Southbound travelers notice a distinct change in climate as they approach the mission town of Mulegé (pop. 3,300) on the Sea of Cortez. Temperatures and humidity climb to a tropical feel, and mosquitoes are ever present.
Built alongside the mouth of the Río Santa Rosalía (also known as the Mulegé River), the town consists of a small network of narrow streets lined with colonial buildings. Agriculture, tourism, and fishing support the modern-day community.
In the last five years, Mulegé has experienced several devastating blows to its economy: two hurricanes (John in 2006 and Jimema in 2009) caused severe flash flooding that badly damaged many buildings around town. In between these events, drug wars at the border, the global slowdown in travel, and the swine flu epidemic all have conspired against this tropical outpost.
Although business have reopened, the recovery is slow-going and the town seemed almost deserted even in the peak winter season.
Though small in scale, Mulegé seems to have at least one of everything. There are laundry machines, auto mechanics and parts stores, grocery stores and minimarkets, restaurants, hotels, and campgrounds—and even a dive shop. And Mulegé offers enough water and land activities to keep you busy for a week or more.
Loreto  has the closest commercial airport. Mulegé does not have a bus depot or ticket office in town, so you have to buy your ticket on the bus (no reservations). Northbound and southbound Autotransportes de Baja California (ABC, tel. 800/025-0220, www.abc.com.mx ) and Aguila (tel. 800/824-8452, www.autotransportesaguila.com ) buses stop twice a day at the town entrance on Mexico 1. Check websites for schedules, but don’t expect the arrival and departure times to be exact. Southbound buses arrive mid-morning and mid-afternoon; northbound buses arrive in the mid-afternoon and evening.
You can easily walk anywhere in town, even to or from the RV parks along the river. Mulegé’s town center consists of narrow one-way streets—and not all of them are marked with arrows. Look before you turn.
There is a Pemex station in town, on Avenida Martínez, but a more convenient alternative is the modern Mulegé Pemex Centro on Mexico 1, located about 10 minutes south of town. You can pump your own gas here, and a café and minimarket with ice are on-site.