Are you visiting the Islands of Loreto, Mexico, on the Sea of Cortez? The city of Loreto was founded in the 17th century and was the first Spanish settlement on the Baja peninsula.
If this is your first time visiting this part of Mexico, I have some “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Loreto. Typically, the first place visitors want to see is Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, the first mission of Baja California Sur, but I also take them to San Javier Mission – for a more local, authentic experience.
The Islands of Loreto, Mexico
When I want to get away from the tourists, my favorite place to visit is the Malecon (boardwalk) or the Islands of Loreto. If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Honeymoon Beach – you can get there by boat of take a sea kayaking adventure.
Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the nearest islands, Coronado and Danzante. Walk down to the marina and hire a boat for a half day tour. You might see dolphins during your boat ride and you may snorkel by the island of Coronado. Stop and see the local birds – did you know the Blue-footed Booby was local to Loreto, Mexico? Visit sea lion rock.
If you are looking for chocolate clams, which are typical of the Islands of Loreto, I recommend The Concho´s Restaurant and “El Pangalapa.” The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Loreto Islas beach front, located in the Malecon. Looking for cheap food in the Islands of Loreto? Go to El Farolito de Loreto or Orlandos Place, where you can have typical Mexican food.
The Mita´s Gourmet located in the main Plaza is the spot for late night dining. For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to La Palapa restaurant, 1697 Restaurant and Domingo´s Place. Domingo’s had strolling guitar players during my visit.
Authentic Loreto, Mexico
Seeing a lot of marine life? The islands of Loreto were named “The Aquarium of the World” by Jacques Cousteau, as they host 80% of the world’s marine species.
When you come to Loreto, get your picture taken at the Hand Crafting Alley near the Main Plaza. The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Mirador Frida next to Juncalito beach, a 15 minute drive from Loreto, or climbing the hill right on the beach of Nopolo Bay.
The Islands of Loreto offer great views. Villa del Palmar is the best place to watch or experience the constellations. As a matter of fact, Villa del Palmar is well known as the million stars resort.
In Loreto, outdoor enthusiasts will want to hike the giant mountains in Tabor or Tecomajac and see oasis and waterfalls. Do you like sport fishing? “La Mision Tournament” is a great one to watch and contributes to a great cause. Kayaking, paddle boarding, scuba diving, snorkeling, horseback riding, bird watching, island hopping and whale and dolphin watching are all “must do” activities for outdoor lovers. For those of you looking to simply relax, enjoy a drink in “El Santuario” beach shack while admiring Danzante Bay.
Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the boardwalk or rent a bike from Hotel Santa Fe and explore the colonial town. If shopping is more your style, stroll along the tourist corridor while checking out the artisans shops.
If you are a museum lover, visit the Loreto Museum of the Jesuits Missions. It’s next to the Nuestra Señora de Loreto Mission. Looking for night life in Loreto, Mexico? Go dancing at Bichos Bar or Bikers Bar for live music. If you are looking for wild parties and dancing, you’ll need to head to Los Cabos, Mexico.
In the winter, visit Magdalena Bay and see the Gray Whales winter breeding grounds with all the new baby whales. In the summer, visit Isla del Carmen and see Punta Arena Beach; the underwater cave & the “Pueblo Fantasma.”
Come to the San Javier Anniversary Celebrations in the winter. The Mission of San Javier is one of the best preserved Jesuit missions in southern Baja. The locals grow a variety of fruits like mangos, papayas, figs and guavas and craft them into artisan candies.
Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked Giant Mountains in The Islands of Loreto.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that the Islands of Loreto are considered a National Marine Park and are a UNESCO Heritage site. The 800 square mile conservancy consists of a string of five unique islands and is the largest of Mexico’s marine sanctuaries.
Just outside of The Islands of Loreto you can visit Mulege and have lunch while enjoying the view of the river which flows into the sea. What are your favorite things to see and do in Loreto, Mexico? Thanks to Villa del Palmar for assistance with this post.
Article and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown.