Have you ever heard about the town of Loreto in Baja California Sur, Mexico?
With its beautiful cobblestone streets and breathtaking views to the ocean and nearby islands – Loreto is a charming small town on the Baja California peninsula on the Sea of Cortez that is worth a visit in this region of Mexico.
It was designated as one of the ‘Magic Towns’ in Mexico and there are so many things to do in such a small town that you can easily stay for a week or even longer and have plenty of activities to do during the day, especially if you are a nature lover like I am. We stayed here for three full days and though I wish we had stayed longer, we actually did plenty of amazing activities in town during our stay.
So if you are planning on visiting Loreto soon (or if you haven’t I’m sure you will after this post!), here are some of the best things to do while in Loreto:
Best season to visit
Every season offers something special to visitors. It really depends on what is it that you are mostly looking for.
If what you want is nice hot weather to enjoy your time at the beach, then going during the summer months is a great idea. We have heard that it can get very humid during these months so just keep that in mind.
Whale watching season happens particularly between December to March, when you can spot humpback, gray, blue and even killer whales. The water can be very cold at this time of the year but you can still get in the water if you don’t mind freezing a little bit!
During spring, some of the whales are still present and Loreto’s climate is ideal for some snorkeling adventures around the islands with warmer water, and hiking in the mountains when it is not so hot or humid yet.
However, if diving is on your bucket list, visiting during the fall season is the perfect time to visit this gorgeous town. Between the coast and the Islands of Loreto, you can discover the sea that Jacques Cousteau named as “The Aquarium of the World”. You have generally great visibility during these months so its the best time to spot schools of tropical fish, sea turtles, dolphins, and if you’re lucky sometimes even whales!
There is definitely a season for everyone— we decided on going for the whale season as it was a dream of ours to see Blue whales and it was such an incredible experience that you need to live once in your life! We talked to some locals and they had a hard time choosing their favourite season in Loreto, so I’m sure that whenever you decide to visit, it will be amazing.
See the largest mammal in the world
From January to April, Loreto’s National Marine Park becomes the temporary home to blue whales, the largest mammal on the planet and the biggest animals that have eve existed! They pass through the protected marine park because of its nutrient-rich waters where they feed and raise their young.
Extensive research and conservation programs are held throughout the season and as a visitor, you can go to the marine park and look out for them with a local panga’s (a small fishing boat) that has the permits for going out for whale watching.
You can book tours online at Tours Loreto Mar y Tierra or if you feel more adventurous perhaps even head to the port very early in the morning to try and get the best deals for going out to sea with the captains, as online tours can be more expensive.
We highly recommend booking a tour with them though, as they have the required permits that you need to go out and look for blue whales, their operators are very knowledgeable and will explain to you all you need to know about this amazing animals, as well as having a big respect for the ocean.
Visit San Javier Mission
Hit the road on a 45 minute drive away from Loreto up the mountains and you will find one of the most beautiful missions in the Baja: the Mission of San Javier. A beautiful restored 1700’s stone Spanish mission that has a small museum you can visit for $20pesos/$1USD per person and learn more about the history of this region and the mission itself. We found the museum quite small but worth a visit, plus the admission tickets helps with the missions’ maintenance.
After taking a look at the mission that blends perfectly with the surrounding mountains, you have to visit the 300-year-old olive trees that are located behind the mission. It is one of the first missionary orchards in the Californias, where supposedly the first olive trees in America were planted, and even if it’s true or not, it is very impressive to see such huge trees! You can give a small donation or sometimes they ask for a $40pesos/$2USD fee, especially if you are a foreigner.
There is no public transport up here, so the best way to get there is with a car.
Stroll around the town
There is plenty to see in the city centre of Loreto. The beautiful streets and colourful buildings are already a wonder and you can find small artisan shops all around.
The mission of Loreto is a must, which was built in 1697 and is especially beautiful from the outside. You can also visit the museum where you can know more about the history of the region and the town, as well as see diverse artifacts from different times. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm and they charge $60pesos/$3USD per person.
- Photo tip: you can get a unique perspective of the mission if you head towards the Salvatierra Square, past the palm trees and face the mission’s facade.
You can also visit the Local Government Office and see a sign of when Loreto was actually the capital of the Californias, which is so cool to see. You can even get inside the building as they will probably have a cool temporary art exhibition. We actually went here because I saw somewhere that there were some cool murals inside the building and there are plenty of them in the back, but they are quite creepy so I’m not sure I would recommend them, maybe you can visit if you want to have some nightmares or are just curious now.
You can also rent a bike and stroll around the pier and beachfront streets and even visit nearby town beaches that are a few minutes from the city centre.
Tip* Wake up early to see the town. The sunrise illuminates the town beautifully and there is hardly anyone around, even on a Saturday! There is a small farmer’s market to pops on Saturdays into the main square where you can find many arts and crafts and fresh produce.
Day trip to the islands
Only 25 minutes from the Loreto Marina lays Coronado Island, where you will see white sand beaches, swim with the sea lions, look at bird colonies and even search for dolphins.
This island has a very dramatic coastline and is also great for snorkeling. During the cooler months you can head through several hiking trails that lead to stunning views of the National Marine Park.
Another island with white sandy beaches and amazing snorkelling that can be combined with a tour to Danzante.
Visiting an island is definitely a must, and you can even spot Blue Footed Boobies in some of them!
Hike Tabor Canyon
The canyon is an oasis that is located in the Sierra La Giganta, the mountain range passing very close to Loreto. You can climb over boulders, pass streams and even waterfalls if you visit during or after the rainy season. With incredible views of the ocean at the peak, it is worth a visit.
It is always important to respect the site, while leaving no trace of your hike.
Because certain areas of the hike can be challenging, I recommend hiring a local tourist guide who knows the site if you plan on following the full trail. We unfortunately were not able to head here, though there were a few viewpoints of Sierra La Giganta on our way to San Javier which were so stunning that I’m sure the canyon trail is outstanding.
Eat & Drink
For a delicious Mexican breakfast, Orlando’s has a great selection of food to start your day and plus it is conveniently located very close to the centre of town. I had the ranchero eggs and it was one of the best and most filling breakfasts I had during our trip!
For a full breakfast with coffee, we payed $350pesos/$17USD for both of us.
Asadero Super Burro
Loved this taco place that serves big burritos with delicious fillings such as chicken, different types of meat and even vegetarian. The salsas and sauces that come with them are some of the best I’ve had in Mexico and I really love salsas! The burritos are delicious and cost between $140-200pesos/$7-10USD each.
La Palapa. We came across this restaurant when walking around town. We loved the food here: fresh Chocolata clams (typical from this regions and a must try) cooked with garlic that were exquisite! We also got the fish tacos and a beer each. Our total meal’s price was $500pesos/$25USD, which is not bad for all that we both ate!
This street stand that arrives at 5pm in the intersection between Benito Juarez street and Francisco I Madero, has a snack typical of Merida in the State of Yucatán: Marquesitas are rolls of dough similar to wafers for ice cream or crepes, golden and crispy, stuffed with grated cheese and a stuffing of your choice. Fal got the one with Nutella and he really loved it! If you have never tried Marquesitas before, this is a good place to do so.
We mostly ate something quickly in the morning to be able to catch our tours and got fed tasty burritos in all them, so we didn’t end up going to many restaurants in town, but there are plenty of other options that hopefully we can visit another time in Loreto.