One of the most beautiful beach locations in all of Baja, the Bahia de San Luis Gonzaga is an incredibly serene and beautiful place, a real Baja treasure. Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, known to many as Gonzaga Bay, is definitely worth a visit if you like warm waters, near perfect beaches, a lack of crowds and the beauty of a desert landscape. Gonzaga Bay is not the most difficult place to get to in Baja, and over the past 10 years the services have improved, but its still well renown for its desolate and quiet pristine beaches.
In 1958 when James Adkins Sr. first landed his small Cessna 180 on the tidal flat behind the main beach at Gonzaga Bay, he knew he had discovered something very special. There were no homes or development of any kind on this spectacular beach, so in 1959, he was the first person to set up a trailer on this amazing and desolate beach. In the years that followed many other Baja aficionados followed, including Alfonsina, who established a small and rustic 5-room hotel right next to Jim’s small trailer.
Once a year all of the solitude of Gonzaga Bay gives way to an incredible fiesta on the Sunday before Memorial Day. Alfonsina’s is the venue for the largest party this side of Ensenada, and if you make it to the party you will never forget it .
Gonzaga Bay has one hotel and restaurant, Alfonsinas that has been serving adventurers for more than three decades. The feature dish is their famous fish tacos. The area has several different campgrounds, a couple of airstrips, a new Pemex gas station and a store located off the main road at Rancho Grande.
Bahia San Luis Gonzaga is really two separate bays that are separated by a sand spit at low tide and look to be attached at high tide. A small community of Baja lovers have built vacation homes (there are a few permanent residents) or have trailers in three different locations on the bay.
This is truly a great place to slow down, kick back and relax Baja style!
Gonzaga Bay is the temporary home to many Whale Sharks during the summer and early fall months and almost all the time the bay offers up a pod or two of dolphins lounging around in the calm waters.
Often you can simply launch your Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board right from the beach and paddle all day long exploring the rocky coastline of the south side of the bay or run shallow along the beach for nearly 10 miles of white sand beaches. When the wind blows you can windsurf the bay and for the less adventurous, you can kayak the back bay almost anytime. Under a full moon the back bay is illuminated brightly and you can coast along in your kayak or SUP and live life to the fullest. From May to September the waters of the Sea of Cortez are extremely comfortable. During the height of the summer the water can be “as warm as your Jacuzzi.”
Papa Fernandez is another small beachside village on the northern portion of the bay with a few nice homes and a launching ramp. They offer camping, a small store and a outpost style restaurant that serves pretty good meals.
There is another smaller group of vacation homes and trailers, at Punta Final, eight miles away at the far south end of the bay. Around the tip of Punta Final are some nice coves with sandy beaches that are perfect for snorkeling. There are still some plenty of beautiful shells to be found on the beaches in and around Gonzaga Bay, depending on the currents and tides.
The star gazing at night is some of the best in the world while the warm days usually bring more of the same tranquility.
In years gone by adventurers such as John Wayne would visit Gonzaga Bay to enjoy it’s stark beauty and solitude. Today’s visitors can enjoy these same pleasures. The Baja adventurer looking for raw beauty, peace and quiet, and a taste of the Sea of Cortez will find Gonzaga Bay hard to beat.