We recently had the chance to visit Loreto and discover the magic, the beauty, and the real paradise that this destination has to offer.
Located on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in the State of Baja California Sur in Mexico, Loreto is an ideal place for the perfect escape.
Whether you are looking for a quiet place to relax from it all or a more adventurous vacation full of fun and exciting things to do, Loreto will not disappoint you.
And the best place to stay just happens to be the only Five-Star resort in Loreto: Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa at the Islands of Loreto.
Villa del Palmar is a fantastic resort with 180 luxury rooms with a Jacuzzi tub in each suite and well equipped with full kitchens. It is located on 1,800 hectares of property surrounded by nature and its own beach cove at Ensenada Blanca Beach.
The resort also has 5 pools, a world-class spa, a mini market, a kids’ area, and three restaurants.
The entertainment at Villa del Palmar is endless. Every day there are fun activities scheduled all day long. Start early with a morning hike on one of the trails that overlook the beautiful islands of Loreto.
Throughout your hike, you will see the diversity of vegetation in the area, the amazing water colors of the Sea of Cortez, and if you are lucky, you could spot Baja condors flying around the coast. Just make sure you are wearing enough sunblock.
If you wish to enjoy the resort’s activities, you can join the aqua-aerobics classes at the main pool every day. On different nights, they have a variety of great shows. Don’t miss Mexican Night on Saturdays; it is a fun, colorful display of all the important traditional dances of Mexico.
As far as water activities, Loreto is a true paradise. Not only is Loreto one of the best whale-watching spots during the winter months, but all year round you can enjoy great kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and paddle boarding.
The late Sea Explorer Jacques Cousteau actually dubbed the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world” due to the hundreds of species unique to the region.
Wild Loreto is a company with friendly staff and many years of experience who have an office in Villa del Palmar’s lobby.
Their staff can help you choose among all the fun activities and tours you can do during your stay in Loreto. They also have kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkeling equipment for rent.
If you wish to ride on a catamaran boat around the islands, they can help you as well.
We took a boat to Danzante Island and it was an incredible experience. We saw many dolphins on the way there and we snorkeled at Honeymoon Beach, where we saw starfish and other types of sea life.
Not many know that Loreto is of great importance in the history of California. Actually, of both Californias: the Alta California and the Baja California.
And it is from here that the Spanish went on to build missions and presidios that went all the way up north ending at the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma following El Camino Real.
Furthermore, the famous “Camino Real” actually starts in Loreto. Despite this importance, the town of Loreto has remained small, with a population of about 10,000 people.
If you want to be closer to the historic downtown, Hotel Santa Fe Loreto is a great place to stay. The spacious rooms are equipped with full kitchens and the hotel offers a pool, hot tub, and plenty of parking. It’s only a short walk to visit the historical Mission of Loreto.
How to get there
Loreto is such an easy destination to get to. From LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) there are several airlines that fly there. You can get great specials on a charter flight with CalJet Airlines.
They have a fantastic schedule leaving and returning on Saturdays. And best of all, the flight only takes 1 hour 40 minutes. It’s that fast!
If you love adventure and beautiful scenic road trips, you can go by car. Driving from San Diego is about 13 hours.
Most people drive to the town of Guerrero Negro on the Pacific side and spend the night, arriving in Loreto the next day.
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway paired with authentic Mexican charm, Loreto is a destination you won’t want to miss. But hurry before it’s discovered!
Instead of flying into Kona International Airport and driving 2.5 hours to Hilo, there will be daily direct flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). A huge timesaver!
It all begins June 9th, so start booking your tickets now.
What makes Hilo so appealing?
Instead of grand five-start resorts, you can expect quaint inns, bed & breakfasts, family-friendly hotels, cabins, and campgrounds. People love Hilo for its unique natural beauty. Just look at the photos:
Waipio Valley, from the Waipio Valley Overlook. Located about an hour north of Hilo, it’s one of the spectacular highlights on the Hilo-Hamakua Heritage Corridor. Credit: Bob Coello/BIVB
Kilauea volcano’s lava pouring into the ocean last year. Credit: Tor Johnson/HTA
Buckets of exotic tropical flowers at the Hilo Farmers Market. Credit: Bob Coello/BIVB.
Halemaumau Crater in Kilauea volcano…home to Hawaii’s volcano goddess Pele. As seen from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Credit: www.bluewaterjon.com
The Big Island Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is only 40 minutes from Hilo International Airport, and one of five national parks on the island. Yes, the Big Island is that big.
This shot shows one of several waterfalls at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hilo. Credit: Bob Coello/BIVB
Now are you ready to visit Hilo?
Want to win a Sony Cyber-shot WX9? Here’s how:
1. Leave a comment and give us the name of your favorite travel destination!
2. Double Your Chances! Leave another comment dishing about your favorite international cuisine.
***Contest ends at 11:59pm PST on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. One winner will be randomly selected. Maximum 2 comments per person, please! We can only ship in the USA. Be sure to comment on the blog post for consideration.***
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These last couple of days I had an opportunity to play with the new Sony Cyber-shot WX9 digital camera which will be available in the next couple of weeks.
Let me first tell you that I’ve gone through many different brands when it comes to point-and-shoot digital cameras and I was extremely pleased to get my hands on this impressive Sony product.
As a travel and wine blogger, I’m constantly sharing pictures of my travels around the world as well as my favorite bottles of wine. Because of this, I need a camera that is easy to carry while helping me capture professional-looking photos in different environments.
So, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, landscapes or a close-up of food or wine, and even the occasional video, it’s important for me to have a camera I can rely on anytime and anywhere. And because I prefer to travel light, a bulky DSLR with various lenses is not an option.
While I recommend you check the specifics of this camera on the Sony site, I will tell you a bit about what I think about the Cyber-shot WX9 in regards to traveling.
The size & feel
I love the slim, minimalist, and elegant look of this well-built camera. Thankfully, it’s so small and light it can fit in your pocket. As travelers, you know that’s a big deal when you’re on the road and have to be mindful of weight and space.
However, don’t be fooled by the size, this 16.2 megapixel camera is powerful and has a huge amount of very useful and extremely cool functions.
The 3.0” LCD screen is a beauty and the menu options are so easy to navigate you’ll easily figure out how the camera works without much need for an instruction manual.
I use extreme close-ups very frequently to capture the rich texture of food or to shoot the crisp image of a wine label.
Capturing these close-ups with the Sony Cyber-shot WX9 Gourmet setting turned out to be easier than expected. The pictures were sharp even in low light and without a tripod.
Anti Motion Blur / High Sensitivity
Speaking of low light, another very useful travel setting on this camera is the Anti Motion Blur which reduces blur when shooting in a low light setting.
Also try experimenting with the High Sensitivity feature to shoot without flash in low-light reducing blur. Both could be useful options for historical landmarks or museums when flash isn’t allowed, yet you want to capture that Mona Lisa smile.
Or, maybe you’re off to England to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton and don’t want to miss her wave as the carriage quickly passes? That’s easy with the Sony Cyber-shot WX9. Use the Burst Setting which takes continuous photos (about 10, I think) and shows up on your camera view finder much like a flipbook. Later, you can pick the prize winning Princess Kate wave and discard the rest.
Have you ever set the camera timer only to find yourself mid-jump in a photo because the timer beat you to your position? The Cyber-shot WX9 has face recognition for one or two people to ensure this will never happen again.
After you set the timer, it won’t start counting the seconds until after it recognizes your face. No more take after take after take… a traveler’s dream!
I have always found panoramic pictures more of a pain than they are worth, which probably explains why I don’t have very many in my photo albums. However, for the first time ever, I am thoroughly enjoying the Panoramic feature on this Sony camera. With a simple push of a button Cyber-shot WX9 helps the user take a beautiful, easy panoramic shot in one easy swoop (see photo below).
It also takes vertical panoramic shots making this the camera I want to have handy when I’m standing in front of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
Another setting I love for traveling is the Background Defocus. This allows you to specifically track and focus on an object while anything in the background is slightly off-focus. This is another useful setting for museums, zoos, specific objects, people, specific features on buildings, and so much more.
For the ladies and gentlemen who have less-than-perfect skin like me… it’s important to mention the Sony Cyber-shot WX9 has a Soft Skin setting. Yes, even on those rough, makeup-free days in 90 degree heat with 100 percent humidity in Thailand, you can look like an Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Cover Girl. I won’t blind you with the non-Soft-Skin-makeup-free-close-ups from the test shots, but believe me when I say the Soft Skin feature fixed about 80 percent of the flaws on my face. It’s cover-up without the cover-up.
Another fantastic Sony Cyber-shot WX9 feature is the Full HD video capabilities on AVCHD format. While the video itself looks fine, the sound leaves a lot to be desired, specifically if you’re in a crowded place. I also wish the camera came with a more robust image stabilizer for video. However, most people carrying around a point-and-shoot camera such as the WX9 aren’t looking for superb sound quality; they simply want something quick and easy. In that case, it serves its purpose (see video sample below).
Last but not least, a big THANK YOU to Sony for finally getting rid of the Memory Stick Pro Duo capturing format and for welcoming the more universal SDHC card to record video and capture images! We’ve been waiting…
In conclusion, the Sony Cyber-shot WX9 is a fresh, easy-to-use digital camera packed with lots of great features for traveling. The camera retails for $220 making it worth every penny for all the amazing features, quality photos, and memories that will last a lifetime.
* Disclaimer: This was part of a media event hosted by Sony Electronics and the camera has been provided courtesy of the company. #sonyfoodie
Snowy mountains and ski vacations.
Here are your pictures from gorgeous snow destinations around the world. Where’s your favorite place to ski or play in the snow?
Whistler Gals. Sonia and Melanie take a break from snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb to smile for the camera in Whistler, Canada.
Professional photographer Lee Trujillo sent us this beautiful landscape shot that he accurately titled “Frozen Tranquility”. It was taken on the top of a snowy peak popular with snowmobilers near Grand Lake, Colorado. Lee’s amazing photography work can be viewed at Reflection and Light Photography.
Kristine, @SpecialkSD on Twitter, sent us this great shot from Julian, California. She used the Instagram filter app to enhance the photo. She says:
“During a rare snowstorm in San Diego county, my family and I headed to a spot just outside the quaint town of Julian, CA. There was something so pure and simple about seeing everything dusted in white. Julian is a beautiful place any time of year and besides being known for its old-fashioned shops and the best apples around, it offers beautiful scenery.”
Snow isn’t just for adults. Little Isabella enjoys the fun in Edmonton, Canada.
Bird. A very artistic creation of bird feet and hands in the snow, @eat_smart sent us this picture she took in Switzerland.
Vanessa confronts the blizzard in Boston with courage and great fashion.