San Felipe History

The history of the San Felipe region dates to more than 150 million years before present (to the formation of the Baja California peninsula) while its written history goes no farther back than the days of the first Europeans to set foot on its soil. Beyond that, nothing is known of the first humans to enjoy the local shores although information begins to appear from about two thousand years ago.

The Harbor in San FelipeDispatched by Hernon Cortés to map the coastline of the then known "Southern Sea," Fransisco de Ulloa recorded his presence in this area in September, 1539. With him was cartographer Domingo del Castillo who identified the San Felipe cove (on a map he was then making) as "Santa Catarina." What's more, because the existence of the Baja California peninsula was unknown at the time (the Spaniards thought La Paz was on an island some of them called "California"), it was Ulloa who reported it at the conclusion of this voyage. That voyage, by the way, included circumnavigation of the peninsula as far north as the approximate location of Ensenada.

One year later, Hernando de Alarcón sailed into the area on an unsuccessful mission of support for the Coronado Expedition (to the Seven Golden Cities of Cíbola). With Alarcón was the same Domingo del Castillo who, by virtue of the Viceroy of New Spain's orders to sail as close as possible to the shore (to enable sighting Coronado's representatives), was enabled to improve upon the map he produced during the Ulloa voyage.

Sailing in the first ship built on Baja California soil, Juan de Ugarte landed in the bay on July 5, 1721. Twenty-five years later, Padre Fernando Consag landed here and formally christened the place San Felipe de Jesús. San Felipe's modern history dates from 1876 when the Mexican government signed a colonization contract with one Guillermo Andrade who acquired some 30,000 hectares but died before his plans were realized.

Although the first fish camp was formed in 1904, it was not until 1925 that the first sub-delegation was created and San Felipe began to develop as an organized community. The first fishing society was founded in 1928, the first school established in 1929, and the first tourist facilities in the early 1950's. Electricity was provided in 1963 and the first potable water in 1967.
The Beaches of San Felipe await you.

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