This post is for those in the Overlanding Community or those traveling who might want to visit Los Frailes. Information in a nutshell, not so much a story-post.
But before we dive in on the advice (yes, “we”! – Mikey’s co-writing this post), we just want to remind you that Los Frailes is part of the Mexican National Parks. It’s a protected area. It’s one of the few remaining places where you can camp FOR FREE* and in which there are flying rays, breaching whales, fish, sea lions and butterflies. It’s clean. It’s safe. It’s a spot made of magic and kept our hearts there for 6 weeks altogether.
Los Frailes is about 6 miles on a washboard dirt road past Cabo Pulmo. We do not recommend driving any route to Los Frailes except the route that passes through Cabo Pulmo.
Cabo Pulmo is a small (very small) town and has a bare bones dry goods shop. It’s not a good place to stock up on food or water, but it’s a great place to buy or rent fine diving equipment (at US prices).
Los Frailes has 2 pit toilets by the beaches. That’s it in the way of toilets. It is maintained by Ray who camps there for 6 months out of the year. So be gentle with them, and don’t drop your toilet paper in the pit.
There is a well, in which you can draw slightly brackish water. Your call on if you want to drink it – we didn’t, but we were delighted to have it to wash clothes, dishes, and so forth.
We advise you to come prepared, bringing at least 1 very strong, stiff plastic construction grade bucket with pulling rope. A tight lid is very useful. We had 2 buckets like this and would have been glad for more.
A lot of people seem to use an electric pump with a filter attached. Nice system, it allowed them to pull tons of water at a time (some people apparently can’t go without their 30 minute showers). Of course they also had a vehicle to carry all that water back home. And doing that can take it’s toll on the water supply. We limited ourselves to 10 gallons a day.
There are no shops in Los Frailes; but when the fishermen are there, you can get yourself some really good, super fresh fish, for not so much money.
** check with other campers for all times/days listed below **
On Sundays Fernando, a cherry tomato farmer, comes and sells fruits, vegetables, dairy products, tamales he purchases in San Jose. He also takes orders for water, propane, etc – but you need to have empty tanks to give him for filling, and he will bring it back the following Sunday. You can buy pretty much anything from him, but you might need to wait a week for a full order (- he comes with everyone’s orders and then a little extra for newcomers – he might sell out). His prices are reasonable.
On Friday mornings, Don Pablo and his government supply (DICONSA) truck comes around. You can buy a wide range of staples – cooking oil, toilet paper, juice, coca cola, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, etc. It can be really time consuming because they only service one customer at a time. Try to be first in line!
Another guy comes to sell organic produce on most Friday afternoons, I think – you’ll need to check on all of this with the other campers after you arrive.
A propane truck used to come by to fill tanks. It didn’t when we were there, but that might change, especially since this year has been the busiest ever, according to the old timers.
The Chapitos Grocery Store on Los Barriles’ main street has everything. Ev-er-y-thing. Like, rye bread, contact lens solution, lots of other foreigners, everything. And they are annoying to me because they don’t list prices on any-thing, which means you have to scan it all in the price checker or just roll with it. 🙁
For better prices (but smaller selection) there are a couple of Tienda Populares, one outside of Los Barriles, and the other within the town limits.
Shopping at Los Barriles was an hour away from Los Frailes, hard to beat. Even though we weren’t crazy about, we went a few times
San Jose del Cabo
We also went to San Jose del Cabo, visiting one of the Soriana’s there – the prices at Soriana were lower than Chapitos, but it took a couple of hours to get there. We coupled up the Soriana trips with stops at the propane place and water distributor, and in one case, the auto parts store for new front shocks for Myrtle (- all three in the outskirts of San Jose).
If you are able to hold a lot of non-perishable items, you can stay at Los Frailes for a long time. Stock up on rice, beans, canned food, etc and then just order the fresh stuff from Fernando’s/government truck who come weekly.
There is a great lending library under the Big Tree. A table or two are always set up with books. Take one, leave one.
There are 3 communities at Los Frailes: the arroyo (- dry river bed), the trees and the beach.
They all have their benefits:
- Arroyo: great because it’s flat and easy to get your rig level. And there is a lot of space. The arroyo is on both sides of the road into Los Frailes. Don’t forget to stop by Steven’s fort and tell him we say hi.
- Trees: the shade is nice, but no dogs allowed,and there seems to be a “clickish” feel to the place.
- Beach: what’s better than waking up, stepping outside and being 20 steps from the perfect, clean, crystal-clear water? That’s right. Nothing.
No campers or big rigs are allowed on the beach because of turtle eggs (!!!!). You can tent camp on the sand though, or park your rig just by the beach (which is what we did).
THERE IS INTERNET AT LOS FRAILES!!! yes, unbelievable. They built a tower close to Cabo Pulmo, so the access at Los Frailes is pretty good – just bring your pre-paid Tel Cel modem USB stick (- for more information on this stuff, read Life Remotely’s posts). 7 times out of 10, you’ll have access – and if you climb a hill nearby, you’ll always have access.
Los Frailes Packing List
- Extra propane tank
- Strong buckets for water
- Plunger (to wash your clothes with – more on that later)
- Everything you need to make your life go
- Non-perishable food
- LOTS OF WATER – we went through around 25 gallons a week
- Something to handle flies/wasps
- ** there are also non-aggressive bees **
- Snorkeling gear
- Beach stuff
- Kayaks, etc
- Hiking gear if you like hiking: there are great trails there through the desert and hills
- Photography equipment: of course
They have little garbage cans by the beach, but the best place to dispose of your garbage is by the big dumpster. It’s on the main road, by the main entrance:
You can also leave the items that you would like to give away by the dumpster – people come by and take what they’d like to keep.
*Cost to Camp
It’s still free to camp at Los Frailes, but the grapevine says that might be changing. We don’t know, so don’t blame us if you wait a long time to go then find out the policy has changed and it suddenly costs money to camp! Go now!