The Road to Santa Rita Hot Springs
We had read there were only 2 hot springs near Santiago (between Cabo and La Paz) we could reach without 4WD and since we had a small Kia Rio rental, we opted to head to Santa Rita hot springs. The other accessible one is El Chorro.
The previous directions we read made no sense to us so below is an up to date (December 2018) guide on how to get to Santa Rita hot springs.
Using google maps will get you as far as San Jorge by simply typing in San Jorge or even Santa Rita hot springs. I recommend using google maps (download the offline map if you don’t have roaming data) to get you as far as San Jorge, especially for the way back where there is a deceiving fork in the road back to Santiago. Unfortunately the Google maps directions won’t get you from San Jorge to Santa Rita.
If you don’t have Google maps, follow the signs for Santa Rita from Santiago. You will be turning right just before the zoo. If you pass the zoo, you have gone too far and somehow missed the turnoff for Santa Rita and San Jorge. From the turnoff in Santiago, you will drive 7.8 km to San Jorge down a dirt road – a small area (I can’t really use the word town, it is so small) with a church and sports field.
One you arrive in San Jorge, make your immediate right – you will see a large sign for Santa Rita here. This is before the church or sports field, literally the immediate right.
Follow a super sketchy dirt road for 2.1 km (approx. 10 minutes) and you’ll come to a small parking lot. There were several times we were convinced we were going the wrong way. Keep going. Although it is possible in a small car, 4WD (or an ATV) would be preferable.
We paid a man sitting at a table at the entrance to the hot springs. Entry was 100 pesos for 2 of us. I’m not sure if some of that was a fee for parking or that was just entry.
From parking lot, walk down the path to the hot springs for about 5 minutes, past the campsite (yes! Camping here is possible and would be very cool!) and over 2 little wooden bridges. To the left, just after the wooden bridges will be the hot springs pool. A small pool of warm (not super hot) clear water. We were fortunate enough to have the whole pool to ourselves until a group of locals came. We did not see any other tourists the entire 2 hours we spent in this area.
In search of more hot springs, we climbed the rocks up from the hot springs pool. There were no more hot springs, verified by locals, but a beautiful swimming hole fed by a waterfall. This isn’t the easiest climb and proper footwear is essential! Tip: stay to the left of the pool above the hot springs for the easier route to the waterfall. Initially we went right and after some serious maneuvering over huge rocks, we hit a dead end and turned around.
If you can handle the climb, this waterfall pool is a refreshing (cold) place to cool down and do some cliff jumping into the clear, deep, hole. Absolutely amazing! But seriously, be careful. This is all natural so no safety stuff or lifeguards and can be a little sketchy.
Facilities: none. There is a small bathroom at the campsite but otherwise come prepared with snacks and anything you may need for a day at the hot springs.
To get back, reverse these directions back to Santiago, but pay attention to where the road forks from San Jorge to Santiago. Make sure to use Google maps or stay right. On the way back to Santiago you will see a sign to El Chorro hot springs. If you’re feeling like more adventure, head down this road.
Disclaimer: I was conflicted about sharing these tips as this area is essentially untouched and natural. If you go, please respect the enviromment and the people. Do not leave any garbage and avoid obnoxious tourist behaviour (ie. Blasting loud music) – save that for your resort.