With a windswept perch on glittering Las Palmas Bay, the fishing village of Los Barriles, Mexico is an adventure lover’s paradise, and the kind of place where one can easily get off the grid. ‘The Barrels’ (as it’s known in Spanish) is on the southeast tip of Baja California Sur, and best known for its kiting spots, sport fishing and laid-back vibe that lures sun-seekers down the area for months at a time.
The compact town centre has shops, small cafes and taquerias running along the main street Calle 20 Noviembre, as well as e-bike and ATV rentals perfect for off-roading in the surrounding desert. A day on the water means catching wind or waves, casting a rod or keeping an eye out for the dolphins and sea lions that frequent the area.
Sundown brings happy hour margaritas on the beach, capped off by dining on the catch of the day like tuna, Mahi Mahi or even marlin.
From the best accommodations to day trips and activities, here’s a complete guide to exploring Los Barriles Mexico.
What to do in Los Barriles: Rent an ATV
Forget cars: around here, it’s all about the quads. Open-air jeeps, ATVs and side-by-sides are the transportation of choice in Los Barriles, since many of the surrounding roads are dusty and bumpy. Rent one from an outfitter like Quadman Baja or Quadgirl ATV/UTV Rentals to cruise around town, or take a wild ride through the desert by booking a guided tour to discover hidden waterfalls, mango plantations and secluded beaches.
Los Barriles fishing
One of the best things to do in Los Barriles BCS is head out for a day of sport fishing in the Sea of Cortez. Board your boat at dawn, and enjoy the sunrise during the hour-long ride out to some of Baja’s best fishing spots.
Cast your rod, and within seconds you could be reeling in the likes of a snapper, Roosterfish, jack fish, Mahi Mahi (Dorado), swordfish or a yellowfin tuna. Just be sure to pull in your catch as quickly as possible, since the resident sea lions have been known to snag them right off the line!
There are plenty of options for deep-sea fishing in Los Barriles Baja California Sur, with most trips lasting between four and eight hours. Hire a charter boat through a local operator or the Hotel Palmas de Cortez, which is conveniently located right in front of the area’s main dock. You don’t have to be a pro angler to head out since the crew will do most of the work for you (essentially all you have to do is the glory job of reeling in the fish!) and you might even spot dolphins or whales.
At the end of the day, your crew will hoist a number of flags corresponding to how many fish you caught as you proudly sail back to the dock. They can cut them into fillets right there, so you’ll get to enjoy your catch for dinner.
Pricing for a day of fishing varies depending on the size of the boat and how many hours you stay out for. For example, chartering a well-equipped, 35’ vessel for up to eight people typically costs around $700 for a half day trip or close to $1500 for a full day, and includes food, drinks, equipment and the services of multiple crew members. Tips and bait are extra.
A valid sportfishing license is required to go fishing in Los Barriles, and costs about $25 per person. Some charter operators will organize one for you, so be sure to confirm those details before heading out. Pack long sleeves, a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen.
Thanks to consistent winds, a large uncrowded beach and vast surrounding bays, Los Barriles is one of the best places on the planet for kite sports. The season for foilboarding, kite surfing and boarding, surfing and wind sailing runs from November through March, when the water and beaches become dotted with the fluorescent kites. The sizeable ‘El Norte’ swell is ideal for kitesurfing, and winds in the area typically blow from mid-morning until late afternoon so there’s plenty of time to hit the water.
Pros pack their own gear down, while beginners can sign up for lessons at a place like the ExotiKite Kiteboarding School which also offers on-site accommodations, wave camps, SUP and yoga. Another option is Vela Baja Adventure Sports which operates out of the Playa Del Sol resort, and offers windsurfing, kiteboarding, free diving, SUP and kayaking.
Hit the beach
With miles of shoreline, it comes as a surprise that there aren’t usually many people on the beach. That’s because despite its blindingly-white hue, the sand on Playa Los Barriles is actually made up of lots of tiny rocks which makes it a bit of a challenge to lounge on. However, there are still beach volleyball courts and plenty of space for sunset walks–just make way for vehicles, since everyone drives on the beach here!
Instead, head south just a few minutes down the road to Buena Vista, where the sand is powdery soft and the water is incredibly warm and beautiful. We’re talking bathwater-warm, to the point where certain spots feel like they’re nearly scalding your feet!
Globe Guide tip: Book into the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort which has a great location along the water, and plenty of loungers for guests. Click here to book
Fun day trips from Los Barriles
There are some incredible spots in Baja California Sur that are a relatively quick drive from Los Barriles, and well worth the trip if you have extended time in the area.
- Todos Santos: A so-called Pueblos Mágicos (‘Magic Town’), this charming spot is 90 minutes west of Los Barriles on the Pacific Ocean side, and boasts sweeping beaches, a great arts scene and fantastic food.
- La Ventana: Another favourite spot for the kiting crew, this is another wind sports Mecca on the east coast that also has a cool glamping resort worth checking out.
- La Paz: The chance to swim with whale sharks is what brings most people to this coastal city, which also has fantastic street art, a lively waterfront and easy access to Isla Espiritu Santo, which is one of the world’s most abundant ecosystems.
- San Jose del Cabo: Beyond being Baja’s main party and resort area, there are tons of great activities nearby like zip lines, camel rides and sunset sails to the famous Arch.
How to get to Los Barriles
Most visitors fly into the Los Cabos airport (SJD) then make the one hour drive north up to Los Barriles along Highway 1. Another option is to fly into La Paz (LAP) which is two hours away and services many domestic destinations.
Where to stay in Los Barriles
Since many people who visit Los Barriles stay for months at a time, house rentals are popular as well as the beachfront campsites. The East Cape RV Resort, Playa Norte RV Park and Baja Sunrise RV Park (prices start at $20 per day) are usually packed during the winter months, when sun-seekers head down from the west coast of Canada and the USA.
There are a handful of resorts along Los Barriles beach, including:
Hotel Palmas de Cortez: Arguably the most popular of all the Los Barriles hotels thanks to its prime location, Hotel Palmas de Cortez is in the heart of the action. Many of the fishing boats depart from the dock out front which makes this a good choice for those hoping to reel in a big catch, and the resort often hosts sport fishing tournaments. Amenities include an infinity pool, jacuzzis, a driving range, tennis courts and kids playground.
There are a handful of eateries on site including a lively swim-up pool bar, a wine lounge, the excellent Umi Sushi Bar by Bay View, and tables with great beach views. The spacious suites have plenty of space to spread out, with private patios and even swinging hammocks and kitchenettes for select rooms. Click here to book
Punta Pescadero Paradise Hotel & Villas: It’s a ways out of town, but if you’re looking for luxury this is your spot. Each of the 21 suites has a private terrace overlooking the Sea of Cortez, and the remote location is surrounded by a two-mile beach and a serene desert landscape. Click here to book
Globe Guide explored Los Barriles as a guest of La Paz Tourism and Hotel Palmas de Cortez. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles
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