Is Baja Safe?
Let’s discuss a little bit about Baja Safety. The best way to experience Baja is by driving, it can be an incredible adventure! If you are driving to Baja, from California, we recommend that you use our Tijuana border crossing map!
We do not recommend using the Otay Mesa border crossing because it means that you will have to traverse much of Tijuana, in what can only be described as, heavily congested traffic!
Is Baja safe? That is a very good question and one that is being asked with a lot of frequency as of late.
Quick Answer is: Much safer than the rest of México and much of the U.S.
Let me put it this way…a large number of people think that most of Baja is much safer than most big cities in the U.S. As in any country, there are places (especially now) that should be avoided and there are places that can be considered to be much safer than others.
First – let it be said that there are some very real problems that México is trying it’s best to deal with. Almost all of these problems are directly or indirectly caused by excessive drug use in the United States.
Example: If you were traveling to California, from anywhere in the U.S. would you avoid the whole state because of the constant news reports about the violent crime and brutal murders that happen daily in South Central Los Angeles?….Answer: NO! Would you avoid Los Angeles?….Answer: NO!
Northern Baja has problem areas that should definitely be avoided as much as possible, until further notice. Tijuana is one of those places, Rosarito Beach is another. There have been a few reports of some violence around Ensenada, although it has not been directed toward tourists. BUT, you must remember that it is easy to get in the way of danger even though you had no intention of doing so. Another thing to remember is, don’t create your own trouble! Stay low key – try to stay away from anywhere that “just doesn’t seem right”.
Other border cities such as Tecate and Mexicali have also been named by the press (remember that their main purpose is to create highly exaggerated, even scary, headlines) as areas with some major problems and should probably be avoided, if possible, by tourists. In many countries, especially those with exceedingly unequal economies, the border areas are often dangerous regions.
San Felipe, which is located on the eastern coast of northern Baja, has not experienced any violence. If you are headed to San Felipe we suggest that you spend as little time near the border as possible.
If you are driving to Baja from anywhere east of California, we suggest you drive, at least, to Yuma, AZ on Interstate 8, before crossing the border. You can also cross just west of Yuma, at Andrade, CA (not recommended) or drive even farther west to Calexico where there are two border crossings. If you are driving to Baja, from California, we highly recommend that you use our Tijuana border crossing map! Remember that recent U.S. laws require you to have a passport to re-enter the U.S.
Southern Baja is known to be the safest place in all of México. There have been no major problems, attributed to the drug war, in any area of Southern Baja.
If you are planning to fly into Southern Baja, there should be no cause for any changes to your travel plans. Los Cabos, La Paz and Loreto each have international airports. Once you arrive, remember to use common sense and avoid overt displays of wealth (fancy watches and flashy jewelry and large wads of cash). Stay low key and remember to be polite and respectful.
So, what does this mean to the average tourist? If you are planning a visit to southern Baja you should have no problem, (remember – there are always exceptions to everything) unless you are driving. If you are driving, it is impossible to avoid the border area and the big cities in northern Baja, so there are some precautions you should take.
DRIVING PRECAUTIONS: Fill up with gas, get some pesos and purchase your Mexican auto insurance (this is a must) before you enter México, either online or from one of the many outlets on the U.S. side of the border. Cross the border as early in the morning as possible and do it with a full tank of gas. Do not forget to get your (FMM) Immigration form, if you are planning on driving south of Ensenada or San Felipe on the eastern coast.
Travel in groups or caravans, if possible. Look for others, when you are stopped, that may be driving south and try to arrange a small caravan. Get as far south as possible before stopping for the night.
After you cross the border, try to drive to San Quintín, El Rosario, Cataviña or even Guerrero Negro for your first overnight stop. We often drive as far south as San Ignacio. Then, for your second day, you may plan a more leisurely pace. Enjoy your drive, take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy the abundant pleasures that Baja has to offer.