Baja California Mexico is a surfers paradise but also a brutally harsh environment for humans to survive in. Adventures in Baja, away from the main towns, are not for the air conditioning hotel going types. Dirt is everywhere, cacti are everywhere, and there is no fresh water to speak of. No wonder it hasn’t been developed. Traveling in this dusty land requires street smarts, survival instinct, and experience. You will most likely need two of everything because Baja giveth and Baja taketh away. Expect to get lost, and expect to get stuck, but most of all, expect an epic adventure. The following is a list of some of the essentials I like to bring with me when exploring the remote reaches of this barren land.
1) Full size spare tire– Although there are llanteras, or tire shops in English, it is a necessity to have a full sized spare when searching for that remote point break. I have guys get stuck fifty miles from the main paved road and I have had to tell them, “Sorry. Best of luck as there is nothing I can do. I will tell the next campo owner.” Note: It could be days until the word travels down the road and a tire guy comes to help you.
Repair kits help and so do compressors, but they are both useless if you shred a tire.
2) Water– It is hot and it is dry. It’s a desert, so this should go without saying, but bring twice the water you think you will need for your trip, including enough water for cooking and cleaning.
3) Food– While a lot of old Baja lizards don’t bring ice or coolers on their multi week or month adventures, it is possible to bring refrigerated goods. Let them enjoy their warm beer and rice dinners. The new technology in coolers allows you to keep block ice for well over a week at a time. Just keep the cooler out of the sun by hanging your boardshorts on it. There are few things better than a cold beer after an all-day surf session.
Food should be easy to prepare and able to survive a bumpy truck ride. Sealed packages of non-refrigerated chorizo and a few eggs make a great easy breakfast. Bring a lot of tortillas and anything else that doesn’t require a tremendous amount of water to cook. But if you forget tortillas I suggest getting them fresh there! If you are camping near a local fish camp, you can usually buy fish off the locals for super cheap, and even pay them to take you fishing when the surf gets flat. I have seen guys paddle out to shrimp boats offshore and buy a kilo bag (2 pounds) of shrimp for 20 U.S. dollars.
Bring a lot of food, but don’t go overboard. Plan your meals. Water and food are some of the heaviest items and take up most of the space in your vehicle.
4) Shovels– Even four-wheel drive vehicles get stuck. Plus, you will need this to bury your poop. It’s a smart idea to dig a hole deep enough, so the coyotes wont dig it up again. Go the bathroom as far away from where others are camping as you safely can. It is sad when you drive all that way and see toilet paper scattered everywhere in the bushes behind camp.
5) Lighting- Solar lights are the way to go. There is no shortage of sun in Baja. The company Luci makes a great light that compacts into almost nothing, but is quite bright as a canopy light. Make sure everyone in your camp has a good headlamp. It can be quite annoying to hold a flashlight while cooking.
6) Shade- Having shade and battling the wind is a tough egg to crack. Pop up type tents are easily blown away, so bring lots of rope and stakes to hold them down. Be prepared for the wind to switch without warning. Baja is almost always windy.
Note: your shade structures also make a convenient place to hang a surf shirt or rashguard. The sun and sand are relentless and unless you are a scorpion or reptile you will shrivel up and go crazy if you can’t get out of the elements some way or another.
7) Shoes- Bring a few pairs of sandals and some shoes or boots. Your feet will thank you. Make sure you put them out of reach of coyotes, they are known to go through your trash and take shoes in the night.
9) Bug spray – For certain rare areas near fresh water. They are relentless.
10) First aid- The basics, and know how to use them, and where the closest real hospitals are. Fin cuts are no joke down there. They are trip enders.
But far worse are stings from Sting Rays, which are relentless in Baja, so I suggest a portable sting ray kit as well.
11) Insurance- Get good Mexican insurance for your vehicle, it is required and will get you out some serious trouble if you do crash or get pulled over. Note: You can easily purchase this insurance right before crossing the border.
I hope this list helps, as these are just a few items you should have in Baja, anytime of the year. Also, please know, that this list could go on and on, so remember to be prepared for everything and anything, including some of the most incredible morning sunrises over the ocean.