Dating back to 1697 when Jesuit explorer Juan Maria Salvatierra founded the Mision Neustria Señora de Loreto, the town of Loreto has remained one of Baja’s treasures.
Surrounded by the towering Giganta Sierra Mountains to the west and the shimmering expanse of the Sea of Cortez to the east, they provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities. Loreto’s coastline offers five dramatic islands; Isla Carmen, Isla Coronado, Isla Danzante, Isla Montserrat and Isla Catalina, which are all part of the Loreto National Marine Park. This great 100-mile long stretch of sea that hugs Baja’s peninsula in the Sea of Cortez is refuge to a diversity of marine life and home to over 800 species of fish.
Is snorkeling your thing? From June to November visibility can reach 100 plus feet and this is an excellent time to explore. It’s not uncommon to jump into the open bluewater to snorkel with passing whales while on your way out to a dive site. The Sea of Cortez is known for its schools of dolphins, whale pods, sea turtles and sea lion harems, and of course, there is always the chance of meeting with the giant manta rays, hammerhead sharks and seasonal whale sharks. Brilliantly-colored sea fans, black coral and invertebrate life blankets the rocky structures of the reefs which open up into a rainbow of color.
Loreto offers an International Airport which is served daily from California and excellent tourism services -- including hotels, restaurants, RV parks and campgrounds.
The parade of fishermen from around the world in search of incredible inshore and offshore fishing begins in June and continues until September. The surrounding islands offer remarkable sportfishing with an abundance of fish, i.e., yellowtail, sailfish, dorado, marlin, tuna and roosterfish.
Daily trips can be booked with a variety of companies on everything from open pangas to elaborate sophisticated cruisers at very reasonable prices. Many of the Captains and pangeros are second and third generation fishermen who have been fishing since they were children and possess a remarkable wealth of local knowledge and experience.
Even if you are not a fisherman, watching the boats zip into the Marina between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon to unload their catch is always exciting.
Kayaking offers the opportunity to explore the desert islands and to view the Sierra Giganta Mountains rising out of the sea with their red-hued desert colors set against the azure blue water.
Mountain bikes: There are plenty of back roads with beautiful views of the Sea of Cortez where the desert meets the sea. Bike tours may be arranged with several local operations.
Of course there are the more traditional activities which include Golf, Tennis, Horseback Riding and the beaches. There are five major beaches located in the Loreto area, all easily accessible to the public … Nopolo, Tripui, Isla Coronado, Playa Loreto, and Isla del Carmen.
Rated first and second by Trip Advisor, the stand-out Loreto resorts and hotels are Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa at The Islands of Loreto and Hotel La Misión.
Villa Del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto provided a unique setting last year for their first annual Islands of Loreto Fishing & Golf Tournament. This year, from July 27-July 29, the second annual fishing and golf tournament will take place; the two competitions in one will offer $10,000 U.S. dollars in prizes plus a 4-night, 5-day stay in a Deluxe Studio at the Villa del Palmar, a prize valued at over $1,500.00 U.S.
Described in their brochure as a luxurious 181-room hotel set on an astounding natural setting along the shore of Danzante Bay, it is part of a 4,447-acre resort that features unspoiled beauty. It offers three different restaurants, five swimming pools, a 39,000-square-foot luxury spa, tennis courts, and miles of hiking trails, glass-bottomed kayaks, sport fishing, and a nearly finished Rees Jones-designed golf course— in short, every modern amenity a Baja Tourist could hope for.
I was there last year, and am planning on attending again this July. I hope to see you there.
Hotel La Misión managed by Maria Gámez, General Manager, is a stunning, recently-remodeled, elegant resort with a contemporary European-Mexican Hacienda style which reflects the Old Mission flavor of Loreto and is the perfect place for those who are searching for a unique glimpse of the birthplace of Baja. Overlooking the Malecón, it offers a stunning view of the sparkling Sea of Cortez.
Loreto was the first town I visited decades ago when the roads were too rough to travel with my nine-year old son. Having returned again for the umpteenth time last month, I was pleased to hear the enthusiasm from the community leaders about their many plans and efforts and I was able to see the results for myself.
If beauty and serenity and a step back in time are on your agenda for a vacation, this is one treasure of Baja you should see for yourself. Loreto never disappoints its visit.
If you’re coming all the way to Cabo, why not add Loreto to your itinerary and make southern Baja your destination,not just Los Cabos. Flights are conveniently scheduled to fit your connection in San José del Cabo International airport (SJD).