San Ignacio

San Ignacio is a fertile oasis located in Mulege municipality, 90 miles (150 km) south of Guerrero Negro. If you’re not looking for it, you’ll miss the turnoff from Highway 1 and continue driving south. However, San Ignacio is the first place south of Guererro Negro worth your time – even if only for one night. 

Of all of the small towns in Baja, this is one of our favorites as it has an element of being trapped in time. The town is a true desert oasis surrounded by beautiful palm and citrus orchards, sitting in the center of the hot Baja desert among cacti volcanic boulders. 

As you branch off the highway you’ll leave the desert behind and drop into the lush palm oasis with the spring-fed San Ignacio river running adjacent to the road. The small, quiet river feeds the residents and all the orchards in the town and provides visitors an opportunity to kayak or paddleboard with a stunning view of Cerro Colorado.

As you approach the town itself you’ll enter on cobblestone streets that lead to a small plaza at the center of town. Here, at the heart of San Ignacio, you’ll find a handful of restaurants, street food vendors and shops that surround the plaza. But what will draw your attention immediately is the large mission and verdant garden at one end of the plaza.  

Jesuits planted the palm gardens in 1728 and also built the famous mission. By far the most popular attraction in town, the historic and iconic Mision San Ignacio was built between 1778 and 1786 by Juan Bautista Luyando, a Jesuit. The church is constructed completely from volcanic rock and remains almost entirely intact from its original construction. 

The peaceful town hustles and bustles between December to April when the nearby Laguna San Ignacio is filled with grey whales and visitors of all sorts use the town as a staging area both for whale excursions and other activities in the surrounding area. 

Moreover, in the extreme heat of July, the traditional festival of San Ignacio is held to honor the death and life of the founder of the Jesuit order, Saint Ignatius of Loyola. 

Truck Camper Camped on square in San Ignacio

Things to do in San Ignacio

San Ignacio is among the most beautiful small towns in Baja California Sur. The palm oasis is incredibly inviting and you will feel time slow down as soon as you begin walking around the plaza. 

So, whether you are an adventure lover, a history buff or just want to live life a bit slowly, San Ignacio will keep you entertained.

Here are the best things to do in San Ignacio.

Walk Through the Mision San Ignacio

Mission San Ignacio is a historic building reflecting the craftsmanship of Cochimi Indians. It is the place that Cochimi called Kadacaaman, which was discovered in 1716. 

The mission is made from 4-feet wide blocks of rocks collected from the nearby volcanos. In addition to a remarkably beautiful exterior, the mission has an interior that reflects the splendor and solitude of an ancient sanctuary. Decorated with carved stone, wood and oil paintings with gold finishing, it is considered one of the most charming missions in Baja California. 

Moreover, the church has barely changed over the years due to its solid construction. And it remains an active church with services of all kinds held regularly. 

Visit the Cave Paintings

Another great activity in San Ignacio is visiting the cave paintings in the San Francisco de la Sierra mountains. There are multiple caves including La Natividad, El Parral, Cueva de la Serpiente, la Cuevona, Cueva del Raton, Cueva Pintada and El Brinco. 

Deer and human paintings are the most significant and recognizable figures. Moreover, you will also see some paintings of mountain lions and scenes depicting critical events in history.

You cannot visit the cave paintings on your own and will instead need to hire a licensed guide. Cave painting trips range from full-day to multiple-day excursions. Depending on which caves you visit, the path can be quite difficult and your guide will have mules to take you into the mountains.

Hang out with Locals in the Public Plaza

The plaza is an excellent spot to sit back, relax and interact with the locals. The beautiful park is a popular picnic spot. The Indian Laurel shades it, and there are tacos, ice cream and cold drinks stands surrounding the plaza. 

Moreover, there are a couple of grocery stores nearby and you can also bring food from any of the nearby restaurants. While playing with our dogs in the plaza once we ended up in a spirited game of soccer (futbol) with a dozen local kids whose laughter we’ll never forget!

Go Whale Watching in Laguna San Ignacio

Laguna San Ignacio is among the best whale-watching areas in the Baja Peninsula. It is the only undeveloped lagoon in the region, lying around 40 miles (65 km) southwest of San Ignacio via a mixture of paved and very unfriendly dirt roads. 

The road to the lagoon is not paved beyond the town limits, so having a 4×4 vehicle is the best option for an easy and safe ride. 

There are just over half a dozen tour companies arranging whale watching tours in the lagoon. But do know that you will need to book tours several weeks in advance during the peak of the season (February and March). 

Campgrounds in San Ignacio

Rice and Beans RV Park

Rice and Beans is a nice 30-campsite RV park with a pool and a restaurant. It has full hookups and is big-rig friendly. But the camp is not as scenic or centrally located as other campgrounds in San Ignacio. 

The restrooms and showers are decent and overall this is a great place to camp if you’re looking to just spend one night and move on.

AMENITY
PRICE RANGE$10-15 USDWIFI AVAILABILITYYES
20/30 AMP ELECTRIC:20 Amp OnlyLAUNDRYNO
WATER HOOKUPYESSHOWERYES
SEWER HOOKUPYESPOOL/SPAYES
BIG RIG FRIENDLYYESGATED/SECURITYYES
PET FRIENDLYYES

El Padrino RV Park

El Padrino is the closest campground to the town, within walking distance to the town plaza. It is a nice affordable campground with decent Wi-Fi, toilets, hot showers and 20 amp electric hookups. 

Sites are spacious and the campground is big rig friendly. Although you won’t have full hookups, there is water and a dump station available if needed.

AMENITY
PRICE RANGE$10-12 USDWIFI AVAILABILITYNO
20/30 AMP ELECTRIC:YESLAUNDRYNO
WATER HOOKUPYESSHOWERYES
SEWER HOOKUPNOPOOL/SPANO
BIG RIG FRIENDLYYESGATED/SECURITYYES
PET FRIENDLYYES

Campos Los Petates

Campos Los Petates is a wonderful campground located at the edge of the lagoon and surrounded by beautiful palm trees. It is an affordable dry camping site with a decent bathroom and hot showers. 

The campground is only 5 minutes away from the center of town. Note that the entrance is a bit tight because of the palm trees. But that adds to the ambiance of the lush oasis campground. 

All sites are dry camping and mostly shady. But they’re also all located along the lagoon. There is no WiFi, but the cell service is pretty decent.

AMENITY
PRICE RANGE$9-12 USDWIFI AVAILABILITYNO
20/30 AMP ELECTRIC:NOLAUNDRYNO
WATER HOOKUPNOSHOWERYES
SEWER HOOKUPNOPOOL/SPANO
BIG RIG FRIENDLYYESGATED/SECURITYYES
PET FRIENDLYNO
BEST BOONDOCKING /ALTERNATIVE CAMPING OPTION
Plaza Publica. There is no finer boondocking in all of Baja that provides as much opportunity to experience an evening in a quintessential Mexican town as at the central plaza in San Ignacio. You can literally park on the street and spend the evening worry-free. 

Get out and enjoy whatever festivities are taking place in the plaza, pick up a bite to eat at everything from sit-down restaurants to taco stands and fall asleep in one of the quietest places you’ll find. 
It is likely that you won’t be the only one spending the night in the plaza. This is a great place to make friends, both with locals and fellow travelers. And we’re confident you’ll enjoy your time in the town.