Trip Coach: November 20, 2007
Nikki Goth Itoi, co-author of "Moon Handbooks Cabo" and "Moon Handbooks Baja," answered your questions on these Mexican destinations.
Nikki Goth Itoi: Hola and welcome! Nikki Goth Itoi, here, standing by to answer your questions about traveling to Mexico's Baja California peninsula. Let the fun begin!
Pardeeville, Wis.: Can you recommend cities in Baja that are more authentic and not so touristy?
Nikki Goth Itoi: La Paz, the capital city of Baja Sur, is probably the most authentic and least touristy city, although there are many smaller towns and villages along the entire peninsula that offer a true window into Mexican culture: Loreto has both a touristy and non-touristy side to it, as does San Jose del Cabo; Mulege would be another option farther north.
Portland, Ore. & Ventura, Calif.: For Baja travel over New Year's to Loreto/tropical areas/whale watching: Another couple & their 10-year-old daughter want to travel to Baja with myself & my partner for a week over New Year's. They live in Portland, Ore. and we live 90 minutes north of Los Angeles. My thoughts are that they should fly to LA and we pick them up and drive to Baja so we have a car & avoid high car rental costs. They can also meet us in Baja but I'm not sure which airport is closest to Scammons Lagoon area/Loreto area. We are all vegans as well so I want to find a tropical place we can stay—a house preferably, but I need access to non-dairy and veggie options for cooking. Is there an area/neighborhood you can recommend? Also we are interested in meditation and yoga if that is possible.
We would like to keep the total costs below $2500 for all 5 of us including travel, food, accomodations, whale watching. Thanks for your help.
Nikki Goth Itoi: If Loreto is your target destination, I would recommend that you all fly into Loreto international airport which now has direct flights from LAX. If you drive, you'll need more than two days of hard driving dawn till dusk—plus the costs of fuel and overnight accommodations. You also need to purchase Mexican auto insurance for your vehicle. Driving through Baja is a great idea if you want to make stops along the way, but if you want to spend most of your time in Loreto, I think it would be more cost effective to fly. To keep costs down, you could stay in town and use taxis or rent bikes to get around locally, then only rent a car if you want to take an excursion one day. Whale-watching and other tours typically include transportation, so you wouldn't need to have a car for those activities.
A number of accommodations in town have kitchens, so you can prepare your own meals. There are several markets in town where you can stock up on foods that work for your family. El Pescador is the largest grocery store, and there is an open-air fruits market on Calle Juarez. A good place to stay might be Cocos Cabanas or the Villas de Loreto, both of which have well-maintained units with kitchens and shared outdoor grilling facilities. Check stayinloreto.com for a variety of vacation rental homes.
You might also look into El Sanctuario, a group of environmentally-friendly casitas a short drive south from Loreto—they sometimes have yoga groups stay there, but not sure if you could arrange private classes.
New York, N.Y.: Hi, I'd like to take my daughter to Mexico for the summer (she'll be 5 in summer 2008) to learn Spanish and have fun. Her same-age playmate and her mother may go with us. I'm concerned about sanitation and access to medical care because of the young age of the children. What's the best city/town to stay? Personally, I'm interested in visiting historical sites but am afraid that may not be a practical idea with young children.
What's there that we can do with two 5-year olds? How do I look for reputable language schools that provide programs for families (both parents and children go to classes, not necessary together)? What's the price range for these programs? What's your suggestion for our living arrangement?
Nikki Goth Itoi: I would recommend the small city of La Paz for this type of trip. It has two very good language schools: CICC and Se Habla La Paz, where you could design a custom curriculum for the two children and two adults; plus access to pristine beaches, outstanding snorkeling and kayaking, modern medical facilities, and an appealing colonial feel. The only catch is that summertime is very hot and humid in this part of Baja. I would be sure to arrange accommodations with air conditioning. You can find long-term condo/apartment type rentals through a place like Las Gaviotas (no website last check). The schools may also be able to arrange a home stay for your visit—a great way for the kids to interact directly with the locals.