsite, so we moved on.
The next camping spot on our map was Los Frailes, which was on the other side of a mini mountain that juts out into the ocean. When we first pulled up we thought we had scored. There were trees and it was deserted, not another camper in sight. We had the choice of whichever site we wanted! Before setting up camp we decided to cool down with a cerveza and a dip in the ocean. Once we crested the little hill that separates the campsites from the beach we couldn’t believe our eyes, miles of beach without a soul in sight. There were about 12 palapa style umbrellas lining the vibrant blue waters. This is what we had been searching for, crystal clear waters and blinding white sand beaches all to ourselves. The bonus was that we could pull right up to the umbrellas and set up camp!
Once we got camp set up we Jamie puts the fins on the paddleboards and we hit the water.
The water was so clear that we didn’t even need our snorkel gear. You could see straight down to the bottom while standing on the board.
We paddled around for about an hour and decided it was time for some comida. We made our standard burritos with homemade black beans and just watched the waves. It was so peaceful.
The next day we got up nice and early to explore the morning’s calm waters. This time we took the snorkel masks out and saw some pretty cool fish. While we were out on the boards we looked back at camp and noticed another car was parked right next to ours. A little too close for comfort, so we paddled in.
It ended up being the guys working on some pretty sweet grill/tables. They are working on round two of the tables. The first set had been washed away by the last storm. They were now 3 months over due on the project and hoping for clear skies. One of the guys, Eddie, actually owned one of the restaurants in town called Titos. We told him we’d swing by after we packed up camp.
On the way into town we decided to stop at Los Arbolitos for a snorkel sesh. Oh my gosh! I have never seen so many beautiful fish! I couldn’t believe my eyes. The weather wasn’t very nice that day and the water was a little murky so the pictures really don’t do it justice. There were fish of so many different colors and sizes. We saw Angel Fish, bright blue Parrot Fish, Blue Tang (better known as Dory from finding Nemo), a long skinny fish called a Trumpet fish, a striped one we think was a Sergeant Major, Butterfly fish and so many more. We were so glad we decided to stop.
Once in town we headed to Titos only to find that his wife was under the weather, so the restaurant was closed, but we were able to buy and 8 pack of Modelo! We went to Caballo for lunch instead and had our second meal out of the trip. Yummy steak and chicken fajitas!
At this point Jamie was itching to surf so after lunch we went out in search of a famous surf spot called 9 Palms. We were told that it was about 15 miles away, which in “dirt road after rain” time means around 3 hrs. After the crazy drive we saw the waves and Jamie was practically jumping out the window. We parked the truck, Jamie helped me throw up the tent and he was gone.
That night the storm that had been teasing us out there over the ocean finally blew in. And when I say blew I mean came roaring through, bending our tent and pelting us with huge raindrops. At one point we realized we were camped out right in a wash, so Jamie kept poking his head out to make sure water wasn’t rushing past us. By morning luckily the rain had stopped but the storm made for some pretty crappy surf. We packed up pretty quickly hoping to get through the dirt roads before any more storms came through. On the way to Cabo we got to do a little stream testing and fording which makes for some easy driving entertainment for me.
Once we got into San Jose Del Cabo we were welcomed by flashing blue & red lights and sirens behind us. Yep, that’s right! Not 10 minutes into our first big city of the trip and we were getting pulled over. We had seen the cop with someone on the side of the road moments before and both noticed that he gave us the eye. Basically he saw our California plates and thought “Why not?”
As it turns out he had pulled us over because our back license plate wasn’t in view. With the way our bumper is set up the ice chest covers the plate. Jamie hoped out of the car and moved the ice chest immediately but that wasn’t enough for the cop, he wanted us to pay for the ticket right there. Jamie politely explained to the policia that we would be happy to follow them to the police station and pay the fine there. After much debate between the two cops they sent us on our way without having to pay. We believe that they were just trying to get a little money in their pockets. Whew! First pull over of the trip done!
We had to stop in Cabo on our way home to go to Costco. Some friends of ours, Robert and Martine from kookynet.net, go to Costco about every two months to stock up but when someone else is going everybody usually just gives a list of what they need. So, we stocked up on yummy lettuce, cheap avos, and cheap beer, then hit the pavement for home!
We’re now back in Todos Santos, planning our next little excursion.