Rocking in this little boat I started to ask myself, “what were you thinking!?” I mean really, a baby and toddler in a tiny panga, a vessel just slightly larger than a row boat, off the coast of Loreto, Mexico in the Sea of Cortez. What mother would do this? Apparently me.
When the chance to explore Coronado Island, an island just off the coast of Loreto in Baja, Mexico came up during out trip, how could I say no. Pristine beaches, a sea lion colony and the chance to see dolphins were something this mama didn’t want to miss out on, let alone let deprive her kids of. I booked our Wild Loreto tour, had us up and ready by 9am, and into that tiny panga in no time.
Now you may be asking yourself, how was this even possible? Are kids this young even allowed on a tiny boat? One thing to remember is that we weren’t traveling in the USA. Mexico is a bit more lenient when it comes to safety measures for children. This is not to say I didn’t take every precaution. I had brought down my own life vests for my kids, and talked extensively with the Wild Loreto staff, some of whom where expat Americans.
What really made this excursion possible was our guide Roberto. Being a father himself, he knew he had precious cargo on board. Even more importantly, he knew he had a toddler in his boat that he better keep entertained or we were all going to suffer for it. Roberto rose to the challenge and engaged my 3-year-old son at every turn.
As we cruised through the water Roberto had us search for sea turtles and crabs on the lava formations that dripped down from the coast of the island. Rounding a bend we began to hear the bark of sea lions. We were now on their turf; they wanted to make sure we knew it. Keeping our distance we crept up to the seal lion colony to get a better peek. Sea lions swam under out boat, popping up a few feet away with their friends. Others lay on their back in the water to work on their tan. Mamas slept on rocks with their babies, while proud papas continued to proclaim their existence. It was hard to leave, but the island still had a few more secrets in store.
We cruised through the sea at a nice clip. My 10 month old slept in my arms, while his brother leaned over the edge to find more natural treasures and friends. Suddenly, one popped out of the water. A pod of dolphins was at play in the alcove we were about to pull into. The little girl in me was thrilled. I had always wanted a pet dolphin. Apparently they don’t fit in the bathtub, so my parents nixed that idea pretty fast. Dolphins swam beside us, under our boat, in front, and in groups as we met up with a few kayakers who really had the best view.
Once on shore we could hike across the beach, build a few stick-inspired works of art, munch on a sandwich in the shade, and attempt to build sand castles with the very fine white sand. The water was chilly in January, but heats up as you get closer to summer.
After 2 hours we packed up our picnic lunch, toys and beach gear to head back to Loreto. My boys were exhausted. The baby fell asleep on the journey back, while my toddler rested his chin on the side of the boat. His little world had just expanded. That’s a lot to absorb for a toddler. He would be talking about this trip for months, if not years, to come. As for me, I may have some insane moments as a mother, but this was one of those ideas that really worked out for the best in the end… no matter how tiny that boat was.