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We're thinking of going to one or the other in December or January. We've been to Kauai only once, maybe 20 years ago, and I know there's lots to do there. Is the weather likely to be good for hiking, snorkeling and such in those months? Can anyone recommended a cottage to rent?

We've been to Baja but not Loreto. Does anyone have any impressions of the place to share? The whale-watching season starts in late January but my February trip to Costa Rica and our aversion to crowds probably rules that out.

--fleg
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Not been to Loreto. However, if whale watching is your thing try Maui. (Since you mentioned Kauai, I didn't think Maui would be out of the question.)

For whatever reason the whales spend a LOT of time around there. It wasn't particularly crowded when we went (March, I think). And there were LOTS of whales. They actually had to shut off the engine at one point because a baby came up to us (they're not allowed to approach whales too closely, nor maneuver away if the whales come close on their own). Baby hung out several minutes looking at us with mama nearby.
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Not been to Loreto. However, if whale watching is your thing try Maui.

We've been to Maui three times and did an excellent whale-watching trip there last time. If we go to Hawaii we want it to be a different island this time. We recall Kauai quite fondly from 20 years ago. This trip would not be about whale-watching but that could be a bonus.

Near Loreto there's a bay where you go out in smaller boats and get up close and personal with gray whales:

http://loreto.ehuna.org/pics/gray-whale.jpg

The season for that starts in late January, which would be a problem because of another trip scheduled in February. And it would also put Loreto at its most crowded.

DW is now thinking of going to Tucson instead. We've never been there but she has a friend who winters there each year and has been putting ideas into her head. Desert scenery would make a nice change of pace, at a time of year when it isn't so blistering hot. We love northern New Mexico but it will be too cold in Dec-Jan.

--fleg
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Big Island is great, too. Some really good snorkeling. Great waterfalls. Coffee plantations. Beaches. Volcanoes NP (plus LOTS of national monuments). Just about anything you could want. Very pretty, too.

Tucson would be a lot cheaper for you. I used to live there (grad school). I can tell you, it's a sleepy college town. If your interests line up with what's there, you'll probably have a really nice time. Center for Creative Photography, Saguaro NP, two observatories (south of the city), an old mission, the Pima Air Museum, the Titan Missile Museum, a photography museum...you get the idea. Very different from a typical beach vacation, which you were discussing in the OP.

Nogales is an hour south, but it's not much. Not really Mexico. It is, but it isn't (if you know what I mean) due to proximity to US. Basically a huge tourist trap.

1poorguy
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Near Loreto there's a bay where you go out in smaller boats and get up close and personal with gray whales

If your referring to Guerrero Negro - Scammons Lagoon - that is the e-ticket of whale watching.... but it's on the other side of the peninsula from Loreto.

If you want snorkeling, go to Loreto.

If you want to bump around with greys, go to Scammons.

http://www.miramar-adventures.com/Whale_Watching_Baja.html

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g150769-d153327/Baja-Calif...

http://www.loreto.com/marinepark/index.html
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you're
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1pg: I can tell you, it's a sleepy college town. If your interests line up with what's there, you'll probably have a really nice time. Center for Creative Photography, Saguaro NP, two observatories (south of the city), an old mission, the Pima Air Museum, the Titan Missile Museum, a photography museum...you get the idea. Very different from a typical beach vacation, which you were discussing in the OP.

Don't miss Casa Grande, a prehistoric settlement. Also see Biosphere 2, an abandoned project intended to have a number of humans live in an artificial, self-contained environment. Initially funded by a Texas millionaire, it is mainly a tourist attraction now.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2
Also, try some Kokopeli wine. Yes, they really raise wine grapes in AZ.

Count Upp
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We had wonderful luck seeing monk seals on the beach in Kauai, and I spent hours sitting on the beach watching them sleep and laze away the day.

DH and I have stayed near Poipu Beach on Kauai several times, and by some rare luck, I have a business meeting I need to attend there in March. DH thinks the spouses' program looks interesting!

Gail
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We had wonderful luck seeing monk seals on the beach in Kauai, and I spent hours sitting on the beach watching them sleep and laze away the day.

Oh yeah, lunch at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler, and then hours snorkeling and sunning at the adjacent beach...heaven! We had just one very large monk seal there this past February....

Teri ... would go every February/March
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First and only time we went to Kauai we snorkeled for the very first time -- on the north shore close to where the road ends at the Napali Coast. We had lunch at nearby Charo's, a place owned by the Spanish talk show personality/guitarist ("cuchi-cuchi"). It's long since changed hands or burned down or something.

--fleg
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Oh yeah, lunch at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler, and then hours snorkeling and sunning at the adjacent beach...heaven! We had just one very large monk seal there...

Ewww! I couldn't eat a poor seal! I didn't realize that was legal!









;-)
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First and only time we went to Kauai we snorkeled for the very first time -- on the north shore close to where the road ends at the Napali Coast.

Probably Ke'e Beach. That's the last stop on the road in the north.

Gorgeous sunsets to be seen there. Absolutely gorgeous. Like a postcard.
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North shore of Kauai gets mucho rain in Dec., Jan. I love it regardless, but it can get some people down if they are thinking sunshine and mai-tais. It is not unknown for the rain to be such that the bridge out of Hanalei gets closed ... which is the only way out.

South shore has much better weather. And you can drive up to Waimea Canyon overlook, hike around, and hang out at the resort hotels in Poipu. But it's not awe-inspiring (at least not to me) the way the north shore is. Waimea Plantation Cottages is worth a look.
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