San Felipe's Frequently Asked Questions

San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

These Frequently-Asked-Questions will help familiarize you with the most common enquiries received by If you don't find the answer you're looking for, please e-mail us using the contact link at the bottom of the page. 

Using the Telephones in San Felipe
How do I use the Public Pay Phones and Dial in Mexico?
  Public pay phones are available thoughout town. You can purchase a Ladatel phone card (available at most pharmacies, gas stations and stores in denominations of $50 and $100 pesos). The instructions on the phones are easy to follow and this is the cheapest way to phone the States or Canada. San Felipe phone numbers consist of 7 digits (686 + phone number). Visit the local numbers page for important phone numbers.
How do I call the U.S. or Canada from Mexico
Dial 001+area code and number. (ex: 001-250-577-1212)
How do I call an 800 or 888 number?
  Dial 001+880 and the last 7 digits of the number. (ex: 001-880-577-1212). However, the call will be charged to you.
Can I use my cellular phone in San Felipe?
  Yes, you can use your cellular phone in Baja provided you have contacted your cellular carrier and set it up roaming with them. You can also go to one of the cellular companies in San Felipe and they will provide you will a Mexican phone number for a nominal fee.
Does San Felipe have Internet Access?
  Yes, if you have a portable computer with a wireless receiver or ethernet plug-in, you can access the internet from the deck in front of Shadetree Computer Services. If you do not have a laptop, there are several drop-in internet providers in town.

Banking and Money
What is the peso exchange rate?
  The peso fluctuates every day. Currently the peso at the money exchangers in San Felipe is about 10.60 (as of February 2004). This means if you cash in $1.00 USD you will get apx. 10.6 pesos in exchange.  You may get a better exchange rate at the banks, but it may not be worth the wait in the lineups.
Do merchants take U.S. and Canadian Money, Checks, Travelers Checks, etc.?
  Everyone in San Felipe will accept U.S. dollars but not Canadian dollars. Some places accept credit cards, traveler's checks and personal checks, but at a fairly steep service charge.
Where do I exchange my money?
  You can either exchange your money at the bank or at the money exchange houses located throughout town.
Are there ATM Machines in San Felipe?
  Yes, there are several. The bank has an ATM machine, the Pemex gas station as you enter town, the Tecate distributor on the main corner downtown (huge Tecate beer can on the roof), and others. When the machine prompts: Pesos or Dollars? You must press Pesos or your transaction will be aborted.
Is there anywhere I can cash a personal check?
  Some exchange houses may cash them for you for a fee and some merchants will take them for goods and services but it is hard to find somewhere where you can cash a personal check for cash.
How do I know if I should pay in pesos or dollars?
  Most merchants go with the current exchange rate but some merchants are still at 10:1 (10 pesos to $1). As a general rule if someone is charging the current exchange rate it really doesnít matter but if they are charging 10:1 or higher then you are better off paying in U.S. Dollars.
Is it okay to barter?
  Yes. Bartering is perfectly acceptable with beach vendors, sidewalk merchants and even some stores in town, though some established businesses will not barter - but it never hurts to try!

Dining, Food and Water
Can I drink the water?
  The water in the city is perfectly safe for cooking, bathing and brushing your teeth. Bottled water is  available at any of the several water filtering plants in town. One gallon jugs of filtered water cost approximately $8 pesos and can be purchased at any grocery store. You can purchase gallon carbuoys at any hardware store for about $5.00 US and have them filled at a filtering plant for about 7 pesos.
What kind of food can I expect?
  San Felipe has a variety of restaurants offering everything from American to Italian food.
Are there Grocery Stores in San Felipe?
  Yes, there are several grocery stores that carry just about everything you need from fresh beef, vegetables, fruits to cheese and dairy items. You may have to look around a little but pretty much anything you need can be found.
When does shrimping season end?
  The season runs from September to April.
Can I still buy shrimp and fish after the season ends?
Yes, you can still purchase shrimp although it is fresh frozen and prices are a little higher.

Traveling into Mexico
What documents do I need to cross the border?
  You do not need any personal documents to cross into Baja if you are staying within the free zone (San Felipe is in the Free Zone). It is a good idea though to carry a drivers license or other photo ID in case you are asked. You should also carry a copy of your title and registration information for your vehicle.
What can I bring with me when I come to Mexico?
  You are allowed $50 per person in merchandise (food, merchandise, etc.) as well as your personal belongings and other items. For more information, visit the Border Inspection page.
Do I need to insure my motorhome and tow vehicle?
  Yes, it is Mexican law that you must have at least liability insurance while in Mexico. There are a number of places on the way (before you enter Mexico) to take care of this. Inexpensive yearly policies are also available.
How is the Highway to San Felipe?
  The highway from Mexicali to San Felipe (Hwy. 5) is in excellent condition. It is a well-maintained 2 land highway (4 lane for about 20 miles heading south from Mexicali) with shoulders and plenty of places to pass and pull over. It is patrolled all day by the Green Angels in case of car troubles.
How long does it take to get to San Felipe?
  From the border at Mexicali, it takes about two and a half hours to drive to San Felipe. There will be a slight delay at the Military Checkpoint near the Ensenada turnoff.
How many miles is to from the border to San Felipe?
  It is 120 miles from Calexico to San Felipe. Visit the mileage page for other locations.
Can I bring my pet into Mexico?
  Yes. You will need the proper forms in the event that you are asked for them. Many pets get lost here and many of the animals have mange so be sure to keep an eye on your pet.
Can I use Mexican gas in my automobile?
  Yes. Some people claim that it is bad for their automobiles but we all use it. There are two grades: Magna(87) and Premium(92). I doubt neither will do any damage for the short time you will be here, but if you are concerned, add an octane booster when you fill up.
How much gasoline can I bring into Mexico?
  None. Since Mexico sells gas you are not allowed to bring any in. Some people can get away with a few gallons but be prepared to be turned back or pay duty.
Can I rent a car in Rocky Point?
  Yes. Thrifty Car Rentals rents cars in San Felipe.
What do I do if I get stopped by the police?
  Never pay the officer who stops you. Most likely they will take your license and ask you to follow them to the police station where, if you have done wrong, you will pay a minimal fine and be sent on your way. A lot of tourists run stop signs and railroad crossings but it is the law that you stop, so be sure to keep your eyes open.
Is it illegal to drink and drive in Mexico?
  Yes. Contrary to popular belief it is illegal and you will be taken to jail if caught. If youíre in an accident and are found to be intoxicated your Mexican insurance could be voided.
What if I am in an accident in Mexico?
  Call the police. That is the very first thing you do. All accidents must be reported to the police. They will come out to the scene and make reports. You will then probably have to go to the police station until they determine who is at fault. If you are at fault and do not have Mexican Insurance then your car will be impounded and you may possibly be jailed until you can make restitution to the other party. If they are at fault then the same will happen to them. If you have insurance you need to contact your adjuster immediately and you will begin the process of making a claim.
Can I bring my boat into Mexico?
  Yes, you can bring your boat into Mexico. Club de Pesca and the Marina both have boat ramps for launching small craft.
Can I bring my digital camera, laptop or video camera with me into Mexico?
  Yes, you are allowed to bring all of these items into Mexico as long as you are a resident of another country. Visit the Inpection Page for more information.
Can I bring my ATV into Mexico?
  Yes, you may bring your ATV, buggy, etc. into Mexico. Just make sure you have proof of ownership in case you are asked at the border. If you do not have the proper paperwork (title, registration, etc.) you may be turned back.
What time is it in San Felipe?
  San Felipe is on the same time as California. We do not change our time.

Medical Emergencies
What do I do in the event of an accident or medical emergency?
  San Felipe has facilities to handle most medical emergencies. Please visit the St. James Clinic page for complete details, phone numbers, etc.
Is there an air ambulance service available from San Felipe to the United States?
  There is no allocated plane standing by at the local airport, but in a real emergency, there always seems to be a plane available. There is also a local service that advertises both ground and air emergency transportation. The phone number is 577-0500 or on VHF channel 16.

Real Estate
  For more information on real estate prices, bank trusts, owning property in Mexico, federal zones, etc. or any other real estate questions please visit Blueroadrunner's real estate page.

Sightseeing and Things to Do
Where are the tourist shops in San Felipe?
  Av. Mar de Cortezs is the principal tourist souvenir avenue in San Felipe. Just follow the main road (Chetumál) into town until you are at the four-way intersection just one block shy of the sea. The shops range out north and south of this intersection.
Can I drive my ATV or vehicle on the beach?
  No, you may not ride your ATV, buggy or any other vehicle on the beaches within the city limits.
Can I rent ATVís in San Felipe?
  Yes, there are several rental venues in town. Most along the south end of the main tourist avenue.
Is there anything for children to do?
  Yes, besides swimming and having fun at on the beaches there are banana boat rides, shell-collecting, horse-back riding, the Hot Springs in Puertecitos, the occasional circus that comes to town, ultra-light flights and other activities.