Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

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By Mona Day 

The Islands Of Loreto


September 29, 2014

The fishing village of Loreto on the Baja California Peninsula sits on miles of coastline with year-round sunshine averaging 80 degrees.

Looking out on five islands on the Sea of Cortez, it offers majestic scenic backdrops along with a wealth of flora and fauna for hiking, trekking, bird watching, while its coast offers a wealth of water sports - island-hopping, snorkeling, kayaking or just plain relaxation on quiet beaches.

The islands have formed a physical barrier that has created an 800 square mile of warm underwater marine park that nurtures such a spectacular concentration of flora and fauna that it is protected as a United Nation's World Heritage Site making it a significant destination for eco tourism.

The clear waters offer visibility of 40 and sometimes even 100 feet deep so you can see spectacular reef-dwelling and migratory fish, soft corals, mollusks, mother-of-pearl, starfish, sea urchins, whales, dolphins, sea lions and other marine life without leaving your kayak.

There's historical interest. Follow the charming Paseo Salvatierra street lined that now houses souvenir shops to the town plaza. There you will find the recently restored mission of Our Lady of Loreto Concho with its bell tower rising high above the center of town.

Built in 1697, it is one of the oldest in Mexico. Adjacent to it is a museum focusing on the colonization of Baja.

These many attractions of Loreto have been made more accessible with the amenities of a world class resort barely three years old, the Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, from where you can enjoy all this in comfort.

Surrounded on three sides by the majestic Sierra de la Giganta mountains and opening out onto the calm, blue waters of Danzante Bay, it features 181 spacious, new, beautifully appointed one, two and three bedroom suites with kitchen and laundry facilities that open out to spacious balconies offering stunning views of the mountains reaching out to the sea.

The well maintained grounds offer two tennis courts, a Danzante Bungalow villa, five pools, and a 7,400-yard golf course that should be complete by next spring.

The 39,000 square-foot Sabila Spa and Wellness Center, the largest on the Baja coast, offers separate areas for men and women and couples. The gym and wet area are open to all guests, and a full range of services is available.

Dining options include the Market Restaurant open for breakfast - featuring plenty of tropical fruit, and a house specialty of green OJ made healthier with spinach, celery, and cactus. Casa Mia offers fresh pasta and pizza. Fine dining Danzante offers steak, seafood, including regional specialty `chocolate' clams, a large selection of wine and cigars, and stunning sunsets.

Executive chef Alfonso Peregrina hails from the Puebla region, and earned his chops in Toledo Spain and at 4-Diamond AAA rated Blue Hotel. For sheer culinary showmanship, order the cherries flambe, or Mexican coffee.

The resort maintains a full calendar of organized activities like yoga on the beach, Salsa lessons, Spanish lessons, guided hikes and horseback riding.

Sitting on the beach as it does, it becomes a gateway to a full slate of water activities - touring the nearby islands on an inflatable boat, scuba and snorkeling tours, fishing or digging for the local specialty of chocolate clams. You can even bring your catch home, and the resort's chefs will prepare it for you.

There's also stand-up paddle boarding, glass-bottom kayaking, for taking a spin around Danzante Bay. Or, you can also just hang out on the beach or pool for a good read and sample the different flavors of margaritas.

Loreto's unspoiled beauty provides a distinct alternative to the typical destinations of Cabo, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta that most of us associate with Mexico travel.

It works for all kinds of travel - business meetings, family friendly vacations, girlfriend tours, or a romantic destination for two. And all convenient from LA - two hours away.


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