Located less than a two-hour flight from LAX, a dreamy Mexican oasis flies under the radar. Loreto and its surrounding islands, described by some as the Cabo of 20 to 30 years ago, offer glimpses of local culture and untouched natural beauty – all in the midst of laid-back yet pampered luxury.
At Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, a calming quiet pervades the property each morning, as the sun's glow warms the mountains. Each evening, the fiery ball silhouettes the peaks, as it dips beyond the horizon and drops into the glass-like bay.
At this 4,200-acre master-planned community, situated along protected coastline that's flanked by the Sierra de la Gigante range, days can go as quickly or as slowly as you want them to. The locale can't be beat when considering Baja's all-season climate and the resort's placement near dramatic cliffs, plunging canyons, coastal dunes and arid desert landscapes.
Explore this exquisite bay by night or by day — Photo courtesy of Villa del Palmar Resort
It's quite likely resort guests might never leave the property, thanks to the site's three restaurants, five swimming pools, pristine beaches, tennis courts, miles of hiking trails and access to activities from kayaks to paddle boards, not to mention theme nights and beach parties that entertain guests of every age. (A low-key "disco" up on the hill means late-night karaoke and dancing for the of-age crowd, too.)
Another gem of the community, TPC Danzante Bay features 18 holes of golf with 11 ocean-facing holes, plus its famous cliffside, par three, 17th hole. It's perched over the Sea of Cortez, a UNESCO World Heritage site that's home to a vast variety of whales and dolphins, in addition to nearly 900 species of fish.
For the ultimate dose of magic, book an LED kayak or SUP adventure that allows you to move around the water guided by moonlight.
LED kayak and SUP tours showcase sea creatures in a whole new light — Photo courtesy of Villa del Palmar Resort
Everyone finds their rhythm here, whether you choose to stay active or collapse into a fringe-y hammock or hot pink chair overlooking the turquoise waters. For the ultimate self-care day, begin the morning with beachside yoga, lulled by the sound of nearby waves and the happy distraction of playful orioles dashing in and out of the tiki hut fronds.
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Afterward, savor a beautiful brunch at the open-air restaurant where standard breakfast delicacies are joined by local treasures (think papaya and pineapple galore). Eventually make your way to the spa, where a massive lounge area boasts hot tubs, saunas, soothing water features, ethereal music and large windows that peek out at roadrunners scurrying across the golf course below.
The bright flavors of Mexican cuisine can be enjoyed throughout the town of Loreto — Photo courtesy of Villa del Palmar Resort
A lazy alfresco lunch of Loreto-style clams (filled with baked cheese) or fresh shrimp tacos, served on soft tortillas with creamy coleslaw and guacamole, will put you in the most relaxed afternoon food coma – ideally remedied by a poolside nap.
If you can tear yourself away from resort paradise, you won’t regret wandering around Loreto, a sleepy town (especially during afternoon siesta hours). This quaint town of 15,000 boasts beautiful landscaped trees and a mission built in 1697. Pop into City Hall to peruse some local art, or grab a margarita on the patio of Regina (down near the water).
A bit father into town, don’t miss the food (and hospitality) at Mi Loreto, known for its handmade recipes. Savor a variety of salsas, a special mole creation that uses an almond base and a spinach-meets-creamy cheese sauce that complements the delicious sea bass.
Jacques Cousteau once called this pristine wonderland the world's aquarium" — Photo courtesy of Villa del Palmar Resort
In addition to reminding visitors of Mexico's rich culture, delectable cuisine and delightful hospitality, Baja forces us to examine the sheer beauty and daunting fragility of our natural world. Once deemed "the world’s aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau, the Bay of Loreto National Park is a special treasure, and after seeing it yourself, you'll become dedicated to keeping it pristine for future generations.