loreto baja california sur

Amazing things I’ve seen and done in Loreto Baja California Sur

Reader Mail: Hi Trisha! Thank you for all the Mexico blogs that you publish. I love your adventures and I hope to travel to Mexico like you! I have a different travel style so I hope you can answer some questions about Loreto Baja California Sur. My friend and I are going on a vacation but we will stay in all-inclusive hotels because of COVID. Are there lots of things to do in Loreto? How can two American girls enjoy a trip to Loreto? Thank you so much!
– Carrie Macklin, USA

Dear Carrie, thanks for reaching out! Loreto is not a place I thought I’d visit and when I did, I really didn’t expect to like it! Lots of Americans go to Loreto for an all-inclusive stay – it’s quite popular due to its close proximity to the USA.

From the USA, flying to Loreto is expensive but what I always tell readers is to fly through Tijuana and get a direct one hour flight for less than $100 USD. I hope you and your friend will enjoy Loreto and if you ever have any more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via Instagram, @psimonmyway.

Xx,
Trisha

Loreto may not be on your list of places to visit in Baja California Sur but it should be as it is one of the least touristic towns in the peninsula. I find the Mexican culture in Loreto still well-preserved and I met a lot of locals here who gave me insights about this city. I feel like a lot of Mexican beach towns are slowly losing their charm because of excessive tourism but Loreto remains of those that still remain very Mexican.

When I was doing my research for the trip, I thought it’s all going to be fancy and all-inclusive but with the help of the local guides that I met, I was able to see the different side of Loreto apart from the ‘fancy.’

Here are the best things to do in Loreto Baja California Sur. I am still editing the other pictures and videos but I will update this as I go. I hope you’ll consider visiting Loreto – I promise you’ll love it!

Is Loreto Mexico open for tourism?

Mexico is open for tourism and Loreto is currently accepting American tourists. Because of its close proximity to the United States, Loreto is an American’s favorite. Mexico does not require a negative COVID test upon entry (for now). You just need to fill out a health declaration form upon arrival. To know more about the COVID situation in Mexico, click here.

Things to do in Loreto Mexico

This post is long and I don’t expect you to read all of it. To jump to the content you are looking for, please click the links below. Here’s my list of the best things to do in Loreto Mexico:

  1. Visit the San Javier Mission
  2. Eat machaca
  3. Cruise the Sea of Cortez
  4. Learn the clams tradition in Baja Sur
  5. Visit Coronado Island
  6. Visit Mulege
  7. Hike to the Canipole cave paintings
  8. Rock climb Pilon Lolita Mountain
  9. Hike Tabor Canyon
  10. Dive in the sea of Cortez

Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#1: Visit the San Javier Mission

San Javier mission was a Spanish Mission founded in Loreto in 1699 and was closed in 1817. It’s less than an hour’s drive to get here from downtown Loreto and you will pass vast deserts (which is also part of the tour if you choose to book it with a local guide). Upon arrival in Loreto, cobblestone streets, ancient architecture, and beautiful mountain views.

loreto baja california sur

Loreto is considered to be the oldest human settlement on the Baja California Peninsula.

I don’t really do a lot of religious tours but I liked how well-preserved San Javier Mission is – there are only less than 500 inhabitants so expect ‘travel back in time’ experience. I feel like you need to have the right guide when doing this tour and my local recommendation is Jordan (you can book below), a Mexican-American who’s been living in Loreto for more than a decade.

This is not all about religion or how the Jesuits came to Loreto but there are also big olive gardens at the back, run and maintained by the local community.

Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#2: Eat machaca, a Baja California Sur favorite

After the San Javier Mission tour, you can go to a local restaurant in the San Javier community and try machaca, one of the best dishes in Baja California Sur. Machaca’s common meat is beef or pork. Ingredients vary, depending on who’s making it but it usually consists of onions, peppers, tomatoes, and chilies. The meat is usually dried/rehydrated and rolled like a burrito. Some people use skirt steak and is usually slow-cooked.

I live in the central part of Mexico and machaca is not very common in my area. It was a strange concept to me. What I love about eating in Loreto is that there are lots of things I have not tried before and most of these northern cuisines are very traditional dishes of Mexico. If you travel for food, add machaca to your growing list of what to eat in Mexico!

Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#3: Cruise the Sea of Cortez on a catamaran

In the beginning, I was a little discouraged about the limited things to do in Loreto but this Catamaran cruise made up for all of it! The Sea of Cortez is really impressive – I loved how its waters is so different from where I live in Mexico. Loreto is a very family-friendly destination so I’d recommend this one for families traveling with kids and people traveling in big groups.

This tour took 4 hours on-board a 35-foot fully-equipped catamaran. Meals and drinks are also included in this tour (alcoholic beverages, too!). I was really surprised to really like this activity because boats and I are not very good friends. I often get dizzy and seasick. But the sea of Cortez is very calm so if you get easily seasick like me, you don’t have to worry about that when you do this tour. I really felt okay during the tour (except that I might have overdone the eating).

Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#4: Learn the clams tradition with Doña Carmen

Casa Carmen was my favorite culinary experience in Loreto where I had the chance to see how the traditional clams are made! Clams are Baja California’s seafood candy. They literally have it everywhere and it seems to be the newest tourist attraction in Baja Sur. Doña Carmen, the local lady who owns this restaurant is very generous with the recipe too.

loreto baja california sur

There are certainly many ways on how they make clams in this area but the one at Casa Carmen’s was baked in a brick oven. First, the clams were buried in stones then the oven is filled with romerillo, a native plant in Baja Sur. Then the romerillo is lit with fire to give flavour to the clams. This was way different than the hundreds of clams I tried in Loreto so you definitely need to visit Doña Carmen!

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Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#5: Visit Coronado Island, a favorite in Loreto Baja California Sur

Isla Coronado (Coronado Island) is one of the must-do in these things to do in Loreto list. Go on a day trip for a picnic by the beach (the sand is really amazing!), explore cliffs, lagoons, and caves, snorkeling, diving, kayaking – Coronado Island has it all! The turquoise waters of this island will give you a great peek at the rich marine life. Diving is highly recommended but if you are not a certified diver, you can snorkel here for hours without getting tired. The water visibility is outstanding!

loreto baja california sur

If you’re lucky and you come in the right season, you will get a chance to see a marine turtle sanctuary. Each year, the female turtles love to lay their eggs in Coronado Island but I am not sure what time of the year is this. I was not able to see it but the guide showed me some pictures. The tour includes snorkeling gears, light lunch, and refreshments (alcoholic beverages included). This is a great activity for families and groups of friends. Children are welcome, too!

Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#6: Visit Mulege, an oasis town in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur

Just a two-hour drive from Loreto, Mulege is the only oasis town in Baja California Sur. The drive was really beautiful as you can see the best of the desserts and oceans in the peninsula. You can make shortstops on the beaches in between this route (like Playa Coyote).

loreto baja california sur

Mulege is a quiet town as it’s not very popular yet but there are lots of interesting locals here who can show you the deeply-rooted Mulege traditions (missions, food). There are also lots of short hikes where you can see the whole town. Baja California Sur’s land is dry and the Mulegé river valley irrigation has supported agriculture in the area and strengthens the economy of the peninsula.

Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#7: Hike to see the Canipole cave paintings

This 45-minute easy hike for all levels (more of a walk, really) will take you to one of the most beautiful views in Loreto. It’s better to hire a local guide for this tour – the San Francisco Mountain range has lots of history and culture that you’d like to know from a local.

loreto baja california sur

These cave paintings date hundreds of years before the arrival of the Jesuit missionaries that inhabited Loreto. Historians have collected accurate readings of the cave paintings so if you are interested in history, better be on this tour!

Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#8: Rock climb Pilón Lolita Mountain

Pilón de Lolita got its name because it looks like a piloncillo candy because in a certain place in space, that peak has the shape of a piloncillo candy (small, truncated cones). Urban legends state that Lolita is a woman who came down from this mountain every day to feed the poor who were journeying towards the Mission of San Javier.

loreto baja california sur

The beginning of this climb is in Rancho Las Parras, a family-owned cattle ranch. The summit is 3,330 ft with an elevation of 1,880 ft. Some of the paths are exceedingly steep but it’s only difficult through it because of the loose dirt and rock boulders. Falling rocks are pretty common so be careful when you do this hike. I really feel that this is only for experienced hikers but you should ask your guide about hike requirements before joining a tour.

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Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#9: Hike Tabor Canyon

Located in the Sierra de La Giganta, Tabor Canyon is one of the best outdoor activities in Loreto. The landscapes, flora, and fauna are incredible. The hike is moderate to difficult as soon parts of the hike require effort. You need to wear proper hiking shoes in Tabor.

loreto baja california sur

The hike duration is 3 hours and the guide will tell you everything that you need to know (including lots of urban legends and folklore). There are beautiful waterfalls by the mountainside so make sure to bring swimming clothes, too! Expect spectacular ocean views of Puerto Escondido (an elevation over 1000 feet). This is also a great sunset spot but it could be a really hot hike depending on the season.

Loreto Baja California Sur things to do

#10: Dive in the sea of Cortez

The sea of Cortez is one of the best diving spots in the Baja California Sur peninsula. Rays, schools of fish, nudibranchs, and turtles are the common sea creatures in this area. There are over 40 dive sites in 3 islands within 1-hour distance from Loreto’s city center. You can easily find diving centers all over Loreto but you need to have (at least) an open water certification.

loreto baja california sur

This is also a great place to take your PADI certification course. Prices start at $650 USD per person (4 days of certification) but before the actual lessons in the water, you need to do some home study/online learning. There is also a 1-day diver course (introduction to scuba diving) that starts at $150 USD per person. You can chat with Jordan via Whatsapp for more information. He really is a great guide and is very knowledgeable about Loreto.

Ready to book your trip to Loreto, Mexico?

Most readers of this blog can easily plan their trips on their own and if it’s too stressful for you (especially because of COVID), you can always call or e-mail me – I do a lot of customized trip planning that guarantees your most authentic Loreto trip experience. Below are the main things I use (and trust) when booking all my trips.

  • Airbnb: This is still my accommodation preference, especially if you want to have your own space during COVID. Airbnb is always cheaper and more comfortable than other accommodations.
  • Hostelworld: I backpacked a lot for most of my formative years and always used Hostelworld. This is best for people who travel solo and want to meet friends on their trips!
  • Agoda: This platform has lots of deals and no other booking platform shows the best accommodation discounts!
  • Booking.com: Since I am always traveling indefinitely, I do not always have fixed travel dates. I use Booking because they don’t need a credit card to secure your accommodation. Most of it is on a ‘pay at the property’ set up so you don’t need to pay for a cancellation fee in case your travel plans change.
  • Kiwi.com: You can find the cheapest flights here with the best airlines. What Kiwi does is analyze your route and give you the best prices for your itinerary. Try it and see the difference with other flight booking platforms!
  • E-dreams: I use this platform when booking flights to and from Europe. All the flights here are guaranteed cheap. I once booked a Mexico-Madrid flight for only $300 USD!
  • Get Your Guide: I must admit – sometimes, I am super lazy to do things on my own so I always book the tours here! They are really cheap compared to other tour booking platforms and most of the tours here are not super guided. They give you a lot of free time!
  • TripAdvisor: I book tours here whenever I want to see real-time reviews. The reviews here are from real people so you can always compare their experiences! Tours are super cheap, too!
  • Travelwifi: take the internet with you! As a digital nomad, this is very important to me. If you decide to rent a portable wifi device, use my code PSIMONMYWAY to get a 10% discount.
  • Transferwise: As a digital nomad, handling money in different currencies have always been hard for me. Read my experience with Transferwise here – the best bank for long-term travelers!
Things to do in Loreto Baja California Sur on Pinterest: save it for later!

loreto baja sur pinterest

Have you been to Loreto? What did you do? Where did you stay? What else can you add to this list? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below and help other travelers plan their trip to Loreto!

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • Moon.
    February 15, 2021

    Do you travel alone?
    How did you get your visa to Mexico was it hard to get? Can you share the whole process of getting visa in Mexico if you hold a Philippine passport.
    Thank you in advance x

    reply

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