Labor Day Weekend, 9-08

Saturday: To Shell Island via Mexicali and heavy rainfall north of San Felipe… Set up camp by noon. Enjoyed the beach.

Sunday: A beautiful day on the beach. Total relaxation! A great night campfire, too.

Monday: Had enough sun, so we pack up to head south. Off the island by 11 am, and arrive at Gonzaga Bay at 3 pm. After dinner at Alfonsina’s, we continue on to have a nice stay at Baja Cactus Motel in El Rosario, arriving there at 9:20 pm.

Tuesday: Surprise birthday cake for Elizabeth is delivered to our room by Baja Cactus staff… Many thanks to Antonio! Breakfast at Tacos Mision while my truck is washed next door. Dinner at Puerto Nuevo and home before 9:30 pm.


New on my truck is a custom made light bar (thanks Josh & Kristi) and a pair of HID lights for the Baja night.

Pelicans cruise on by.

Big storm clouds to the west. We drove through heavy rain north of San Felipe earlier that morning.

We set up camp and begin to relax.

Nice beach!

Sunsets in Baja are usually the best!


We wake up to low tide. I am standing on the high tide line and in just a six hours the sea level will raise nearly 20 feet and all of this will be under water!

Later that same day…

The new moon creates a very high tide. View west across the lagoon from Shell Island.

View north midday Sunday near high tide.

Low tide again before sundown exposes lots of shells.

We drive about 3 miles from our camp to the south end of Shell Island to look at the shells.

2005 Toyota Tacoma 4 door TRD 4WD Truck… at home in Baja!

Elizabeth waiting for me to come on down and see what she has collected.

Pelican that would not or could not fly away when we drove up by it.

Sundown behind Rancho Percebu and Diablo Mountain, from the north end of Shell Island.


A perfect day as I look out from under our shade.

Kind of hate to leave…

… but, there is just so much to see and do in Baja!

Lucky osprey!

A freshly caught meal struggles without success as this osprey flys alongside us, as we drive down the beach.

It really is an island!

This ‘road’ is under water at high tide, and pretty iffy at low tide. This is the route onto the island as it appears looking west from the beach. Hwy. 5 is about 3 miles away at Km. 26.


Here is the entrance road to Puertecitos where the new Gonzaga Bay/ Laguna Chapala road begins.

The new highway keeps out of Puertecitos, in the hills above town.

It is an excellent looking highway, better than the one just north plagued with sudden, sharp dips.

View of Puertecitos from the highway…

Having the highway pass through town would have meant prosperity to local businesses, but the property owner refused to permit that, perhaps at the request of residents? If you need some food, drinks or fuel, you will need to detour off the highway.

The point and bay entrance of Puertecitos. A boat launch ramp is at the end of the point and hot, sulfur spring natural pools are on the far side of the point. Sea water mixes with hot spring water providing a choice of tempertures depending on the tide and which pool.


Less than 2 miles from the Puertecitos road, the asphalt ends. Heavy duty construction continues for another few miles. A detour down to the older route is just ahead.

Enchanted Islands

This is the view from the end of pavement, on the new road.

This ‘older’ road was built in the mid 1980’s and for the first time allowed 2WD passenger cars easy access south of Puertecitos. In late 2005, this road was badly storm damaged and never repaired. The once smooth surface had washed away exposing sharp volcanic rock in the roadbed. 4WD is not needed, but a sturdy, high clearance vehicle and slow driving is required for the nearly 50 mile road to Gonzaga Bay.


Well, maybe ‘Baja Crop Circles’? In the salt flat below, some interesting design making was done!

This 1986 graded road replaced the original 4WD and buggy trail between Puertecitos and Gonzaga Bay constructed in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Known then as the ‘worst road in Baja’, it made going to Gonzaga Bay by auto something very special!

Getting closer to the islands… The lone one, closest to the shore is called EL HUERFANITO (‘The Little Ophan’). A tourist camp by that name is located on the shore, opposite the island.


The ruins of a warehouse from the Miramar gold mines of 100 years ago is just off the road, near the shore.

Elizabeth in the ruined, stone warehouse.

Elizabeth and David K, 9-1-08

Photo at the ruins with Isla El Muerto, in the background.


Bahia San Luis Gonzaga comes into view. Named by the Spanish explorers, Bahia San Luis Gonzaga was a port to supply the missions of Santa Maria (1767) and San Fernando (1769). Ruins of their warehouse are still visible near the shore! Sometimes called ‘Willard Bay’, after the point of that name, Gonzaga Bay remains a gem of a destination on the Sea of Cortez!

Gonzaga Pemex

At the turnoff to Alfonsina’s Resort, the station was open but unmanned during lunch/ siesta… So we also took a meal break at Alfonsina’s! We came back later and purchased 21 litres (5.5 gallons) for US$17.

Alfonsina’s/ Gonzaga’s ‘Back Bay’

It was high tide, but fortunately the road to Alfonsina’s is elevated, unlike Shell Island…

The end of the road at Alfonsina’s motel/ restaurant/ bar is next to the north end of the airstrip/ runway… which here is underwater at high tide!

The view from Alfonsina’s back patio towards Punta Final, at the south end of the larger bay Ensenada de San Francisquito. Being such a mouthful, everyone calls it ‘Gonzaga Bay’ as well!

Looking north…

The sand spit at Alfonsina’s connects with the island (Isla an Luis Gonzaga/ or ‘Willard Island’ to some) at low tide. Bahia San Luis Gonzaga is to the north and Ensenada de San Francisquito is to the south. Okay, okay… just call it Gonzaga Bay!!

Alfonsina’s Motel

Pelican Lunch Time!

Frigates also were flying overhead. We each had a generous halibut dinner and ice cold Pacificos thanks to Antonio and the staff at Alfonsina’s. We drove 5 hours to El Rosario that evening to stay at the Baja Cactus Motel, a real treat!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth! Tue. Sept. 2

The staff of Baja Cactus surprised us with a cake delivered to our room, Tueday morning! Our good friends Antonio and Lorenia Muñoz operate this oasis of comfort and friendship in El Rosario.

We brought the cake down to share with the motel staff and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to “Liz”. Thank you Baja Cactus for making my wife’s birthday so extra special!


We heard about this car wash at Baja Cactus and took my muddy mess truck there. It is next door to Tacos Mision, were Hugo Lopez shows off his paintings and serves up some great food! We had breakfast while these two young guys made my truck shine… and after some 45 minutes of work, only asked for six dollars (I more than trippled that) for a fantastic job.

HUGO LOPEZ Art of Sept., 2008…

The Mesa San Carlos solstice rock… On the first day of summer, the setting sun’s light beam from the distant cliff opening projects onto this petroglyph covered rock.

The Punta Baja lighthouse and an underwater scene are the next two paintings.

See more of Hugo’s art on previous El Rosario trip web pages at or in person at Hugo’s TACOS MISION in El Rosario, Hwy. 1, east side of town, north side of highway. Thank you for visiting this Baja trip web page!

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Have a great adventure! ‘David K’