Live it Up in Loreto: Have a Baja Moment at California’s First Capital
Loreto was not only the first capital of Baja California (and Alta California, for that matter, although gringos just call it California), but the first Spanish settlement on the entirety of the Baja Peninsula. A sleepy seaside town located about 220 miles north of La Paz, Loreto enjoys a privileged position between the Sea of Cortez and the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range. It was founded by Jesuit missionaries in 1697, but these days it’s best known as a tourist destination — and heaven for lovers of outdoor adventure and water sports like fishing, diving, sailing, and kayaking.
Much of the current interest in Loreto centers upon five large uninhabited islands off the coast: Coronado, Danzante, Carmen, Montserrat, and Santa Catalina. These ruggedly beautiful islands are situated in the Loreto Bay National Marine Park (they’ve also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a fish rich environment perfect for snorkeling, diving and whale watching. This marine park is one of the best places in the world to view blue whales (February and March are the best months), and a premier destination for kayak enthusiasts.
Sea Kayak Adventures is one of the companies licensed to give tours in Loreto Bay National Marine Park, and they offer all-inclusive packages that include food, lodging, and of course spectacular kayak trips around the islands, from Coronado’s sea lion colony to Danzante’s romantic Honeymoon Cove. Sea Kayak Adventures specializes in small group tours, and has an excellent guide to guest ratio. Better yet, all of their guides are also marine biologists. This comes in handy when you’re exploring such an abundant wildlife environment, paddling next to dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks, and over 800 species of colorful fish.
One of the area’s newest lodgings is Villa del Palmar’s Islands at Loreto Resort & Spa, which opened in March of 2011. The property is actually located south 0f Loreto at Ensenada Blanca, about a half hour drive from the airport, with 181 suites overlooking Isla Danzante and the glittering blue waters of the Sea of Cortez.
The resort is located within the boundaries of the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, and offers outdoor activities options like osprey and whale watching hikes. Guests may relax at the Sabile Spa and Wellness Center, or work up a sweat on one of the two tennis courts. A golf course was just completed in June 2016.
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