The Baja California Peninsula was first visited by Europeans in May of 1535 by Hernando Cortes’ expedition. Later Cortes sent one of his captains, Fransisco de Ullola, to create a chart of the Sea of Cortes which at that time was called the “The Southern Sea”. Ullola explored the area but the actual Bay of San Felipe wasn’t discovered for yet another year until 1536.
For nearly 200 years the Spaniards paid little to no attention to the Baja California peninsula until the mid to late 1700s when Spanish priests began to arrive to convert the native people to Christianity and hoped to establish themselves in the area to supply provisions to Missions already in the north of Baja.
San Felipe appears to be a town that once had thriving tourist industry but sadly, no longer. This small town, however, is still a common stop for travelers from Arizona and Texas who are able to drive south all the way along the east coast of Baja California. It’s especially attractive to those who are looking for a great fishing spot that’s close enough to the border to get away for a long weekend.
Another attraction in this area is off-roading. There are plenty of sand dunes and the open desert is nearby so it’s a great place to take your dune buggy, ATV, or any other off road vehicle. The lure of off roading had its effect on us and we felt compelled to take the jeep up and down the nearby sand dunes.
The downtown area still has a number of restaurants and a few assorted bars and clubs that play dance music on the weekends. Even though those establishments still cater to some locals it appears that many of the shops in the area have been closed for years.
San Felipe is also famous for having one of the world’s largest tidal bores. A tidal bore is when an incoming wave moves up an inlet river or other waterway such as a narrow bay. Because of the Colorado River delta north of here, and the long narrow bay leading to San Felipe, the tide is very strong. The Bay of San Felipe is about three meters above sea level so at low tide the water can recede as much as a quarter mile.
We simply had a relaxing time in San Felipe, reading and chatting with snow-birds visiting from the winters of the USA. A day on the beach and another night under the stars and we were ready to hit the road again.