Three-Day Stay: Las Gaviotas, Mexico
DESTINATION & TOURISM | BRANDI ANDRES | SEPTEMBER 11, 2014
Beyond the walls of this Northern Baja retreat is a calming escape from the daily grind that inspires a whole new fondness for Mexico. Rows of houses are stacked on a slope above the Pacific and have second-level views of the deep blue. Since the homes are privately owned (there are no resorts or hotels here), the best way to find a vacation rental is through a search online or through a travel agent.
Within the community, there’s a private beach where many Southern California surfers can be found from morning to early afternoon paddling out, determinedly, beyond the pounding waves to catch the kind of curls most people would think only exist in places like Hawaii. Although the surges can fluctuate, these waters aren’t for the faint of heart. Less experienced surfers should proceed with caution, and beginners might consider avoiding the waves altogether. The tides are strong and every evening the salty sea crashes against the cliffs that protect a string of homes along the shoreline.
For families with little ones and those who’d rather not mess with sand, there’s a community pool and hot tub that overlook the ocean. On some days a pop-up fish stand sits at the edge of the stone-paved terrace of the pool house where guests can order the freshest catch of the day sashimi-style or in a mouth-watering ceviche, a mixture of seafood cured in lemon or limejuice with salt, spices and in this part of the world tomato, onion, avocado and cilantro.
Most who stay in Las Gaviotas bring their own groceries for home-cooked meals, but anyone who loves seafood must visit the “lobster village” of Puerto Nuevo. Only a short drive to the south on Carretera Libre (free road), this small town has shops filled with Mexican art, jewelry and trinkets, plus restaurants that serve up fresh-caught fried lobster piled high on a platter and shared family style with sides of rice and beans.
Siete Mares (Paseo del Mar #2, 646-218-2370) is the place we’d recommend for the food, friendly service and a gorgeous sunset view from the outdoor deck. Villa Ortegas Restaurant seems to get a good crowd, as well. Keep in mind all of the restaurants and shops are cash only.
Across the road from Las Gaviotas is the most helpful White Horse convenience store, which sells snacks, beverages and ice.
When to go?
The weather is similar to Southern California, which means it can be nice year-round. But beach-lovers and sun-tanners would enjoy the summer months best.
How to get there?
The nearest airport is the Tijuana International Airport which has many of the well-known car rental companies, such as Thrifty, Alamo, Budget and Auto Europe.
For a weekend getaway, however, most visitors drive across the border at San Diego. The main stretch of the drive is along the highway, which is also a cash-only toll road. An important consideration, as with driving in any unfamiliar destination, is to follow all traffic rules (speed limit signs note kilometers/hour). An absolute must when crossing the border by car is to purchase Mexican auto insurance prior to entering.
A few road rules to know: drivers must wear seatbelts and it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving. For the safest trip by car, try staying on toll roads or along a main highway as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to stay within the gated community after dark.
When the weekend is over, consider heading back toward California in the morning hours. Wait time at the border can be anywhere from 3-5 hours, otherwise.
Be prepared to show a passport upon returning to the states.
As with traveling to any foreign country, please visit the website of the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Read more about the Baja style of living: http://www.bajarealestategroup.net/