I recently returned from a trip to Loreto, Mexico. Even though I am just a short flight away, I still can’t believe I have not been to Mexico since I was a child. My parents used to fish in Ensenada while I scoured the beaches for taco carts (this was when parents were more apt to let their children wander) — so nevertheless I was thrilled to visit in my adulthood and had no idea what to expect.
There are all the things you might find when visiting a beach location, however Loreto takes the norm — good food, good cocktails, beautiful oceans and wraps it into a magical package for you to unwrap, with new surprising, dreamlike escapes everyday.
1. Loreto is just a two hour flight from Los Angeles
The problem with weekend travel is that it usually means staying closer to home, an in-state road trip, a trip to the closest beach or even just a spa day at a resort outside your neighborhood. In Loreto, you can have all these things, plus a true jetsetter escape, in a little over two hours from LAX.
For all those reading on the West Coast (best coast), Alaska airlines (not an ad) flies directly from Los Angeles to Loreto, Mexico. Yes you have to get through security and customs, but all-in-all it’s a pretty painless and stress-free experience — and hey, you get an extra stamp on your passport! Sidenote – the airport in Loreto is small and easy to navigate and they have tons of small little hole-in-the-wall bars with good margaritas and shots of mezcal to keep you happy while you wait for your flight on the way back to LA and take advantage when you arrive to take a roadie cocktail with you on the 40 minute shuttle ride to your hotel (approximately).
2. Sunrises and Sunsets
A group of us who stayed at Villa del Palmar resort in Loreto decided to join Mother Nature and wake up before dawn to witness the sun rising from the Sea of Cortez. We quickly coined ourselves the Dawn Patrol because we were a small group (I mean most people don’t wake up before lunchtime when they are on vacation) who braved the dark skies traveling to the 17th hole at the TPC Dazante Bay golf course in the wee hours of the morning. There is no explaining what the sunrise is like nor can pictures really capture the beauty, but if you want to see the sky glowing a gentle fire over a stunning landscape of fairways and meditate over the calm of the ocean, then the 5:15am alarm is worth it. It’s as though you are standing on the edge of heaven.
Equally the sunset is just as stunning and instead of a gentle fire, it smears a watercolor of vibrant pinks and oranges and gold. Holding a glass of ruby red rosé up to the sunset and you’ll find it a perfect match. The sunset is quick and fierce, it’s best to drop whatever you are doing, except your drink and head closer to the event-of-the-evening to watch as the perfect day fades away and your unforgettable evening is about to begin.
3. Golf on award-winning courses
The golf course at TPC Danzante Bay is an unique course overlooking Danzante Bay with some holes sporting a view of the Sea of Cortez. The editors at Golf Digest have awarded Villa del Palmar (where this stunning golf course can be found) the title as one of the best resorts in Mexico and Central America.
The course is designed by architect Rees Jones and is inspired by the legendary course in St. Andrews, Scotland. At any given hole you’ll be blessed with views of the sea or the mountains. Don’t be intimidated, this course is designed both for the pro and the novice and is a beautiful course to dip your toe or dive right into the deep end into the sport of golf. Check out the unlimited golf packages available and experience an award-winning course.
4. Relaxing by the pool at the Villa del Palmar Resort
Even if you are not a pool person (raising my hand here) there is no denying the attraction to the swimming pools at the Villa del Palmar resort — all five of them! There is a pool for everyone at the resort — for kids and families, for adults only, intimate size and extra large size, and an adult-only jacuzzi that is larger than most home swimming pools. Each pool is equipped with bars and/or waitstaff to serve you the best pool cocktails and tasty food offerings (the cheeseburger and fries are so good!) you’ll find in Mexico. The jacuzzi is so close to the cocktail bar you can actually place an order while relaxing in the warm bubbles. There are pool activities like water aerobics you can partake in or just lie back and relax in a reclining pool chair (shaded lounge areas are a aplenty) and enjoy the warm Mexican sun.
5. Dolphin Scouting & Bird Watching
“Let’s get on a boat,” they said, “Let’s go see some dolphins,” they said. I wasn’t prepared for how many dolphins we would be seeing on our boat ride out on the Sea of Cortez. As our captain navigated through the calm morning waters, in the distance we could see playful splashing. There were hundreds (our captain said about 300) of dolphins surrounding the boat, dancing on the water, showing off their best nose dives. It was an incredible experience to see marine life in their wild, natural habitat with only our boat in the vicinity. Explorer Jacques Costeau was right, “The Sea of Cortez is the world’s aquarium”. Although we did not see any, the blue whale is also a common habitant of this sea. In addition to dolphins, you’ll catch thousands of birds indigenous to Baja including the Blue Footed Booby and the Black Footed Albatross relaxing on rocks and flying close to the dolphin pods.
6. Discover Intimate Beaches
During the sea excursion we stop at small, quiet beaches uninhabited by man, featuring white sands and aqua blue water as clear as glass. The water was warm and snorkeling gave sight to fish and crustaceans enjoying the secret place. The sound of the calm waves is meditative and soothing to the soul. The shoreline has shallow waters which makes for a perfect photo op as if you are standing in the middle of the ocean.
7. Sip on Mexican Wine
As a lifelong Californian, sometimes it’s hard to get out of your Napa Valley wine comfort zone. I recently learned my lesson wine tasting my way through Tuscany and again on this trip — wine tasting my way through the magic that is the wines of Mexico. At a wine dinner at Villa del Palmar and again at a reception at the Dazante Bay Golf Club, I was treated to Rondo, a refreshing wine from Ensenada (the area of Valle de Guadalupe) which featured a rosé and chardonnay that could hold its own against a Northern California bottle of wine. The rosé features a percentage of Malbec and Pinot Noir which gives it a richer taste, almost like a light red, instead of the “summer water” taste that most rosés have. The 2016 Travesi Vino Tinto (by Rondo) is a cab blend with a nose of strawberry, raspberry, and marmalade scents with a touch of tobacco. The flavor is a balance of black fruit, plum and vanilla which makes for a silky and velvety swish in your mouth. The wines from Mexico are a refreshing change to your usual wine routine and I recommend you give them a try.
8. Explore the Town of Loreto
Walking through the town of Loreto, you can see the care (and government dollars) that has gone into making Loreto a beautiful and quaint little city. Streets are lined with bountiful trees and blooming flower bushes, streets are clean and roads are solid. The walking path that leads down to the ocean is lined with artisan shops, hotels, margarita stops, restaurants — all underneath towering arbors that give shade as you explore the town. The shopfronts are all painted in different, bright colors that give your selfies and group photos an ideal backdrop. Plenty of Mexican blankets for sale for your next yoga session and I’m obsessed with the colorful outdoor cantinas serving the best mezcal margaritas I’ve ever had.
9. Fine dining at Danzante
Danzante restaurant at Villa del Palmar is a place where wine aficionados and foodies can rejoice with a menu that celebrates the best of exceptional dining. Perfectly portioned dishes are rich in flavor and plated with an artistic expression that would have Picasso swooning. Everyone at the table was raving about the lamb shank, including me, because it was a medieval serving, larger than your typical portion, flavorful and smothered in a decadent wine sauce we were all still talking about the next morning . Other dishes were the warm scallop and heirloom tomato salad and the ahi tuna starter cooked to perfection. The baked Alaska was the encore of the night, surrounded in dry ice which turned the final entree into a show that our entire table was reveling in.
10. Just Relax
There is no shortage of relaxation in Loreto. Whether you are enjoying the pools and private beach, spa or even golfing at the Villa del Palmar resort or you are a castaway for a short time on a secret beach with white sands and warm water, people watching and throwing back tequila shots at a cantina in town — Loreto is the place for R&R away from the concrete jungle of the big city. I came back from Loreto with a clearer mind, a relaxed soul and body and am still reaping the benefits of my long weekend stay in this new nugget of a vacation paradise. Renew your spirit in Loreto!
Here’s more information on how you can plan your trip to Loreto
Here’s how you can book your stay at Villa del Palmar with information on their golf experiences and packages as well. Click here.