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The Daily Human Wind Forecast for La Ventana and Los Barriles will resume Dec. 1 2014.

Driving down Baja this season? Be sure to see all the updates with close up maps and places to stay. Use the Driving Down link.

A Baja trip is not just a vacation…it is an adventure. For kiters and windsurfers the reliable, steady winds combined with a fetch of hundreds of
 miles means huge rolling swell. On days when it does not blow the kayaking, dirt biking, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, ATVing are world class. If this is your first trip these VIDEOS will give you an idea of  what to expect for windsurfing, kiting and kayaking

Whether you are just dreaming about winter sailing or kiting, planning your first trip or preparing for your annual winter migration you will find the Baja Guide links at the top of the page useful.

After over 43 exploring, diving and windsurfing trips ranging from San Carlos to Cabo Plumo and a total of over 4 years spent in Baja I still have lots to learn. Contact me at mike@iwindsurf.com for suggestions or additional information. Have fun exploring this guide and Baja!

Not a clue what to expect about Baja’s East Cape winds and swell. Here are several La Ventana kite and windsurfing Videos.

 New Updates!

Huge improvements in the border crossing back into the USA from Baja. Cross in minutes rather than hours! Live video feed of traffic at Tijuana border crossing. Current wait times at all Baja border crossing.

If this is your first drive to Baja check out the updated Baja Travelogue link and learn about the driving traditions of Baja in the Baja Driving hints link. 

Driving from the Los Cabos airport to Los Barriles or La Ventana for the first time? Here is a detailed driving map: East Cape driving maps

NEW La Paz to La Ventana map! If this is your first driving trip to La Ventana you will find it hard to navigate from the outskirts of La Paz to the road La Ventana. To help you I have made a map of this area at the bottom of this page: East Cape driving maps

Thinking about buying land or building a house in La Ventana? I have been watching different mexican contractors and gringo “supervisors” build houses for over 12 years in this area. There are several good ones but many poor ones. Contact me at mike@iwindsurf.com..

New Crossing UPDATE: Oct. 15, 2013. (see map below) The new El Chaparral border crossing into Tijuana opened Thursday Nov. 1 2012 and the old border crossing is closed. DO NO USE YOUR GPS UNTIL YOU ARE 5 MILES PAST THE BORDER. IT WILL BE INACCURATE DUE TO NEW ROADS. At the bottom of the page is a map showing how to get to the new border crossing. If you follow the map you will find it much easier than the old crossing to get your visa and to pay your bank fee at the inspection area. The Secretary of Tourism office in Tijuana reports that the Migracion office and the bank are both open 24 hours/day. See the map and description at the bottom of this page.

However it appears they are sometimes enforcing the importation limits of only one of any item per person without paying a duty:

First timers guide getting your FMM “tourist card” stamped and paying your bank fee at the new “El Chaparal” Tijuana border crossing:
If you are NOT importing any products into Mexico or do NOT have large trailer, boat or RV:
1. After you curve into the crossing you will see a mass of check points that look like toll gates.
2. ignore the cars you see just driving through the gates and departing. There are locals who do not need their FM stamped.
2. Proceed through one of these gates very slowly watching for instructions from any police.
3. Once through these gates you will see see parking ahead.
4. Park your car and bring your car registration, passport and mexican insurnace and walk back towards the large building.
5. Entering the building and you will find the “inmigracion” office. Present your paperwork here and fill out the FMM.
6. Head west about 50 feet inside the building and you will find the “Banco”. Pay $24.50 USD or Peso equivalent.

7. Return to “inmigracion” office and have your FMM stamped.
8. Return to your car and exit looking for the sign saying “A Playas De Tijuana, Rosarito Y Ensenada.
9. Go up this exit then merge with the road that runs parallel to the border fence for several miles.

If you are importing any products into Mexico or have large trailer, boat or RV:
1. If you have a large RV or trailer or need to declare goods you want to stay in the far RIGHT lane as you make the left turn towards the crossing. After you curve into the crossing you will see a mass of check points that look like toll gates.
2. Ignore these gates and continue straight and park in the large parking lot on the north side of the large building.
3. Park your vehicle and bring your car registration, passport and mexican insurnace and walk into large building.
4. Walk down a long wide hallway then turn left to the “inmigracion” office.
from this point follow the instructions above.

At the bottom of the page you will find more details about duties and a link to the customs page put out by the Mexican Government.

Here is a video which, after the ad, shows exactly how to cross the border and get to the toll road. Be sure to pull over at the red shade shelters at the crossing shown in the video to get your FMM, pay your bank fee and declare any imported stuff.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKgKsfl1sn0&feature=plcp

 If you have not crossed the border since Nov. 1, 2012 be aware that the Tijuana Border Crossing has been replaced.

The new El Chaparral border crossing into Tijuana opened Thursday Nov. 1 2012 and is much easier to navigate and to get your FMM visa and pay your bank fee than the old crossing. Just study the maps at the bottom of this page.

To access the new border crossing from Hwy. 5 you will be directed to take a very sharp cubing 5 lane that curves of Hwy. 5 right at the border near the old crossing. This road heads west for 0.2 miles parallel to the border inside of Mexico. Then it makes a left into the new border crossing which you can see in the bottom photo below.

View Larger Map

As you approach the new crossing look for a sign saying “Declaración” and park. Bring with you 1. $24.50 UDS or pesos. 2. Car registration, 3. Driver License. 4. Passport

Enter the building and walk pass the sign for saying Banco”. Ahead you will see “Inmigración”

Then fill out the FMM visa form. Take the completed form to the Banco and pay your $24.50 UDS or pesos.
Return to the “Inmigración” to get your form stamped.

Return to you car and leave. Doug reports that as of Nov. 4 there were no signs of the old green light red light inspection stop.

Leaving the crossing take the “A Palyas de Tijuana, Rosarito Y Ensenada turn off over the dry river bed. This will merge with the old route running parallel to the border and on to Hwy 1D toll road to Ensenada.

The photos and maps below should help you through this new crossing.

Border violence

Border violence involving tourists has continued to dramatically decline in the Tijuana area. 2012 and so far in 2013 there have been no reports on any issues.
Entering Baja if you cross the border and take the direct route to the toll freeway to Ensenada you are very unlikely to have any problems.

Coming back to the USA by way of Tijuana is more problematic since it is easy to miss the turn off to San Diego or it may be full forcing you to wander about the streets of Tijuana trying to find the Otay border crossing. I strong recommend you take leave Hwy. 1 just north of Ensenada and cross the border at Tecate. Yes, it is a longer drive but you will actually save time since you will have a much shorter wait at the border. The route is very scenic and you avoid the whole Tijuana scene.

Remember criminal events involving tourists happened to people who drove through the TJ area in the dark early AM hours when the Tijuana streets are almost empty.

Violence in Baja continues in parts of border cities where drug cartels are having turf wars.
Baja California Norte reported a 44% percent hike in homicides from November 2007 to April 2008. To put this in perspective the most recent statistics shows Mexico has a current rate of 1200 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The USA as a whole has has a violent crime rate of 467 per 100,000 so overall Mexico is a more violent country. But violence in Mexico is like the USA in that certain cities and neighborhoods harbor most of the violent criminals.
To put this in perspective: Washington, D.C.’s 2007 violent crime rate was 1,413. This is even higher than Mexico yet no one is suggesting that people not visit the nations capital.

Since most of you will be passing on the highway on the outskirts of Tijuana let’s focus on that violence ridden city. In 2007 Tijuana’s murder rate was 17.5 murders per 100,000 people. Pretty scary but Tijuana had a significantly lowerlower murder rate than Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas while New Orleans had a murder rate 300% higher than Tijuana.

But the bottom line is that violence is scary especially when you are in a foreign country and don’t speak the language. Personally you could not pay me to drive around the streets of Tijuana these days especially at night or pre dawn. But then again I have same feelings about parts of Los Angeles. So follow the guide lines below and look at the map at the bottom of the page very carefully so you don’t get an undesired tour to unsavory parts of Tijuana.

I try to keep in a tight caravan and keep on the highway until south of Ensenada. This is the area where the vast majority of the violence has occurred.
Remember thousands of old folks in their late 60’s and 70’s drive down this road every year in monstrous RVs. If they can handle it so can you. Just use some common sense.
The key to safety is WHERE and WHEN you make your border crossing. Below is what can happen if you “just do it” without planning your border crossing. As you read this story remember that this happened during the bad times in Tijuana and there have been no reports like this for years now.:

Hi Mike,

“From your tip about the bad road sign to the turn off for the San Diego border crossing in Tijuana near the border I was very careful and drove slowly. I even asked for some directions from the last toll both. They just said it was very easy and did not offer more than that. I caught all the road signs and made the right turns until I got to the last split in the road before US customs. I could not tell which way to go. I stopped and searched for a clue. Traffic was not bad there. That was my big mistake.
I finally spotted a small sign about 3 foot off the ground sitting on the cement barrier. It was about 40% obscured. I crept close and saw that San Diego was to the right. I proceeded to the right , came around a curve and got in the line to enter the US.

Then two TJ police walked up to my car with flashlights and a military style machine gun. The looked like soldiers with full military gear except that it was all black. I rolled down the window and they said I stopped in traffic and that was dangerous. They told me to follow them to the police station to pay a fine of 100 (did not say pesos or dollars). I said ok. They opened a gate in the barrier next to their booth and directed me there. It was a tight squeeze but my car got through.
I followed them and they led me to a dark area under a freeway overpass where no one else could see us. They told me to get out of the car and the officer with the gun directed me to the back of the car so the other one could search my car for “beer, or drugs or guns”. They spoke English. They put their hands in my pockets and emptied them. They took my wallet and emptied it on the hood of car and asked for registration which I gave them. At one point I though they were going to hand cuff me. They kept saying they were going to take me to the police station. I was scared but I remained as cooperative as possible. Maybe that was a mistake too.

While one officer kept me at the back of the car trying to distract me by saying I would go to jail for not having Mexican prescriptions for my pills. They were a type of Motrin which I explained can be purchased at any store no prescription needed. He was just trying to distract me from his partner that spend about 20 minutes searching my car until he found one of my stashes of cash. It was in a pill bottle Hidden behind a seat. They even searched my toiletry bag. They were persistent. I had money left over from paying the workers for the construction on our properties. He pocketed the $500 US as if I did not see him take it. I don’t know how much more they would have taken if had found more.
They told me to take off. I looked for a badge number but could not see it. I saw their white pickup truck had the number 066 on the back. The cop with machine gun was about 5’6”tall a little stocky. The other one was taller, thinner and wore black rim glasses. I walked to the place where he took the money from to let them know that I know they took it. They got angry and yelled and started to come back from their car toward me. I told them I was closing up the car and putting things away so I could drive off safely. They backed off and I left. and made my way back to border.

I think having my red kayak on top was a red flag that attracted too much attention.
I tried to get the complaint form from the sindictatura but that link is no longer valid. I also tried to call without success. They said it was the wrong number.”

These are scary reports but keep in mind that far worse things happen every day in american big cities. Thousands of people travel Mex. Hwy. 1 in Baja every day and reports of major trouble are still very rare. The real Mexican police are increasing patrols from the border on Mexico Highway 1 leading to the Ensenada toll road.

 

 of Nov. 1, 2012 there is an new Border Crossing at the Tijuana border.TijuanaCrossing2

The new El Chaparral border crossing into Tijuana opened Thursday Nov. 1 2012 and is much easier to navigate and to get your FMM visa and pay your bank fee than the old crossing. Just study the maps at the bottom of this page.

To access the new border crossing from Hwy. 5 you will be directed to take a very sharp cubing 5 lane that curves of Hwy. 5 right at the border near the old crossing. This road heads west for 0.2 miles parallel to the border inside of Mexico. Then it makes a left into the new border crossing which you can see in the bottom photo below.

As you approach the new crossing look for a sign saying “Declaración” and park. Bring with you 1. $24.50 UDS or pesos. 2. Car registration, 3. Driver License. 4. Passport

Enter the building and walk pass the sign for saying Banco”. Ahead you will see “Inmigración”

Then fill out the FMM visa form. Take the completed form to the Banco and pay your $24.50 UDS or pesos.
Return to the “Inmigración” to get your form stamped.

Return to you car and leave. Doug reports that as of Nov. 4 there were no signs of the old green light red light inspection stop.

Leaving the crossing take the “A Palyas de Tijuana, Rosarito Y Ensenada turn off over the dry river bed. This will merge with the old route running parallel to the border and on to Hwy 1D toll road to Ensenada.

Dealing with customs at the border:

Visit this web site for the most current regulations:

http://www.aduanas.sat.gob.mx/aduana_mexico/2008/pasajeros/139_10210.html

WHICH ITEMS MAY BE INCLUDED IN MY PERSONAL LUGGAGE EXEMPT FROM DUTY?

Goods for personal use, such as clothing, footwear and personal toiletries and beauty products, as long as they are appropriate for the duration of the trip, including wedding party items.
Baby travel accesories, such as strollers and baby-walkers.

Two photographic cameras or video recorders, 12 rolls of film or videocassettes;
photographic material;
three portable cell phone or other wireless networks;
global positioning equipment (GPS);
a portatil typewriter;
an electronic calendar;
a portable computer (laptop), notebook, omnibook or similar items;
a copier or portable printer; a portable projector, and their accessories.

Two sports equipment, four rods, three speedboats with or without sails and their accessories, trophies or recognitions, provided that they can be transported normally and commonly by the passenger, one stair climber and bicycle

A portable radio for the recording or reproduction of sound or mixed tapes; or a digital sound reproducer or portable reproducer of compact discs and a portable reproducer of DVD’s, such as a pair of portable speakers, and their accessories.

Five laser disks, 10 DVD disks, 30 compact disks (CD) or magnetic tapes (audiocassettes), for the reproduction of sound, three software packages and five storage devices or memory cards for any electronic equipments.

Books, magazines and printed documents.

Five toys, —included those that are collectible— and a video game console and five videogames.

One device that permits measurement of arterial pressure and one for glucose, as well as medications of personal use; in the case of psychotropics the medical prescription should be shown.

One set of binoculars and a telescope.

Valises, trunks and suitcases necessary for the movement of goods.

Passengers over 18 years of age, may introduce a maximum of up to 20 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco and up to three liters of alcoholic beverages, and six liters of wine; in excess of the above, cannot be imported without complying with applicable regulations and restrictions.

Two musical instruments and its accessories.

A camping tent and camping equipment, as well as their accessories.

A set of tools including its case, it might have a hand drill, wire cutters, wrenches, dices, screwdrivers, current cables, among others.

Up to two dogs or cats, maybe introduced as well as their accesories, provided that the corresponding zoosanitary import certificate issued by (SAGARPA) is presented to the customs officials.

If you are carrying more than US$10,000, or its equivalent in other currencies, in cash, checks, money orders or any other monetary instrument, or a combination of them, you must declare the amount exceeding US$10,000. You will not have to pay duties or taxes, but you must declare it on the Customs Declaration form. Failing to declare it is a violation of Mexican Law and such violation is sanctioned with administrative and even criminal penalties.

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Posted in Baja Guide