14. Pescadero, Mexico - Camping at Cabo Xtreme

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February 19, 2007

When my friend Sheldon and his wife strapped their surfboards to the roof of their VW van and headed down the Baja six or eight years ago, they spent most of their time camped at the San Pedrito RV Park in Pescadero.

It had palapas on the beach,

flush toilets and showers and a swimming pool. By all accounts, it was one of the best campsites on the Baja, especially if you were packing your surfboard.

Located on the Pacific Coast about a 90 minute drive south from La Paz, Pescadero is little more than a few restaurants that straddle either side of Highway 19. Apparently, the biggest thing to hit town in the last five years is a Pemex station.

Although there's not much going in Pescadero, it is just a few kilometers south of Todas Santos.

Packed with small galleries and full of rugged charm, Todas Santos has been designated by the Mexican government as one of the country's "Pueblo Magico" (magical cities).

It is also home to a "Hotel California", which reputedly inspired The Eagles song of the same name, and to a well-stocked bookstore -El Tecolote Libros - that sells a ton of English titles.

Ten or 15 minutes in the other direction from Pescadero is Los Cerritos, where the beach was flatter and waves more forgiving. We rented boards one day and managed to both get up for a few seconds in the wash just after the break. Adrienne thinks she was better than me. Truth be told, she is probably right.

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The San Pedrito RV Park has been closed ever since it got hammered by Hurricane Ignacio in 2003, although some people still choose to do some guerrilla camping there.

We checked it out only long enough to get the van tires buried to the axle in sand when we veered slightly off course on the drive in. Talk about ruining a morning.

Half a kilometre down from San Pedrito RV Park, slightly back off the beach is Cabo Xtreme.

Accessed by a different rutted dirt road than San Pedrito, and close to a handful of other small surf hotels/cabanas, Cabo Xtreme has four or five rustic palapas that Jimmy, the owner, rents out to cook or crash in.

Our morning entertainment consisted of taking our coffee to the beach and watching the surfers tackle the huge waves. One morning, we saw a pack of grey whales pass by, easy to spot because of their blow, which can be up to 15 feet high and visible for several seconds.

Our entertainment in the evening was a no-brainer: the sunsets at Pescadero are beyond sensational.

Key Facts & Figures:

-Cabo Xtreme campsite:$15/night