Coastal Camps

Kayaking the Sea of Cortez
By Andromeda Romano-Lax

From miles 24 to 36 is an almost continuous string of camps. Most of them are quite small, consisting of RVs or stone rotundas, and, though numerous, are set back far enough to leave most of the shore clear and unfettered by anything but sand, dunes, and gravel. If you establish yourself in what the camp considers its"territory," you may be asked to pay a small camping fee, though I've spent days on end camping in this area without seeing or being approached by anyone. The easiest way out of a conflict is to pay or move just a little farther south.
The camps are difficult to make out from sea, and only by going for a short hike inland can one usually tell them apart. Most of the residents of the camps are seasonal, and nearly all are Americans who rent their plots from local Mexican ejidos. Few of the camps have any facilities of interest to kayakers. Each camp is linked with the main road by sideroads of a half mile to one mile, should you need to get back to a larger camp or a town for assistance. Only a few of them are named below.

Campo E-l Vergel is a sizable camp at mile 27. A white light tower poised atop low bluffs is a dependable landmark. Inland from the camp, just south of where it links up with the main road, are a store and a medical clinic: a good mid-route stop for restocking supplies. Canned goods, bread, staples, and snacks are sold, as well as water and propane.

Playa Campo Cadena is at mile 31. Campo Mar y Sol is at mile 33. El Coloradito is at mile 35.5.

From this point south, the beach becomes rockier, and the transition from sand to gravel, pebbles and cobbles translates to fewer beach camps and a wilder, less-often-visited stretch of terrain. A few camps still exist, but they are fewer, smaller and farther spaced than those above. Small Mexican fish camps become more common as one proceeds south. The main road swings farther inland at this point, rejoining the coast just north of Puertecitos.

At mile 47, just past a marginal point called Punta San Fermin, is a dark light tower. A small Mexican fish camp is set back from the shore. Just inland are the campos El Zimarrsn and La Violeta.

Where to Land
There are two ways to land at Puertecitos. The first of these is North Beach, a gravelly, shallow cove on the north side of the rocky Puertecitos peninsula at mile 50.5. Pangas line the west side of the cove, and an odd, pyramid-shape house was recently under construction atop a sandy bluff on the east shore of the cove. The beach is a bit fishy and swarming with gulls, but camping is possible. From this point, a dirt road leads one mile south past a dusty airstrip and into the center of town.

The second and better way to land at Puertecitos is to paddle two more miles around to the southern cove. En route one sees American houses perched on rocky bluffs. A hot spring is located near the end of the rocky point forming the cove's eastern boundary; the temperatures of the small pools vary with the incoming tides. A launch ramp and breakwater are just inside the point. The cove itself is mostly shoals, and dries at low tide. The head of the cove has a sand beach, and landing here deposits you, at mile 52.5, in front of the few buildings that constitute "downtown" Puertecitos.


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