I have just completed my first week of swim vacation guiding in Loreto – Mexico, having previously guided in Slovenia and Croatia. Loreto national park is simply stunning.
FROM ISLAND TO ISLAND
A short 30-40 minute boat trip takes you to one of three islands (Carmen, Coronado, Danzante) with crystal clear turquoise waters with rich and diverse marine life. The beauty of the islands means that in normal weather conditions, there is always a sheltered swim location and kayaks to safely guide swimmers. Each swim is around 2.2-2.5 km (1.3-1.5 miles) long with a drink stop along the way.
BOAT-SWIM DAILY TRIP ROUTINE
A typical day starts at 8.40 am when everyone meets at the port (swimmers have the option to be picked up at the hotel and driven to the port). We stay out until 3.30-4.00 pm and offer two wonderful swims. We are spoilt for choice in selecting an idyllic deserted beach for lunch.
Lunch is freshly prepared, plentiful, and comprises Mexican delicacies and fruit. Dietary requests are well catered for. Tourists are relatively few and often we only see one or two other boats all day. For me, the peace, tranquillity, lack of mass commercial development, and protection of the national park make Loreto a truly special place.
As a guide, seeing the smiles on swimmers’ faces, watching them stop and shout in joy at seeing an eagle ray, moray eel or turtle is special. Kayaking along I can see teems of tropical fish swimming under the boat but only the swimmers get a proper look and can appreciate the magnificent colors and variety of fish.
It’s worth noting the wildlife frequently seen on the boat, too. This week we were treated to a 10 – 15 minute display of a pod of bottlenose dolphins frolicking along the coast of Carmen Island. We also spotted well-camouflaged blue-footed boobies perching on cliffs and at one headland a colony of sea lions!
MANTA RAYS AND WHALES
For the first time in my life, I saw a manta ray leaping and spinning out of the water ~ its body shimmering silver in the sunlight. Magnificent! Whales are always present and some groups are lucky enough to see whales close up. This week most swimmers saw some distance whale spouts.
LORETO – BAJA, MEXICO
The small town of Loreto has a wonderfully laid-back and safe atmosphere. The town center is approximately a 10-minute walk from the hotel. There is a good choice of small restaurants and bars with market stalls on some days. There are numerous “fiestas” or celebrations throughout the year and if you are lucky enough to be in Loreto when one occurs it’s a treat as the whole community comes together to celebrate.
Last week there was a Halloween celebration for young children but the main Fiesta was the “Dia de Muertos” (literally translated as Day of the Dead) when locals invite the spirits of the dead to visit, and for people to remember and celebrate the past good times of those who are no longer with us. The whole town was decorated and there was a colorful procession.
LORETO BAY NATIONAL PARK
Five islands (Catalana Montserrat, Danzante, del Carmen, and Coronado), ten islets, and sea form the Loreto Bay National Park. In 1996 it was declared as a protected area and is the largest marine protected area in the Gulf of California with 206,581 hectares. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 2005, for its exceptional and universal value that must be protected for the benefit of humanity.
I would thoroughly recommend the Loreto swim vacation week – it feels like paradise!
~ Written by Kate Steels (world-renowned ice mile swimmer and Strel Swimming guide in Loreto in November 2022)