Enjoying Southern Baja’s beaches

We woke to the sound of someone banging on our vans, shouting in Spanish. Although we couldn’t understand everything he was saying, we understood the words for trespassing and police!

Not wanting a confrontation with somebody we couldn’t communicate with, we waited in our pop top, to see how the situation played out. There were people in the group who were a lot more fluent in Spanish than us.

Soon the commotion stopped, had the angry Mexican left us alone?

We soon heard Ina call out to us. As it turned out, the Mexican guy lived right next to where we had parked. He had told them that entry to the beach was not closed, as a couple of years ago, people living in campers turned up and caused a devastating fire, wiping out most of the foliage around the bay. He was demanding that we all leave immediately, or else he would call the police.

He stayed and waited, as all parked away our vans and prepared to make our way a little down the road to Cerritos beach. We always try to be respectful of others and the places we stay, but sadly, not everyone living our lifestyle is as sympathetic to others. We often arrive at spots and feel disheartened as we find other campers leftover rubbish. I can never understand how a person can just carelessly leave their litter in a spot and drive off without a care in the world. It’s sadly such people that give the rest of us a bad reputation, so we try our best ensure that no only do we clean up after ourselves, we tidy others mess as well. Hopefully redeeming the reputation of nomads.

We made our way back down to the highway, followed by the local, who made sure to shut the gate behind us. The spot had at least served as a safe and quiet night’s location and so we were happy to make the short drive to Cerritos. Pulling up in a small parking area only a couple of minutes away from the beach.

Some of the others from La Pastora were already parked up and were out enjoying the waves. As the camp spot wasn’t the nicest, we walked down to the beach to watch everyone surf. Maybe I could pick up a few pointers.

Los Cerritos Beach

It was quite overcast, and shortly after sitting down, the heavens opened and strong winds started to batter us. We quickly retreated back to Ruby, seeking shelter from the rain. From the comfort of the van, we watched as the others returned soon after, struggling to keep hold of their boards as the wind swept past them. The weather forecast predicted that the weather would soon clear up, and to our relief, the clouds soon parted.

Borrowing Danny and Una’s boards, we hit the surf. Los Cerritos was marked as a ‘,beginners’ beach, so it should have served as a great spot to learn the basics. Sadly, there was an incredibly strong current, which for a newbie like myself, made the experience 10x harder. Every time I tried to catch a wave, I inevitably fell off and was quickly swept further down the shore, away from the other surfers. So when I wasn’t desperately trying to stand for the first time, I was wadding through the currents, trying to get back to where I started. As I had never tried surfing before, I had no idea about the waves. I did know that they were not helping the situation. They we quite messy, colliding with other waves. They were quite short as well, so by the time I was ready the get up, they were already breaking.

Regardless of all of that, I had a great time, and we stayed out in the water for a good couple of hours. Returning back to Ruby resembling something you’d expect to find in a sarcophagus, we met the others, who had just returned from a quick taco run.

Multipurpose bungee cord

After a quick wash with the solar shower, we went for a stroll down to the beach, in search of beach showers. Finding them a few minutes in. With the quest to find the showers ending in an anticlimax, we decided to grab some beers and enjoy a bit of alone time. Willow quickly burying herself in a nearby hammock. With the weather vastly improved, I sat and observed the sea. Losing myself in the rhythmic patterns of the waves.

Now that’s a delightful sight
Got her chill on

We later returned to the van, and after a few drinks, stood outside chatting, our bed was calling us. Danny apparently continued on to a nearby bar, informing us in the morning that he had found an abandoned surf board in a derelict building nearby. He said it had some damage, but most of it was superficial. He later went off and brought it over to us.

Late night gathering

The back had a small section of foam missing, and it didn’t have a leash, but it was our very own board. Strapped to the roof, Ruby was now a proper surf VW!

From Cerritos, we drove to Cabo San Lucas, a popular ‘snowbird’ destination and one of the main towns in Baja. Birmingham were playing Leicester in the FA cup and the game was being streamed on Facebook, so I had Willow drop me off at the Marina and she set off to Walmart to get some additional supplies.

I perched up at Baja Brewing Company and sat outside in the sun overlooking the marina. Sadly, the beer and the football was equally disappointing. The bar was out of the first three drinks I asked for, settling on an IPA, I watched as Birmingham played admirably in the first half, before their opposition took control in the second half, snatching a winner with ten minutes to play.

With the game over, I rejoined a frustrated Willow, who had hoped to join me for a drink, but was unable to find a parking spot. So she had spent the last half an hour driving around in circles. She’s not massively into football, so she probably had a better experience!

Willow getting to know the Cabo roads

Cabo didn’t sound like our type of place, so we quickly moved on, heading to Playa El Tule to rejoin the rest of the group.

The camp spot was located just off of the highway, near a small beach. We arrived to find our friends parked up in a row, and slotted in alongside them. We had now reached the most southern part of Baja. From here, we would start looping back up. We had already been in Baja longer than we had planned, so we would soon start making our way back up to the States. Hoping that we could possibly meet up with David and Katy one last time before we did.

At least the sunset was pretty

As the beach camp spot was more of a stop off, we left the next day, most of us planned on meeting further along the coast, at a surf spot named Nine Palms. We needed to refill our water, so stopped off at a water point in Cabo San José.

The reviews on iOverlander stated that some of the roads to Nine Palms had been damaged by rain, and so we had to take an alternative route, looping up and around using dirt roads. I can tell you now, it was not a fun experience. I love many things about Baja, but the washboard roads are not one of them. Barely able to drive about 15kmph, the whole van was shook to it’s core.

We were relieved when the torturous roads ended, and we were reunited with tarmac. Following the SatNav, we followed a newly layed road around a hairpin turn, and realised that we were meant to have turned off down a dirt track. Turning around, we started to make our way down what was possibly one of the worst of the roads we had driven down during our time in Mexico. After careful navigating a steep river bed, not wanting another sump accident, the road quickly became almost impassible. Being stubborn, Willow got out and tried to guide me over the treacherous rocks, but we quickly realised that it would be crazy to consider trying to pass here. The problem now was that we were stuck in a narrow canyon, and I would have to try and reverse up a steep section of rocks.

With Willow once again guiding me, you could smell the clutch burning, as Ruby desperately tried to pull herself out backwards. Stalling occasionally, as we were asking a lot of her.

She did eventually get us to a point where we could turn around and head back to the safety of the main road. Relieved, and with no damage new damage to Ruby. We followed the freshly laid road around a hill and pulled up to a beach entrance. Tentatively, we crept forward, not wanting to come all this way to get stuck in the sand. The majority of the sand was fairly firm, and so we drove across the beach to where the parking was marked on the app, quickly realising that it was a lot sandier on the furthest side. Knowing that stopping would potentially see us stranded, I out my foot down and swung Ruby around, putting as much power into getting us through the deep sandy section and back to the firmer sand of the entrance.

“Here’s good then!” We agreed in unison.

We were the first to arrive, and other than one pickup over at the sand side, we had the beach to ourselves for a little while.

Soon after we were joined by Emma and Luke and we all relaxed, enjoying the tranquility of the beach. There was a lone pelican, stood not far from the van. It clearly wasn’t feeling well, as Willow was able to get up close to take a picture. Local dogs kept running up to it, barking insanely at it and it barely moved. We doubted it would last much longer in it’s current state.

Sickly pelican

As well as the pelican, we had a surprise visit from a family of pigs. A mother and five piglets. We assumed that they must have belonged to one of the locals. Aimee was very intrigued by them, and followed them around, trying to get a closer look at the strange looking cats.

Local pig family welcoming us to the neighborhood
It seems even pigs love the VWs

Later on in the evening, a panicked Jerome and Meli arrived. Apparently, John and Ina had tried to get round to the beach from the further side and had managed to get themselves stuck!

As Aimee was out, Emma stayed behind to keep an eye on her, whilst the rest of us jumped in Jerome and Meli’s camper.

John and Ina were only stuck a few minutes around the corner and we arrived to find John desperately trying to scoop sand from around the wheels. They were properly stuck! And they were travelling in a converted shuttle bus which weighed 10x the amount that Ruby did, so there wouldn’t be a quick solution.

They were proper stuck, stuck

Having been in that situation ourselves recently, I understood how frustrated John must have been feeling in that moment. The drive to Nine Palms couldn’t have been pleasant in their shuttle bus, and to be so close, only to get stuck right at the end is demoralising. Thankfully, they had a lot of friends desperate to get them out as soon as possible.

The main obstacle we face was the weight of the Seaward Shuttle. With it sunk in deep sand, there was no way we would just be able to push it out. Fortunately, as we were digging, an English couple drove by and offered to lend a hand… well a van!

With something a bit sturdier than Jerome and Meli’s camper, we dug out the wheels as best we could and attached a tow rope between the vehicles. Around that time, a group of local Mexicans pulled up, and offered to help push. On the count of three, the Brit’s put their foot down and we all put our all in the moving the bus… Nothing. For all of he wheel screeching and he tyre smoke, it barely moved more than an inch! The Mexicans must have sensed that this wouldn’t be a quick and easy job, and so they quickly scampered off the way they came.

After some more archeological digging, we realised that the Seaward Shuttle had become impaled on some rocks, and they would have to be removed if we were to stand any chance of moving them that evening.

John and Willow went about setting up some jacks at the back of the bus, whilst me and Luke tried to excavate more sand more underneath. The Brit girls kindly volunteered to walk to Ruby, to update Emma as we had no signal.

With mounds of sand removed, you could finally see under the bus, which was definitely wedged pretty good on two rocks. With the bus jacked up from behind, John was able to remove the rocks and we were good to try towing it again.

The British girls arrived back from Ruby, they were concerned that we had left our diesel cooker on and were trying to turn it off. Aimee still hadn’t returned, so I set off back to the van to find her. Eventually coaxing her out from within a bush. Aimee not best pleased when I shut her away.

I walked back to the rest of the group incase they needed more manpower to push the bus, but by the time I returned, they had already freed it. Much to the delight of John and Ina!

With everyone back at camp, we were almost complete once again. We were only missing Danny, who had stayed behind in Cabo with a guy named Brad, and Rachel and Ola, who had returned to El Tulé to record a beach gathering for a lunar event.

After all the hassle of getting to Nine Palms, we were all looking forward to chilling out for a couple of days, if the surf was good in the morning, I would even consider taking our new surf board out for a test drive!