The Founders Of Baja Beach Fest Share The Best Of Mexico’s Northern Baja

08.14.19 2 weeks ago

Baja Beach Fest

If you’ve heard anything about Baja Beach Fest — the reggaeton and Latin hip-hop festival coming to Rosarito, Mexico’s historic Papas & Beer this weekend — you know this: It’s a party. Like a big, wild, sprawling, bucket-list rager. And while other festivals seek to widen their reach by bringing in digital artists, broadening the genres they focus on, or adding in a health component, Baja Beach Fest is staying true to its identity. Both the genre they rep for, by bringing in Ozuna and J Balvin to headline; and their home, one of the most historic clubs on earth, located in Mexico’s Northern Baja.

The crowds have taken note. Hotels and AirBnBs for this weekend have been booked out for months and fans of reggaeton coming from the United States aren’t about to be dissuaded by the fear-mongering that has long dominated the travel conversation surrounding Tijuana, Rosarito, and even the calm hamlet of Puerto Nuevo a few clicks south.

“We brought well over 100,000 people across the border to Papas & Beer over the course of last year alone,” says Chris Den Uijl, Baja Beach Fest’s co-founder. “This year, we’re on pace to double that. People are clearly waking back up to Rosarito as a travel destination. I think bringing mainstream artists like YG, Migos, and Little Uzi Vert — as well as the biggest Latin artists — helps them feel more comfortable.”

Den Uijl launched Baja Beach Fest with his close friend Aaron Ampudia, whose parents started Papas & Beer in ’83. Together, the duo has quickly built their brand into a destination festival that brings exciting names to the region and challenges stereotypes about Northern Baja Tourism. Though Tijuana’s murder rate sits at or near the top of global lists, lovers of everything from the local food scene to the beloved surf breaks remind travelers that more than 90% of all homicides involve people associated with the drug trade. Regardless, Rosarito is a destination unto itself — a beach resort, rather than a suburb of TJ.

“We really pride ourselves on the safety portion of throwing a festival,” Den Uijl notes. “Education is the biggest barrier, so we emphasize that — showing people how accessible Rosarito is, showcasing the food of the region, and celebrating its growth.”

On the cusp of Baja Beach Fest, we asked Den Uijl and Ampudia to share their highlights of the region. Their joint picks provide a virtual roadmap, should you be heading to Baja Norte for Baja Beach Fest, one of Papa’s & Beer’s many parties throughout the year, or just a weekend of waves and quiet beach time.

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