Eco-conscious and off-grid, Campo Cuatro Casas Hostel is only two and a half hours south of Ensenada, Mexico and still one of Baja’s best unintentionally kept secrets.
Opening for business as a hostel in 1998, Cuatro Casas is by no means new to the south-of-the-border tourist scene. The atmosphere, though, remains true to Baja, without frills and catering perfectly to adventure seekers.
Far beyond the nearest stretch of town and along an undeveloped coastline, the hostel is positioned on the top of a bluff. The balcony overlooks both an abandoned right-hand point break to surf, as well as a perfect 8-foot deep pool poured just for skating: “The Showbowl.”
Due to its lone location, the Mexican compound is solar powered and runs entirely on clean energy. They also produce clean, distilled water on site and thoughtfully dispose of all waste to ensure the coastline stays relatively free of any environmental impact.
Also true to Baja, reaching the destination is half of the adventure. When traveling south from California, you must cross international borders (bring your passport), pay tolls while driving on the coastal highways (typically less than two dollars each), stop at a checkpoint south of Ensenada, and you may even run into road construction. But do not despair, the journey is a fun experience in itself and serves as your best chance to beat the crowds.
The travel southbound tends to be rather quick and hassle-free with very short stops at the border and checkpoint. On your trek back, however, you can expect it to take a bit more time to pass as security tightens and you are asked a couple of questions by officials.
Although it is not absolutely necessary to know Spanish at these stops, although it is certain to save you time. Regardless, your best bet is to always be prepared to give answers to three questions:
1. Where you are from?
2. Where you are going?
3. What you are doing while in Baja, and for how long?
Once you have traveled far enough south it is time to locate the correct dirt road and traverse west for 45 minutes by dirt road, which can be tricky.
The owners recommended following their directions, not those of Google Maps. However, it was still a difficult to navigate the seemingly simple series of dirt roads. Our suggestion is to make note of the location on a map app (whichever you prefer) well in advance of your trip and take the most direct route provided.
The roads themselves vary in quality, but are easily navigable with ample light and time. Four-wheel drive is recommended, however two-wheeled cars with low clearance are able to make the journey with extreme care.
Another travel tip is to plan your arrival to be well before dusk (this is an important one). Arriving after dark could lead to minor car damage and dirty dead ends. But keep in mind, being a bit off the beaten path keeps the final destination well-removed from the minds of most Baja tourists.
The compound is crafted to easily accommodate 27 people in the building with multiple bathrooms and a fully functioning kitchen. Still, there is plenty of additional space outdoors to pitch tents and build a bonfire, but with a little luck the place can be enjoyed in total privacy.
Remember to call ahead in order to check prices and availability. Then, proceed to call your friends and plan out your own Baja adventure to Campo Cuatro Casas Hostel.
Travel tip: Cross the border to enter back into the United States of America later into the evening for the quickest crossing.
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