Crossing the Border: In San Ysidro, the last exit before crossing into Tijuana, make sure to exchange money and fill up with gas. Most gas stations in Baja take only cash, so you need to be covered. There are places to exchange money in major towns (including Muleg and Loreto, near Conception Bay), but take enough cash for the trip down. Gas was around the same price we were paying in the United States at the time. Immediately after crossing the border, stop at the tourist office, which is about 100 meters away. From here you can walk back and get your tourist visa for your trip. Beginning in 2006, everyone will need a passport in order to get a tourist visa.
After getting your visa, start driving south and you will quickly see a right turn for the cuota (toll road) to Ensenada. Make this turn and you are home free, basically following the Highway 1 signs all the way south. If you have questions, ask for directions and a map at the tourist office. A good online resource for driving in Baja is www.bajainsider.com.
Driving in Baja: Highway 1 extends 1,059 miles from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, and it is a nice two-lane paved route. The road is narrow, with minimal shoulders, so be alert when trucks are passing. Driving at night is not recommended because of livestock that occasionally roams the highway. You will need Mexican car insurance to be covered while driving in Baja. Many companies offer policies right off the Web; just do a quick search for Baja car insurance. Gas can be found in most towns now; gone are the days of waiting for the gas truck to arrive to supply the station. The longest stretch we encountered without gas was between El Rosario and Guerrero Negro, so be sure to gas up in El Rosario for your drive through the Catavina Desert.
You will encounter various military checkpoints along the way. Just be friendly and helpful, and chances are they will send you right through without any delay. Do not take recreational drugs or the family .22 unless you want to experience a Mexican jail.
Itinerary: An easy two day-drive to Conception Bay follows this itinerary:
Day 1. Spend the morning at the border getting money exchanged, buying car insurance (if you haven’t already), and getting your tourist visa. Drive south to San Quintin, and enjoy the views of the Pacific along the way. Eight kilometers south of San Quintin is the El Pabelln trailer park, an excellent car-camping spot right on the Pacific Ocean with clean bathrooms and showers.
Day 2. Continue south, driving through the incredible boojum trees in the Catavina Desert south of El Rosario. Cross over the peninsula after Guerrero Negro and get your first glimpse of the Sea of Cortez at Santa Rosalia. A short drive from here and you arrive in Conception Bay.