Although most famous for its sea, sun and party towns further south, Baja California has beautiful undiscovered gems across the peninsula. One of these is Mulegé: an oasis town located at the mouth of Río de Santa Rosalía and just a 2-hour drive from popular whale-watching spot San Ignacio. From discovering 7,000-year-old Indian cave paintings to relaxing on some of Baja’s most stunning white sand beaches, here’s how you should spend 48 hours in Mulegé.
Take a guided hike to Cañon La Trinidad
Before Jesuits arrived in Baja California in the 1600s, the Indians had lived a semi-nomadic life across the peninsula’s desert for thousands of years. Sadly, most of these Indians were killed off by European diseases, so little is known about their way of life, traditions and culture. However, they did leave behind something very special: some of the largest and oldest (some are believed to be over 7,000 years old) concentrations of rock art in the Americas. Some of these paintings and petroglyphs can be seen on a day trip from Mulegé in the stunning Cañon La Trinidad, a dusky pink desert canyon with glistening pools of water. Salvador Castro Drew (+52 615 161 4985) offers very affordable tours, and knows just about everything there is to know about the paintings.
On the lookout for cave paintings in Cañon La Trinidad
For a hearty, authentic Mexican feast look no further than Doney Mely’s. Solid wooden tables are covered in multicoloured serape tablecloths,mariachi plays through the crackly speakers and beers arrive with complimentary totopos and a spicy home-made salsa. Their famous chiles rellenos, poblano chilli stuffed with meat and cheese and served with rice, refried beans and tortillas, are a must-try.
Overlooking calm, shimmering waters, jagged mountains and fields of palm trees in the distance, Mulegé’s lighthouse offers fantastic views of the town’s stunning surroundings. Following the river’s edge the whole way, it’s a beautifully peaceful 45-minute stroll from town. If you don’t fancy the walk, there’s a road that goes right to the base of the lighthouse (with room to park), and you can hike the short uphill trail to the top from there.
Founded in 1705 by Jesuit missionaries, the impressive – and perfectly preserved – stone church, La Misión Santa Rosalía, is definitely worth a visit. Set high atop a hill above Río Mulegé, the oasis views from here are stunning. It’s a short walk from town, and is completely free to visit. Pro tip: arrive early in the morning or at sunset to avoid the day trippers.
No pitstop through Baja California is complete without sampling the best fish tacos in town; and, in Mulegé, it really doesn’t get any better than Asadero Dany’s. Run by a husband and wife out of the front of their home, Asadero Dany has everything a good taqueria should have: perfect flaky fish, bar stools out on the street, and a tv blaring a good old romantic novella.
In Mulegé, you’re just a short drive from that picture-perfect scene that you always dreamt Baja California to be: white sand beaches and crystal clear azure waters backed by cacti-dotted desert. And the best part? With little infrastructure and public transport around, they’re way less crowded than the popular beaches further south. Bahía Concepción, Playa Santispac and Playa Perla are not to be missed, but note you’ll need your own wheels or a taxi to get here.