Where to stay and eat on the road to La Paz

 El Rosario

El Rosario is a small quaint town approximately 225 miles from the San Diego international border, and around 35 miles south of San Quintin. When we say small town, we mean literally SMALL TOWN. There isn’t much to do in this town but it’s a perfect place to stop and recharge while on the road to BCS.

We stayed at the Baja Cactus Motel. The front desk spoke some English, and they accepted dogs for no additional fee. We called in on our drive down and gave our name and number for a reservation. Do this, because this motel books up quite fast. A room with two full size beds runs for $350 MXP ($17 USD), a room with a king size bed for $550 MXP ($25 USD), and the suite with a king bed for $850 MXP ($40 USD). We chose the cheapest option because it allowed for our car to be parked right in front of our door (Room #8). This made it easy to bring in the valuables, and also allowed us to keep an eye on the car.

The room was standard, with two full size beds, a small table with an old school TV, a small closet with a space heater tucked away, a plastic lawn chair, a small bathroom with a standing shower, and the basic bathroom amenities (soap, shampoo, towels…) Perfect for a 1 night stay.

Right next door was an adorable little restaurant called Mama Espinoza’s. There is a pool table in the back with a little souvenir shop. The menu had many options and we could tell that this was going to be a delicious home-cooked meal! Mama Espinoza’s has been around since the 1930s and is a very popular stop for those driving down to the peninsula. It was raining and cold when we got there, so we ordered tortilla soup to warm us up. They came out steaming hot and so tasty! We also ordered two plates to share, Enchiladas Rojas and Arrachera Steak. The enchiladas were not the best; the sauce was flavorless, however, the arrachera steak was delicious!

We were lucky to have arrived at the Baja Cactus Motel when we did, because by the time we left Mama Espinoza’s, the rooms were fully booked! In the parking lot, we saw license plates from Oregon, Washington, Baja, and California so you could tell that this was the place for many travelers to stay. We had wifi in the room but due to the rainy weather, the hotel lost power about 10 times. The walls are paper thin so make sure to have some earplugs handy!

Don’t forget to fill up at the Pemex gas station next to the hotel; this is the last gas station for about 150 miles!

Santa Rosalia

We got to Santa Rosalia at around 2pm, and drove up and down the town before we pulled over and parked to get a bite to eat. Now, when you’re traveling through unfamiliar small towns in Mexico, it’s always best to eat foods that have been cooked versus fresh fruits and veggies. For this reason, we ate at a small burger and pizza spot, Pizzas Pelones . Lunch here cost us about $220 MXP ($11 USD). We only stayed in this town for lunch and kept going. We know there was more to see, but we were eager to get to Loreto.


At about 700+/- miles south from the international border, it took us about 2 days to get to Loreto and being one of the more popular places to visit, there was a ton of information online to see before our arrival. We looked for hotels that were pet friendly and we couldn’t find something within our budget. We were going to have to try to figure something out when we got there.

We arrived to town in the later part of the day so it was already dark. We parked right out front of Hotel Plaza Loreto, and just walked in and asked them if they allow dogs. They didn’t, but for a small deposit of $100 MXP ($5 USD), the manager said ok. They offered us a room for $750 MXP ($36 USD) with a small closed off patio for the dogs. They had a private parking lot in the back with security, so we felt safe and stayed for the night. We took in our valuables, of course, just in case!

The room was standard, with two full size beds, stand up shower, and bathroom amenities (soap, shampoo, towels…) The room was very basic, nothing fancy at all. It gave us a safe place to lay our heads for the night so we were happy either way.

Loreto is also a little town, but more touristic than El Rosario and Santa Rosalia. Near the hotel was a nice looking church and some people who might have just come out of mass. We took a walk over and headed inside to have a look around. This church was full of character and a spiritual presence that gave us a feeling of peace and protection. We noticed one of the rooms was in a service so we quickly said a little prayer to Virgencita de Guadalupe and made our way back outside and continued exploring this town.

We found a food cart and ordered a giant burrito to share. We had noticed another cart nearby that was selling some Elote (Mexican corn with lime, chili, and queso cotija) which was an excellent complement to our burrito. They also had these deep-fried plantains and the nice man told us we cannot leave without trying it. He took the plantain, stuffed it with butter, jam, condensed milk, and a churro. WHAT? But oh my, it was GOOD. We grubbed down on our food while walking back to our hotel. (Total food cost approx $80 MXP ($4 USD)).

The weather was perfect the next day! On the malecon, a fellow traveler had a cup of coffee and Melodica (small keyboard you blow through to play) and he was just playing a tune to himself and enjoying the morning sunshine.

A few coffee shops and cafés were open, and we decided to have breakfast at Café Ole. This place has a nice patio to sit on and we noticed that many of the tables also had their dogs with them so we leashed up our 2 pooches and made our way over. The food was very affordable and even more delicious than expected. We payed $120 MXP ($6 USD) for an eggs and pancakes combo, coffee and a freshly squeezed orange juice.

Café Ole

Chewbacca and Pookie begging for food

We took some time to take a few photos in this enchanting little town, which is known to be one of the 111 “magic” towns of Mexico.

We highly recommend stopping by if you take a trip down here! On the way out, make sure to stop and enjoy the view at Frida Kahlo look point.

Frida Kahlo view point

The road from San Diego to La Paz, Baja California Sur

We wanted to share a few tips on how to make your way down safely from the San Diego International Border to La Paz, BCS. We knew that we couldn’t just fill the car to the brim and hope for the best. Some thought and planning needed to go into this; any time you go on a road trip, you want to be prepared.

It’s about 920+/- miles from the U.S. border to La Paz, so we knew this wasn’t going to be an easy task. Packing the car was done strategically; we didn’t want to invite unwanted attention and advertise all the things we were taking with us. Our strategy was to pack the trunk with the things that would not be needed during the drive. Not needing to pop the trunk during the drive pretty much hides the “goods” and avoids anybody from seeing that you have a fully packed car. Not that we were expecting to run into robbers, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Driving that many miles is not safely done in one or two sittings. The most important things to consider are not to drive at night (there is NO LIGHT on the road except from your car), not to drive tired (it’s imperative that you be fully alert the ENTIRE time), and to make sure you have enough gas (there aren’t that many gas stations). After planning our route, we decided to make the drive in 3 days.

The night before the drive, we packed the car with all our belongings, and stocked up on a few trip essentials:

  • First Aid and our homemade Emergency Kit (detailed entry of this kit coming soon!)
  • 2 gallons of water – Hydration for us, the dogs, and in case the car overheats
  • Snacks – Granola bars, chips, fruit, chocolate – high energy foods
  • 1 Quart engine oil – we would hate for the oil light to pop on in the middle of nowhere
  • $500 USD converted into Pesos – about $11,000 MXP for tolls (there were 2), gas, and expenses

Crossing the border is really simple. There is nothing to be afraid of. You pass the last U.S. exit on the 5 freeway and make your way to the border crossing. As you enter the lanes for Mexico, you come up to a screening area where you go over a couple of speed bumps and approach a lifting gate. A green or red light flashes and the gate will lift. Green light means you’re good to go; red light means you will need to stop at the inspection area. We got a green light so we just made our way in and followed our navigation to the highway toll road. Don’t be worried if you get a red light. In the inspection area, they will only ask you if you have anything to declare and they will take a quick look into your trunk to make sure you aren’t bringing things to sell. Some people might get scared of the military presence, but they are only there for everyone’s safety.

We knew from our research that we needed to get car insurance. We stopped in Ensenada (about 1.5 hours from the border) and drove around for a few minutes until we found an insurance office (AXA). This was easy to do. They have a “tourist” auto insurance which cost $532 MXP (approx. $25 USD) for 3 days.­

We drove about 225 miles before getting to El Rosario de Arriba, a small town north of the Natural Reserve of Baja. We had planned on arriving to Guerrero Negro (approx. 4 hours into the reserve, on the border of Baja California and Baja California Sur) and spending the night there, but it was starting to rain HARD and the streets were starting to flood. We got to El Rosario at around 3pm and we realized that continuing the drive into the reserve in the rain is dangerous. There is no light, lots of potholes, and no gas stations. Some areas were going through major redevelopment, and since we were not familiar with the roads, we thought it would be best to switch gears and leave this drive for the next day.

In El Rosario, we found a Motel called the Baja Cactus. This is a small, cute spot. Most importantly, it was clean. They have rooms available for $350-550 MXP ($17-30 USD) per night, and they allow dogs at no cost! We got the simplest room (2 double beds) and we were able to park right in front of our room (#8). We unloaded everything from the back seat so that the car looked empty and brought in anything valuable (just in case!).

Driving through the Natural Reserve of Baja was the most adventurous part of the drive to La Paz.

FILL YOUR CAR WITH GAS BEFORE YOU LEAVE EL ROSARIO! There are no gas stations through the reserve. Actually, there is NOTHING through the reserve. There is ZERO reception. The road is full of bumps, big pot holes, and there were even some floods we had to drive through (small Toyota corolla had no issues). BE CAUTIOUS! Don’t pull over unless you really have to, and be careful not to speed. Pot holes and dips come out of nowhere, and the last thing you need out there is a bad tire. It took about 4 hours until we came across a stop with a gas station and a small shop that sold tamales (they were delicious!)

We had planned on staying in the little town of Santa Rosalía for the night, but we got there earlier than expected, so we just had some lunch there and explored a little, then made our way down further into Loreto, another 2.5 hours of beautiful scenery.

When we got to Loreto, it was already dark, and we were exhausted. We found an affordable hotel called Hotel Plaza Loreto and asked them if they allow dogs. They didn’t, but for a small deposit of $100 MXP (which we got back), the manager allowed it and offered us a room for $850 MXP. They have a private parking lot in the back with security, but we still unloaded the back seat and took our valuables in (again, just in case!)

We woke up early the next day, and one last time, topped off our gas tank and continued to our final destination. The rest of the trip was really fun! With extremely long straight roads and not a car in sight for miles and miles, we might have broken the speed limit once or twice (do not do this!) and we got to La Paz by mid afternoon. Be aware that on this road, many parts were going through major reconstruction and we had to take some dirt streets that needed to be navigated very slowly. Nothing to worry about; just be careful.

All in all, the drive from San Diego to La Paz ended up being easier than we thought. There were approximately 5-6 checkpoints throughout the trip, in which the nice soldiers simply asked us where we were headed (we said “La Paz de vacaciones”). Only one soldier asked us to open the trunk, but he didn’t look through any of our stuff. He just opened it and closed it. They were all very nice and never made us feel uncomfortable.

It was a super fun, super beautiful first part of our road trip! Such beautiful scenery, wild horses and cows, and endless amounts of cacti!

We highly recommend this to anyone who likes road trips. Another hour of driving and you can make it to Cabo San Lucas, but we’ll save that for another day!

Check back soon to see our detailed post about El Rosario, Santa Rosalía and Loreto.

• Breakdown of expenses •

  • Hotel for 2 nights: $65 USD
  • Car Insurance for 3 days: $25 USD
  • Gas: $100 +/- USD
  • Food: $68 USD
  • Toll Roads: $5

Total: $263 USD

The road begins

Hello everyone!
Nat & Sam here 🙂 We have some news.

Nope, this isn’t a baby announcement, but we are definitely up to something.

Early 2016, we really felt the need to break free from our routine lifestyle, at least before we settle down and “grow up”. We have always toyed with the idea of living abroad for some time and seeing what’s outside our little Southern California bubble, but it just didn’t seem smart to uproot our lives and take such a risk. It sounds crazy, right? But crazy is good sometimes. So we are taking a huge, risky, crazy leap of faith. For the entire year of 2017, we will be on the wandering road, in pursuit of learning to live a life of fulfillment and simplicity, and not just doing what’s safe and expected.

All the while we are out and about, we will also be paying it forward by visiting and working with orphanages and senior homes, in attempt to spread love and goodness in a world that so desperately needs it.

Please join us on our once-in-a-lifetime adventure by following us on social media:
Instagram: @the.wandering.road
Snapchat: wanderingroad
Twitter: @thewanderingroad_

To our parents Nada, Jose, Masoudeh & Ahmad: We know it’s not easy to see your children steer away from stability and safety. We want to thank you IMMENSELY. Never in a million years did we think this was possible, and it’s only happening because of you. Despite the extreme worry you must be feeling, you have shown us nothing but love and support. We cherish your advice and we thank you for being the BEST most supporting parents we could ever hope for. We love you more than anything, and we hope to make you proud.

To our brothers Danny and Hesam: Thank you for not just being our brothers, but our best friends. Thank you for pushing us to do this. Thank you for helping us pack. Don’t miss us too much, but when you do, we hope to find you on our doorstep, wherever we are.

A special thanks to Sandra, Bobby, and Sean for helping us move our entire lives into a 10×10 storage unit. I’m sure you are excited to help us move again when we come back 😝

To the rest of you who already knew about our plans and have sent us nothing but positive vibes: From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU. We love you.

And to everyone else: We hope to inspire you to do what makes you happy, and to spread the love.. always always spread the love!

Off we go! First stop: La Paz, Mexico! 🇲🇽

-Nat&Sam, and the pooches 🐶🐒