By Gary Graham
Remember back when many of us camped along the Sea of Cortez enjoying the isolation? Often there wouldn’t even be another soul as far as one could see; we would have the entire beach to ourselves. I can still imagine I hear the sounds of that Baja, fish fillets sizzling over the crackling campfire and the Sea of Cortez gently slurping against the coarse sandy beach.
Then supper finished, fire reduced to embers, surrounded by silence broken occasionally by one critter or another asserting itself, our gaze would be drawn to the heavens where the moon and stars, along with a planet or two, seemed so close if felt like we could’ve reached out and touched them.
That was many, many years ago and it served as the foundation for much of our family folklore. Too many of those spots are gone, lost to developers who believed they could improve on nature with their hotels, housing developments, RV parks, marinas, etc.
One of our favorite spots in those days was Santa Maria Cove, nestled between the iconic hotels, Cabo San Lucas and Twin Dolphins. Eventually there were two-story condos built behind the berm in the cove.
Today, even those seemingly state of the art developments have been demolished, falling prey to the new gangs of developers who attempt to improve nature with their vision of the better mousetrap.
But in our early Baja history, camping out in the middle of nowhere and fishing uncharted waters was not considered risky… not by our family and not by most who traveled the newly completed Mex 1; unlike the present, when few are willing to risk their safety to bask in the isolation that drew many early tourists to Baja, when they can locate such spots of isolation.
Baja has certainly changed over the past 49+ years of our travels. More and more tourists discovered the wonders of Baja and Cabo San Lucas went from a small village to a large city, as did San Jose and La Paz. With their growth, the remote isolation that was such an attraction, dimmed. Literally, the bright city lights dimmed the star-filled heavens to a mere shadow of what they once were.
Last summer I fished in a Dorado tournament out of Villa Del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto located approximately 30 miles south of Loreto.
I had passed the entrance on numerous trips just before where Mex 1 turns westward near Ligui towards the grade that leads up toward Villa Insurgentes, but I had never turned in to check out the property.
Described in their brochure as a luxurious 181 room hotel set on an astounding natural setting along the shore of Danzante Bay, it is part of a 4,447 acre resort that features unspoiled beauty. It offers three different restaurants, five swimming pools, a 39,000-square-foot luxury spa, tennis courts, miles of hiking trails, glass-bottomed kayaks, sport fishing, and a Rees Jones-designed golf course — in short, every modern amenity a Baja tourist could hope for.
What struck me when I drove past the Guard Shack and entrance was that the description seemed like many luxury hotels that have sprung up in and around the larger cities in Baja Sur.
However, here there were no neighboring developments. It was literally in the middle of nowhere, by itself. Reminiscent of some of the isolation of the old camping spots we frequented many years ago, yet I have to admit combined with all the creature comfort features and amenities, it seemed appealing.
Here I was in a remote location on the shores of the Sea of Cortez with an uncrowded beach with all the water toys one could imagine; plus just a few miles up the road was Puerto Escondido where both pangas and cruisers could be chartered for fishing trips.
That first evening after an excellent dinner at one their three restaurants, I strolled past the various pools to the almost deserted beach. There, out in the middle of the small bay, were several SUPs with people slowly paddling them across the bay. Not so unusual you say? These were the coolest SUPs I had ever seen, equipped with underwater lights. Though I lacked time on that trip, my next visit will definitely include a little night fishing on one of those tricked-out SUPs.
Later that night as I sipped my final, final for the night, I gazed at the starlit Baja sky. I saw the same sky that I remembered from years past and was delighted to realize a Baja remote destination, with the proper vision, could be mixed with amenities without diminishing either.
I guess you might say I found a place where I could turn back time…