MichelleY's Loreto, Baja Mexico Trip Report 2012

Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:00 AM
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MichelleY's Loreto, Baja Mexico Trip Report 2012

We had a great trip Feb. 5 - Feb. 14, 2012 to Loreto, Baja. I will be filling the details in the next few days.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 02:48 PM
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How did Loreto ever get on my radar? Years ago, my boss was an avid fly fisherman and Loreto was one of the places he would go for fly fishing in the ocean. He also had been ocean fly fishing in Costa Rica and Christmas Island. Christmas Island? Far away and exotic . Later on, Loreto came up as a place for whale watching in the winter and kind of an anti-Cabo place in Baja. For several years, a silent auction item for a week in Loreto would come up at our daughter's high school fundraising event. I asked about the place, a villa at Loreto Bay and was assured it was great. So, DH and I bought the week in Loreto at the auction.

Pre-trip planning: Although the high fishing season is summer, seeing the whales and their babies has been on my bucket list. So a trip in Jan - Mar. was set in order to see the whales. Since the villa was 3 bedrooms, we asked another couple to come along .

Sunday, Feb. 5

Getting there: the best way to get to Loreto for us was Alaska/Horizon thru LAX. We flew from Sacramento on Southwest, changing to Alaska in LA. We had plenty of time between flights but would have a tight connection on the way home(more on this later). The plane was a turbo prop Bombadier, holding about 76 passengers. The flight was about 2 1/2 hours over the stark, yet beautiful Baja terrain. While in Loreto we met others who did this same flight, but had to overnight in LA to make it work or had to fly thru Cabo on other airlines because this flight booked up early.

Upon arrival, Loreto was pretty much as expected: a small, easy airport. The town lay just north of the airport. The land is dry, desert with rugged mountains jutting up to the Sea of Cortez. Very beautiful in a wild way. We rented a car thru Alamo for the 9 days then headed south about 5 miles to Nopolo and our villa.

The place we would be staying was a 3 bedroom villa in Loreto Bay, about 5 miles south of Loreto proper. Loreto Bay is a planned community that was supposed to be a huge Eco friendly development. The 2008 meltdown has pretty much stalled things, but perhaps this has worked for the better as far for the environment, but not the investors. The area we stayed in is called Founder's Village and is pretty much completed. There is a hotel, golf course, several cafes, a fun wine bar and several small food markets. The villas are all attached, varying in sizes. The development is well maintained and beautiful. Most owners are either from the US or Canada so although nice, you really don't feel like you are having an authentic Mexican experience. But that was OK. We loved our accommodations.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 04:30 PM
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Wow. This is getting too long and the trip is just beginning. I will try to keep this short.

Monday, Feb. 6
Went into Loreto and found it easy to navigate. The town center has a nice plaza, old mission church(the first in the Californias), some tourist shops, restaurants, etc. All very compact and neat. The malecon has more places to eat and stay along with the small boat harbor.

We had breakfast a a great little place called Orlando's, right next to the Michoacana ice cream shop. Yummy. Afterwards, we did a little grocery shopping to stock the fridge. We hung out on the sun deck the rest of the day and had dinner later back at Orlando's.

Tuesday, Feb. 7
This was our big adventure day! Off to Magdalena Bay, on the Pacific side to see the gray whale mothers and calves. The drive was easy thru rugged mountains then down into the Magdalena Plain farming area. We passed thru Cuidad Insurgentes to the port town of Lopes Mateo.I Here, pangas are offered for whale watching in the shallow bay. A pangero mans the boat and takes you out for about an hour for 800 pesos.

What an experience! We saw several pairs of mothers with their calves and then spent time by a pair with a very friendly baby. The calf kept coming up to the pangas, sticking his head far enough out of the water for us to touch him! He was firm, but soft with the blubber to the touch. Very exciting. The mom stayed with him, but beneath the surface. This was the highlight of our trip. A travel dream come true.

On the way back to Loreto, we stopped a the new Villa del Palmar timeshare property for lunch. The place is beautiful, but dead! Way too far from Loreto. Lunch was good, but the drinks weak and overpriced. Cabo prices. I think the place is OK if you don't want to go out at night. Driving to Loreto at night is too far and hazardous. Lots of cattle, goats, and donkeys about the roads at night.

The rest of the week was spent relaxing, eating and drinking. The guys played golf and had no luck fishing off the islands nearby. The girls lounged at the pool. We did a lunch excursion north of Loreto to La Picazon. This restaurant is located about 15 minutes north of town, down a dusty dirt road and sits along a isolated stretch of the Sea of Cortez. We had a great lunch, drinks and conversation with the owner. Well worth the trip out.

The day before leaving, we did a day trip west, into the mountains to the old mission town of San Javier. Again, a gravel road thru the rugged, cactus strewn mountains. Fantastic scenery. Palm canyons. Tall, tall cactus. San Javier also boasts a mission founded in 1699. It is a small, neat town. We had lunch at the only place in town, La Palapa. Good, Mexican fare.

Going back thru LAX, we had a 1 1/2 hour connection. Very tight since we had to go from the Int'l terminal, thru passport control and customs, and head to Southwest at terminal 1. But thanks to fellow Fodorite info, taking carry ons, and checking in online, we made it!!

We had a great trip and would love to go back to this part of Baja. DH would like to go back in summer to fish and I would go back just to hang out and explore. Loreto is well worth a visit.
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 06:33 AM
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Fun to read about someplace new. Thanks for posting!
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 07:50 AM
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Thanks for the report Michelle, sounds great.

My wife and I leave on Wednesday for a 3 weeks in the area. Will spend several days at San Ignacio whale watching (hope to get the up-close experience like you did!) then going for a burro trek to the cave paintings in the mountains, both of these arranged through Kuyima. Finally hanging out for a week in Loreto.

Granted this has no relevance to when we will be there, but just curious, how much wind did you have?
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Old Mar 4th, 2012, 03:17 PM
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The weather was actually rather cool, especially in the evenings. Days were in the mid to low 70's. Nights cooled down very fast. Mornings were pleasant but the wind kicked up by around 1pm. It was actually pretty rough on the water in the afternoons.

I hope you have a great trip. Please report back.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 04:33 AM
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Michelle,

It's nice to hear you had a good visit to Loreto. My wife & I have been living here for over 6 years now and we love it. We hope this area stays the "anti Cabo".

In regard to wind and weather, we are already heading into the warming trend. By the end of March we will be in the mid-80s in the daytime and low 70's at night... April is one of the best months. During Dec-Mar we have cyclical winds, 3-5 days ON, 2-4 days OFF... pretty consistent... we get about 10 really windy days (30mph gusts), the rest in the 15-20mph range... not so bad.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 05:44 AM
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Thanks for the info. Michelle & billder. I've been keeping an eye on the weather for the last few weeks and have seen the start of the climb towards the 80's. Understand wind could be an issue, especially for any time out on the water.

Looking forward to our trip. Will report back sometime in April.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 07:11 AM
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Billder99 - I hope Loreto stays the anti-Cabo. Looks like the Villa group is trying to change that. Friends own a timeshare in Cabo and said Villa is offering all kinds of deals to fly them to Loreto to check out the new digs and buy in.

Hope Loreto Bay continues to do well.
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Old Mar 12th, 2012, 01:54 AM
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Looks like you had a great experience in Loreto. Cool..
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 06:40 AM
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Michelle, we are looking forward to returning to Loreto in late February staying until Mid March. Can hardly wait!!!
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Old Sep 24th, 2012, 08:25 AM
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Tanya- we would lve to go back. Maybe in 2014. Nice place to relax and kick back.
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Old Aug 19th, 2013, 05:09 PM
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Hi Michelle-
Thanks for directing me here.
Sounds like a lovely area.
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Old Aug 19th, 2013, 05:22 PM
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It was pretty quiet when we were there. Apparently, it gets much busier during fishing season. Very kicked back.
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Old Aug 21st, 2013, 11:54 AM
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We've signed up to go in February.
Billder-
Does that wind pattern you mentioned keep the pangas from going out to see the whales?
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Old Aug 21st, 2013, 01:29 PM
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Gail, I think he was talking about the winds around Loreto and the Sea of Cortez.

I hope you have a great trip and report back. I would love to heard about your adventure!
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