When it comes to travel, the word “authentic” gets tossed around a lot. A truly authentic destination is a place that has withstood the march of time and provides an immersive experience through culture, cuisine, nature or history. One sure place to find authenticity is in Mexico’s Baja California Sur, particularly, the charming city of Loreto.
Founded in 1697, Loreto was the first Spanish settlement on the Baja California Peninsula and the first capital of Las Californias. For visitors interested in history, Museo de las Misiones is worth the stop. It houses a detailed collection of religious art, historical documents, tools and crafts that tell the story of the settlement of the Baja Peninsula.
Loreto is also a designated Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town), as chosen by Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism. This designation is given to places in Mexico whose cultural, historical, gastronomical or natural treasures are considered significant.
A Feast for Foodies
Foodies will have no trouble sating their appetites in Loreto. From hole-in-the-wall taco joints to fine dining establishments, there are options to suit every craving and budget. Take your pick of everything from perfectly crispy fish tacos to home-baked bread and pastries. Fresh-caught seafood is especially abundant here and something you’ll see on many menus, this includes Loreto’s famous chocolata clams, which hard to find anywhere else. The clams are prepared in a variety of ways (plan to taste a few), and you can find them on most menus around town.
Escape into Nature
Get off the tourist trail and step into nature by soaking up the many natural attractions in Loreto and the surrounding areas. Experienced hikers will want to test out the trails of the nearby mountain range, which are also ideal for mountain biking. Since not all trails are properly marked, it’s a good idea to book a guided trek or bike ride with one of the numerous tour operators in the area.
If you want to get up close to local wildlife, Coronados Island is a quick 25-minute boat ride from Loreto. The island is home to beautiful white-sand beaches, a resident sea lion colony and flocks of rare Blue-Footed Boobies.
A visit to Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto (Bay of Loreto National Park), declared a protected area by the federal government in 1996, offers the chance to snorkel through crystalline waters and spot tropical fish, sea turtles and colourful coral. The bay’s calm waters make it ideal for water sports, and there are many opportunities to hop in a kayak or test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard.
Blue whales make the waters of Loreto their home between January and mid-March. Licenced whale watching boats are readily available to take visitors out to see the gentle giants. You may also spot dolphins and orcas.
Baja Beyond Loreto
Depending on how much time you have, it’s worth exploring beyond Loreto to discover the many other unique destinations of Baja Sur. Mulegé, just two hours north of Loreto, boasts untouched beaches, friendly locals and a lot of laid-back charm. While La Paz, about four hours away, offers vibrant street art, a scenic waterfront promenade and excellent seafood. And Comondú, which is roughly two hours inland, is a nature-lovers paradise.
Going off the beaten track when you travel isn’t always easy, but Loreto’s location makes it the perfect jumping off point to explore Baja Sur — one of Mexico’s truly authentic travel destinations.
Visit Baja California Sur