San Felipe is located in Baja California in the Bay of San Felipe which is with the Mexicali municipality. Due to the Colorado River delta in the north, San Felipe has one of the biggest tidal bores on the planet. Primarily a fishing village, this beautiful town now has a major stake in the tourism industries as snowbirds and other travelers continuously make their way to its borders during the winter and holiday periods.
Since it's potential as a major tourist location was discovered in 1942, there have been concentrated efforts by the government to make the town more hospitable and welcome for foreigners. Suitable lodging like hotels have been built and an international tourist center was also constructed. They also built a highway to connect this small town with the Mexicali municipality to facilitate transportation and encourage movement. There are lots of interesting attractions tourists would be excited to explore such as the valley of giants where there are giant cactus plants growing naturally.
Why should people visit in the winter?
There are so many reasons why San Felipe is an ideal destination for many travelers during the winter. For one, there are lots of attractions so everyone can find something which works for them. Everything from biking and off-track racing to carnivals and natural spas can be found here. The town has a small population and that small-town feel translates into how visitors are treated when they arrive. People are friendly and accommodating in addition to being eager to help out and answer questions.
In a unique situation, the desert and sea meet in this small town. It has a subtropical desert climate. This interesting ecosystem makes the weather interesting to track. The temperature can drop as low as at night during the winter in San Felipe. Year-round, the island enjoys stunningly pleasant and sunny weather perfect for exploring the town. The winter season is dry, cool, and not as humid or sweltering as it usually gets during the summer. This town hardly has any rainfall all through the year. The average temperate for San Felipe is 20.9°C (70°F) and during the winter the average temperature is 15°C (59°F). Snowbirds are advised to pack extra layers of warm clothing because it can sometimes get quite chilly in San Felipe.
For more climate information visit Meteoblue
San Felipe is considered to be a very safe place for snowbirds. You can go your whole trip without witnessing or being part of any altercations or threats to safety. However because it is close to the US/Mexico border, there may be a few random military checkpoints from time to time. This is usually no trouble as long as you stay respectful and have your ID with you. Also, we advise that you keep your personal belongings safe, remain aware of your surroundings, and carry only small amounts of cash as you move around.
The official language spoken in San Felipe is Spanish. Some of the locals also speak Maya and many of them speak English as well. You can get by with a limited Spanish vocabulary as English has frequently spoken thanks to the high number of ex-pats and foreigners who live here or visit the area often. You can also learn to speak Spanish while on your trip, after all, who wouldn't want to learn to speak a foreign language?
While visiting San Felipe, we advise that you purchase a local SIM card to stay connected. SIM cards are affordable and easily purchased. Data bundles are also quite affordable so you don't have to worry about the costs of using the internet. You can purchase a SIM card for roughly $3 (approx. €2.56, £2.34, $3.99 CAD, $4.16 AUD) and we recommend purchasing a Telcel SIM card.
Things to see in San Felipe, Mexico
- Valley of the Giants – this is one of the top attractions in San Felipe. It is the natural location of the tallest cactus plant species in the world. The Cardon Cactus can grow up to 60 feet high and survive for over 1000 years. The area is also a stunningly beautiful nature reserve.
- Las Caras de Mexico Golf Course – this 18 hole golf course is also known as the Faces of México. There are breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and ocean views that captivate the mind. Avid golfers will thoroughly enjoy playing at the lush putting greens with each hole featuring a monument of influential Mexican men and women who contributed to the growth of Mexico.
- Faro de San Felipe – this amazing lighthouse provides a beautiful backdrop against the ocean.
- San Felipe cultural center – local artists display their paintings here with new paintings unveiled every month. There is also a library in the building.
- Galeria Olivar Millan – this gallery specializes in displays of woodblock prints called Retablos. Some of the art is also available for sale so you can purchase a piece or two as a souvenir.
Things to see not far from San Felipe, Mexico
- Konsag Island – just a 45-minute boat ride away from the Bay of San Felipe likes Konsag island. Seals, seabirds, and sea lions can be observed on the island.
- Peurtecitos – these little ports contain small pockets of hot springs located 50 Miles (80 km) from San Felipe. The waters are believed to have healing properties that visitors can relax and soak in.
- Desert tours – desert tours to the surrounding environment and mountains around San Felipe give you the opportunity to explore a unique fauna and flora with species that are only found in these regions.
Activities in San Felipe, Mexico in the winter
- Sports fishing – many snowbirds enjoy fishing and during your stay in San Felipe, you can engage in this popular pastime.
- Beach visits – San Felipe has a lot of pristine and unspoiled beaches. The waters are warm enough to swim in and the sunset is simply beautiful. You can enjoy several hours of sunbathing or stroll down the soft sands of the beach as well.
- San Felipe Malecon – the seawall that faces the town's main beach area is referred to as the Malecon. There are food stalls serving up local creations like shrimp tacos and other vendors selling different products. You can spend winter evenings strolling down the boardwalk and observing San Felipe's daily activities.
Shopping + Restaurants. Are they open in the winter?
Restaurants and shops are open during the winter in San Felipe. Many restaurants serve seafood that is exciting like octopus and squid. Your tastebuds will enjoy something different and they also serve some intercontinental dishes as well. Some restaurants will also have entertainment and the option to dine outdoors as you enjoy the beautiful weather. You can enjoy the shopping scene in San Felipe and hunt for bargains at the local markets with random stalls selling handcrafted items. There are also some stores that sell clothing items.
There is an airport in San Felipe but it is not used for commercial flights so landing here is not possible. Most people get into San Felipe by landing in Mexicali and taking the 2-hour drive by either taxi, bus, or rental car to arrive in San Felipe. The airport in Mexicali is located 10 km (6 Miles) from San Felipe town.
Local busses are a common form of getting around the town on a budget and they also travel to areas not to far from the town like Tijuana, Ensenada and puertecitos.
Taxis are also widely available and used as a means of getting around town. These taxis are not metered and so it is best for you to settle on a price to your destination before getting into the vehicle. They are also a lot more affordable than taxis back home so they're an affordable way to get around.
Car rentals are among the most popular options for snowbirds when they stay in San Felipe. They provide a convenient way to explore the area and they are much more flexible. Renting a small car would cost around $19 (approx. €16, £14, $25 CAD, $26 AUD) a day.
Healthcare in San Felipe is basic but very good. There is a clinic that offers healthcare on par with clinics in the United States. The state offers sponsored healthcare for locals and they get reduced healthcare bills. For more serious cases patients may have to go to Mexicali or Tijuana to see a physician. There are also private clinics available in San Felipe to cater to minor ailments. Doctors are well trained and bilingual.
Renting an apartment in San Felipe is fairly easy as homes can be found on property rental portals. Snowbirds can also wait to inspect short stays themselves when they arrive in the town before committing to rent a space. A four-bedroom apartment will cost about $1000 (approx. €851, £781, $1331 CAD, $1387 AUD) and a 2 bedroom will cost around $660 (approx. €562, £515, $878 CAD, $915 AUD).