South of Vicente Guerrero on Mexico 1, the wide, flat coastal plain of San Quintín begins. Two rivers, Río San Miguel and Río Santa María, provide water that fuels the local agricultural economy. Workers’ camps on the outskirts of town house farm workers from mainland Mexico who come to work the fields.
Visitors who stop here—mainly the sportfishing set—enjoy a unique coastal environment that consists of three connected bays: narrow Bahía San Quintín and Bahía Falsa and the larger Bahía Santa María. In between are tidal zones and marshes filled with marine life.
The town of San Quintín itself (pop. 20,000) offers some practical services for travelers (clinic, banks, Internet) but is primarily another agricultural hub. Five kilometers south of San Quintín, Lázaro Cárdenas has Mexico’s 67th Infantry battalion camp, an intercity bus terminal, and some shops and restaurants.
Beach and Bay Access
Follow signs to the Old Mill Motel from Mexico 1 to reach the bay. You can launch small boats here or from the Pedregal area on the west shore of the bay. Follow a gravel road from Mexico 1 (btw the Pemex and military camp) west of Lázaro Cárdenas 14 kilometers to Bahía Falsa. When the road forks, take the left (south) branch to reach Pedregal.
Alternatively, continue west at the fork another few hundred meters to Ostiones Guerrero, where you may be able to buy fresh oysters by the dozen. The road ends at a fish camp on the ocean.
To reach Bahía Santa María, drive 16 kilometers south of Lázaro Cárdenas and turn right (west) on the paved road to Santa María. Follow signs to the Desert Inn Hotel; local clam diggers frequent Playa Santa María at low tide. It’s a long, sandy beach, located just past the hotel.
Fishing and Hunting
The unique marine environment here, with the shallow bay system and several rocky seamounts just offshore in the Pacific, creates fantastic opportunities for both surf casting and deep-sea fishing. Rock cod, yellowtail, and lingcod are common, and that’s just the beginning of the list. Experienced anglers say they are able to catch upwards of 20 different species in one day of fishing.
The presence of several large-scale oyster farms along the inner bays shows just how clean the marine environment is. (They need pristine conditions to thrive.)
San Quintín Sportfishing (Rancho Cielito Lindo, tel. 616/165-6046, book4fish [at] aol [dot] com), Tiburon’s Pangas Sportfishing (near the Old Mill, U.S. tel. 619/428-2779), Don Eddie’s Landing (tel. 616/165-6061), and Campo Lorenzo (tel. 616/165-6022 or Skype tel. 909/581-4140) can arrange guided fishing trips for around US$200–300 per panga, depending on the season.
San Quintín offers hunters the opportunity to pursue ducks and valley quail, but it’s best known for the brandt hunting. Contact Lorenzo at Campo Lorenzo to arrange quail hunting. Sporting Field International (www.sportingfield.com) brokers pricey brandt hunts using local guides. The cost will end up being US$2,000 or so for a three-day hunt (Thurs.–Sun. only). The season for brandt is January–February.
The beach breaks along Playa San Ramón, which runs between Vicente Guerrero and San Quintín (access at Km. 172), are nothing special, but they don’t get crowded either. The better-known but still uncrowded breaks are at Cabo San Quintín, with more consistent surf and longer rides. Access is difficult, via the road to Bahía Falsa and then a coastal road heading south to the point. Conditions are typically cold and super windy.
Getting to San Quintín
San Quintín and Lázaro Cárdenas each have a Pemex station. There is an intercity bus depot in Lázaro Cárdenas, on the west side of Mexico 1; however, this area is not ideal for travelers without their own transportation, as the beaches are far from the highway.
Campo Lorenzo has a 760-meter unpaved licensed airstrip, air park, and trailer park for permanent residents. It is a private airstrip but available to pilots who call ahead to Skype 909/581-4140 or the Mexican landline at 616/165-6022. The camp can make arrangements for transportation, and there is only a US$25 fee to land and park if you are staying at Don Eddie’s.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition