Loreto article, Westways magazine (full text added)
For those considering a trip to Loreto, an interesting review.
Excerpt: "I thought my visit here would involve more excitement, but I’ve seen more action in the parking lot at my neighborhood Trader Joe’s. Loreto
is one of the quietest places I’ve ever been: The loudest sounds are sweet strains of norteño-style accordion and the splash of basil-tequila
cocktails being poured over ice."
Or read this: Relax at the Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto resort, following a meal of chocolate clams or a visit to the Jesuit San Javier
I’d been in Loreto all of five hours when I saw the Milky Way for the very first time.
Perched on a driftwood log in the middle of a private cove, I tilted my head back like a PEZ dispenser and almost applauded: In the still-blue sky at
9 p.m., an arc of just about four billion stars glittered their hearts out over the glassy-smooth Sea of Cortés.
Back home in L.A., it’s thrilling if I see more than 10 stars in the sky at a time. But on the east coast of the long, skinny Baja Peninsula, with
relatively little light pollution for miles around, Loreto was like my own private planetarium. Tickled by the contrast, I laughed out loud to my
stargazing companion, a wild horse more into grass than constellations. He raised his head, blinked at me, and went right back to foraging.
I thought my visit here would involve more excitement, but I’ve seen more action in the parking lot at my neighborhood Trader Joe’s. Loreto is one of
the quietest places I’ve ever been: The loudest sounds are sweet strains of norteño-style accordion and the splash of basil-tequila cocktails being
poured over ice.
If I was the type of person who likes to hang out at a secluded resort all day, I might still be at the Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto,
sipping a cocktail by the tortuga-shaped pool. But I wanted to explore Loreto from top to bottom to see if I was missing some action somewhere.
Tooling up the coast, I turned onto the road to San Javier, a still-in-progress roadway that climbs high into the Sierra de la Giganta mountains.
Pausing to see the Cochimí people’s pre-Colombian petroglyphs at La Pinguica, I sat on a rock and trailed my fingers in a cold stream rimmed with
cardón cactus—the tallest such species on Earth. I had to chuckle at the irony: In L.A., my 1920 apartment is considered historic, but around Loreto,
the really old stuff happened about 15,000 years ago.
But just as in the City of Angels, younger attractions have their allure. In the remote village of San Javier, the 1758 Jesuit mission was
painstakingly built from stones quarried a dozen miles away. The Jesuits were expelled a decade later and the mission was abandoned by 1811. More
enduring roots remain behind the church, where a path meanders past holy-wine grapevines and Mexico’s oldest olive tree.
Surely, I thought, Loreto itself would move at a faster pace. But the seaside malecón walkway begged only for a breezy stroll. And the cobbled streets
of the 17th-century Plaza Civica inspired lingering beneath arched hedges strung with paper flags and dawdling over Día de los Muertos dioramas. All
that lured me from this anti–Beverly Hills was the promise of almejas chocolatas, or chocolate clams. A local delicacy, these huge brown-shelled
bivalves are harvested from the sea floor, then baked with a sprinkling of cheese.
My second-favorite meeting with Loreto’s sea life required a half-hour sail from the sleepy town marina to the Bay of Loreto National Marine Park.
Snorkeling around Isla Coronado, I found parrotfish, an acid-green eel, blue-footed boobies from the Galápagos Islands, and a colony of sea lions.
When I lifted my masked face from the warm water, I heard these furry pinnipeds barking up a storm.
It was the last commotion I’d hear that day. On Coronado’s beach side, I burrowed my toes into some of Baja’s whitest sand, gazed out at the clear
blue sea, and drifted off to bliss.
I now imagine this shore when I’m stuck in L.A. traffic, and it works like a charm: In minutes, my tension melts completely away.
Whale watching and sportfishing are big in Loreto. Catch glimpses of humpback whales from January through March or the Great Loreto Yellowtail
Tournament April 24–26, 2014. Loreto’s second annual Chocolate Clam Festival will be held the first week of June in 2014. Several pre-Colombian
archeological and cave painting sites are within about an hour’s drive of Loreto. Local tour company Wild Loreto can take you sailing, fishing, and
snorkeling and share the area’s history. (011-52) 613-134-1008 (in Spanish).
About 40 minutes from town, enjoy a private cove, stargaze, and luxuriate in the spa at the all-suite Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto. Rates
start at $150. 1-866-209-0726. Or enjoy a tranquil courtyard pool, en suite kitchens, and a central location at Hotel Santa Fe. Rates start at $90.
In Loreto, have a seat in the indoor garden at Domingo’s Place and tuck into a Sonoran steak or a plate of chocolate clams. (011-52) 613-135-2445.
Sample house-made goat cheese and mango jam in San Javier at La Palapa. (011-52) 613-135-1101 (in Spanish).
Loreto, 715 miles south of San Diego, is an approximately 13-hour drive from the U.S.–Mexico border. Alaska Airlines and Delta offer direct flights
from LAX to Loreto International Airport (LTO).
If you drive in Mexico, Mexican auto insurance is mandatory. It’s available, along with free Mexico maps, at your local Auto Club branch. Your AAA
travel agent can provide trip-planning information. Call 1-800-814-7471 or visit your local Auto Club branch.
[Edited on 11-12-2013 by Whale-ista]
"Probably the airplanes will bring week-enders from Los Angeles before long, and the beautiful poor bedraggled old town will bloom with a
Floridian ugliness." (John Steinbeck, 1940, discussing the future of La Paz, BCS, Mexico)