Hotel Serenidad, Muleg (011-52-615-153-0530; www.serenidad. com). Traditional Mexican style, with poolside bar.
Casa Lere, San Ignacio (011-52-615-154-0158). Bright blue colonial adobe guest house near the plaza.
Punta San Francisquito (011-52-664-681-0709). Rustic, remote accommodations at a fishing cove on the Sea of Cortez.
Eat & drink
Rice & Beans, San Ignacio (011-52-115-40283). Lobster and tequila-ol! Hearty and casual, with rally-inspired "decor." If you're lucky, someone will be strumming a guitar on the porch. Here and elsewhere in Baja, try fish tacos, extra fresh and tangy.
Do bring a good map, such as AAA's.
Don't resist, argue, joke around, or shoot photos at the occasional police checkpoints. These young men are serious-and armed.
Don't forget bottled water, sunscreen, and a spare tire (or two).
Baja California State Tourism Secretariat, www. discoverbajacalifornia.com.
Hidden Baja, by Richard Harris, Ulysses Press.
What we drove
Volvo rhymes with polvo, and that means dust. Our XC70 wagon, with its "FOUR-C" active chassis, handled more than that, though. Shifting sand, flying stones, never-ending washboards, mushy salt flats, steep climbs over rocks and water-the Volvo met all challenges gamely, despite looking more like a suburban housewife's getaway vehicle than a real sport-ute.