South of Mulegé, stunning Bahía Concepción represents the best of all that Baja has to offer. Its string of a dozen protected white-sand beaches, small islands, and steady winds create a water-sports playground for snorkelers, divers, kayakers, and kiteboarders.
The mouth of the bay faces north, and a long, narrow peninsula forms the eastern shore. As a national marine preserve, the bay supports a vibrant ecosystem of creatures big and small.
Mexico 1 hugs the coastline here, and every turn reveals a new and more breathtaking vista. Generally speaking, the beaches in the north are sandier and better protected than the beaches at the south end of the bay. Most of the beaches belong to ejidos, which may collect camping fees of US$6–8.
In recent years, a number of American and Canadian expats set up semipermanent residences along several of the most protected coves. But in late 2006, local authorities asked them to remove all structures from the beach and leave the area, in preparation for sale of the property to a large Mexican real estate developer.
A few years later, the campers were back, but to date, the makeshift structures have not been rebuilt. Development remains a future possibility. A small development of privately owned vacation homes called Posada Concepción crowds the shoreline at Km. 113. A small market here may have basic supplies for sale.
Windsurfers, kiteboarders, and summertime campers should head to windy Punta Arena, at the north end of the bay’s western shore. Follow the signed, four-kilometer road and you’ll find a group of palapas and palapa huts that rent for about US$8 a night. Look for the Punta Arena sign 13.2 kilometers from the Hotel Serenidad turnoff from the highway.
Few travelers venture out to the peninsula that forms the east side of Bahía Concepción because you have to drive a rough 60 kilometers to reach the point, and once there, you’ll find no toilet facilities or water. If you really want to explore this part of the bay, a boat from Punta Arena is a better plan.
With its protected white-sand beaches, tiny islands, and shallow reefs, Bahía Concepción makes an ideal kayaking destination. Aside from a couple of weeks a year of high winds, conditions tend to be warm and calm.
Playa Santispac is a good launch point because several islands are fairly accessible offshore, including San Ramón, Liebre, Pitahaya (Luz), and Blanca. Arrecife Pelícanos, or Pelican Reef, runs between the Liebre and Pitahaya islands. Thermal springs on the point at the south end of the beach are another popular destination for kayakers.
A few hundred meters east of Playa Coyote, Isla Bargo has a sandy beach that makes a pleasant campsite.
Around 2.4 nautical kilometers southeast of Playa Coyote, Playa Santa Bárbara can only be reached by boat. This is another secluded spot for an overnight stop.
There are no kayak rentals available in the area, so you should bring your own or rent one from a neighboring town.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition