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Bahia San Felipe as seen from the top of 955-foot Cerro El Machorro at the bay's north end.
About San Felipe

SAN FELIPE ... a remote desert community enjoying the benefits of a warm, dry, winter climate, and a hot, humid (Florida-like) summer. The Sea of Cortez is one of the world's most prolific salt-water habitats with sport fishing tours being available for avid anglers (see, for example, Tony Reyes Fishing Tours on this site).

Located 125 miles south of the International border between Calexico, California and Mexicali, Baja California, the primary route to San Felipe is via Mexico's Federal Highway 5. A secondary route exists via Tijuana following Highway 1 south to Ensenada, Highway 3 east to Highway 5 and south from there to San Felipe.
The largest major metropolitan area with good airline and
transportation connections is San Diego, about 5 hours
drive by car north-west of San Felipe.

Geopolitically a part of the Mexicali municipality, San Felipe depends upon tax-based funding for all its public services. It is governed locally by a "Delegado" (Mayor), representing Mexicali's Presidente, who is responsible for all municipal matters.

San Felipe was founded in 1916 as a commercial fishing port. Still operating a sizeable shrimp-fishing fleet of small pangas, the pueblos' principal income has changed over the past five years, from fishing to tourism to retirement living and real estate, with as many as 250,000 American and Canadian visitors annually. November through March is the prime "snowbird" season with mobile homes arriving from all regions of the US and Canada. Increasingly we now also see tourism and investment in retirement homes from places as far away as Australia. Easter week and the surrounding "spring break" weeks in March and April, when college students from schools around the southwest USA invade San Felipe, is the busiest time in town. Hotel rooms are at a premium and traffic jams are routine on the road to and from the border crossing in Mexicali. During the summer months, May through September, the weather is ideal for a relaxed lifestyle on the beaches. Fishing is good and the pace of life slows considerably. There are dozens of accommodation options in Baja. You can find timeshares for sale and rent, hotels or motels, all overlooking the Sea of Cortez. If you're planning on basking in the warmth of San Felipe again and again, consider purchasing a timeshare.

With a population topping 25,000 (including foreign residents), this seaside community is a delightful retirement area. Over the past several years there has been a major influx of retirees who are building homes here and cashing out on their property investments in the USA. Local businesses provide the requisite services including, but not limited to, House Design Services, Architectural Services, Construction Services, Lumber Yards and Hardware Stores.

Because San Felipe is a "cash" society, do not expect to use credit cards or personal checks at most stores and markets. ATM machines will accept your creditcard and allow you to withdraw up to 3000 pesos (about $300 per day) with an additional nominal charge to your bank account of about $5 (dollars). Machines are located at:

  • 7-LEVEN (Pemex Station) entering town just south of the Arches
  • El Marino/OXO liquor-grocery store on the corner of Calle Chetumal and Mar de Cortez
  • Bancomer on Mar de Cortez and also on Calz. Chetumal
  • Banamex on Calzada Chetumal
  • the AM/PM store at the Rodriguez Pemex station on the road to the airport
  • The El Dorado Ranch office area (by the swimming pool)

The city water supply comes from wells about 30 miles south of town. While it is considered safe to drink, it has a high mineral content. Bottled water and mineral water is available at all liquor and grocery stores and excellent, purified,reverse osmosis, water is available at KonsAgua and other producers for around $.80 for 5 gallons. Purified water is used in all restaurants and homes and for making ice for the bars.

The city sewage system is unusual for a coastal town in that most of it does not discharge into the sea; it is piped to a plant in the desert for treatment. Septic systems are used for all properties away from the town's main collector system. This includes all developments to the north and south of San Felipe along the beaches. In some cases these septic systems are barely able to cope with the major influx of visitors on weekends.

The sea water is maintained as clean as possible because of the great dependence of the town on the fish and shrimp industries. Tests of the bay water in past years have revealed minimal detectable e-coli contamination. However, the further away you are from beachfront development, the cleaner the water will be. Because of the high salinity of the sea water, swimming and floating are almost effortless. Twice a month, around the time of the new and the full moon, very large tides develop and you will see the spectacular rise and fall of the water - see our tide tables.



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San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
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