It’s not often that I find the perfect beach excursion for babies and toddlers. I hunt for them whenever we travel. While we were in Loreto in March, I tried out 3 tours that I felt were a good bet- whale watching, a catamaran snorkel tour, and a day trip over to Coronado Island. This last one was by far my favorite, and the easiest with the kids.
Coronado Island is just one of over 900 island in the Sea of Cortez off the coast of Baja, Mexico. Like many of the other islands it looks like a desert filled with cactus and lava formations, but it does hold one special thing- wildlife. There is a large sea lion colony living on one side of the island that tour companies bring travelers to experience in a small boat called a “panga.” It looks kind of like a rowboat.There are also dolphins swimming off shore of one of the most gorgeous white sand beaches you will ever see, located on the opposite side of the island from the sea lions.
Our natural adventure begins
Our excursion started around 9am. It was just our group (Debbie from TipsOnRoadTripping.com and her daughter Becca, along with my 2 boys and myself) and one other older gentleman in a boat with our captain and amazing guide Roberto from Wild Loreto Tours. Roberto had a little one about Ty’s age and new how to make my little guys happy. Our captain was up for anything we wanted to do. When we passed by a known sea turtle area and Becca spotted one we looped back so everyone could get a peek. The captain knew more about those waters than I know about my hometown. He was out there almost everyday communing with the “locals.”
Dek enjoyed the boat ride, but a few rock formations weren’t that interesting for him. Once Roberto started pointing out the crabs on the rocks Dek started to become more engaged in our journey. The crabs were bright orange and easy to spot. Ty of course slept through this part of the excursion. If that isn’t a testament to how calm the waters were I don’t know what is. As we went around a bend in the island barks began to dig their way into our ears. These weren’t any land loving puppies though, these were sea lions and they were going to make sure we knew they were there.
Now if you have never seen a sea lion before, these are not cute tiny seals. They can get quite large. You do not want to fall in the water with these guys, and unlike the whales, you do not want to try to pet them. We kept a respectful distance, while still being close enough to smell their home turf (stinky) and see them swimming beneath us. These big guys (and gals) even put on a little show for us. As Roberto liked to call it, they did a little synchronized swimming for us in groups. Actually the sea lions were sunbathing in the water with their flippers in the air. Many others were up on the rocks taking a siesta with their little ones. That’s right, we saw more than one baby sea lion in the mix. And yes, they are just as adorable as you would think, and Dek did want to take one home. Sorry kiddo. That’s not the type of puppy we will be having in our house. We only have one bathroom and I’m not sharing it with one more creature!
Little girl’s dream comes true
After everyone had their fill we moved onto the pièce de résistance of the day- the white sand beaches of Coronado. A pod of dolphins greeted us, swimming right up to the boat and playing as we headed to shore. This was my favorite moment of the trip. As a scrawny, redheaded 8-year-old girl, dolphins fascinated me. I couldn’t imagine a more intriguing animal. While other girls wished for a pony, I wanted a bottle-nosed dolphin. I never did get one. Upon seeing our excitement at this unexpected encounter, Roberto asked if we wanted a few more minutes in the boat with the dolphins. “Yes!” was our answer of course.
If you plan ahead of time you can kayak off the shore to get even closer to the dolphins, or you can kick back and just enjoy the sandy beach. In March the water is cold but that would never stop Dek from jumping right in. Roberto’s wife Lynn had sent along a ducky float for Ty to enjoy the water as well. Roberto played uncle to my kids while Debbie and I grabbed a sandwich, which was provided on the tour.
So long sweet sand
Debbie and Becca took a hike into the desert, while the boys and I wandered along the coastline exploring the tide pools. Ty tried to eat sand; Dek found the perfect stick to turn into a sword. All too soon it was time to pack back up in the boat and head back to Loreto. We’d had our fill of water and sand. The sun was beating down and my already fried skin was ready for a break from the heat.
As we pushed off shore our dolphin friends where there to send us off. Ty started drifting back to sleep as our “panga” bounced along at a steady clip. It was hard to leave the white san beach, but we hope it will still be there on our next visit. I’m not sure what we will be more excited about; dolphins, whales, sea lions, turtles, or just that amazing boat ride that opened our eyes to a whole natural world we had never known. And to think this was the last tour I booked, and it wasn’t even on my radar before we left home.
Why was this so great for kids?
My kids put up with a lot of things I make them do. Helicopter rides, whale watching, skiing, touring churches and museums, and even the occasional boat ride, but not every tour is as kid friendly as it could be. The Wild Loreto Coronado Island trip was the perfect combination of activities for my children’s ages and my own interests in the area. Ty easily fell asleep in the boat while being snuggled in the ErgoBaby Carrier. Dek, with his life vest on, was free to go to the head of the boat with Becca, lean over the side to spot dolphins, and crinkle his nose at the smell coming from the sea lions.
Just when both kids (and mom!) had grown tired of being in a small boat we pulled up to shore for a 2 hour break on the beach. This pause to stretch our legs and explore is really what made the trip. My boys are active and inquisitive. You can only do so much via boat as a toddler, but on foot you can dig, hunt for treasure, swim, and explore what is under those waters you just crossed. I was able to protect both kids from the suns harsh rash rays by hiding under the small huts that were built on the beach for tour groups to use. Of course neither boy wanted to stay in the shade long when there was so much to explore.
Know before you go
- Wild Loreto- Coronado Island Tour, WildLoreto.com
- Cost: starts at $68 per adult
- Days: available Monday, Thursday, and Saturday each week (call to double check times and dates)
- What’s provided? Boat, captain, guide (ask for Roberto. He really is fabulous with the kids!), beverages including water, sodas and beer, sandwiches for lunch, and adult life vests.
- What to bring? Life vests for your kids, sunscreen, cover-ups, dramamine (if you get sea sick), snack for the kids if you think they won’t eat sandwiches, diapers, food and bottles for babies, towels, swimsuits, change of clothes, and anything else you may need for 6 hours.
- Things to remember: It gets hot on the boat and on the beach. Make sure you and your children hydrate while on your excursion. Drink water like it’s going out of style. There is an outhouse on the beach.
Special thanks to Wild Loreto Tours for providing a discount on our excursions while in Loreto, Mexico for the purpose of review. As always my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.