Located about 150 miles north of Los Cabos, Loreto is Mexico's best kept secret. The surrounding Sea of Cortez is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It's home to more than 900 types of fish and 2000 species of marine life and many adorable mammals. Many creatures also migrate through this area including whales, manta rays, whale sharks and giant squids.
Loreto is banked by the mountains of the Sierra de la Giganta and you have access to amazing views, pristine, white sand beaches, ancient cave paintings, scenic hiking trails, waterfalls and more.
I stayed at the Villa del Palmar hotel and there were endless amount of things to do. First of all the hotel is located right next to a Marine Island. Of course you can lounge by the pool or at the private beach. Here are my top 10 favorite things to do while staying at the Villa del Palmar
1. Whale Watching
In the Winter time around December to March, hundreds of whales come to give birth to their calves in the protected Marine Island of Loreto Bay, its truly a magical experience. You could see blue whales, fin whales, Sei whales and/or Brydes whales. The happy whales and their new babies dance and play in the Sea of Cortez and there are amazing photo opportunities. If you are super lucky you might even get a chance to pet one of the newborn babies. The gray and blue whales make an epic journey of 5,500 kilometers to Baja California to give birth.
Other wildlife you may encounter on your excursions are dolphins, who love to swim in large schools right next to the boat, sea lions, and a plethora of different breeds of birds. There are numerous whale watching excursions that you can sign up for in Loreto.
2. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Snorkeling: The Sea of Cortez abounds with huge numbers of sea life. Just on the boat on the way to your snorkeling spot, you should see tons of wildlife and dolphins are very often spotted swimming right next to the boats - they aren't shy! On my snorkeling trip in Loreto, I saw thousands of rainbow colored fish, mini schools of the cutest pufferfish ever, sea urchins, and more. The water is slightly on the cooler side but you adjust to it immediately. When you book your snorkeling tour through the Villa del Palmar, you'll easily leave right from the resort's private beach. The trip includes the boat ride, lunch at another private beach (including fresh guacamole), all the snorkeling gear that you need, and Mexican beer on top of that!
Scuba Diving: The Sea of Cortez is also known as the "Aquarium of the World" and encompasses 206 acres of ocean. There are more than 50 diving sites to choose from in this marine park that has been protected for almost 20 years. There are 5 islands in the vicinty, Coronado, Carmen, Dazanetes, Monteserra and Catalana. Many Mexican dive masters appreciate Loreto for its peaceful vibe and diving without having to deal with tourist crowds, families and screaming children.
For great exercise and one of a kind views, sign up for kayaking in Loreto. You can either take out a solo kayak or a double, tandem Kayak. Enjoy the sunny weather and turquoise, crystalline water first hand why working up your muscles. Kayaks are the best way to discover the epic cliffs of the Sierra Giganta mountains. Most of the kayak tours end with a snorkeling session which is an extra plus.
4. Spa Getaway
I'm a spa junkie and I enjoy a spa getaway any chance I can get, especially when I am out of town. The Sabila Spa has been named one of SpaFinders Best Spas in Mexico and deemed one of the Most Fascinating Spa Resorts of the World by Vacation Idea. The Spa offers all the traditional spa treatments and also features a full service beauty salon. It also features Juice Therapy a custom fresh juice bar.
Most notable about the spa the friendly and attentive staff always with cold towels, teas and neck wraps in hand and the elevated view from the floor to ceiling mirrors of the towering mountains and the Sea of Cortez. There is a full wet area with all the fixing, jacuzzis, cold dip pools, steam rooms, saunas and my favorite are the individual aloe and soda baths with a front row view to the beauty of scenic Loreto.
I love that the spa had a suggested hydrotherapy sessions, available to all spa goers, which consists of 5 timed stations: the Warm Jacuzzi, Dry Sauna/Steam, Cold Plunge/Cold Shower, Hot Jacuzzi again, Cold Pressurized Shower. My assigned staff member was also on hand to let me know when I had completed each station so I didn't have to worry about timing myself.
The Paddle boarding in Loreto Mexico is as beautiful as anywhere else in the world but I really wanted to highlight the midnight LED paddle boarding because I hadn't yet encountered it anywhere else. LED lights are attached to the paddle boards thus allowing you to see up to fifty feet away. Another bonus is that the lights attract all kinds of creatures who only come out at night so its really a once in a lifetime experience. The LED night tour is a two hour guided tour and it comes with paddle boards/LED lights, light jackets, a distress whistle, Wetsuit, Portable radio, water, towel, head lanterns, flashlights and life rescue navigation light. You are truly well equipped for this adventure!
6. Beach Yoga
I am a destination yoga junkie so I am always game for yoga anywhere in the world. At the Villa del Palmar morning yoga, you'll start the session with a scenic 5 minute walk on the beach to get to the wooden yoga area overlooking the crystal blue waves of the ocean. It's a super relaxing and easy yoga session fit for any level of yoga expertise, perfect for beginners also!
There are several hiking trails available adjacent to the Villa del Palmar. I tried out the hiking trail right behind the resort, next to their private beach. All hiking tours are led by experienced guides who will introduce you to all the flora and fauna of the surrounding areas. You'll definitely work up your breath on the hikes as the hikes go up mountains and you'll be rewarded by many Instagrammable spots. The golf course at Danzante Bay which I'll go over below also makes for an amazing hike with its very own scenic views overlooking the cliffs of the Sierra Gigante into the Sea of Cortez.
Loreto is considered one of the best spots in the world to experience sportsfishing., You can look forward to possibly catching Dorado, Yellowtail, Whale Sharks or even Sailfish and Striped Marlin when they are in season. Fishing tackle is provided by the boats or are available to rent. You will need to purchase a Mexican fishing license and you can keep the fish that you catch or you can be kind and 'catch and release'.
Some of the fishing boats even feature divers that will bring up fresh clams for you to enjoy on the boat. If you fillet your fish, you can bring it back to be cooked at your hotel or you can freeze the fillets and bring them back home to enjoy.
The Danzante Golf Course at the Villa del Palmar is a world class golf resort with some of the most stunning views in the world. Currently 11 holes are completed with the remaining 7 holes to be completed in Fall 2017. While playing the course, players are treated to sweeping views of the Sierra Gigante mountains and the Sea of Cortez. It's also super common for players to see whales and dolphins frolicking in the surf.
10. Mule Pack Trip
Experienced guides will take you on a mule pack tour of Loreto, Baja California. There are numerous trails that can be explored. You can also go horse-back riding but riding on mules is so much more unique and special. The different trails will take you on visits to traditional missions, ranches, waterholes, cowboy trails and more. The trips usually end with a campfire to bond with the other travelers.
My stay at Villa Del Palmar was complimentary as were all the activities I participated in, all opinions are my own.