Vamos a Las Gaviotas, Baby

Quality surf, cheap lodging, tequila y más.

Chill out under the palapas just 40 minutes south of San Diego. (from Rosarito beach just up the road)
  • Chill out under the palapas just 40 minutes south of San Diego. (from Rosarito beach just up the road)

Here’s what you will do: head south to the land of Baja California, where tumbleweeds run like wild desperados under the tangerine glow of a nuclear sun. Hard work is commended, yet siestas are encouraged. Forty minutes south of the border, after you pass the K-38 marker, hit the brakes, put your vehicle into park, get out, and leave your 9-to-5 angst in the car. You’re at Las Gaviotas, baby.

Nestled along a rocky bluff, Las Gaviotas (“the gulls” in Spanish) is an oceanfront walled community offering condos ranging from one to six bedrooms. The condos are all equipped with fully stocked kitchens, two-car garages, decks for lounging and WiFi for you internet junkies – everything a person looking to blow off some steam would need. Right now the six-bedroom villas (maximum 12 people) are going for a meager 175 bucks a night.

Giving you an added potent dose of satisfaction, Las Gaviotas is situated in front of a killer surf break with consistent waves and prime accessibility. Waves break year round. For you daredevils in need of an adrenaline fix, visit in the winter for bigger surf and colder water (wetsuit highly recommended to avoid numbness). Non-surfers needn’t worry; there’s also a sandy beach for lounging.

If salt and sand aren’t your pleasure, Las Gaviotas offers a large pool, working Jacuzzi and gym, all within a stone’s throw of the Pacific. And if your curiosity is still not sparked, then head to Puerto Nuevo, five miles down the road from Las Gaviotas, for a lunch or dinner of savory lobster and homemade tortillas.

Our party ventured through the salty air into lobster town near dusk to whet our appetite and test the legendary rumors of savory cuisine. Such a high concentration of restaurants in such a small area makes competition for customers fierce. As you drive into Puerto Nuevo, each one has a lobster spokesman waving, cawing, jumping and dancing like a circus performer out to guarantee you the best lobster in town.

We got our fill of lobster, rice, beans, chips and salsa at Ortegas for $20 a head, washing down our meal of the gods with a tangy margarita. So yes, the rumors were true to the “T.”

A stroll and proper bargaining experience at the nearby vending stalls were needed to walk off the food comas. Contentment settled in as we bought panchos – Pancho Villa black-and-whites – and handmade senorita lily-white dresses. A heavier-set man with a salt-and-pepper beard then solicitously waved us into his stall, where he presented us with shots of tequila on the house.

After we threw a couple down the ol’ hatch, he told us the tequila was a special homemade batch from blue agave that his granddad had concocted in a bathtub in Chiapas. Wherever it was from, it tasted like honey – holy firewater from Mexico’s sacred succulent. We settled a deal, shook hands, and walked away with two bottles, feeling warm fulfillment flow through our bodies amidst the alchemy of lobster, tequila and ocean air.

Later that night I sat on an upper balcony gazing up at the jeweled stars poking through the sky. A light wind rustled the palm trees from above, calming and cooling my strawberry-tinged sunburn. Sleep cast its drugging spell over me and I couldn’t resist.

The next day, over an exchange of tortilla chips sprinkled in lime juice, the Las Gaviotas security guard summed it up best: no place so close to the border offers such a well-packaged setup of security, recreation and idyllic ocean views for such a bargain.

Venture out of your shell and do yourself a long overdue favor: get away to Las Gaviotas.

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