DescriptionLoreto (loh-REH-toh) dates from 1697, when a mission was founded by Jesuit padre Juan Maria Salvatierra. It became the first capital of both Alta (the present state of California) and Baja California. Loreto also was the departure point from which Junípero Serra launched his northward quest in 1769 to establish a chain of missions in Alta California. Today its impressive natural attributes and outstanding fishing attract U.S. sportsmen.
Loreto is easily reached from points north via the transpeninsular highway (Mex. 1). The airport is about 7 kilometers (4 miles) southwest of town. Nonstop flights from Los Angeles are offered by Alaska Airlines on select days of the week. Regional airline Aéreo Calafia flies from La Paz and Tijuana on small prop planes; phone (624) 143-4302, or 01 (800) 560-3949 (toll-free long distance within Mexico).
The malecón (boardwalk) has benches for taking in the view, but beach lovers should skip the rocky public stretches in town and head for the indented shores of Bahía Concepción, about an hour's drive north up the Gulf of California coast toward Mulegé.
At Nopolo Bay, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) south of Loreto, there is a championship 18-hole golf course at the Loreto Bay Golf Resort & Spa. The challenging course features numerous sand traps and is laid out along the Gulf of California coastline, blending into the surrounding desert and the Sierra de la Giganta mountains. For information on tee times and facilities, phone (613) 133-0016.
The Baja Big Fish Company, on the malecón 3 blocks south of the marina, has several boats and knowledgeable guides; phone (613) 135-1603. Arturo's Sport Fishing, on Calle Hidalgo between the main plaza and the marina, is a family-owned business that offers snorkeling, kayaking and whale-watching excursions in addition to fishing trips; phone (613) 135-0766.
A boat excursion can be taken to Coronado Island, about a mile and a half offshore, part of Bay of Loreto National Marine Park. The clear, tranquil water harbors a great variety of tropical fish. The best months for snorkeling and scuba diving are June through October, when the water is warmest. Whale sightings are possible in winter. Trip arrangements can be made through local hotels or Arturo's Sport Fishing.
Few merchants in town take credit cards for payment, although both pesos and U.S. dollars are readily accepted. The Bancomer bank, on the main plaza, has an ATM; currency can be exchanged Mon.-Fri. during the morning.
Adventurous travelers can make the trip to the San Javier Mission (Misión San Javier), which is west of town; from a signed junction about 2 kilometers (1.1 miles) south of the Loreto turn-off on Mex. 1, a rough access road (recommended only for high-clearance vehicles) proceeds southwest through stunning canyon and mountain scenery for about 37 kilometers (23 miles). The beautifully restored structure of dark volcanic rock in the mudéjar (Moorish) style sits at the bottom of a deep valley.
The second oldest of the Jesuit missions established on the peninsula, it was founded in 1699 but not completed until 1758. The towering walls feature exemplary stonework, and the gilded altar was brought from Mexico City. It's possible to climb the winding stairs to the roof and bell tower, which offers a panoramic view of the valley below. A guided tour can be arranged through Loreto hotels or Desert and Sea Expeditions; phone (613) 135-1979.
InfoOfficeTourist information office Avenida Salvatierra LORETO, BS . Phone:(613)135-0411
Attraction PlaceHoldersMission Museum