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L O R E T O
by Carlos Fiesta
Loreto is the original capital of all of the Californias, and if you
haven't been here lately, you should consider giving this historic seaside
town a second look! The seafront malecon has been completely rebuilt, and
now features grass, palm trees, and a seaside walkway complete with sitting
benches right at the edge of the Sea of Cortez. Many additional improvements
were made in 1997 to celebrate Loreto's 300 year anniversary, and Loreto
is now looking ship-shape as it heads into the 21st century.
A new marina has been built on the north end of town, and is now
the focal point for most of the fishing out of Loreto. A good launch ramp
can handle almost any size boat, although larger vessels should avoid the
ramp at low tide.
Right next to the marina is a sandy swim beach, and the sand goes
all the way out! Jumping from the small marina pier into the water at the
swim beach is a favorite past time for the local kids, and a great way
for anyone to cool off on a hot Baja afternoon! A nice restaurant
is located right next to this beach, at water's edge, and offers spectacular
views of the Sea of Cortez.
Just south of Loreto is the newly developing Nopolo area, offering
excellent golf, professional tennis, and custom homes in a very relaxing
Loreto has always been popular with the fishing crowd, and hook-ups
are still a big reason to visit Loreto. Although now kayakers have finally
discovered the delicious waters off of Loreto, and divers are becoming
increasingly common in town. The waters off of the local islands have been
set aside as underwater national 'parks' to ensure pristine diving for
many years to come.
For serious sailors, the natural harbor at Puerto Loreto (more commonly
known as Puerto Escondido) is a great place to hole up during bad weather,
or as a great destination in and of itself. The offshore islands of Isla
Coronado, Isla Carmen, and Isla Danzantes each offer hidden coves and some
spectacular white sandy beaches!
In short, Loreto has come a long way from the dusty days when the blacktop
first came through town, back in the 1970's. With the international airport
just south of town, getting to Loreto is less than a two hour flight from
Los Angeles, California. Lookig for a quick, fun getaway? Loreto is waiting
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miles of sandy beaches, north and south of town. The Malecon consists of
large boulders, creating a long breakwater for the city. The beaches near
town are made up mostly of brown sand. Offshore, two nearby islands offer
spectacular white sand beaches in protected emerald coves. North to south
. . .
are a few places in town that offer camping facilities, and miles of beaches
and open terrain out of town. Most of the camping in and around Loreto
is basic in nature, offering few amenities. Camping on the beach is possible
just north of town, and there are some great beaches further south as well.
Fishing - Boating:Loreto
is a big fishing town, both for the locals and for the Baja visitor. Even
though the fishing improves as the water starts to warm up towards summer,
there really is decent fishing in Loreto all year long. Those who bring
their own boats will have no problem launching on the cement ramp in the
new harbor on the north end of town. Boats with a deep draft should avoid
launching at very low tides. Those who need to charter the services of
the locals will usually have no problem finding a competent skipper and
Let's talk fish. The Yellowtail usually run from November through June,
Marlin June through September, Yellowfin Tuna July through October, Sailfish
June through September, and Snapper and Cabrilla can run all year long.
Your mileage may vary. If you or your skipper spot a huge sea turtle cruising
near the surface of the water while out at sea, please don't kill it. There
aren't that many of the buggers left.
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Hotels - Lodging: The
hotel situation in Loreto seems to be improving each year. There are a
few medium sized hotels in town, and a large mega-resort just a few minutes
south. Fear not, the ever present La Pinta Hotel chain also has their foot
in the sand in Loreto!
Local history: Mission
San Javier is one of the true jewels of the Baja Mission system. It is
located 22 miles west of Loreto on an unpaved road. This road can be traveled
by most passenger vehicles, although small cars with low clearance will
have to adapt to a bit slower pace. If you're not in a hurry this is a
very pleasant drive. Average driving time is less than 2 hours. The mission
itself is located in a palm filled valley, with the population of the local
village somewhere around 300 souls (goats, chickens and horses not included).
It's extremely well preserved, made of large stones and lava rock, and
a walking tour of the mission and surrounding grounds is a genuine treat.
This settlement originally settled by the Jesuits in the year 1699. For
a guided tour try . . .
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Even though fishing has always been the main stay of Loreto, more and more
Baja travelers are finding other ways to enjoy their stay in this fun seaside
town. A few options include:
sits on relatively flat terrain, so biking around town is fun. There's
not too much traffic, and a ride along the Malecon at waters edge is very
enjoyable. For a more serious bike run, heading south past Nopolo to the
harbor at Puerto Escondido is an option, but watch out for trucks on the
highway. The shoulder is minimal.
the water is calm, snorkeling can be fun right off the sea wall, in the
main part of town. The bottom consists of sand, sea grass and sea weed,
and a surprising number of fish. Scuba diving is good along the cliffs
of the offshore islands, especially the large island directly offshore,
Isla Del Carmen.
at Nopolo Resort is probably the most laid back golfing in the known Universe.
Crowds are rare, although the word is gradually getting out about this
little slice of golf paradise. A golf course with this small number of
customers in the U.S. or Canada would go out of business quickly. But the
Mexican government keeps this puppy running just fine. Pack a cooler full
of drinks, and go hit the links!
NOPOLO RESORT GOLF COURSE A mile
or two south of Loreto International Airport. 18 holes / par 72 / 5400
yards / clubhouse / restaurant / bar lockers / carts. A very fun course,
rarely crowded, several hole right on the Sea of Cortez!
calm waters of the Sea of Cortez around Loreto are great for snorkeling.
Although the beach in town and just north of town is somewhat exposed to
the prevailing winds, south of town near Nopolo the seaside cliffs provide
a windbreak close to shore. For beginners, kayaking in the harbor at Puerto
Escondido is an enjoyable experience.
RESORT TENNIS CENTER .: About a mile south of the Loreto International
Airport. 8 championship courts / tournament stadium for 250 people / restaurant
/ lockers Pro shop / dressing rooms / sun deck / pool / usually not crowded.
else can you launch a board right in the middle of town? The sea wall along
the Malecon is just a few feet above the high tide line. Also, the sandy
beach a couple hundred yards north is a good place to launch. Winds range
from calm to moderate most of the time, and the water is warm enough most
of the year to avoid wetsuits.
are several very good places to eat in Loreto, and more seem to be popping
up each year. The menus vary widely, and the Baja traveler can find just
about any type of meal desired right near the center of town. The nightlife
still tends to be weak in Loreto, although Mike's on the main street in
town tends to draw an increasingly larger crowd.
offers shopping sufficient to please locals and visitors alike. The main
market in the center of town is just like the supermarket back at home,
although maybe not offering quite the same large selection. Other stores
in town offer shopping of the other variety, such as clothing, apparel,
jewelry and the like. While pop is out at play on the ocean, mom should
have no problem running up the Master Card.
thing can definitely be said about Loreto . . it's easy to get to! The
International Airport is just a couple of miles south of town, with direct
2 hour flights from Los Angeles. Also, the Baja Highway skirts just west
of town, making it easy for vehicles to get here. And, supposing you were
crazy enough to want to arrive by boat, the harbor in town is a good place
to tie up.
Taxis can almost always be found parked on the north side of Loreto's
main street, just east of the large El Pescador market. Before and after
incoming flights, Taxis can be found parked in front of the airport. Most
folks arriving at the airport choose to utilize the airport shuttle vans,
at the reasonable cost of $5 per head. If you simply must get to
town immediately, a private Taxi will be happy to help you, at a cost of
Real Estate: Loreto
real estate is hot, and seems to be getting hotter each year. More Baja
aficionados are deciding to set down roots in Loreto, and real estate prices
appear to be on the upswing. The short 2 hour flight from the United States
is enticing more buyers each year to purchase vacation homes. Properties
available include beach front, ocean view, and interior properties.