The first opportunity for off-road exploration south of Ensenada  comes at Km. 46–47, where a gravel road heads west, following the Cañon Santo Tomás to the coast.
Sheltered by Punta Santo Tomás to the north, the fishing settlements of La Bocana and Puerto Santo Tomás have free camping on the beach and cabins for rent. Panga fishing and kayak fishing are popular activities, with rock cod and snapper among the common catches. There is a boat launch for small watercraft, and the kelp beds in the bay could make for an interesting dive if you have your own equipment.
There are a couple of tiendas, but don’t count on much. You’re off the grid here, so phones and other power-intensive amenities aren’t going to be available. Cell phones don’t get much of a signal either. It takes about an hour and a half to get to Puerto Santo Tomás by car.
Surfers find occasional reef and point breaks in Bahía Santo Tomás and at Punta China to the south (turn left when you reach the coastal road and La Bocana). But the waves are more consistent and the rides often longer at the next point south, Punta San José. Popular with surfers from San Diego, the point has free cliff-side camping above the surf, with outhouses but no services.
There are two ways to reach San José. The best road leaves the highway just south of the Pemex in Santo Tomás. Go about 23 kilometers and bear right at the fork; continue another 16 kilometers to the lighthouse and camping area.
Alternatively, if you have a high-clearance vehicle you might attempt an ungraded road that branches south from the Cañon Puerto Santo Tomás road, about 20.5 kilometers west of Mexico 1. From the turnoff, it’s about 11 kilometers of rough driving to the break. Inquire in town about the road conditions before you choose this route.
The Puerto Santo Tomás Resort (Ensenada message tel. 646/154-9415, www.puertosantotomas.com ) has rustic cabins (US$40–50) and larger houses (US$100–150) for rent as well as campsites (US$14, includes showers and toilets) and a cantina serving Mexican and seafood dishes. You need to book ahead to eat here, so the management can get the supplies it needs in time for your arrival. Panga fishing rates are US$130–160 per day.
To find the resort, look for a road sign for Puerto Santo Tomás between Km. 46 and 47 and turn right about 45 meters after the sign. (If you reach the village of Santo Tomás on Mexico 1, you’ve passed the turn.) Follow this road 29 kilometers west, staying right each time the road forks. The road meets the coast at La Bocana (The Mouth). Turn right (north) and follow the road over a small hill and along the coast for about five kilometers to Puerto Santo Tomás.