Go whale watching on a small boat. // © 2017 Keryn Means
Feature image (above): Head to Coronado Island to see sunbathing sea lions. // © 2017 Getty Images
Just up the coast from Los Cabos, along the Sea of Cortez in Mexico’s Baja California Sur, is a peaceful reminder of the quiet side of beach life: Loreto. While most travelers know Baja thanks to Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, these cities tend to be filled with resorts and overrun with crowds during the high season. This is great for some families, but not for everyone. Meanwhile, Loreto has a great beach, excellent wildlife sightings, affordable lodging options and warm Mexican hospitality that can be hard to experience in its sister cities to the south.
Those looking for the “real Loreto” should book a stay at one of the local inns. La Damiana Inn is located in the middle of town. Owners Debora, an expat, and her husband Gerardo welcome families, couples and solo travelers into their inn and treat them like family. Sometimes, Gerardo teaches guests how to make guacamole. Guests often crowd around the table in the communal kitchen with a bottle of wine, swapping stories about their day.
Over at Coco Cabanas Loreto, families will find a neighborhood where the locals have dwelled for generations. Safety has never been an issue, as the residents are always looking out for the guests. Families can relax by the pool and take advantage of the microwave and refrigerator in each room, which is perfect for guests with young children who need an early breakfast.
Both Coco Cabanas and La Damiana are within walking distance to shops, restaurants on the malecon and the beach. For families in need of a resort right on the water but also near town, La Mision Loreto is a perfect option. It is important to note that no matter what larger resorts advertise, they are at least a 30-minute drive from the actual town of Loreto.
Activities in Loreto range from kayaking and walking on the beach to more adventurous outings with tour operators such as Wild Loreto and Loreto Sea and Land Tours. A trip out to Coronado Island, located about 30 minutes from the marina, should be at the top of every first-time visitor’s list. Boats whisk guests to a colony of sea lions that live on one side of the island. Lucky clients may also cruise alongside dolphins as they head to a private picnic on the white-sand beaches on the island’s other side. Snorkel and dive tours are available from both tour companies as well.
If visiting Baja during gray whale season (early December to early April), families should reserve a daytrip to the Pacific Coast. Tour companies in Loreto offer small boat tours that leave in the morning and will have guests back by dinner. Blue whale watching tours are offered in the spring in Loreto National Marine Park, where guests may also spot finback whales, humpback whales and orcas.
Not every adventure needs to be wild, though. Loreto is a sleepy town, but it has two impressive churches that show off its past. An easy drive will take families up to Mision San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundo, an old Jesuit church that used to be a Spanish mission. For those looking to stay local, a walk to Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho gives visitors a beautiful look at the old town. If the wooden doors are open, guests are welcome to enter and rest for a while, no matter their faith.
Loreto does not have a crazy party scene, but therein lies its charm. Between the welcoming and affordable accommodations, neighborhood appeal, and whale and sea lion sightings, families will feel like they have been coming to Loreto for years — by just one visit.
- Nonstop flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Loreto are offered multiple times each week.
- Visitors who want to stay in town are encouraged to rent a car. Mandatory liability insurance can cost around $20 per day.
- Those staying in a resort outside of Loreto and only taking preplanned tours can book an airport shuttle for a fee.