Let’s All Go To Loreto!

Great! I’ll beat you to the car!
BY: ANITA BREAK

We’ve always liked Loreto, a small town of about 15,000 souls six hours up the Sea of Cortez from Cabo. It’s another town that federal agency Fonatur created to jump start tourist towns.

Fonatur buys up large chunks of land, installs all the infrastructure like electricity, water, sewer, and roads, and then sells off smaller chunks to developers. There are about eight of these tourist spots that were created by Fonatur, including Cancun, Loreto and, oh yes, Los Cabos.

golfloreto.JPGFonatur considers Loreto as their only failure, with their top guy saying several years ago that Loreto never took off because it’s too close to Cabo.

As much as we like Loreto, we have to admit it’s very hot in the summer, very cold in the winter, and very windy in the shoulder seasons. Their beaches are kinda rocky, there are very few flights into the city, and their fishing fleet is mostly little pangas. Gosh, what’s to like?

Plenty.

The little town center is very picturesque, having been one of the first settlements on the peninsula. Its mission is the first, dating back three centuries. The cobblestone roads, always a pain in the neck to traverse, are too cute to criticize. And the town is right on the Sea of Cortez, facing several fairly close islands. This makes the late afternoons and early evenings along the waterfront a spectacular display of sunlight on ocean and islands. It enhances the ambiance, making it magical. Many bars and restaurants are clustered on this strip of malecon, facilitating the experience.

Here are just a few of the various waterfront experiences waiting for you:

The Oasis Hotel is right on the sand, has decent food, and you get to lounge under the palm trees. There is a nice pool, too. The rooms are rather broken down, however, as it is old and needs a complete upgrade. But they are clean and not very expensive.

On the other end of the malecon (the sea front), is Missiones, a slick new place, elevator, total A/C, the first class works, more expensive, but not overly.

Augie’s bar and bait shop is not to be missed. Augie, from San Diego, is kidding about the bait part, it’s a popular Gringo bar and restaurant. It’s on the cheap side, as are the customers who pour out of there, like water rushing down an arroyo, once Augie’s daily free kettle of food runs out, about 6 pm. He serves dinners, too, and they are reasonable and well-priced. He has an upstairs outdoor patio dining area and, of course, he is right on the waterfront.

On the upscale side is Meditarraneo, a very good restaurant with excellent food. It’s not cheap, but not over priced for the quality. It’s outside, and is a perfect spot to watch the sunset on the islands. That is a magical experience.

About ten miles south of downtown is an entirely different experience. There’s a brand new mega resort community of packed-in homes attached to each other, most on the ocean side or the side of the Fonatur-built golf course. The rumor is you have to be Canadian to buy here, but we do see some Gringos, too. Although it is mostly residential, there is a three-story hotel with a nice big beachside pool, and kayak rentals. There are a few businesses like a wine bar and a morning coffee meet up place.

Another 15 miles south, out into the middle of absolutely nothing, is a six-story, luxury all-inclusive hotel/timeshare resort, part of the Villa del Palmar resort chain. Of course, it has to be all-inclusive since there is no other place around to eat, although, there is a nice little grocery/dry goods store and most rooms have kitchens.

There are three restaurants, five swimming pools, tennis courts, and a 39,000-square-foot luxury spa, along with a large, airy gym with good views of the mountains. Add in the miles of hiking trails that wind around the hill and overlook the water, the kayaks, SUP boards, and beach-side palapa where your margaritas are prepared, and you might even forget that sport fishing is available. Those boats can’t come in to shore, though, as you can wade out 300 yards before the water even comes up to your waist. Sand has been brought in to cover the uncomfortable black rocks and they have even removed them from the ocean floor, so you can wade out in your bare feet. They don’t have a problem with you dragging your lounge chair into the water to keep your butt moist.

And then there is the golf course. Official opening is Pearl Harbor Day. (If you don’t know what day that is, shame on you, go back to school, fool. It’s December 7.)

The Rees Jones designed course takes full advantage of the spectacular terrain that goes up into box canyons, surrounded with near vertical green and red walls, and then juts out into the sea on narrow strips of land with sheer walls going straight down into the water. Bring extra golf balls for that hole.

It’s officially called Danzante Bay Golf Course. Currently, there is no club house, but that’s in the works. For now, you will be taking a cart down the hill and into the hotel for your 19th hole reward. If you’re a golfer, this course is worth the drive all by itself.

So, if this has not infected you with an urge to go to Loreto, then you should investigate if you are somehow glued to your beach blanket. Get up! Look around you!