Tips and Facts


getting there

ARE YOU READY FOR A VACATION IN BAJA?

BELOW ARE LOADS OF DETAILS THAT YOU'LL WANT TO KNOW IN ORDER TO HELP MAKE FOR A SMOOTH VACATION EXPERIENCE. MAIN TOPICS INCLUDE:

 


It's always nice to pack light, but there are a few things we don't want you to forget. In Los Barriles, you are an hour away from any major tourist area, and you won't easily find things like wetsuits and booties. To avoid the possibility of lost luggage, we recommend that you carry-on your luggage whenever possible, particularly important items. Here is our list of things to bring:

- Current Passport REQUIRED for all guests from the US and Canada (guests from other countries should check with their airline or consulate)
- A printout of your email invoice confirming full payment and this Tips & Facts webpage.
- Harness, lycra, vest or shorty wetsuit, booties, gloves.
- BRING YOUR WETSUIT! Most people wear a shorty or 3 mil short sleeve, though others may prefer a full suit.
- Sunglasses and chums, a visor or hat.
- High SPF (25+) waterproof sunscreen lotion (oil makes board slippery)
- PFD and/or helmet (if desired) Even your GPS or helmet-cam!
- Booties for sure...  the launch can get rocky at some spots.
- Warm sweater or jacket for evenings plus light windbreaker.
- Extra spending money (see "Currency/credit cards" below)
- Paperback books for flights and evenings (Our staff appreciates current newspapers / magazines - especially windsport related!)
- Ball-point pen, helpful for any airport forms, customs declarations, etc.)
- Beach towel.
- Daypack for bike rides & other excursions you may take.
- MOUNTAIN BIKING: Bicycle shorts, suitable shoes and gloves for biking, clip-less pedals if desired, maybe your hydration-pack. 
- Ear Plugs (a good idea if you are a light sleeper and if you're practicing those forward loops!)
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen for muscle aches.
- Medical tape for tired hands.

What we have: 

Available for sale are Vela Baja T-shirts, hoodies, and a limited selection of gloves, hats, caps, booties, harnesses, sunglasses sunscreen, lycra tops, board-shorts, and bikinis. We will have a limited number of harnesses and 3/2 Full wetsuits available for rent.

Location:

Vela Baja is located about 60 miles North of San Jose del Cabo near the tip of Baja California Sur, Mexico on the East side of the peninsula facing the Sea of Cortez. Our center operates in the small town of Los Barriles, out of the Playa del Sol, which we completely takeover during the windy winter months. We are a short 3 minute walk from our other favorite property, the Palmas de Cortez, which is a short 200 yards down the beach.

Languaje:

Language:
English is spoken fluently by all hotel employees and our Center staff. Spanish is the local language. The hotel staff may speak and understand varying levels of English, as well as with other service-industry employees around town. Some of the Vela staff also speak fluent Dutcth, German, and French.

Weather:

Baja has typical desert weather, warm days and cool nights. In mid-December, January and February, the 'El Nortes' can blow quite cool so bring at least a 3 mil wet-suit with short sleeves or a farmer john and jacket. Some people may prefer a full suit. Some days it may also be warm enough to wear a shorty or no wet-suit. Typically on a very windy day, you'll find a windbreaker and/or sweat suit desirable when not sailing. Without wind chill factor, air temperatures range from 70-85 degrees with the water temperature ranging from 68-75. Rain is rare but possible. At night sweaters and jackets may be appropriate.

Water and Health:

Although the water in the Los Barriles area comes from an underground aquifer that many visitors and locals consider extremely safe, we do not recommend drinking anything except bottled water. To allow your body to adjust to the different food and water and to avoid getting sick, don't further tax your system by exhausting yourself the first day or drinking too many beers and margaritas!

Currency / Credit Cards:

Pesos are the Mexican currency but there is little reason to convert your cash as US$ and travelers checks are happily accepted anywhere. the 'Casa de Cambio' in Los Barriles will exchange your cash for pesos, and usually at a better rate than what you would be able to obtain from the banks in the major towns. We recommend you bring plenty of extra cash in small denominations (or traveler's checks). It's a good idea to bring small bills to avoid getting too much extra change in pesos, especially at the end of your trip. Although Vela Baja prefers payment of additional goods and services in cash or traveler's checks, you may use a credit card (service fee additional). Credit cards are also accepted at the hotels, though a service fee usually applies.

Electrical Voltage:

110 volt, same outlets as U.S

Email / Phone Services:

Although both hotels offer in-room phones, they are VERY expensive. Plan to activate international calling on your cellular phone or bring a calling card to use from local pay phones instead. Free WiFi internet access is available at both hotels, though signal strength varies on your exact location within the resort, and may be off-line at times. There are two high-speed internet cafes in town which you are welcome to plug into for a fee. ALSO PLEASE BE AWARE: The red and blue pay phone in front of the Hotel Playa del Sol lobby are owned by a company called BBG of San Diego, aka “International Satellite Communications” which will rob you blind. They claim that the rates are available from the operator when you make a call, but the calling instructions don’t tell you this in actuality. They do not publish their calling rates on the web or anywhere else, nor are the rates displayed on the phone. There are websites (example attached) with people talking about coming off cruise ships in the Caribbean and Europe, making a one hour phone call from one of their pay phones, and being charged $1,000.

Meals:

Beginning on January 1st, 2017 the format at Hotel Playa del Sol has undergone a change. As of this date our room rates will include ONLY breakfast: lunch and dinner will no longer be included in the price of the room. Over the years we have found that many of our guests like to explore their dining options and check out some of the local cuisine during their stay. The town of Los Barriles has grown and there are now many restaurants to enjoy, a far cry from the Los Barriles of days gone by when our original format of including three meals a day was about the only way to fill your stomach. This new plan offers guests much more flexibility in their dining choices. Special arrangements will be made for groups of 20 guests or more who wish to share all of their meals together at the resort. There is also a new options at the Cafe del Sol, offering baritsa-prepared coffee and baked goods, plus casual fare such as tacos, hamburgers, and nachos to enjoy poolside. A complimentary shuttle will be available upon request to transport guests who wish to dine for lunch and/or dinner at the Bay View Bar & Grill, located just next door at Hotel Palmas de Cortez. We appreciate your customer loyalty very much at Vela Baja and the Hotel Playa del Sol, and we will continue to make efforts toward providing our guests with the best possible customer service and the ultimate vacation experience. We look forward to seeing you all in 2017.

Other Activities:

If you are traveling on a complete package, your vacation includes unlimited use of our mountain bikes, mountain bike clinics and guided rides, kayaks, SUP boards, snorkel gear, ping pong, bonfires, beachside BBQ's beach volleyball, and much more. The hotel staff can arrange an abundance of things to do including fishing charters, scuba diving, horseback riding and more for an extra fee. Depending on the wind and interest level, our staff may take you on snorkeling excursions or other day trips in the Los Cabos region.

Tipping:

Gratuities are greatly appreciated for good service by all employees at the hotel, including the team at Vela Baja!

Emergencies:

Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff.

 

Airport Arrival:

You should be flying into the Los Cabos Airport / San Jose Del Cabo (SJD) airport. If you're flying into La Paz let us know, as we can send the same transfer service to pick you up. When you arrive you will go through immigration and pick up any checked luggage in baggage claim then should proceed to exit the terminal. You are now in Mexico!.

Reserved Transfers:

You most likely have reserved pre-paid transfers with your vacation package, but check with us if you have any doubts. Make certain that you have contacted Vela well in advance to provide flight detail (airline name, flight numbers, and arrival time) to ensure a successful transfer, and to notify us with any changes to your itinerary. We will ensure that a driver is awaiting your arrival outside of the terminal, and ready to get you to Vela Baja quickly and safely. Once you have retrieved your luggage and cleared customs head out the main doors, look for your driver who will be holding a sign reading 'TT CABO DEL ESTE', and a 'VELA' sign with your name on it. The drivers will be stationed in an area for large vans, separate from the line of taxis on the street. A tip for the driver is courteous. The driver may ask you if you want to stop at a market along the way, a great option to pick up a case of 'cervecas' to start off your trip!

If you haven't paid for reserved transfers, there are a couple alternatives. 

Taxis Paid On-Arrival:

Directly across from the baggage claim area exit is a taxi stand. This taxi stand dispatches all taxis from the airport. Taxis are about $80 per taxi, slightly higher if six or more persons share the ride. Give the taxi stand your hotel name, tell them it is in Los Barriles, pay them and they will give you a claim ticket for your taxi ride. You will not be able to obtain a taxi without this ticket from the taxi stand. Go outside and give the ticket to one of the taxi drivers. Your taxi ride will take about 1 hour.

To los Barriles By Bus:

For persons not desiring a taxi, there is a much less expensive ($3-5), but more time-consuming and adventurous alternative to reach Los Barriles. It is the local bus that plies the route between San Jose del Cabo and La Paz. The only hitch is that the bus drops you at the intersection of the highway and the 1/3 mile long road into town. At the time of this printing buses leave the San Jose del Cabo bus station at 6, 7:30, and 10 am. Afternoon buses leave at noon, 2, 5 and 7 pm. Make sure you take the bus headed to La Paz via Los Barriles. There are two ways to get the bus. One is to take a "collectivo" taxi headed for San Jose del Cabo hotels. Tell them to take you to the bus station (about a 10-15 minute ride). The other way is to ask that same taxi to let you off at the bus stop just a few miles south of the airport before you get to town. Waiting in town at the restaurant next to the bus station is more pleasant! The ride to Los Barriles from the bus station takes approximately 2 hours vs. about 1 hour by taxi from the airport.

Transportation During Your Vacation:

Everything in Los Barriles is within walking distance, so a rental car is not necessary. In fact, most guests with a rental car find that it sits in the parking lot most (if not all) of the trip. Plus, you are free to use our fleet of bikes to explore the town as well as the 40+ miles of single- and double-track trails. If your wanderlust carries your interests further the local transfer company offers our guests special rates for day-trips to nearby areas such as Cabo del Pulmo, Buena Vista, Cabo san Lucas, La Paz, or even a surf trip to Todos Santos on the Pacific side of Baja.

If you plan to rent a car and drive yourself, please check out these driving directions to help you get from the SJD airport to Vela Baja, located at the Hotel Playa del Sol in Los Barriles, BCS, Mexico.


View Larger Map

 

Hotel Check-In:

The normal check-in time is at 3:00PM for all properties, although we can request early check-in if available. Vouchers are not required for check-in. Simply arrive at the front desk and give the agent the last name of the person who made the reservation. If there are any questions, please show them the email invoice that you should print and take with you. NOTE: If your plane is scheduled to arrive late in the evening we need to know this so that our Baja staff will be expecting you. The front desk at the Palmas de Cortez front desk will be closed after 10:00 pm and 8:00 pm at the Playa del Sol unless Vela is able to notify the hotel staff of your late arrival in advance. Be aware that if you change your flight at the last minute or if you experience flight delays and it arrive in the late evening, you could very well find the entire hotel sound asleep upon arrival. If you arrive later than expected and the front office is closed, check for a list on the office door with your name and room number on it. You may also receive assistance from a night security guard if no note is present.

Hotel Check-Out:

Check out time is 12 noon for all properties. Make certain to go over your final bill carefully. Personal charges such as bar tabs, laundry, telephone calls, and such are your responsibility. DO NOT let the hotel charge you any tax or service fees on accommodations prepaid by Vela. We always prepay tax and service charges for you. Should an emergency necessitate an early return home, we will do all we can to get refunds for you. Standard hotel cancellation fees usually exceed any unused balance, but hotels are quite often understanding of emergencies. To assist us in this you must get written verification of check-out date from your hotel front desk and also from the windsurf staff.

Important Note:

If you have an early flight, make arrangements for a taxi to the airport the day before your departure and leave plenty of time to get to the airport. If you are leaving on a late flight, sometimes there is a courtesy room available for storing luggage and taking a shower.

 

Getting To Vela Baja:

The Vela Kitesurf Baja Center is located on-site at the hotel Playa del Sol hotel in Los Barriles. If you are guest of the hotel, simply roll out of bed and walk out your door: you are right there! If a guest at the Palmez de Cortez, you will have short 3-5 minute walk along the beach to get to the center. All kitesurf rentals and lessons will be available at our new launch directly downwind of the main windsurfing area, Alternatively, you may choose to head to North Beach, a short 5 minute taxi which costs $5 each way per person, or a 20 minute walk up the beach if you prefer to get warmed up before you head out.

Checking In To Get Started:

Upon check-in to your room you should also receive an informational pamphlet about the organization of the Vela center, sign-in / sign-out policies, warnings about conditions and more. Our staff will be anticipating your arrival and will plan to greet you at our beachfront equipment center. You can find our staff members at the equipment area wearing T-shirts that say "Vela" or "Staff". Give any team member your name and they will set you up with an orientation. A credit card is required for safety deposit and for setting up your account at the center.

Kitesurf Equipment:

Our integrated Vela kitesurf center is powered by the latest Cabrinha equipment. Experienced kiters and students ready to take gear out on their own are welcome to get on the water with our fleet. Rentals will not be provided until proof of level-3 IKO certification (or similar) or completion of a 1-Hour Evaluation Course ($50) or any lesson plan to demonstrate your skill level.

Getting On The Water:

Equipment is available for check out beginning at 9 am and must be returned by 5:30 pm. Every day you kitesurf you must sign out with a member of the yourself and the equipment that you are using. This enables us to keep track of our equipment and know that our guests have returned safely. All procedures and safety concerns will be explained during the orientation. Please note that equipment fee is per person and not transferable.

Getting Your Gear:

You will be given an orientation session before checking out your equipment. All guests must follow the guidelines detailed to you during your orientation. If you need to change your kite size or board during the day, simply return to the center and get back on the water. All this will be covered in your "Center Orientation" on your first day kiting with us.

Conditions and Safety:

When 'El Norte' winds arrives each winter in Los Barriles they whip up a rolling swell that turns the Sea of Cortez into an exciting playground, usually blowing for periods of 3-8 days with 2-4 days of light wind in between. Side shore winds average 18-25 knots with peak velocities up to 30. Typical kite sizes range from 7 - 14m. Above 15 knots, a widely spaced, rolled swell provides great ramps for jumping. Novice kiters may find the conditions more easy to handle whenever a lighter breeze and smaller swell comes through. Once the wind picks up, intermediate and advanced kiters will find strong wind and rolling swells. 

Damage to equipment:

You will be asked to leave a credit card as deposit when you take out equipment. Once you sign out gear, it is your responsibility to return it in the same condition! To minimize the possibility of damage, please choose equipment that suits your ability level and conditions, and handle equipment carefully when launching and coming in to shore. Items that need replacing will normally be charged at cost plus 10% for parts and labor. For items that can be repaired, standard charges will apply. This must be paid directly to the center in full upon return of the damaged equipment.

Gear Storage:

Gear Storage: 
There is plenty of space to store your equipment in your room, or, please check with a member of the Vela staff to see about using our secured area.

Vela Wind Warranty:

In the event that there are 4 or more days of no sailable wind using any of our equipment, you may request a NO-WIND CLAIM FORM that will allow you credit towards a future trip to any Vela destination. Note that you may receive higher credits if you return to the same center. You must get this form before you leave the center. 

 

Vela Baja is equipped with the latest in high performance gear featuring NeilPryde sails and rigs, JP Australia, and Starboard. Please help us maintain the high quality of our fleet by handling with care. Rentals are available in advance with your package or on-site for a higher daily-use fee.

Lesson Program:

All instructors are highly trained, each with years of teaching experience.ALL WINDSURF LESSONS CAN BE RESERVED IN ADVANCE TO GUARANTEE SPACE ON THE SCHEDULE OR ON-SITE BASED ON INSTRUCTOR AVAILABILITY.

EAGER BEGINNER LESSONS:

We've warned you, but you really want to learn? Great! If conditions allow, we offer a 2-hour lesson with equipment during instruction. Typically private but groups encouraged if you give the OK. Lessons given daily at 9:00am due to advanced conditions that generally follow in the afternoon. Beginner lessons will ONLY be available when conditions permit as subject to the center manager or instructor. Private/group $60 for Vela guests and $70 for non-vela guests.

WATER START LESSONS:

After a short land session, the instructor joins you in deep water for a 2-hour training session to figure out or perfect your waterstart. Private instruction. $80 for Vela guests and $90 for non-vela guests.

WATER START - FLOAT LESSONS:

For the student who has already taken a waterstart lesson we offer a waterstart float lesson, which runs approximately 30 minutes at a cost of $35.

ADVANCED LESSONS:

Individualized, private instruction that is catered to your specific needs, whether that may be jibing, stance, footstraps, jumping, etc. Times arranged on-site and are subject to instructor availability, though you can reserve time in advance. $80 for Vela guests and $90 non-Vela guests.

Special group lessons offered at $70 per person. 2 hours of total instruction time.

 

Kitesurfing Lessons:

This season all Vela Kitesurf services will be provided in-house by NEW kiteschool located at the Hotel Playa del Sol! Our team of IKO certified instructors are eager to share knowledge about the sport they love. We understand that each student has their own unique and individual needs and goals. We will design each lesson so that the progression towards be a proficient kiteboarder is an exciting, safe, and enjoyable experience. Instruction for all ability levels are available in 2-hour private lessons. If you have already booked time in advance please make sure to check-in at the Vela Baja center either at 09:00 the day of your first lesson or anytime the day before your lesson to reconfirm start-times. Contact us if you need to reserve some time on the water!

LAND TRAINING: 1 HOUR WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED ($75):

Have you ever watched kitesurfers ripping it up on the water, jumping huge, and riding waves and wondering if it is for you? We offer this unique lesson with a small trainer kite to give you a taste of how a kite flies.

BODY DRAG: 2 HOURS PER LESSON WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED ($150):

Practice body drags, one handed flying, power strokes, re-launch, and self-rescue, ALL IN THE WATER! Once you have gained some skill getting back upwind to a fixed point, you will be ready for board.

WATERSTART: 2 HOURS PER LESSON WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED ($150):

Using your gained skills, learn to put on the board in the water and get your first rides! By the end of this lesson, you will be 1 step closer to becoming a self-sufficient kitesurfer!

BEGINNER PACKAGE: 8 HOURS TOTAL WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED ($525):

This multiple day lesson will take you from your first flight to getting rides. We cater lessons to each individual's strength, ensuring we complete the lesson at the right pace for you. Kitesurfing is one of the fastest growing water sports in the word. The learning curve is is fairly quick in relation to other sports. Without proper instruction, kiteboarding can be dangerous, so we'll be sure to take each progression at a speed that is comfortable for both the student and instructor.

CONTINUING PACKAGE: 6 HOURS TOTAL WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED ($420):

Intended for students with some prior experience, a specialized one-on-one program that starts at your level. The goal of these lessons will be to get you up and riding with confidence so that you
can get out on the water on your own.

PRE-RENTAL LESSON: 2 HOURS PER LESSON WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED ($150):

Whether you are a current guest just completing our Beginner Package or a continuing student hoping for some extra help, this lesson is for you! Put all your skills to use and gain the confidence you'll need (and we'll require) before you can kite on your own with Vela rental gear. Your lesson will include all gear during your supervised training time. Note that your instructor may require that you take additional lessons prior to signing off and giving you full access to our rental fleet.

ADVANCED: 2 HOURS PER LESSON WITH ALL GEAR INCLUDED ($150):

Private personalized instruction to focus on anything you want to learn. Includes all gear during lesson.

DOWNWINDER TRIPS

Experienced kiters can take advantage of a fantastic 2-hour assisted downwinders from North Beach, past the Playa del Sol and Palmas de Cortez (staying far outside the windsurfing area) and onwards towards the beachfront town of Buena Vista. Once there, margaritas are available at the hotel-bar where the trip ends. Includes use of equipment and transfer pick-up back to Los Barriles for $75 per person. A minimum of 2 people will be required for a downwinder to be scheduled, and can be booked in advance or on-site once you are there.

 

Make sure to say goodbye to our staff before you go. Check to see if you have left anything at the center or if you have taken care of your final tab for additional services you may have purchased. If you have had some bad luck in the wind department, make sure to get you No Wind Claim Form before you go, and we hope that you have still had a great vacation overall in spite of Mother Nature!

 

READY TO GO? ARE YOU SURE? PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU DEPART. HAVE A GREAT TRIP AND DON'T FORGET TO WRITE!

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