Loreto, Baja California Sur (Mexico), is the best town on the whole Baja peninsula, in my humble opinion. It is about a 7-8 hour drive north of Cabo, and it is removed from, well… just about everything, except the seaside and a collection of islands begging to be explored.
I spent a couple of months living in Loreto, and I want to share with you some of the best things about my favorite Mexican hideaway.
For more about Loreto, check out: Loreto Baja California Sur City Guide: What to do, where to stay, how to get there
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1. It’s peaceful in Loreto Baja California Sur.
Loreto isn’t for everyone. In this laid-back, peaceful seaside town, you won’t find rows of Americans in beach chairs with white-bikinis, piña coladas, and hangovers. No one will hassle you on the streets, either. No, this is both literally and figuratively quite far from Cabo, and that’s precisely the beauty of it.
2. It’s affordable.
A boutique hotel costs around $40 per night, meals cost around $3-10, including drinks, and there are set prices for taxi and boat activities, so you won’t get ripped off.
Travel Planning Tip: Order a prepaid SIM card before you travel!
3. Whale watching.
The whales start to show up in January and stay for a few months. You can see blue whales, humpback whales, and even orcas in Loreto Bay, but the most popular whale watching tours here are for the famous blue whales.
4. Explore the missions.
Founded in 1697, The Mission of Our Lady of Loreto is considered the “head” and the “mother” of all missions in Baja California. It was the original point from which the Jesuits set out to evangelize the new American territory.
5. Visit San Javier.
In the mountains, about 35km from Loreto is San Javier, a town which only got electricity within the last few years.
6. Go paddleboarding.
You can rent from the wonderful people at Sea Kayak Baja Mexico, right in the center of town. Take it out in the bay in town or go down to Loreto Bay to explore a bit more.
7. Take a mule ride.
Hook up with Trudi from Saddling South for a variety of options from half-day to multi-day mule rides.
Ask her about the history of the ranchers, and meet some of them while you’re up in the mountains. Their history is impressive and their way of life has hardly changed for centuries.
Pick up “The Bare-Toed Vaquero” if you want to learn about the lives of the “rancheros” who live in the mountains above Loreto. They are fascinating people with a super interesting history and it’s a great read for anyone wanting to learn more about the area.
8. Isla Coronado.
Just off the northern shore from Loreto is Isla Coronado, which has a hidden white sand beach that is ABSOLUTELY WORTH A VISIT. Just head down to the marina and hire any captain to take you out there for the day. It should cost around $70-80 and can include a packed lunch if you would like. Don’t forget to pay for a wrist bracelet for the National Park at the marina before you go.
9. La Picazón.
Drive about 20 minutes along the dirt road heading north along the shore out of Loreto until you reach La Picazón, a restaurant right on the water, separated from everything. Have a margarita while you watch the water and Isla Coronado across the way, you won’t be disappointed.
10. Sea Kayaking.
11. THE FOOD.
There are SO many delicious restaurants in Loreto that I dedicated an entire post to it. It is surprising that there are so many great restaurants because it’s such a small town, but one of the things they certainly do best is food, and it’s cheap, so take advantage!
12. Latte art.
Okay, I understand that there are places more known for their coffee than Mexico, however, there are two great coffee shops in downtown Loreto that serve a great latte (big too!). One is called Sea Coffee, and the other, which doesn’t currently have a sign, is right next to Cafe Ole downtown. It has the best latte artist I have ever met in the world. Just look at this:
13. CRAFT BEER!
To my utter delight, Loreto has a craft brewery. It only serves three beers, but hey, that is better than nothing. El Zopilote Brewery & Cocina can be found on the main plaza, under the same roof as Hotel 1697. It was founded by Norma and her husband Kieran (an Irish guy), and their beers are delicious.
Bonus: The People of Loreto Baja California Sur.
This was possibly my favorite thing about Loreto. There is a beautiful blend of expats and Mexicans in Loreto, and everyone does their part. They are wonderfully integrated, and most of the expats are invested in some organization or other, contributing to the quality of life in the small town. The people are what made me feel extra welcomed and comfortable while I was there. Go out and get to know the locals, you will be pleasantly surprised.