LORETO, BAJA MEXICO: BEACH BLISS
I KNEW I HAD A BAD CASE of Baja fever when the most gnawing worry of my day was whether I had caught enough clams to accompany the margaritas at cocktail hour on the poolside terrace. But two friends and I worked the fiesty little bivalves out of their sandy burrows until we had just enough to pique our appetites for the slipper-lobster dinner that would follow.
Twenty cactus-studded miles south of Loreto and a quarter-mile up a hillside off Ensenada Blanca beach are the nine palm-roof casitas that make up Danzante. Each is solar-powered and decorated in airy nouveau Mexican: The brightly tiled bathroom features water-saving spigots, and a wrought-iron bed is surrounded by French doors that open to ocean views. The place is so isolated that marijuana runners once used the crescent-moon bay out front as a regular rendezvous point. Swing from the hammock on your flagstone veranda and the world seems to be one giant red-rock mountain bowing down to the Gulf of California. Within an hour, the sound of the waves will have you slathering yourself with sunscreen, readying for a triathlon of diving, snorkeling, and sea kayaking among the dolphins in the bay.
The grand swaths of solitude might scare your average overcaffeinated American, but owners Mike and Lauren Farley magically appear whenever you need human interaction. Unable to find their own Baja-fever cure, the Farleysauthors of Divers' Guide to Underwater Mexico and Baja California Divers' Guide, and former trip leaders for San Diego-based Baja Expeditionsdecided not to fight it. Instead they built a life, crafting the casitas and dining room from local adobe, palm fronds, pitahya cactus, bamboo, and stone; blasting a hole out of the hill just big enough for a square soaking pool; opening for business in October 2000; and leaving the decadent relaxation up to their guests.