Puerto San Carlos and Bahia Magdalena
March 7-16, 2008

Introduction: The Drive/The Town

Adventure 1: Whale Watching and the Fetid Beaches

Adventure 2: Mangrove Fun and Isla Magdalena

Adventure 3: Dune Camping and a Friendly

Adventure 4: Snorkeling in the Mangroves

Adventure 5: Fishing in the Bay

Loreto/Mag Bay Tours

Dove in the  Loreto Square

Please click on photos for enlargements

To end the vacation we had a full day in Loreto with no agenda.  We toyed with the idea of whale watching in the Sea of Cortez (for fin and blue whales) but decided that relaxing sounded like a better idea than battling wind and waves.  We strolled around the pleasant cobbled tourist streets lined with stands of vanilla, silver jewelry, blankets, and other sundry souvenirs before eating a late breakfast at Mexico Lindo y Que Rico.  (Yeah, it’s a silly name, but a Loreto squaregreat little restaurant!  This was my third time in Loreto and Mexico Lindo is a requisite stop.I had fun quizzing shopkeepers in Spanish, dredging up all kinds of odd words I never thought I’d have opportunity to use.  I even managed to bargain a little.

In the afternoon my mother and I walked along the waterfront, then made our way to the historical town square and camped out in the shade of a wide fruit bearing tree.  Bunches ofreading birds inhabited the branches, releasing a steady rain of masticated black fruit.  When we weren’t gazing at the myriad birds, I read while my mother wrote all through the afternoon (when we didn’t stop for ice cream or chilled mochas).  The square was perfectly pleasant, with a gazebo in the center surrounded by attractive shrubs, cacti, trees, and a couple of fountains.  Two dogs burst into the square at one point, jumping in and out of the fountain while they played. 

In the evening we walked down to La Palapa for supper—another familiar restaurant—and stopped by the car to pick something up.  The front door of our happy little red car can only be locked from the outside—a slightly annoying feature effective in preventing lockouts.  Except, of course, in odd circumstances.  This time I opened both doors on the driver side, and locked the front one with the key before scrounging around in the back for whatever it was I needed…apparently the key fell out of my pocket in the process, becoming locked inside when I shut the back door.  It was the ONLY time I’d locked the front door first!  I was very grumpy, but it was too late in the day to do anything.  The next morning the front desk clerk at the hotel called Budget for me and in 20 minutes an agent brought me my key while I was reading in the lobby—flawless customer service! 

oriolered bird  yellow head 

My mother and I made a final stroll through the town that morning, drank our last cup of Mexican hot chocolate, and then drove to the airport for the flights to Los Angeles and Seattle.  We overnighted in Seattle, then flew back to Juneau on Sunday.  And so ended our vacation!  This was the first vacation that I had planned completely on my own, and I was both proud and relieved at its success.  I regret only that it took me six days to finally relax!  The good news is that the fantastic state of ease I felt those last days in Loreto lasted for weeks after I returned to Juneau.

 Mag Bay Tours
So perhaps I should speak a little to Mag Bay Tours for those interested in visiting the bay.  Searching the internet for information about whale watching or eco-tourism activities in Magdalena Bay yielded little outside of organized tours originating from other Baja towns or San Diego.  I found a list of local lodging establishments but only the Hotel Brennan had a web site and email address.  I wanted the freedom to enjoy our own trip at our own pace without a group, but I couldn’t come up with very much information.  The only local operation I found with a web site that seemed to suit our interests was Mag Bay Tours so I started a correspondence with them.  May Bay set up our hotel with no commission (an important service as the hotels apparently do not take credit cards) and worked tirelessly to arrange activities and a schedule that worked for us.  I wanted to do more than just whale watch, so they suggested the mangrove kayaking trip.  Mag Bay Tours specializes in surfing and operates a surf camp on the outer coast of Isla Magdalena during the summer surfing season.  I originally set up a whale watch on the first day and a whale watch and kayak on the second day, figuring that from there we could set up tours on location (possibly for less money).  I had in the back of my mind that we could peruse the waterfront for a local panga captain for considerably less than we were paying Mag Bay Tours.  In the end, the convenience of setting things up with Esteban and assurance of a good tour/captain won us over and we amiably paid the money.  Wandering through town it was clear that there were any number of other tour operators available on short notice, but I didn't check to see how much they charged. 

Mag Bay Tours is in large part the brain child of its owner Esteban and the result of his hard work; a native of Chicago, Esteban (Steve) moved down to San Carlos around 1990 and built up the company.  His son Nicolas was my contact in the states while we were setting up the tours.  Esteban loves Baja (perhaps in the way that I love SE Alaska) and it was a joy to have him along on some of our excursions—he was clearly of like mind to my mother and I and it was at his suggestion (and trouble) that we wound up camping in the dunes and hiking in the desert.  I would happily steer otherss to Mag Bay Tours if they're fortunate enough to visit the bay.

dogs in the square