Although Loreto has the smallest population of the major tourist cities in Baja Sur, it offers a remarkable list of exciting activities beginning with world-renowned, challenging sportfishing.
Perched on the shores of the Gulf of California, considered one of the most unique and famous bodies of water on the planet, Loreto attracts visitors from around the world expecting to be dazzled by the water-related activities. And they are not disappointed.
The diversity of things to do – on, in, and under the water – are world-class, but some activities are not water-related.
Beginning in mid-January, visitors can expect to see some of the largest mammals on the earth in Loreto Bay National Marine Park. The park is often visited by the largest, the blue whale, that can grow to 100-feet long and over 200-tons. They venture even closer to the sightseeing boats, as curious as the tourists. Visitors can also see fin whales, dolphins, mantas, and other wild sea life.
The Loreto Bay National Marine Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto) encompasses 800-square miles including five main islands which serve as the park’s chief focal points and tourist destinations: Isla Coronados, Isla del Carmen, Isla Danzante, Isla Monserrat, and Isla Santa Catalina. All five have pristine, secluded coves populated by an extraordinary collection of warm water sea creatures. There are also many smaller islets in Loreto Bay.
Known for its great variety of sandy beaches, sea cliffs, submarine canyons, and marine terraces, it is home to an exceptionally high biological diversity, especially of marine mammals.
Other adventures to be found in the world-famous park include trips on glass-bottom boats, snorkeling, and scuba diving along the Loreto coast.
Or perhaps, for those preferring to stay on top of the water, sea kayaking, or paddleboards, or a Hobi-cat are recommended. There are even catamarans large enough to accommodate the entire family that are available for charter for a day, overnight or for week cruises exploring the islands.
Those looking for something not quite so soggy, there are plenty of other diversions for you. How about a visit to the first mission in Baja – Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó? Founded on October 25, 1697, at the Monqui Native American (Indian) settlement of Conchó in the city of Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico; it was established by the Catholic Church’s Jesuit Missionary Juan María de Salvatierra and was not only the first successful mission but also the first Spanish town in Baja California Sur.
If you want to see some of Baja’s rugged backcountry you might go on one of the tours to San Francisco Javier Mission, the second mission in Baja. From the city of Loreto, it is less than an hour’s drive through the mountains and is almost as great as the Mission and town themselves. Padre Francisco Maria Piccolo and the Jesuits of the Roman Catholic founded Mission San Francisco Javier de Biaundo on May 11, 1699, about five miles north of the present mission. His objective was to convert the local Cochimí Native Americans (Indians) to Christianity.
When Padre Ugarte came to replace Padre Piccolo, the original mission had been moved to the nearby visiting station and farm of San Pablo following a drought, a location that turned out to be promising. Cut in stone above the lintels of the door was the date 1751. The original mission was closed in 1817.
Padre Ugarte rebuilt the Misión in the new location with a belfry, spires, and altars. Taking profits from the local pearl fisheries, which supposedly was discouraged by the Jesuits, the new mission cost over a million pesos and is the most architecturally impressive mission on the Peninsula. It remains in remarkably good condition.
Daily tours are offered to the village and the mission. Want to make cheese in the village? Or milk a goat? The friendly villages are eager to oblige.
How about bird watching? According to local guides, there are approximately 100 different resident species of birds to be found in Loreto, plus migratory species.
Local guides are knowledgeable about the birds in the area and are exceptionally good about identifying them by their calls and songs which helps everyone to spot them.
Also, up in the mountains when green from winter rains, when the creeks are full of running water, the birds come out in great numbers. Whether you are an experienced or a beginning birder, guides can pick you up at your accommodations and drive you to the birds’ habitats. They offer both half- and full-day trips to a variety of locations.
An area that has great birding is the golf course, as the area has not been “stripped” of its natural habitat.
And the golf courses are seldom crowded, they are peaceful and beautiful. and they spoil you. You will no longer be satisfied to play on the busy big-city courses.
Backcountry guided ATV trips in the desert are available, plus driving lessons from expert instructors if needed, before a three-hour tour of the desert, arroyos, and beaches. Longer all-day excursions are available as well.
Be sure to ask about the cave paintings. They are a must-see if you are a hiker.
One might enjoy a trip to the trailhead by a 4×4 vehicle, followed by a horseback ride toward the San Telmo Waterfall, where there are beautiful views of the Arroyo San Telmo, La Giganta, and the natural beauty of Baja California Sur.
Or perhaps, a one-hour horseback ride along the shores of the Gulf of California where you may spot marine life such as dolphin leaping from the water.
For the more experienced a horseback ride to the Arroyo de San Telmo that offers views of the town, airport, and islands is recommended for those who already have experience riding or for those looking an adventurous, adrenaline-filled excursion.
Any of the above includes views of the islands of Loreto; the first two you will be on the same historical trail that the original missionaries used to transport goods from mission to mission in the early 1600s to late 1800s. You can also see the great views of the tallest peak within southern Baja’s largest mountain range known as the Sierra de La Gigante.
There are also hikes on the five islands which can be combined with the other island trips. Hiking the canyons or climbing the mountains are regular activities in the Sierra giving hikers some of the most scenic landscapes in Baja Sur to enjoy.
Want to brush up on your Spanish while visiting the area? See Trip Advisor for instructors.
Surprisingly, Loreto, the smallest of the three major destinations in Baja Sur offers one of the most extensive list of activities found in the region. And it’s more than just a small, sleepy town with friendly people – it’s a trip you will fill with fun, interesting activities that make it THE answer to your question, “Where can I take my family?”