Price Band: $$
Tags: Beach, snorkeling, bungalows, fishing
Price Band: $$
Tags: Beach, snorkeling, bungalows, fishing
In a nutshell:
Simple but comfortable bungalows right by the beach. Quiet and remote location, great snorkeling and fishing (the Rancho is essentially a fishing lodge). About 2 hours drive from Los Cabos airport, car rental recommended. Good stopping off point on a circuit between Los Cabos and la Paz via the East Cape.
Rancho Leonero, situated on Baja’s beautiful East Cape, is best known as a fishing resort. However the charming thatched roof bungalows and the calm, enticing ocean here will appeal to many people. We enjoyed our best off-the-beach snorkeling in Mexico here; the water is so clear that you barely need a mask to see the multitude of colorful fish in the shallow water. And it’s spectacularly remote – the Rancho Leonero estate includes two miles of pristine coastline and access is via an unpaved road for a few miles. Yet it’s less than two hours by car from Los Cabos airport and the crowded Corridor.
We also recommend this tranquil and friendly property for families – the rooms are spacious and air-conditioned and children will love to play on the secluded beach and in the calm, shallow sea. It’s a low key, relaxed place, with meals served from a set menu (child friendly options are always available if your kids don’t like what’s on offer). Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the rates, so it’s affordable and convenient too. What’s more, the resort water supply is from a private well and is perfect safe for drinking.
If you are looking for an active vacation, this is a great choice. Of course the fishing is fabulous, but you are also close to Cabo Pulmo with its amazing coral reef and home to the best diving and snorkeling in Baja California. Good excursions are available from the hotel, including snorkeling trips to deserted beaches. Kayaking (including kayak fishing) can be enjoyed directly from the resort’s beach.
The best months for a family vacation would April to June and October to early November, when the air and water temperatures are warm and pleasant. May, June and October probably have the best weather but April and early November are nice and quiet.
The fishing season at Rancho Leonero starts in mid-March or April and peaks in August and September, but it can be uncomfortably hot in these months. Winters are generally mild and the water temperature is in the high sixties to low seventies. There is still some good fishing in the winter, so if you want to avoid the crowds and prefer milder climates it’s not a bad time to visit.
The Rancho Leonero would make a perfect stress-free, away-from-it all vacation and you could easily spend a week or more here if you like tranquility. But we also recommend it for a few days’ adventure break if you are planning a trip to Los Cabos – the beaches here are far better than anything you’ll find on that coast and you’ll get to see some amazing scenery on the way.
Rancho Leonero now has 35 air-conditioned rooms set in pretty gardens bordering the beach. Our favorite are the Bungalows – these thatched roof cottages satisfy everyone’s dream of a rustic hideaway and some are a stone’s throw away from the Sea of Cortez. Each bungalow has two queen beds and would suit a couple or a small family.
The original Deluxe rooms are in single story terraces with large patios facing the ocean – these are huge rooms and one can accommodate up to 4 king beds. The newer Deluxe rooms are in a two-story building that also enjoys great views. Standard rooms have garden views and are darker than most other accommodations, though they are still only a short stroll from the beach.
Summary of room facilities
Air-conditioning, terrace or patio, extra beds available in most rooms
Two queen beds, private patio, ocean view or garden view
Two queen beds, private or shared patio, ocean view
Two queen beds, shared patio, garden views
Eight of the sixteen bungalows are classed as Ocean View and enjoy direct views of the Sea of Cortez (21 and 22 are our favorites for views and privacy). The other eight bungalows are set slightly back, but many still have glimpses of the sea from their terraces. Other than location the rooms are very similar, with two bungalows to each thatched roof building.
Furnishings are kept simple to add to the airiness of the bungalows – you need plenty of space and good air-conditioning to keep cool when the temperature hits 100F in the summer. Each room has a private bathroom with walk-in shower and a ceiling fan in addition to the air-conditioning. It’s sometimes possible to add a rollaway bed to these rooms too.
These shady terraces are a good place to spend the hottest part of the day and are plenty big enough for a family. Each is furnished with two sun loungers and a table with chairs. Choose an Ocean View bungalow and you are just steps from the ocean for a cooling dip.
The original Deluxe rooms are side-by-side in a single story building behind the restaurant, facing east over the bay. Each has a large patio with ocean views and many enjoy a good degree of privacy. The new deluxe rooms are housed in a two story building further back from the restaurant, and some of these rooms have far-reaching ocean views. The office and boutique are also located in this building.
The original Deluxe rooms have the largest interiors, accommodating up to 4 king beds. They are ideal for families who like to share one room, or maybe a group of friends. All are air-conditioned and have patio doors that open onto the sun terrace. The new Deluxe rooms are furnished with wooden chests and armoires and have two double beds. The rooms open out onto a shared terrace that has very pleasant views, particularly from the second floor.
Standard rooms have two double beds and an en-suite bathroom with walk-in shower. They are fully air-conditioned and stay cool even in the hottest summers. These are the some of the original rooms at the Rancho and are housed in a long, low building with a thatched roof. They look out over the gardens of the resort to the beach in the distance. Some ocean views can be gained from the terraces.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the rates at the Rancho Leonero and served either in the restaurant or outside on the lovely terraces overlooking the ocean. Meals generally follow a set menu or might take the form of a Mexican buffet or taco buffet. Special dietary requirements can often be accommodated (vegetarians should advise the resort when booking and on arrival) and child-friendly dishes are also offered. Fish is often available in as an alternative to the set menu and of course is very fresh.
Breakfast is generally American-style, served from 7:30 am to 9:00 am (most people are up early to enjoy the activities). If you’re out for the day fishing or on an excursion, a box lunch can be prepared. Otherwise guests congregate in the dining room at lunchtime for Mexican dishes, soups, salads, chicken, fish etc.
Dinner is served from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, with a three course menu featuring entrees such as steaks to ribs and shrimp brochettes. If you are used to eating earlier or are extra-hungry after an early morning fishing trip a tasty selection of bar snacks such as chicken wings and quesadillas are available from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Guests are generally very pleased with the quality and quantity of the meals offered here. If you enjoy fine dining and extensive menu selections then it’s probably not for you, but for most people it’s enjoyable to relax on the sunny terraces with a nice meal and good company.
Miles of empty beaches converge at this beautiful and remote hotel. At Rancho Leonero we’ve enjoyed some of our best off-beach snorkeling ever – just dipping your head in the shallow water here will reveal a host of colorful fish. In some parts of the beach the sands shelve very gently, so that even young children could play in the water safely. In other parts of the beach there are deeper, rocky areas just offshore that are ideal for snorkeling.
The hotel has a good selection of kayaks available for rental for a small fee, and it’s also possible to learn a new craze, kayak fishing, here.
The small but enticing pool lies right next to the deep blue ocean. The pool is deep and good for swimming or just cooling off. The bar is close by too, so guests can enjoy a cold drink whenever they want.
Next to the pool are a couple of tempting hammocks that are a popular choice for an afternoon siesta. Midway between the pool and the bar, with the beautiful Sea of Cortez on the horizon – is there any better place to relax?
Los Cabos International airport is about 45 miles away. The journey to the hotel involves unpaved road, so allow about 2 hours for the journey. La Paz airport is about 75 miles away.
From the airport, take the main Transpeninsular highway #1 north in the direction of La Paz. The turn off for the Rancho is at km 103, just south of Buena Vista. Following the signs for Rancho Leonero, turn right on a dirt road between Buenavista and La Ribera.