BEACHFRONT RETREAT ON SEA OF CORTEZ

House - Entire home/apt · Mexico, San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico

Solar-Powered 3-Bedroom, 2-Bath Home on the Ocean in the Town of San Felipe. Secluded Beach, Panoramic Views, Total Tranquility.

The Space

The setting of this home is right out of a dream. Of all the world's oceans, Jacques Cousteau favored the Sea of Cortez, calling it "The Aquarium of the World." His favorite body of water fills two walls of glass directly in front of this expansive home.

The photos say it all: Stunning views...empty white-sand beaches...ultra-clear skies. And the only sounds you're likely to hear are the gentle surf and ocean breezes.

There's really no other place like Baja California, The pristine land has changed little since Fernando Cortés first saw it in 1533. And every sunrise over the sea begins the day in spectacular fashion.

The Great Room combines living, dining, and kitchen into one 700-square-foot space, featuring four sets of French doors which open to a broad Spanish-style veranda. Spend the day reading, mixing a drink or two at the hand-carved bar, or walking on miles of secluded beach.

The kitchen area offers 20 feet of counter space, while a massive wooden dining table easily accommodates your entire group for memorable meals.

Each of the three spacious bedrooms features a queen bed, while the two bathrooms feature large showers. There's also a queen platform airbed for children or extra guests.

The town of San Felipe is completely safe and friendly -- and unlike a Cabo or Cancun, it offers an *authentic* Mexico experience.

(If anyone in your group has concerns about Baja, search the following for a great Lonely Planet article: "Are Americans Safer in Mexico than at Home?")

In Baja, wild nature is everywhere. The houses range from humble one-room shacks to desert palaces. As you can see in the photos, our home is far nicer than average, yet still simple and casual, by design.

Despite the incomparable setting, this is still a Baja beach house -- not a designer bungalow on Nantucket.

Please note that the house is off the grid, with a solar electric system...a rooftop tank holding mountain spring (email hidden)d a propane-fired fridge, stove and water heater. Everything usually works, but conservation has real meaning here, and there is always a measure of unpredictability when you go greener.

In short, if you require a concierge to run your holidays, can't stand a little dust from the desert, or would be horrified to light a candle if the lights go out, our beach house is not the ideal spot for you. This is a place for hearty living -- a place Steinbeck would have loved.

It takes only a few minutes to travel from this isolated beachfront retreat to all the shopping, restaurants, nightclubs, and other attractions of San Felipe.

Dining options range from casual to fine. Regardless of which you choose, you'll love the freshness, taste, and purity of San Felipe's seafood-focused cuisine. (Arid Baja has none of the "issues" of mainland Mexico.)

At your doorstep await unforgettable wilderness adventures, in untouched desert backcountry where mountains soar 10,000 feet over huge dry lakes.

The Sea of Cortez (also known as the Mar de Cortés and Vermilion Sea) offers kayaking, windsurfing, boating, fishing, and more.

And after sunset, clear air and virtually no ambient light ensure the finest skies left on this planet.

All just a 5 1/2-hour drive from Los Angeles...4 hours from San Diego.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Additional Notes:

> Mapping for Mexico is a bit difficult. You can enter "San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico" in the most popular mapping program, zoom out till you see El Dorado Ranch and Playa Hawaii north of San Felipe. Our home is on the beach in this area.

> Biologically speaking the Sea of Cortez is the richest body of water on the planet. This diverse sea supports more than 900 varieties of fish, and more than 2,000 species of marine invertebrates.

> The house features solar power, and a generator back-up is usually available. The refrigerator, kitchen stove, and water heater are fired by propane. Please note that the propane fridge is not as cold as a typical electric unit. It's a good idea to load items already cold from an ice chest.

> Spring water is trucked in, and stored in a 1,000-gallon tank. The first tanks of water and propane are included. If required, a water refill will cost you $50. The cost of a propane refill varies.

> There is no AC, no landline, and no internet at the house. Disconnecting for awhile is a blessing, but if necessary, you can use high-speed internet at the Baja Highlands office in town, or at a local cafe.

> Pets are welcome.

> Please smoke on the veranda.

> Sheets are provided for the three beds. You should bring bath and beach towels, as well as your favorite toiletries, including paper.

> Basic kitchenware is provided. There are often extra paper towels, garbage bags, and dish soap, but bring some of your own, or buy it locally.

> A 600-square-foot garage with RV doors is available with advance arrangements -- but there's plenty of easy parking outdoors on approx. 1 1/2 acres.

> If you have kids, please note that the bluff in front of the house is about 20 feet above the sand.

> The closest road down to the beach begins about 150 feet above the entrance to the property. Turn right at the first opportunity, then follow the road right/left as it winds down to the sand. It's fine sand, and deep in places. Motorcycles and ATVs are welcome. For four-wheeled vehicles, 4WD is highly recommended.

> Kayaks and other small watercraft can be launched easily from the beach. Be aware of the tides! The Gulf of California has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, and at low tide, the ocean recedes far from the beach for a few hours.

> PWCs and boats on trailers can also be launched from the beach. A 4WD tow vehicle is essential. Again, be aware of the tides.

> There is a wood-burning fireplace. In the unlikely event that you want to use this heat source (sometimes, in Winter), bring your own firewood, as you will find little/none in Baja.

> There are large supermarkets in central San Felipe (such as Calimax, on the main drag). You can get fresh food and everything else you might need at reasonable prices.

> Wheelchair access to the home is fairly easy. The showers are very large, but otherwise of standard design.

> It costs about $100 to get an off-grid home ready for each guest, so generally there is a three-night minimum. Of course you are free to pay for the three nights and enjoy the home for 2 3/4 days. ;)

> Snowbird? Looking for a long-term retreat? Low rates are available to quality candidates.

Room type: Entire home/apt
Bed type: Real Bed
Accommodates: 8
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Beds: 4
Extra people: $25 / night after 2 guests
Minimum Stay: 3 nights
Weekly Price: $550 /week
Monthly Price: $1500 /month
Security Deposit: $200
Cleaning Fee: $75
Country:
City:
Cancellation: Strict

Overall Guest Satisfaction

Accuracy
Communication
Cleanliness
Location
Check In
Value
  • This house was exactly what we were looking for. It was on top of a cliff with our own private path to the beach. The views were amazing and the wrap around patio was great for breakfast and just hanging out. There was enough amenities to get by (dishes, some pots and pans, silverware, and some larger utensils). It was very clean. The showers were tricky. The hot water was sporadic but it was hot out so, it felt refreshing. The house was in a great location to downtown and the boardwalk area. There were restaurants nearby if you didn't feel like adventuring out. We also went to the grocery store so we wouldn't have to leave at all and for minimal supplies like drinking water and coffee. The house had french presses. The beach was not full of a lot of people, and very clean. We went during spring break (Mar 7 - 10). People drove on the beach. The path down did have debris on it, so that concerned us because we are environmentally conscience. We were also very conscience about conserving the solar energy. The house had led string lights which were good for lighting the main area, and led battery tea lights as nights lights in smaller rooms which was a nice touch. Overall, we would definitely return! Note to future guests: Please pick up after your pets!!

    March 2014
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    Ahhhh, you are exactly the kind of guests we love to host in Baja!! Trash disposal is still a developing science in San Felipe...but it's a small price to pay. From the view to the white sand beach, it seems that you love the same things we do. I've got some cool new solar lights that will be installed soon, so welcome back any time!

  • . Many things were delightful but I would review the place very low for several reasons:

    1) We had no water whatsoever from the time we got there until 24 hours later. I assume you don't want to refill the tank until it's empty but some signs of "empty" would be good to know. We called Bernardo (Chuy was gone) and he told us to wait to see if the water came back so we went without water for 24 hours. That was unacceptable.
    2) Bernardo told us the propane lasts about a week. We ran out after 8 days and we had to pay for a full tank for 1 day. We didn't rent for a week, we rented for 9 days. That was also unacceptable.
    3) If there is not going to be supplies like sheets, toilet paper and dish soap, that is something you should tell us ahead of time. Not the end of the world, but after a 10 hours drive that day, it was not particularly nice to have to go shopping immediately.
    4) hot water is not temperamental it is almost nonexistent. Not the end of the world either but a good thing to know ahead of time.
    5) refrigerator was not cold enough to keep any food more than 24-48 hours. That is something you could warn guests about. We used our cooler and had to buy ice every day after spoiling food the first couple of days.
    6) We found out from talking to neighbors that your Casa is notorious for these very things.

    Because of items #1 and #2, I believe we should receive a partial refund.

    February 2014
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    We still haven't figured out how to tell who is a good candidate for travel in Baja, and who isn't.

    We've had friends who seemed perfect for Baja, but they couldn't handle the simple realities of an environment that is so close to nature and so unconnected to the grid.

    And then we've had friends who seemed too delicate for Baja, yet they loved every minute of their adventures, from raw dry lake to volcanic hot spring.

    Baja is largely a desert environment, with towering mountains and a pristine sea. It offers dust, cactus, ocotillo, lizards, ospreys, pelicans, endless dirt trails, deserted white sand beaches, mushy tidal flats, hundreds of seashells, and turquoise waters. It's (email hidden)t the Disney version of nature.

    Perhaps it comes down to this: If you've gone backpacking in the U.S. and you hated it, Baja probably isn't for you, even in a house as relatively nice as this one.

    An off-the-grid home in this environment is just as described in the property listing. Things usually work as planned, but not always. We have a very diligent handyman, but he's not on call 24/7. That's why it's a good idea to bring the detailed House Manual provided to each guest.

    To address the specifics above:

    All we can say about the water issue mentioned here is that nothing like it has occurred in the past, and we're glad the problem disappeared the following day. As noted in the Manual, if guests manage to use up the entire 1,000-gallon water tank, or a propane tank, they do pay for any refill they require. The three beds do come with sheets, but guests are advised to bring their own towels, and we assume they bring their own toiletries (we've clarified this just in case). The hot water heater works just fine, unless the pilot gets blown out. The propane fridge is not as cold as a typical electric unit, but certainly preserves most food just fine for more than 48 hours. And finally, there generally are no neighbors around, and they certainly wouldn't be familiar with the inner workings of this home. Just sayin'.

    However, bearing in mind that we charge a very low rate for a spacious three-bedroom, two-bath home on the ocean, we as hosts would certainly have tried to accommodate this guest, but unfortunately he didn't contact us during the stay, or after, except for this review. Sigh.

    At least he found many things delightful! ;)

    So do we, and so do our other guests.

  • If stunning sunrises, moon rises, stars, and quiet beach walks are your thing, this location is for you. A simple house designed with local materials to blend in, it is sited on the edge of a sand cliff above the beach, with views from the porch that are unbroken for miles. Tidal flats go 100s of feet here, so the tides are spectacular, and you can walk out at low tide, and swim or float easily at high tide. Beach access is immediate through the adjacent arroyo for the able bodied, and nearby by walking or driving. Nature viewing from the porch or beach is great - a steady cast of lizards, interesting insects, and desert and shore birds (bring binoculars). The house has a simple elegance with a picture window aimed at the rising sun and moon, and has an indoor-outdoor feel. We wished it were a little cleaner, but it was adequate. The view to the neighborhood is far less appealing - including a visible dump - but easy to ignore the way this house is set. The quality of accommodations is like an inexpensive cabin or hotel regarding linens, beds, patio furniture (bring lounge chairs) and kitchen stocking (bring favorite kitchen items or be creative). The off grid elements require a little thoughtfulness for conservation, but are fine, and help is available for quirks. The neighborhood is of random design, with a mixture of messy lots, a few dumps, simple and ostentatious homes with many under construction and unoccupied home sites with RVs and other storage. The desert here is fairly disturbed but you can find undisturbed desert to explore nature in nearby or drive south of town. While it is mostly quiet (we spent 9 days and we came to rest and unplug), the light low-key ATV traffic on the beach occasionally includes a hotrodder or two, and Saturday was fairly noisy with ATVs and tent campers on the beach - till 2 am - and more houses occupied. A near neighbor (or men working for them) played and sang with Mexican radio all day for 2 days and another was playing guitar and singing Mexican ballads at 5:30 am on Saturday (both sweet and annoying!). A barking dog disturbed us a couple of mornings and evenings. The noise was not anneal breaker because it was not dominant and when it was there was almost always a way to get away from it. San Felipe is a classic Mexican small town with the local culture, food and necessities you'd expect. It always felt very safe and inviting, and dollars are accepted. The entire area banked on tourism and beach development, and that economy has clearly crashed, so expect to see a lot of remnants of better days gone, both in town and out, which is rather sad actually. The development here is rather simple and low key compared to the overbuilt crowded pacific coast - a really great place to relax, unplug, and enjoy nature.

    February 2014
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    The serenades by dogs and men are new to us, but we love your description of the Mexican ballads! Baja is a unique place.

  • Casa De Gonzo is the best! We had an absolutely magical time there during New Years.

    As many others have noted, this is Mexico and if you are expecting amenities and luxury you will probably be disappointed. But if you go into it with a salt of the earth attitude, you will realize that you are transported onto another magical planet. We did some amazing yoga on the beach, spent way too much money on crazy fire works, went swimming while covered in beach clay, built a few terrific bonfires and woke up with the epic sun rises every day!

    Mike and Kiyoe were a pleasure to work with and the few little bumps that we encountered along the way were very quickly remedied by their local fixer Chuy.

    We all absolutely loved downtown San Feilpe and had a blast exploring, shopping, eating, and drinking the best pina coladas sold out of the back of a pickup truck!

    Already planning our next visit!

    January 2014
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    We love people who love Baja! Pure, uncrowded (email hidden)ere's just no other place like it. Welcome back any time, Christian!

  • Mike was great at communications. Every email sent with questions or concerns was promptly answered. We loved the house and property. The location sitting on the cliff overlooking the sea is spectacular. As Mike is an off-site host we never did get to meet anyone. (Rare) Heavy storms prior to our arrival created several manageable problems. The cleaning staff was on strike it would seem as the interior was in need of serious scrubbing. We did not come for the cleanliness of the home, we came to Baja and all it offers. Pack as if you are going on a camping trip. Once at the casa you will get a great bed to sleep in and it stays cool during the day and warm at night inside. Sunrises and star gazing could not be better. Water and lights were never an issue for us both worked great.

    November 2013
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    Thanks for understanding the issues post-hurricane and post-flood! Glad you enjoyed your stay under blue Baja skies. ;)

  • Mike and Kiyoe's place in San Felipe is just like the pictures. It has stunning views and is truly a Baja adventure. It is right above the beach, which is pretty easy to get to. But, be prepared for some serious tidal action, the tide goes out several hundred feet. Also, if going in the summer time be prepared for hot temperatures. Seems like an ideal place to go in the winter. We went in late June and it is HOT! The town at night is a lot of fun, found a great taco place right on the Malecon. I also would recommend El Nido Seafood & Steak which is about a block off of the Malecon and two blocks over from the main street into town. I also would recommend a short day trip to Puertocitos (about 1 hour south), which has the hot spring (sulphur baths). The new main highway continues south from Puertocitos, with magnificent views and is a smooth highway all the way to San Luis Gonzaga. But from there the road becomes a gravel road, rough in some places all the way to the main highway. This is Baja at its finest though. Still very pristine beaches and not developed like Cabo. If you want the true Baja experience then Mike and Kiyoe's place would be it. If you are looking for a luxury 5 star hotel experience, I would consider somewhere else.

    June 2013
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    Yes, the Beachfront Retreat is not about stepping into champagne slippers at the Ritz. It's like walking barefoot into a Corona commercial.

    Glad you and your daughters enjoyed the experience, Jon, and hope to host you again.

    Baja is at its best from September to May!

  • The house is at a beautiful setting directly at the beach. Sitting on the patio and watching the ocean or taking a dip in the Sea of Cortez is just perfect!
    Check-in with Chuy was easy and everything worked out fine (incl. electical power, refridgerator and water).
    As described, the house is not a Luxury Resort Villa, but a large house, that is not perfectly finished. As already described in the other reviews, this is Mexico. Perfect for hanging out at the beach or just relaxing in the hammock on the patio.
    We really enjoyed our stay!

    June 2013
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    Glad you enjoyed the Beachfront Retreat (and Rockodile)! Wishing you safe travels, whether in Germany or abroad, and hope you will have the chance to visit again.

  • Great house, beautiful views. Thanks for everything!

    March 2013
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    Baja really is a special place in today's world, and we're glad to provide a window on the Sea of Cortez that everyone can experience.

  • The house was in a beautiful location over looking the sea of cortez with amazing sun rises. We absolutely loved the wall of windows and doors the house had.

    The electrical system worked well, we blew the breaker a couple times with multiple lights on in the house, but it's an easy fix with a flash light or cell phone light. The refrigerator kept things cool, and was fairly easy to operate, we were unsure that it was indeed lit (it's a propane unit) but our food didn't spoil. That is until we accidentally left it cracked on the 2nd to last day :)

    Overall it was a good experience, I'd put it firmly in the camp of the nicer mexican homes I've stayed at but understand THIS IS MEXICO. Not a resort town. Be prepared to have little critters, small annoyances of the I'm-camping-in-the-desert type and you'll be fine.

    Make sure you get with the owners before you arrive to get the final details on how to get in / out of the house as we missed that memo and had to drive around for a bit to figure things out. Not a bad thing of course, we just stopped and had some beers and tacos in downtown San Felipe.

    March 2013
    Mike & Kiyoe
    Response from Mike & Kiyoe:

    This nice review is for the "3-BD Beach House on Sea of Cortez." (On the website, sometimes it's hard to tell which review goes with which house!)

    Congrats on your team's performance in the race! That's a great accomplishment -- and one that I know you'll be talking about for years to come. ;)

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About
Mike is an American who has lived in Europe and Japan. A graduate of UCLA, he currently owns an advertising agency in Los Angeles. For fun, he likes basketball, tennis, volleyball, hiking, skiing, cycling, and motorcycling. Kiyoe (Kay) is a Japanese national, an accountant, and proud mother of three. For fun, she likes running, hiking, tennis, snowshoeing, clogging, quilting and cooking. 日本語でどうぞお気軽にお問い合わせください。お待ちしています。
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