Baja, like nearly all places that you could travel to, can lend itself to whatever kind of trip that you would like. For us, it is wild and remote camping, waking up in the morning and snorkeling before the wind comes up. Bouncing down remote and seldom traveled dirt roads. Paddling from our beach camp to nearby coves. Wandering up river basins chasing cool pools to swim in during the midday heat. And of course, seeking out the best fish tacos to be found. For many others, it’s surfing, wind sports, motorsports, sport fishing, or nearly any other thing you can dream of. The things to do in Baja, are nearly endless!
With all of that in mind, let’s get to the list of things that we consider to be essential when we’re heading down to Baja.
- Snorkeling Gear
At the top of the list for us is definitely our snorkeling gear! I still struggle to get past how nerdy that is to say but seriously we LOVE IT! At the beginning of our first trip, neither of us were ocean people. We appreciated beautiful beaches, but we were not overly motivated to get into the water for anything other than bathing. Thankfully that changed with some encouragement from friends, and we quickly fell in love with being in the water as much and as often as we could be. Snorkeling in Baja for sure is a favorite of ours now!
The gear that we ended up purchasing at a dive shop in La Paz has worked wonderfully for us. There are much nicer, and more affordable options out there but for the price, this seemed like the best option for us. We ended up picking up two Cressi Adult Snorkeling Kits and two sets of Cressi Pluma Fins. One addition to that kit that a friend recommended is this particular Mask Anti-Fogger to help keep our masks super clear. It makes SUCH a difference! Thanks Matt!
Oh and don’t forget to wear your reef-safe sunscreen!
Our first time in Baja, Christina was lucky enough to borrow a friend’s Packraft to get to paddle with a pod of dolphins that had come to visit the bay we were camped on! We already knew we wanted Packrafts, and had been wanting to purchase a set for a very long time but this helped us to make the decision that we couldn’t wait any longer! After a lot of research, we ended up going with Alpacka Gnarwhals and are very happy with them! Being able to packraft in Baja opened up a whole new dimension for us to explore and enjoy! We used them many times to paddle from camp to nearby towns to have tacos at little beachfront restaurants and to explore harder-to-reach snorkeling spots. These highly packable little inflatable boats have really opened up a whole new way for us to enjoy the Baja peninsula and many other places that we travel, earning them a permanent home in our truck!
- Maps & Guidebooks
This is something that we carry along every trip, and love to collect but I think in Baja they can be especially useful. The National Geographic Baja maps, cover a lot of really great information regarding where snorkeling, surfing, wind sports, or sportfishing might be good. However, they lack some information mainly around small roads. Where these maps fall short, the Baja California Atlas makes up the difference. This is likely the best print form of maps for Baja with nearly every single road marked in it; usually with a good indication of whether the road is paved, gravel, or unimproved. Lastly, the Moon Baja: Tijuana to Los Cabos guidebook is an incredible resource that I think is especially beneficial for what there is to do, to see, and where to eat in each town. There is a Kindle version as well, but honestly, we prefer the old-fashioned hard copy when it comes to flipping through guidebooks!
These are usually one of the things that are the first to come out when we get to camp, and the last to go away. We can spend hours sitting in our camp chairs watching whales, dolphins, jumping rays, birds, and all sorts of incredible stuff! A couple of years ago we picked up a pair of Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 10x50 Binoculars when we were in Alaska and ever since then, we feel like they are one of the best small things we have ever put in our truck.
- Off-Road Essentials
Being able to drive to remote places and through challenging terrain with some peace of mind is worth its weight in gold! Having the ability to air down our tires for sand, is the most important aspect of being able to drive on it — tires at street pressure are going to dig in and you will get stuck. To help with this we picked up an ARB Deflator, which allows us to quickly drop our air pressure for both sand and a more enjoyable ride off-road. To reinflate the tires we have been using a DEWALT 20V Pump. I do have to admit this certainly isn’t the fastest option out there for inflating tires, but we already had the batteries to support this, and the price is hard to beat. Finally, if we do end up getting stuck we carry a set of MAXTRAX MKII Recovery Boards and a Folding Shovel to assist in freeing ourselves or a friend from deep sand or mud.
In addition to these things, we carry some Colby Replacement Valve Stems, and a Tire Repair Kit, for just in case we or a friend ever break a valve stem, or happen to get a puncture that we might be able to fix trail side. All of these things really help us to feel a lot more self-reliant in remote areas.
- Water System
Likely anyone who has ever heard anything about Mexico, probably knows you don’t drink the water from the tap. Luckily finding purified water is the easiest thing to do there. Every town has an Agua Purificadora where you can buy purified water for very cheap. To help keep things easy for us, rather than having to deal with the large 5-gallon containers that are normally sold, we use the Dometic Go Hydration Jugs. We actually did our whole truck remodel around the sizes of these things. These make it so much easier to grab the jugs and walk up to the window where they will be filled rather than having to deal with finding a hose, or some way of filling a water container that might be built into the camper setup. These jugs paired with the Dometic Faucet make a great, simple, and very effective system to have convenient fresh water in Baja.
- 12V Fridge
Let’s talk about food storage and how to keep your food (and cerveza!) cold and easily accessible. A few years ago we upgraded from our trusty Yeti cooler which we had for a long time, to a Dometic CFX35 fridge. While finding ice in Baja isn’t the most challenging thing to do, it’s not the easiest either, and given the generally warm weather, even a good cooler is going to go through ice relatively quickly. Having this setup removes one more worry from our travels and really helps us to stay out there longer.
- Fuel Jerry Cans
We get a lot of questions about finding gas in Baja. In our experience traveling the whole peninsula on very remote roads, we can say that gas (generally speaking) is abundant enough. Fuel stations are well spaced out and if you’re primarily traveling the main routes, and not making side trips off of them you shouldn’t need to carry spare fuel. However, if you want to get out there, explore some of the side roads, and make larger dirt road loops, it may be wise to carry some additional fuel. For us, that means that we carry two Steel Wavian NATO Jerry. We prefer these over many of the plastic options that are available on the market simply due to their reliability and robustness in construction. We have had the same two cans on our roof, and never once have we ever had even the slightest leak from them. Traveling with an additional 10 gallons of fuel definitely gives us some additional peace of mind to roam a bit further more freely.
- First Aid Kit
This one isn’t glamorous, but is probably the only one on this whole list that if I was going to pick only one item to go anywhere with us all the time it’s this one! A Med Kit. Living on the road, and practically outside all the time isn’t without risk. Cuts, burns, scrapes and tummy aches — it all happens, and having at least the very basics on hand to deal with some of this is critical. We have tailored our kit to fit our personal needs and have added some things like backup medications, EpiPen, Sam Splint, Steri Strips, and basic dog first-aid items for our pup, Greta.
- Garmin InReach
Like our Med Kit, this isn’t a very glamorous piece of equipment, but it is one that always travels with us as well. Having some form of communication in an emergency if all other forms fail is very important to us. Our Garmin InReach lives in the cab of our truck all the time. In the unlikely event of a crash, or rollover outside of cell signal, and we are unable to free ourselves from the vehicle, we want to be able to send out a message for help. If the InReach is packed away in the back of the truck it does us no good, so it’s always closely accessible from either the driver or passenger seat. Hopefully, we never need to rely on it in this manner but it’s nice to know that it’s there!
Wish List Items
After two trips to Baja and 5 months in total, there are a few main things that we would like to get for our future trips.
- Wetsuits - Even though the water is much much warmer than what we are used to up north, after 30 minutes or so of being fully in, it’s a bit too cold for real comfort. Additionally, it would be nice to add a small layer of protection between us and the occasional jellyfish and to also have some additional confidence to get slightly closer to rocks. We are leaning towards a few suit options from Cressi, but haven’t made up our minds just yet.
- Casting Fishing Rod - We will likely we add a PENN Fierce IV Spinning Reel and Rod to our kit. After chatting with some friends and expert fishermen, we have been steered in the direction of a 10ft 2-piece rod. This would allow us to stretch our food reserves even further, being able to catch our own fish while on remote beaches, allowing us to stay even longer than we do already.
We hope that you found this information useful! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out! Buen viaje!