Pristine and tranquil, Loreto Baja California Sur is unlike any other part of Mexico I’ve experienced during my many visits to the Caribbean side of the country.
After spending my birthday month on the road, this would unknowingly be the perfect location to wind down and disconnect. So I made my way south of the border.
Landing at the Loreto airport, the first thing that I noticed was the clear blue ocean lined by cacti studded desert. I knew that this trip would be different than others but I underestimated just how intimate of a town Loreto would be. After a short dusty cab ride through the desert, we pulled into the quiet town square, planted with lush greenery and colorfully painted buildings.
The accommodations at Hotel 1697 couldn’t have been more perfect. I was escorted through a secure gate into the private courtyard complete with a pool and small dining area. The room was clean, spacious, and perfectly cool. There was even complimentary cold water waiting in the refrigerator. After settling into my room, I was greeted with a welcome margarita at the attached brewery and ordered the Baja Fish tacos (cliché I know) which were amazingly crisp and delicious.
Once the rest of our crew arrived we sat down for dinner at Zopiloté Brewery and had a thorough introduction to Baja cuisine.
First stop on the food tour was a local delicacy know as Chocolate Clams (Almejas Tatemades). I know what you're thinking. They don’t actually have chocolate as an ingredient but are named after the color of their shell. These clams are grilled with butter, herbs, cheese, and who knows what else but it’s addictive. We also had an assortment of tacos which were equally as delicious.
After sleeping off a few local "Rattlesnake" cervezas we set out on our first full day of excursions. Dusty desert paths quickly turned into windy mountain roads as we made our way to Mission San Javier.
We pulled into the quiet settlement, rolling along the cobblestone toward the massive church that's been standing since its inception in 1699. During a scenic walk through the church grounds and admiring the impressive architecture, we also learned the history of the area.
We even stumbled onto an impromptu wine tasting courtesy of a local farmer:
After making our way back down the mountain we had a picturesque sunset dinner at Hotel Oasis complete with more Chocolate Clams! This place was perfectly situated on the oceanfront at the end of the Malecón.
Day 3 was a bit more of a trek to our destination but the views alone were worth the wait as we winded along a coastal road with secluded beaches on one side and desert on the other.
This scenic drive led us to a lush oasis that seemed to magically appear after miles of desert. The town of Mulegé was built around the only river that flows through Baja.
We took a short walk through the town and up to Santa Rosalía Mission for a cool lookout point over the river. Next was a grilled fish lunch at Las Casitas before heading out to Playa El Coyote beach which was on the way back to Loreto. It was peaceful with only a few children playing in the water and the occasional sailboat passing by.
Arriving back to Loreto around dinnertime, we found out we were in for an unexpected treat. We would be making our own batch of chocolate clams over an open flame at Casa Carmen! Check out the process:
The Almejas go face down in the gravel...
Then we piled "tumbleweed" on top before lighting it on fire...
The results were charred clams served with a mayo/mustard sauce. Excellent!
Day 4 was surely the highlight of the trip as we would be spending the day beach hopping aboard a catamaran, with all the food and drinks we could want. We met with our crew from ABT Sailing at the Marina and set sail for hidden Baja beaches.
This was the perfect capstone to our week of adventure. We swam, enjoyed margaritas, cervezas, and of course...
I will definitely be adding Loreto to my list of discreet getaways close to home. As of now the most consistent flights into town are out of LAX and San Diego so it's fairly easy access from the west coast of the US. There's tons of adventure to get into from whale watching, hiking, snorkeling/diving, off-roading, and surfing. This stretch of ocean is referred to as the "World's Aquarium" for the amount of biodiversity that passes through on a regular basis. I would highly recommend this as a destination for those who like to "travel slow" and experience places as a person rather than just another tourist. Adios!