Why Los Barriles Needs To Be Part Of Your Baja Trip
40 miles north of San Jose del Cabo sits the coastal town of Los Barriles in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Known mostly for kiteboarding and fishing, this wonderful little town has a small, slowly growing population of expats. We can see why this is happening. Los Barriles faces the gorgeous Sea of Cortez and is backed by the Sierra de la Laguna mountains. Having a view of the mountains and the sea right next to each other gives this town a magical feel. Keep reading to find out more about this less traveled destination.
Where To Stay:
We chose Hotel Los Pescadores, a quaint little hotel that has excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. The hotel is about a mile and a half north of the center of Los Barriles. Featuring a pool, an open air lobby/bar area, and only 10 rooms this place is a favorite happy hour spot of local expats. We only spent a few nights here, but we could have easily enjoyed a whole week at this hotel. Our room was very comfortable, with a large bathroom, and a private patio which we enjoyed lounging on during a passing rainstorm. We definitely recommend having a rental car for this area as the dirt roads can be a little tricky on foot, especially after rain. You can also rent a UTV to get around which is perfectly suitable and a whole ton of fun.
What To Do:
Exploring the Los Barriles Beach
Since we arrived in the afternoon on our first day, we checked out the gorgeous gold sand beaches. The beautiful turquoise water was warm and the sand stretched for miles north and south. A couple of resorts and the small harbor are at the south end of the beach, so we recommend trekking down to the north end for a truly picturesque beach all to yourself. Seriously – WE WERE THE ONLY ONES THERE! We couldn’t believe it. It felt like some sort of secret that had been kept from the outside world (so, SHH don’t tell anyone else).
The Sea of Cortez is calm and warm, but the sand here can be a little rough as it is made up of tiny pebbles and shells so our water shoes ended up being really useful. We took a walk along the shore letting the water come up to our ankles while we took in the views. We were lucky enough to see a dolphin leap out of the water a couple of times on our way back to our car. There are even masseuses that sometimes set up tables on the sand so you can get a massage right on the beach. What’s better than that?!
We didn’t pre-book any activities before coming to Los Barriles because we wanted to do a full day fishing trip. Not knowing which day would be best for fishing, we decided we’d wait and ask the hotel to arrange it. Unfortunately we got caught in a storm and were unable to successfully book one of their boats due to wind levels and lightning. We were bummed because we heard the fishing in this area is amazing and more affordable compared to other spots like Cabo San Lucas and La Paz.
Side by Side UTV Rentals
We asked our hotel if they could recommend a Side by Side UTV rental for the next day. The hotel connected us with an expat (who happened to be from the same area of Los Angeles as us!) that rented us one of their vehicles. We ended up getting a great deal, $100 for a 4 hour rental – most other businesses charged about $175+ for 4 hour rentals. The UTV was conveniently delivered to the hotel and once we dropped off the owner (who lived just a couple minutes up the road) we immediately made our way to the beach. You can also take the UTV’s up a trail in the arroyo to La Cienaga Waterfall. We weren’t able to do this because it started to rain on us, but we would definitely recommend giving it a shot as the trails in the area are beautiful.
After riding up and down the beach and around the arroyo, we decided to get lunch. While driving along the beach we noticed a beachfront palapa (an open air, palm leaf thatched structure) bar/restaurant called Lazy Daze Beach Bar. Check out the next section below for more on this awesome little find.
Where To Eat:
Like many restaurants in Los Barriles, Smokey’s is an open air establishment. It sits on one of two main roads in town which makes it a good spot for people watching (one of our favorite pastimes). With $2 beers, cheap appetizers, and a long bar with seating on either side, it’s perfect for relaxing and taking in the atmosphere.
Who wants delicious fish tacos and cheap beer on the sand? WE DO! Lazy Daze was the only place we went to twice in the few days we stayed in Los Barriles. We probably would have gone there every day if we had found it sooner. It has a full bar, kitchen, bathrooms, and plenty of lounge chairs lined up along the beach for sunbathing. Their menu has a decent amount of options with daily specials like fried chicken (Mondays) and Pozole (Sundays). We ate far too many of the delicious battered fish tacos which were only around $2 each!
If you need a break from Mexican food, then this is the place for you. La Casita has a great menu featuring pasta, seafood, and sushi (which is surprisingly popular in Los Barriles). The patio setting gives it a nice ambiance and they even have a cute little 4-seat sushi bar. While it’s one of the more expensive choices in town, we found the food to be worth it. We didn’t try the sushi, but it looked delicious on everyone else’s tables. Sam ordered the Sea Bass with a jalapeño tequila sauce that was fantastic! I had the seafood pasta with octopus, scallops, and shrimp which were all cooked perfectly. They are open seasonally so check their Facebook page for updates if you visit early or late in the season.
Café Encinalito has the best coffee in town. Period. The coffee beans are roasted in small batches in-house and the resulting drinks are superb. They also have fresh homemade bagels (salt or rosemary flavor when we visited), smoothies and great WiFi. The patio has a cute atmosphere with lots of comfy seating. Be careful when sitting on one of the super comfortable cushioned rebar chairs. I fell over when I sat in one and a leg sank into the sand. Thankfully my cappuccino was on the table and not in my hand. This charming cafe is also just a short stroll away from the beach.
Next to Café Encinalito, on Costa Brava street, is Beans & Rice Tako Bar. Open for lunch and dinner, this restaurant has good cocktails and really delicious food at fair prices. Their menu includes much more than tacos and burritos. They also have a fresh and very extensive salsa bar. If you went fishing they’ll even cook your catch for you. The ambiance is great and they have live music on Mondays and Thursdays. We sampled a couple of their tacos – al pastor and carnitas – which were both delicious. Sam ordered the cheese enchiladas and Larry ordered the arrachera steak Molcajete (kind of like fajitas but served in a Mexican mortar with a red and/or green sauce).
We Love Los Barriles
We can see how this small coastal town has turned some tourists into locals. The laid back atmosphere and untouched beaches of Los Barriles make it one of Mexico’s hidden gems. If you are visiting Baja California Sur, be sure to include Los Barriles in your itinerary (just don’t let the secret out). Considering a road trip through Baja California Sur? Check out these tips before you go. Thanks for stopping by and happy travels!