Adventure Gone Wrong – Paddle Boarding in Baja California

Stranded in Paradise

As told by ISLE Ambassadors Jack & Amanda (@NatureTold)

Located on the largest bays on the gulf side of Baja California Sur, Bahía de Concepción has some of the most spectacular beaches to paddle board. But, there is more to Bahía de Concepción  than what meets the eye. Breaking off from HWY 1 is an unmarked desert road that leads to incredible private boondock style camping.

Baja California Camping

Ten miles down the cactus lined road we found paradise –  a private rocky beachfront with crystal clear water. Our 2WD 2006 Dodge sprinter, Jenny, usually does a good impression of a 4WD vehicle. So, we went for it.

Jack began driving onto the rocky beach, and in a matter of seconds, Jenny’s back tires sank into the earth. We stepped out of the van, checked out the tires and slowly gave each other the same disappointed look.

“We knew better,” I breathed.

“Yup,” he sighed.

“It just looked so….”


Walking over to the sunken tires, I dug my hands into the gravel. Mixed in with the rock were thousands of sharp clam shells. If we had taken one second to evaluate what the “rocky” shore was made of, we would had never tried it. It was too good to be true.

Baja California Camping

After four hours of laying down wood, reversing, and digging through gravel, Jenny was still engulfed in ground. With all that weight holding her down, she might as well have been a beached whale. We both agreed that there was nothing we could do to save Jenny unless we had help from another vehicle. Tomorrow we would worry about this. It was time to enjoy our stranded paradise.

Barred Pargo and Margaritas

As the sun dipped low on the horizon, I squeezed some fresh limes for margaritas while Jack paddled out into the bay to throw out a line or two with his fly rod. Five minutes later, with the sun already set below the horizon, he was paddling back, dinner trailing behind him in the water.

We heated up some coals and lay the freshly gutted Barred Pargo directly onto our small charcoal grill. It wasn’t long before we were peeling back the crispy layer of skin and scales to reveal the steaming hot meat underneath. I don’t know if anyone has ever been more content stranded in Mexico than the two of us that night.

Baja California Camping

A Ten Mile Hike

Day two consisted of more digging through loose gravel, as well as more tequila, paddle boarding, and bathing on the beach while waiting for a car to drive past our tiny dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

Baja California Camping

By midday it was apparent that no one was coming. And although we weren’t ready to leave our corner of paradise, it would be wise to get unstuck. Since no one was coming to the rescue, we set out down the desolate road with water and a jar of peanut butter to cover the ten miles of desert between us and HWY 1.

Getting to the highway was one thing, but getting someone’s attention was a completely different challenge. After 40 minutes of waving our arms at passing vehicles with no response, a Jeep pulled up next to us. Inside the Jeep was an awesome Brit named Frank who now lived in Los Angeles.

Frank was in Baja for the day overseeing the construction of a small resort being built outside the oasis town of Mulegé. He was already late to the site, but eventually agreed to help us. Drifting around corners and flying over bumps, we made it back to Jenny in a matter of minutes. After hooking the already prepared towline to the Jeep, Frank gave a quick tug and Jenny was free. We said our thanks and Frank was off, leaving a cloud of dust in his wake.

Baja California Camping

No Brakes!

With Jenny firmly planted on solid ground we took a moment to look for damage. Upon inspection, we found that a brake line running to one of the back tires had been damaged. Further investigation revealed that all the brake fluid had drained out, leaving us completely without brakes. So instead of being stuck on the beach, we were now stuck in the desert with no brakes, but that was a problem for another day.

There is a saying in Baja, “the rougher the road the better the people”. With that in mind, we set out the following morning on the ten miles of flat desert road. Just before reaching the highway, we met a fisherman and his wife. Communicating with the little Spanish and English between us, we could convey our situation.

Baja California Camping

Despite this being one of the only cars we’d seen in day, they just happened to have líquido de los frenos, aka brake fluid! We were able to add enough brake fluid to Jenny to make it through the mountainous hills and curves on the road to our next stop, the small city of Loreto.

Once in Loreto, we found some amazing mechanics who spliced in a new line for thirteen dollars in less than twenty minutes. Such a quick fix left us plenty of time to make a quick taco stop at El Rey Del Taco, the best tacos in town, before heading on to our next adventure. Seriously, if you’re ever in Loretto, don’t miss out on El Rey Del Taco!

Check in next week for part 2 of our trip!

Posted in Travel
Doug Robichaud - Marketing Coordinator at ISLE Surf and SUP. Originally from New England, secondarily from Encinitas, CA. I enjoy surfing, shooting film photos and driving my Volvo wagon on the weekends.