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Have a Baja Moment! Stay at the East Cape Eco-Hotel Villa del Faro

Walking the grounds of Villa del Faro, the gorgeous East Cape family retreat and boutique hotel, you may be overcome by the surfeit of sensory impressions – original artworks and breathtaking views surround you, luscious floral scents waft in from tropical gardens and the surrounding desert, soft warm breezes off the Sea of Cortez caress the skin, and American-Mexican cuisine entices first the nose and then the palate. While we may be limited in our ability to share with you the olfactory and tactile delights on tap, the following series of photographs will give you a taste of the visual banquet that awaits.

VDF 1

The sign marking the entrance to the hotel is both charming and unassuming; the hotel’s elegant luxury stands in stark contrast to its rugged desert surroundings.

VdF 2

At the top of a Romanesque set of stairs, just inside the magnificent entryway, is one of seven water fountains that ornament the hotel, as well as a stairwell that’s straight out of Casablanca. The stairs’ impressive cast-iron handrail was salvaged by the family during their renovation of one of the Warner Brothers’ estates (the hotel’s owners have operated a construction firm since the mid-70s and, having gained a reputation for fine work, count many of Hollywood’s elite among their clientele). It is rumored that the handrail once adorned stairs upon which Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced .

VdF 3a

Original artwork, murals and tasteful decor abound, gracing every room and passageway.

VdF 3

Beyond the main entrance and the salon-style sitting area, your eyes follow a beautiful series of balustrades to another water fountain, surrounded by lush tropical foliage.

VdF 4

 Architectural details suggest grandeur, romance, an age thought long past, and everywhere flowers, palms, lusciousness.

VdF 5

Villa del Faro was lovingly and thoughtfully created by the owners’ family, with no details left unattended.

VdF 6

 Charming trompe l’oeil murals welcomes new arrivals.

VdF 7

Just past the mural, creating a focal point at the top of two sets of stairs, stands an impressive lion-head fountain surrounded by a trailing Copa de Oro (“cup of gold”) and colorful bougainvillea flowers.

VdF 8

There is a certain mystery surrounding this place, as though it exists outside of time, in another world free of the concerns of everyday life. It beckons us to slow down and soak in the seemingly unreal majesty life can possess, even if only for a few glorious days.

VdF 9

The Pool House and pool create a glamorous atmosphere, one that will leave you feeling as though you’re playing a part in your very own Hollywood movie – a romance of course.

VdF 10

Italian architecture throughout the property evokes romance, an inevitable aspect of Villa del Faro’s charm. In the evening, spectacular sunsets turn the sky shades of pink, crimson and lavender. You’ll be mesmerized, whether alone or with that special someone.

VdF 11

Looking for a remarkable way to start your day in paradise? Enjoy your breakfast at the private beach gazebo with its enchanting tile roof and hand-painted stenciling. Except for the unobtrusive attention of your hosts, it will feel like you’re the only people on Earth.

So what are you waiting for? Villa del Faro is the kind of place you get away to in order to awaken that sense of wonder once possessed and perhaps to discover something new about yourselves. Treat yourself to a long weekend or, better yet, a week of divine fine living by the Sea of Cortez.

 

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

 

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East Cape Gem: Jewel of Cabo Pulmo Offers Comfortable Accommodations, Incredible Natural Beauty

East Cape Gem: Jewel of Cabo Pulmo Offers Comfortable Accommodations, Incredible Natural Beauty

Jewel of Cabo Pulmo

The East Cape vacation rental known as the Jewel of Cabo Pulmo truly is a gem – it’s been described by reviewers as charming, romantic, beautiful, unique, cozy, amazing, heavenly, peaceful…the list goes on. This hand-crafted home lies tucked inside a private enclave at the heart of this special little village nestled on the edge of a gorgeous azure-colored bay. The gardens here need to be seen to be believed – native mesquite and palo verde trees provide dappled shade under which an incredible variety of succulents and cacti are arranged in an explosion of color, textures, and, at certain times of year, a floral spectacle. Native birds and butterflies flit in and out, while lizards and iguanas bask on the sunny pathways. Hummingbirds swoop in for another drink at one of the feeders, and the water fountain gurgles soothingly. It’s a sensual feast.

Jewel of Cabo Pulmo

There are two separate buildings that house two well-appointed kitchens, two full baths and two bedrooms. Additional sleeping arrangements are provided as convertible beds (futons and luxury cots), comfortably sleeping five to seven people. The beds are made up with high quality 100% cotton linens to add to the feel of luxuriousness that the location already exudes. The main house has a welcoming shaded veranda where you can sit and sip tea or margaritas and watch the wildlife come and go. The Garden Casita is just steps away from the main house. There are plenty of outdoor sitting areas – sunny or shaded, take your pick, and a couple of hammocks that are perfect for afternoon dozing.

Jewel of Cabo Pulmo

The home’s design combines bright Mexican tile mosaics and American folk art with the kind of attention to detail that reflects the artistic background of the original owners. Brightly-colored window and door frames are bordered with hand-painted stencils and the walls are hung with fun folk art. The lovely arched windows open wide to let the sweet-scented breezes waft through the house. A creative spiral-shaped outdoor shower is a fun way to rinse off the day’s accumulation of sea and salt and there is something inherently special about showering with stars twinkling overhead. And speaking of stars! The rooftop patio is the perfect place to view millions of stars that appear in a display many city dwellers never see. You can also watch the sun set behind the ochre tinged mountains from here.

Jewel of Cabo Pulmo

The activities you can engage in while staying in Cabo Pulmo are almost too many to name, and I’m bound to miss one. Cabo Pulmo boasts tennis courts, a community swimming pool at the Cabo Pulmo Dive Center, rentals of all sorts, including mountain bikes, kayaks, and snorkeling gear. Several restaurants offer excellent Mexican food – it’s hard to recommend one over the other, so you’ll have to try them all!

The waters here form part of Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, the site of the most significant hard coral reef system in the eastern North Pacific. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s most successful marine protected area. There are several businesses in the village operating diving and snorkeling tours so you can see the incredible abundance of marine life for yourself! If breathing under water isn’t your thing, rent a kayak and paddle out to the sea lion colony or just relax on the beautiful beach called Los Arbolitos and catch up on your reading.

Jewel of Cabo Pulmo

I’ll close by letting the owners express what they love about this place in their own words:

“We both love Mexico, especially the Baja, for its wonderful people, warm oceans and beautiful landscapes. When we crest the hill overlooking Cabo Pulmo. we are looking down on our dream home. As we enter the property, we let go of pressures and stress, take a deep breath, and just relax. It is the perfect home: beautiful, but unpretentious, warm, unique, and inviting…We think you’ll find it one of your favorite places on earth, and want to return again and again, just like we do.”

 

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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Have a Baja Moment! East Cape Favorite Boasts a Fresh New Look

Have a Baja Moment! East Cape Favorite Boasts a Fresh New Look

logoCROSSROADSThe Crossroads Country Club has come a long way since its early days as a super rustico palapa with dirt floors and a tiny plywood kitchen resembling a large cardboard box with a window cut in it like a puppeteer’s stage. And while puppets never materialized, what did were the best fish tacos for miles around, comprised of pan fried fish smothered in expertly fried onions, and red and yellow bell peppers on fresh corn tortillas. They are still one of my favorite items on the menu, despite the fact that eleven years later the restaurant now tempts with a variety of dishes, showcasing a delicious fusion of Mexican and Italian cuisine that you won’t find anywhere else.

Over the years the Crossroads has gone through various incarnations and improvements with the kitchen and palapa growing incrementally to accommodate their growing clientele. Today the palapa is no more and the Crossroads is situated within the contemporary concrete structure of the VidaSoul Hotel. Dirt floors along with the need to wash my feet after a night spent grooving to a great band have been replaced by neat and clean polished concrete. The plastic Pacifico-beer furniture with tasteful stainless steel, and the backlit beach bar are available for tequila and Baja fine-wine tastings. The unusual artwork adorning the walls could be called “Mexican Day of the Dead meets LA hip.” There is seating both inside and out to suit your preference.

Crossroads Restaurant Gets a Face Lift

Live entertainment at the Crossroads has come a long way, too. It used to be that a couple of the local ex-pats would get out their guitars and entertain us with original songs, accompanied at times by their dogs. These days music at the Crossroads is anything but amateur, especially with the completion of the amphitheater, a huge series of concrete steps that offer excellent vantages from which to view the entertainment below. And what entertainment it is! David Raitt, Bonnie’s incredibly talented brother, and his musical buddies from the west coast of the peninsula put on a show worthy of a major L.A. venue – but it’s just you and 20 or 30 other people enjoying the band up close and personal. Pura Vida always gets a bunch of people up to dance to their reggae and Latin music covers, while last year’s debut of Extra Large had everyone up and moving to the uptempo beat.

Crossroads Restaurant Gets a Face Lift

Dinner entrees include halibut with capers in white wine sauce (another of my favorites), spicy shrimp pasta, shrimp ajillo, and steak arrachera (marinated flank steak), to mention a few of the many items available on their new menu. Fresh, organic local ingredients are used as much as possible, and the seafood comes straight from the Sea of Cortez! Specials are offered on Saturday nights during high season (November through May), and there’s always homemade ice cream to top off the excellent meal.

Whether you are there for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a few cool ones, the Crossroads is the best food around for miles around. And despite all the improvements, their motto remains “come as you are” because after all this is the East Cape.

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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Laid-Back Luxury: Ocean View Vacation Rentals on Baja’s Beautiful East Cape

Laid-Back Luxury: Ocean View Vacation Rentals on Baja’s Beautiful East Cape

At Baja.com we pride ourselves on being the definitive source of information about the Baja Peninsula. That includes where to go, what to do when you get there, and where to stay. Our website provides detailed information on an extensive collection of hotels, bed & breakfasts and vacation rentals covering a broad range of budgets, broken down by region. This blog highlights four Baja.com vacation rentals located in four different East Cape communities, from El Cardonal in the North, to Boca de las Vinoramas in the South. The first three vacation rentals are owned and operated by Wolf Property Management, a property management company with an extensive collection of vacation rentals located in Los Barriles, Rancho Leonero, Buena Vista, Spa Buena Vista, Punta Pescadero, Las Tinas, El Cardonal, and surrounding areas of the East Cape.

East Cape Vacation Rentals

Casa Rossein offers comfort, amenities, and a gorgeous beachfront setting.

Casa Rossein is a comfortable beachfront home located in remote El Cardonal, a quaint and friendly fishing village a half hour drive north of Los Barriles. El Cardonal is a great place to kayak, fish, wind or kitesurf and there is a coral reef nearby where you can snorkel. In the wintertime, this is prime whale watching territory. You can hire Dr. Urmas Kaldveer, a full-time resident and scientist conducting Humpback whale identification research, to take you out with his panguero to look for these beautiful creatures. Casa Rossein, like all the Wolf managed properties, offers all the amenities you will need for your stay in El Cardonal. It has three bedrooms and three baths, sleeping seven people comfortably. The kitchen is well-appointed with all the modern amenities, including microwave and full-sized fridge. Laze in the pool or Jacuzzi day or night, when you’ll see an incredible display of stars overhead. This is a place to get away from it all. There is no phone service, but you can keep in touch with the outside world via wireless internet service.

East Cape Vacation Rentals

Casa Uno is set in the exclusive fishing community of Punta Pescadero.

South of El Cardonal and 15 miles north of Los Barriles, Casa Uno was one of the first homes built in the private and exclusive fishing community of Punta Pescadero. The community’s private airstrip makes it possible to land small aircraft directly at this destination. Casa Uno is a lovely, spacious beachfront home decorated in traditional colorful Mexican style with an abundance of shaded outdoor living areas, including a grand terrace overlooking the very private beach and shaded pool area. With three bedrooms and three baths, Casa Uno comfortably accommodates six people. Fishing is the main activity here, but wind and kitesurfers will find the winter winds perfect for their passion and kayaking and snorkeling are ideal on the calmer days of spring and summer. Whale watching is great here in winter. Nearby Punta Pescadero Hotel has a restaurant that offers great food and a fun bar where you’ll get to interact with local colorful characters. Hemingway would have loved this place!

East Cape Vacation Rental

Casa Buena Vista is the perfect vacation rental for larger groups, and can accommodate up to 14 guests.

Accommodating up to 14 people, Casa Buena Vista is the perfect vacation rental for larger groups. This is a beautiful private complex right on a beautiful sandy beach in Buena Vista, just 15 minutes walk from the heart of Los Barriles. Comprised of a new main house and the original quaint Mexican-style casita, Casa Buena Vista has seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms. If you don’t need all that space, you can rent the number of rooms you need. The new main house is modern with granite countertops and all the amenities. A ping pong table and basketball hoop provide additional fun. Each of the bedrooms has a private entrance and many have spectacular views of the ocean.

East Cape Vacation Rental

The eco-friendly Casa del Amanacer offers ocean views and plenty of laid-back charm.

Further south in Las Vinoramas – just 50 minutes from San Jose International Airport where the Palo Escopeta Road meets the Coast Road – you’ll find the charming and eco-friendly Casa del Amanecer, an ocean view, one bedroom casita within the secure gates of a large beachfront property. One of the best features of this vacation rental is the large, breeze-catching covered patio that overlooks the large property and the Sea of Cortez. It’s the perfect place to laze in the hammock or share the day’s catch with your sweetheart. Described as “romantic” by several reviewers, this is the perfect place to get away from it all. The beaches here are long, sandy and virtually deserted! Nine Palms surf break is just four miles away, so this is the place to stay if you want to hit the morning glass (April through October). During winter months it’s the perfect place to kite or windsurf. By staying in this solar-powered home you’ll lower your carbon footprint, but don’t worry, you’ll still be able to maintain contact with the outside world via wireless internet.

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

 

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Van Wormer’s Enduring Legacy on Baja Sur’s Beautiful East Cape

Van Wormer’s Enduring Legacy on Baja Sur’s Beautiful East Cape

Robert Sr. and Rose Maria “Cha Cha” Van Wormer opened three hotels on Baja Sur’s beautiful East Cape back in the 1950s, during the days when a small runway was used to facilitate visits from Hollywood’s elite and other adventurous travelers, who were attracted to the region’s fantastic fishing and white-winged dove hunting. In the Van Wormer offices inside the lobby of the family hotel company’s signature property, Palmas de Cortez, visitors can glimpse this history in old black and white photographs of the many Hollywood stars who were attracted to the beautiful remoteness and tranquility of the area.

In the close to sixty years since, the East Cape has remained a premier getaway for those who want gorgeous seaside vistas and world-class fishing and diving, but can do without the touristy hustle and bustle of larger resort areas like Los Cabos. And while larger Baja Destinations feature luxury resorts under the imprimatur of the world’s largest hotel companies, along the pristine coastline that stretches from San Jose del Cabo to Los Barriles, first-rate accommodations can be summed up with two words: Van Wormer. At present, Van Wormer has four properties on the East Cape: Palmas de Cortez, Villas de Cortez, Playa del Sol, and Hotel Punta Colorada.

Van Wormer

Palmas de Cortez may be the finest hotel on the East cape.

Palmas de Cortez

Palmas de Cortez is the premier hotel in Los Barriles, a charming seaside town best known for its world-class fishing, kiteboarding, and wind-surfing. Each January, the world’s best kiteboarders and windsurfers congregate for the prestigious Lord of the Wind competition. Big-game anglers come year round. The hotel, which is located at the intersection of the town’s two main streets, boasts a gorgeous beachfront property and an outstanding collection of services and amenities. Combination accommodation and fishing packages are a big draw, and visiting sport and leisure types will also enjoy the resort’s nine-hole golf course and day spa, as well as the magnificent infinity pool.

Van Wormer

Villas de Cortez showcases chic appointments and magnificent seaside views.

Villas de Cortez

The Villas de Cortez Resort Hotel and Condominiums is the Van Wormer family’s newest property. Set next to the Palmas de Cortez in Los Barriles, the luxurious hotel features all the balcony and poolside Sea of Cortez views you’d expect, as well as superb accommodation appointments and accents. Studios, Master Suites, and Presidential Villas are available, and the resort features two restaurants, and lobby and swim-up bars. Access to all Palmas de Cortez amenities is also included.

Van Wormer

Playa del Sol was renovated in 2013, and boasts a sparkling new color scheme, as well as upgraded furniture and fixtures.

Playa del Sol

Playa del Sol has recently been remodeled, and the new look resort, located just north of Palmas de Cortez, showcases new mattresses, furniture, and fixtures. As always, however, the property’s appeal is not its colorful accents and appointments, but the breathtaking tropical beauty of the seaside setting. This small hotel – Playa del Sol features 26 rooms, 20 ocean view and six garden view – is the perfect antidote to larger, less personal resorts in some of Baja Sur’s more popular resort destinations.

Var Wormer

Punta Colorada is known as the “roosterfish capital of the world.”

Hotel Punta Colorada

Punta Colorada is also known as the roosterfish capital of the world, and the Hotel Punta Colorada is set on pristine sand at the southern end of Bahia Las Palmas. All of the 39 rooms are air-conditioned, ocean view accommodations from standard sized to deluxe level quarters. Punta Colorada also serves up a delectable cuisine and refreshing drinks from their friendly indoor/outdoor bar. And for those who prefer to arrive in Baja Sur in traditional fashion, the hotel has a 3,200 foot airfield of hard packed dirt. Hotel Punta Colorada is currently closed for renovations and upgrades, but is expected to open again in the summer of 2014.

”A few years ago, when a storm came through, it washed out the well that we were using to get the water for the hotel,” said General Manager Eddie Dalmau. ”When the storm came rushing through, the arroyo expanded and washed out the well, so that land now becomes federal property because it’s part of the arroyo. So we’re building another well right next to it, but we’re going to actually protect it so it doesn’t get washed out by any more storms.”

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

 

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Have a Baja Moment! Visit the Annual Pitahaya Festival in Miraflores

Have a Baja Moment! Visit the Annual Pitahaya Festival in Miraflores

Mexican towns love their festivals and most towns have an annual celebration centered around a theme based on something the town takes pride in. Here in Southern Baja, Puerto Lopez Mateos honors their diligent conservation of the loggerhead sea turtle, Cabo Pulmo commemorates the founding of their national marine park, and  Miraflores celebrates the pitahaya fruit as an important and ancient part of Mexican gastronomy. Pita-what?

Pitahaya Festival

Miraflores’ annual Pitahaya Festival celebrates the harvesting of delicious cactus fruit.

Pitahaya” is the Spanish term for cactus fruit. Locally, cacti of the genus Stenocereus, Pitaya Dulce (sweet pitaya) and Pitaya Agria (bitter pitaya), are sought for their sweet fruit, but all cacti produce fruit of varying quality. The 17th century mission priest Father Miguel del Barco described the fruit as “excellent…worthy of being on the table of the greatest of kings. Their flesh is juicy, mild, delicate, and very delicious.”

Pitahaya Festival

Not only is pitahaya fruit delicious, it’s packed with antioxidants.

Miraflores’ pitahaya festival was the brainchild of one of the town’s mayors who recognized the economic benefits realized by Cabo San Lucas from their regular fishing competitions. Wanting his community to benefit similarly, he came up with a different kind of competition to draw spectators and their money. Miraflores may not have oceanfront, but it is blessed with vast forests of Pitahaya cactus, as one discovers if they venture out to the desert surrounding the town.

Pitahaya Festival

The lovely pitahaya flower is also edible, and may be used to make tea.

Every July, when the cacti are teeming with ripening fruit, the festival is organized around a pitahaya gathering contest. Participants gather as much fruit as possible and competitions are held for the largest fruit gathered, best presentation of a collection of fruit, greatest variety collected, and, of course, the greatest quantity of fruit gathered by any one competitor.

The festival includes a number of cultural and gastronomical events, including exhibitions of traditional dance, music, and plenty of delectable food, many incorporating the pitahaya fruit among the ingredients. Local artisans and businesses sell their wares from booths erected in the town’s cultural center. The three day event culminates on Sunday with the announcement of winners of the fruit gathering competitions and crowning of the festival queen. A big party commences that evening, with live music and dancing into the wee hours.

One of my favorite Baja stories concerns pitahaya and the peninsula’s now extinct native Pericu Indians’ passion for it. Every year when the fruit ripened, the Pericues would leave their posts at the missions where they labored to gorge themselves. The result was an orgy of eating, singing, dancing, and other carnal activities. One of the mission priests, Father Piccolo, regularly complained in his journal writings that the Pericues were lazy and the peninsula harsh and inhospitable, with little to recommend it. Pitahaya season only confirmed his opinion of the natives’ slovenly ways. Until one day, he discovered something positive about the Pericues when they treated him to a special feast that included a delicious bread. However, when a visiting priest described to him the origins of the bread’s flour, he blanched and his negative opinion of the peninsula and its inhabitants was forever entrenched. The bread, it turned out, was made from the seeds of the pitahaya gathered in a “second harvest.” While gorging themselves on the fruit, the Pericues in one area would all defecate on the same large rock. Once dried, the feces were collected, ground up, and the seeds winnowed out, toasted, and ground into flour. I don’t know if they’ll be selling bread at the festival, but you might want to be sure of the origins of the flour if they do!

An 18th century drawing of two Pericu women by George Shelvocke, an English privateer.

An 18th century drawing of two Pericu women by George Shelvocke, an English privateer.

This is certainly one of the most flavorful and unique festivals in the East Cape firmly rooted in the ancient history of the land. So don’t miss it! Festival dates are dependent on the ripeness of the fruit, but the 2013 festival is currently slated for the second weekend of July, with the queen to be crowned on Sunday, July 14th.

Traveling to the East Cape? Talk to a travel agent at Baja.com.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

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Shakes, Rattle and Rolls: Savoring the Delights of the Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery in Los Barriles

Shakes, Rattle and Rolls: Savoring the Delights of the Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery in Los Barriles

By El Barrilito

Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery

Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery provides one of Los Barriles’ most memorable dining experiences.

If you are searching for a special dining experience in Los Barriles, one restaurant immediately leaps to mind. Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery not only offers charming, nostalgic décor, but a wonderful selection of culinary treats, including fresh breads and pastries from the onsite bakery.

Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery

Fresh breads and pastries are made onsite at Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery.

From turquoise and white booths to the authentic 1950s coffee grinder, Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery in Los Barriles reflects the fondly remembered era of hot rods and poodle skirts. Real milkshakes are mixed in soda fountain blenders. The owner, Donna Ryan, and her daughter-in-law, Mayte, operate the restaurant. The result of their efforts is great food and prompt service.

The Roadrunner was already known for its “bottomless” cup of great coffee but with the addition of a coffee roaster, they have raised the bar of excellence. Donna’s husband, Bob, roasts the coffee as needed so that it is always fresh. He will also also make you feel at home with his gregarious greetings and cheerful chatter.

Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery

Roadrunner evokes the nostalgic days of hot rods and poodle skirts.

You can dine inside or out. The plush booths inside are very enjoyable; outside, you can sit under the vine-covered, flower adorned pergola in the wonderful fresh air of Baja California Sur. Stay in touch with the folks back home using Roadrunner’s free Wi-Fi while your breakfast is prepared. You can even buy an English newspaper with the latest news, sports and a crossword puzzle.

Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery

Roadrunner is a popular meeting spot for locals in Los Barriles.

For breakfast, you’ll find numerous selections of eggs and omelets in both American and Mexican styles. If your sweet tooth needs attention, try the French toast prepared with a sliced cinnamon roll. It doesn’t get any better than this. Need something a little healthier? The breakfast banana split with fresh fruit and yogurt is delish. Every morning Donna offers cinnamon rolls, raspberry turnovers, scones and cookies.

Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery

Looking for a healthy way to start your day in paradise?

The lunch menu includes wonderful salads, great sandwiches, fresh-made soup and many other selections. The hamburgers are excellent. To quench your thirst, Roadrunner Cafe has the usual variety of sodas plus fresh brewed ice tea, lemonade, fresh orange juice, cerveza and well drinks. Save a little room for dessert. Ask for Donna’s Carrot cake and maybe add a little ice cream.

Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery

Not only do they look delicious….

Roadrunner has become famous for their Open Mic and dinner on Wednesday evenings. Customers and musicians come from all over the area and beyond to enjoy the experience. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. The entertainment is mainly provided by musicians who spend at least part of every year in Los Cabos or the East Cape. This isn’t karaoke, these are people singing and playing real instruments. Roadrunner also has a professionally operated sound system, which takes the experience to a higher level. A single selection for dinner is served and always priced around $10 U.S., so this is an affordable way to enjoy a great night out in Los Barriles. The restaurant generally has a full house (200+) during the winter months, and there is no cover charge.*

Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery

Wednesday is open mic night at Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery.

The Roadrunner Cafe is easy to find. It is conveniently located right off the highway at the entrance to Los Barriles. You will find it in the Plaza del Pueblo to your left after you exit the highway at the fountains.

*There is no cover charge but they have a voluntary contribution for donations to help the local kids attend high school. The East Cape Guild receives 100% of the money collected and offers scholarships to qualifying kids. This year, our generous patrons of Open Mic have sent close to 40 kids to high school.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

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Have A Baja Moment! East Cape Sees Signs of Summer

Have A Baja Moment! East Cape Sees Signs of Summer

Seasonal changes in the tropical desert may not be as overt as those in more temperate regions, but to the observant they give measure to the passage of time. Recently, on the drive to town along the bumpy Palo Escopeta Road, I noticed subtle changes to the scenery. Trees had dropped the leaves they’d grown thanks to last years’ rain, coloring the landscape grey where before it was verdant. In contrast, the branches of the tree known locally as Palo Escopeta held out thick bunches of tiny greenish white flowers, backed by new bright green leaves. I noticed the air coming through the window was warmer and the sun striking my arm was strong.

A sure sign that spring is in the air! Mating Coachwhip snakes. Image: Tom Sterne

Spring came to the East Cape late this year, the weather remaining unseasonably cool throughout April. Now that it’s May, daily highs have shot up and the sea has begun to warm. Two weeks ago water temperatures were cold enough that I still needed to wear a full wetsuit. Now I’m over-warm in my “shorty” suit by mid-morning. But water temps sometimes plummet in July, making wetsuit choice a poor indicator of the arrival of warm weather in Baja. One of the best, however, is the reappearance of our cold-blooded cousins, the reptiles. After hibernating underground over winter, the S-shaped trails of snakes winding their way across the road have become an increasingly common sight, and sometimes their creator is there to be seen as well, basking in the sun or moving at a speed dependent on ambient temperatures and species preference. Several rattlesnakes, Coachwhip snakes and a brilliant green snake I have yet to identify crossed my path in the last week alone.

Around these parts, however, the most obvious harbinger of warmer weather has to be the appearance of a multitude of Western Side-Blotched Lizards (Uta stansburiana elegans). The most common lizard in Baja California Sur, they like nothing more than to hang out on the dirt roads challenging one another in a fit of territorial push ups and neck expanding displays. Their small size means they warm up faster than other reptiles, making them the first to appear each morning. They run back and forth across the road, pausing to challenge one another, and as I journey to town or the beach, it’s no small task to avoid running over the odd one that zigs instead of zags as I pass by.

Meet one of the East Cape’s most popular reptiles. Image: Davefoc

When they detect a threat (for example, the roar of my car’s engine and the rubber of my tires bearing down on them), these lizards take off at impressive speed, lifting the front of their bodies off the ground so that they run on their back legs only, giving them a comical, humanoid appearance. Despite the awkward windmill-style in which their hind legs rotate, they manage to gain sufficient speed running up the embankment on the opposite side of the road that they often catapult themselves head-over-tail in an impressive acrobatic display. The landings are not always smooth, but the technique is effective in keeping them from becoming road kill.

Reptiles, water temperatures, and sun intensity all point to Summer being around the corner, but I know summer is really on its way when I get my first tropical storm report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricane season officially begins May 15th.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

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Planning A Day Trip to Los Barriles, Jewel of the East Cape

Planning A Day Trip to Los Barriles, Jewel of the East Cape

By El Barrilito

Need a break from the touristy atmosphere and rowdy nightlife of Cabo San Lucas? How about a day trip to Los Barriles, one of the jewels of the East Cape?

Los Barriles isn’t hip and it isn’t pretentious, but it is filled with nice folks and enjoys great year round weather. The town was little more than a fishing village until about 25 years ago. Now it’s populated with full and part-time expats, retired and otherwise, who have discovered the area’s natural beauty. Los Barriles offers numerous outdoor adventures, from first-class water-based activities like diving, fishing, kiteboarding, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, whale watching and windsurfing, to land-based pleasures like bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and off-road racing. Just listing them all makes be a bit tired! But rest assured: if you’re looking for a more relaxing day trip, we also boast miles of uncrowded, easily accessible white sand beaches. There is even a little nightlife.

Los Barriles is easy to find. It’s located on Highway One just 45 minutes north of the international airport in San Jose del Cabo, where you can find an excellent selection of National rental cars. You’ll know when you get here, as the highway veers inward towards the Sea of Cortez. Look for the fountain with water spraying into old wooden barrels and the Los Barriles sign on a stone wall.

Hotel Palmas de Cortez

Hotel Palmas de Cortez is one of the East Cape’s premier lodgings.

If you arrive in time for breakfast, the Roadrunner Café and Bakery serves the best in town. Donna, the owner, does the baking and always has fresh pastries, breads and desserts. The restaurant opens early (7 a.m.), serves great fresh-roasted coffee, and offers free Wi-Fi for their customers. El Viejo is another local favorite, and is perfect for lunch. It features Mexican food, comfortable outdoor seating, and a central downtown location. Verdugo’s RV Park has a restaurant right on the beach, and is also a great place to stop during the day.

In the evening, your selection of restaurants grows. The old standard is Tio Pablo’s. It’s the first dinner place on main street. Tio Pablo’s has indoor and outdoor service, a wide selection of food, nightly specials, a full bar, good staff and plenty of televisions. A little farther down the street you’ll find Campestre Triny, where the food and service get high ratings from locals. Their seafood is good, and they’re also happy to cook your catch. Next in line is Smokey’s Sports Bar. Smokey’s has lots of strategically placed TV’s and covered, outdoor seating. The menu focus is on seafood, sandwiches and burgers, and this is a popular place for sporting events, as well as live music and raffles. Otra Vez is also downtown, and boasts an Italian-themed menu, pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, and live music several times a week.

Be sure and call for reservations if you’re coming to fish. Palmas de Cortez and the Hotel Buena Vista are good choices for both accommodations and fishing charters. They’ve been here for many years and employ experienced captains. You can choose a cruiser or panga from either place. The Hotel Los Pescadores isn’t on the beach, but they do have some boats available. If you have an RV to park, East Cape RV also offers fishing. Would you rather shore fish? Try The Reel Baja. They have years of experience and specialize in fly fishing.

Hotel Palmas de Cortez

Sea of Cortez views are a specialty in Los Barriles, as are outdoor activities like fishing, diving, windsurfing, and kiteboarding.

There some great day trips you can take by 4-wheeler. The quaint village of Santiago is only a few miles away. There you can swim in the fresh water pool at Cañon La Zorra, or lie in the San Jorge natural hot springs just a few miles further. Afterward you can order a nice lunch at the Hotel Palomar. To rent a 4-wheeler, go see the Quadman on the main drag. Quadman will show you how to operate the machine safely before he lets you go. He also has maps of the trails around Los Barriles.

The beaches at Los Barriles are protected, and safe swimming in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez can be enjoyed by people of all ages. North of town the old road runs along the water for long stretches, and there are some great spots to snorkel, including in front of the Hotel Punta Pescadero. Long stretches of unpopulated beaches are located south of Los Barriles, and are wonderful places to spend a day sunning or swimming.

What is your favorite Baja day trip? Let us know at Baja.com.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Photos courtesy of Van Wormer Resorts’ Hotel Palmas de Cortez.

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Have a Baja Moment! Rancho Leonero and Beachfront Casa Verde

Have a Baja Moment! Rancho Leonero and Beachfront Casa Verde

by Tom Gatch

“Alright,” our kayak guide barked with a grin.  “Get those legs over the side …I want to see you all sitting sideways on your yaks!!  Get used to fishing that way.  It’s VERY stable!”

Kayaking at Rancho Leonero. Photo by Lynn Gatch.

Kayaking at Rancho Leonero. Photo by Lynn Gatch.

He was right, of course; it was our first day of East Cape kayak fishing and we needed to get outside of my comfort zone.  We were paddling along in 120 feet of deep blue water on a beautiful morning in the Sea of Cortez, and it was totally up to me to make the most of the experience.  I began to twist my torso slowly as I swung my legs over the starboard rail of my Ocean Kayak Prowler and then maneuvered my lower half so that I was facing perpendicular to the bow.  It was at this very moment, with my feet dangling in the crystal clear 80-degree water and the hot tropical sun beating down on my shoulders, that I came to the fullest realization that we had indeed arrived in paradise.

Rancho Leonero on the Sea of Cortez.

Rancho Leonero on the Sea of Cortez.

Almost an hour of our previous afternoon had been spent riding nearly 50 miles up the narrow highway leading north from the San Jose del Cabo airport.  After crossing the boundary of the Tropic of Cancer, we wound our way over many dusty arroyos before coming to a graded road that was marked by a simple sign depicting an African lion with the moniker ‘Rancho Leonero’ painted beneath it.  My wife, Lynn, and I were delighted by this low profile introduction since it was our first indication that we would truly achieve our goal of getting away from the hustle and bustle of urban existence for a few days.

Instead of proceeding directly through an ornately landscaped entrance of an upscale resort complex, we continued driving slowly along the sandy gulch for several miles, passing occasional groups of Brahma cattle and clumps of cactus that were interspersed by the timeless, drought resistant flora and fauna of the region.  It was hot, dry and very sunny.  Eventually, we came upon a group of small structures surrounded by a host of coconut palms, and pulled to a stop in front of the rustic entrance to Rancho Leonero.

Casa Verde, a 3,200 square foot beachfront vacation rental.

Mexican sophistication at Casa Verde, a 3,200 square foot beachfront vacation rental.

While being escorted to our quarters, we were immediately overtaken by a feeling of tranquility that is rather hard to describe.  Palm-roofed bungalows dotted the picturesque grounds, which were festooned with brightly colored bougainvillea and coconut bearing palm trees.  There are also spectacular vacation rentals at Rancho Leonero — beachfront villas like the beautiful Casa Verde, a 3200 square-foot house built in the Mexican hacienda style with large porches overlooking the sparkling Sea of Cortez, the desert and the Sierra Laguna Mountains.  With the extra large rooms and a Great Room with high palapa ceilings, Casa Verde is a magnificent place to experience Baja magic, too.  There are choices…but this time, we stayed at the Rancho.

Either way, the real star of the show here is the sea itself.  The hypnotically turquoise waters of the inshore abruptly turn to an electric cobalt blue as the shelf drops off into deep water.

The ranch is located on a small point, which allows visitors to experience prevailing coastal breezes.  Directly in front of the hotel, a double reef of boulders provides habitat for a wide variety of fishes that will delight both the snorkeler and the inshore angler.  Without a doubt, if there is such a thing as a spiritual vortex on our planet, this is one of them.

After quickly freshening up in our comfortable, air-conditioned room, we headed off to the bar for the customary “welcome margarita.”  Before we knew it, the staff had already begun seating guests out on the patio for a wonderful dinner of mesquite-grilled rib eye steak with all the trimmings.

Rancho Leonero.  Photo by Lynn Gatch.

Rancho Leonero. Photo by Lynn Gatch.

Lodging at Rancho Leonero is provided on the ‘American Plan’, which means that all of your meals are included in the price of your stay.  And fine meals they are!  Owner, John Ireland, makes sure that dining at the ranch is a consistently pleasurable experience. But despite its bucolic atmosphere, Rancho Leonero is still able to be run like a well-maintained Rolex thanks to the efforts of Operations Manager, Gary Barnes Webb.  This transplanted South African possesses a broad spectrum of talents that has allowed him to efficiently address a bevy of ongoing infrastructure and staff related issues, while deftly coordinating the ranch’s sportfishing fleet of pangas and cruisers.

Although the nearby sandy beaches, inviting hammocks, pool and onsite massages may encourage guests to relax, it is hard to deny that one of the primary activities at Rancho Leonero is fishing.  There is something here for every type of angler.  Fly fishing expert, Jeff de Brown, offers his clients at the ranch one of the only Orvis certified guide services on the Baja Peninsula, and sees to it that they are able to take full advantage of this world famous venue for angling with the fly.

The kayak fishing in this region is exceptional.  And, there is even something here for shore based anglers …particularly during the dark of night!  Those who are willing to toss out a well-rigged mullet or ladyfish near the dock during an evening high tide are sometimes rewarded with large pargo and snapper capable of breaking their rod or burning out their reel’s drag washers.

Of course, those electing to stay in the Rancho’s stunning rentals, like Casa Verde, also have the opportunity to experience the natural bounties of Rancho Leonero — in fact, the owners provide two kayaks, so perhaps you want to take advantage of the great fishing right at your doorstep.  But no matter which choice — vacation rental or resort — is made, one thing is a certainty; travelers with a love for hot, rod-bending action on the water will have to go a long way to find a more appropriate or affordable destination than the East Cape of Baja Sur.

Hooked on Baja’ author & columnist Tom Gatch is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and southern California.

Want to find out other places to Have a Baja Moment! in Baja Sur?   

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 

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