Loreto to Kelowna – Learning to Take the Side Roads

In this post, we cover our time spent in Loreto and our return to Kelowna!

Ah Loreto! We spent two months in this small community on the Sea of Cortez from the beginning of February to early April. This part of the world is beautiful, as the dramatic mountains serve as a backdrop to the Sea of Cortez. The intersection of desert, mountains and sea is what we have come to love about the Baja.

Loreto was an easy community to live in with everything we needed in either walking or biking distance. Larry found a gym to work out at.

Our apartment was modest and yet served our needs well. Our neighbour’s three cats adopted us when he was away, we met some wonderful people, and spent more time in a bar in those 2 months than we have in decades!

Early in our stay we were approached by an older (relative to our young old age) gentleman who asked how we were liking Loreto and if we were staying for awhile. He proceeded to tell us about the wonderful expat American and Canadian community that gathered at a local bar on Fridays for crib night… and did we play crib? Yes, we do! Friday nights at Strokers became a highlight of our week. And to our delight every Friday night, except one, we left the evening as winners. Apparently we both have a competitive streak. Getting to know the regulars, many of whom have been coming to Loreto for a decade or more and have built second homes in the community (and are from exotic places like Kamloops, Williams Lake and 108 mile house), was delightful. Through these connections we were introduced to live music nights and ‘new release movie’ showings at ‘The Backyard.’

We arrived in Loreto in February. Loreto is about 31/2 hours north of La Paz and the weather was a little cooler (low 20’s) and the wind (particularly in the afternoon) was very strong. So strong that walking or sitting at the beach and biking was not a lot of fun. Many of the people we met, who have been in Loreto for a number of years, would mention that that the wind was unusual this year. We found that the wind became a limiter on our outdoor activity. Several afternoons as we would head to the beach we would end up turning around and going home because of the wind. On other days when the wind would die down, our time spent at the beach would be rewarded by the sound of humpback whales breaching and manta rays belly flopping. One day Penny was walking along the malecón and dolphins were swimming by, surrounding a fellow who was out on his paddle board. A highlight of our stay in Loreto was the day we spent sighting blue whales… the largest mammal in the world!


Humpback whales abound

We left Loreto April 4th ready to move on and head home. We would return to Loreto again in the future, however we found 2 months to be too long a stay. Accommodations were more expensive than La Paz. The groceries were reasonably priced, however the selection was not as extensive as in a larger centre. Internet was a big challenge! There are coffee shops and a nice selection of restaurants and lots of seafood to enjoy.

We took a month for the return trip to Kelowna. Our first two nights on the road we stopped in San Ignacio a small community in the middle of the Baja. Its claim to fame includes a 350 year old mission, pictographs in nearby caves, and the laguna on the Pacific side of the Baja where the grey whales winter and calf their babies. There is also a B&B run by a couple from Hudson Hope and a restaurant run by their daughter. Seeing the grey whales as they approach close enough to be touched is one of the most amazing experiences. We highly recommend it!

One of the interesting historic facts about Baja Sur is the number of missions that were established by the Jesuits in the 1700’s. We visited the sites in El Triunfo, San Javier, Loreto, Mulege and San Ignacio. To experience these 300 year old sites on the west coast of North America gives a new perspective to one’s sense of history and the impact of Europeans on the indigenous people groups.

From San Ignacio we drove up the Baja and took a slight detour back to the east coast and San Filipe before crossing the Baja one more time to Ensenada and the Guadalupe Valley. This is a place we have come to know well and it was good to return to a familiar place. We spent a few days there visiting with some friends before we headed up to Tecate and across the border in to S. California. Each time we drive up through California we have experimented with different routes. This time we decided to camp for a few nights in Joshua Tree National Park and then in Giant Sequoia National Park. A little cool but fun!

We spent a few days with friends in Redding California and arrived back in Kelowna at the end of April. We have been in Kelowna for 2 months now and will be heading out to Victoria for the month of July. Rachel and Dave are moving there and we will stay with them before we go east to the Sault for August and September.

From Ontario we will be heading to South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Argentina) and possibly Central America to explore Nicaragua and Guatemala (Antigua).

Travel tips:

  • Driving the Baja is safe (daytime driving recommended), there are numerous places to buy gas and places to stay
  • Beaches outside of Mulege are beautiful and there appears to be lots of free camping with some services
  • We will definitely return and bring kayaks.

Some places to stay in Loreto (and we recommend staying in Loreto unless you want to golf and/or have a one week relaxing holiday, then it makes sense to stay in Loreto Bay):




  • ICBC did reimburse our car insurance for the time we were in Mexico!

One comment

  1. Gerri McKiernan · July 3, 2016

    So enjoyed reading about your journey in Baja–will be heading back myself early November and plan to visit places mentioned having been limited to La Paz last season. My goal is to see some whales on this go round.


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