10 Reasons Why Loreto, Mexico Should Be Your Next Summer Beach Vacation

by Arthur McMahon
Updated August 14, 2023

Loreto, Mexico travel guide
Loreto City Hall. Photo: Arthur McMahon

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This summer, put the vibrant coastal town of Loreto in your sights.

This lively and adorable Mexican destination is packed to the gills with awesome experiences the whole family will enjoy. Plus, it doesn’t have the crowds of Cancun or the high prices of Hawaii.

From stunning white sand beaches with warm water to astounding sea life, out-of-this-world food, and history around every corner, Loreto is a destination not to be missed. Here are some of the top reasons to visit this stunning Baja destination.

1. Loreto Bay National Park

The view from Isla Coronados overlooking Loreto Bay National Park. Photo: Arthur McMahon

Bahía de Loreto National Park, or Loreto Bay National Park, lies just off Loreto’s shoreline in the Sea of Cortez. This expansive park comprises five large islands and protects nearly 800 square miles of pristine marine ecosystem. Opportunities for recreation and relaxation abound in the park. For instance, you can hire tour guides to show you around the islands or go on a whale-watching expedition.

The Sea of Cortez is rich in biodiversity. Resident whales and dolphins can be spotted year-round, and the depths teem with life. Likewise, the islands are home to numerous species of reptiles, birds, and more, including exotic species like the almost mythical blue-footed boobies.

2. Your Own Private Coves

A private beach on Isla Carmen. Photo: Arthur McMahon

What’s better than a day at the beach? A day at your own private beach, of course. Across the numerous islands and islets in the Sea of Cortez, there’s an untold number of small beaches and coves that are protected from the winds and waves of the sea.

Rent a boat or hire a guide to take you around the islands. You’re sure to find a secluded white-sand beach to call your own for a while, especially if you start your search early in the day. Plus, there are shallow caves and tidepools to explore, and several islands have hiking trails. Soak in the sun, seek some views, and go for a swim.

3. The Sea is Warm

Disembarking on an island’s protected cove. Photo: Arthur McMahon

Since the Sea of Cortez is smaller and shallower than the nearby Pacific Ocean, its waters are also much warmer, making it the perfect swimming locale. As one local put it, “It’s like swimming in a warm bowl of soup.”

Wait until the latter half of summer, or even into the fall, if you want to experience the Sea of Cortez at its warmest. Loreto has a couple of great public beaches, and there are many more up and down the eastern coastline of Baja Sur.

4. Kayaking, Boating, Snorkeling, and Scuba Diving

The beach in front of Hotel Oasis, Loreto. Photo: Arthur McMahon

Need more than a bit of beach relaxation during your vacation? Lucky for you, there’s no end to the recreation in and around Loreto. Local guides can take you to the best scuba diving and snorkeling locations in the area where countless varieties of colorful fish and crustaceans call home. You can even snorkel alongside sea lions!

But if you’d rather stay on top of the water, you can paddle from island to island in a kayak. Camping is also allowed on many of the national park’s island beaches, so you can venture on a multi-day trip if you’d like. And with a boat, there’s no limit to how far you can explore.

5. Loreto is Walking and Biking Friendly

A typical Loreto street. Photo: Arthur McMahon

Quaint but not quiet, Loreto’s just the right size for walking and biking around town. This is especially true in the older part of town near the shore. The Malecón de Loreto is a walkway along Loreto’s picturesque shoreline that passes popular hotels and restaurants as well as the local marina and fishmongers.

The heart of town is at Plaza Civica, where the town’s iconic City Hall is prominently featured alongside streets filled with local restaurants and shops. You’ll often hear music in the streets and might even see a live performance. The streets of Loreto are safe and fun to simply wander.

6. Delicious Food at Every Turn

Outside dining at Hotel Posada de Las Flores. Photo: Arthur McMahon

The food scene in Loreto is top-notch. From quick-grab street tacos to fine dining, there’s something for everyone and every occasion in town.

Baja California stands out from the rest of Mexican cuisine because of its abundance of super-fresh seafood. There are traditional plates aplenty, and everyone needs to try Loreto’s iconic local specialty: chocolate clams.

7. Family-Friendly Missions and Museums

Mission San Javier. Photo: Arthur McMahon

Loreto is home to Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó (Loreto Mission), the very first successful mission in Baja California. This was the start of El Camino Real (The Royal Road), which consists of a string of missions leading all the way up to Sonoma, California.

The Museo de las Misiones de Baja California (Jesuit Missions of Loreto Museum) tells the story of the first missions, how they came to be, and how the Spanish conquerors changed the people and landscape (not always for the better) of Baja California.

The second most enduring mission resides nearby in the mountain town of San Javier. The ancient structure has been restored and maintains a museum of its own.

8. Inland Canyon Hikes with Historic Cave Paintings

Yet another way to experience Baja Sur’s history is by exploring the backcountry. A certified tour guide can lead you on spellbinding hikes loaded with fantastic desert views and riddled with millennia-old cave paintings.

The climate is extremely hot and dry. And, though there are large swaths of open land to explore, it’s best to hire a guide for your first backcountry adventure. A local guide will direct you to where you can find amazing cave paintings, and they’ll also make sure you have the proper gear and permits for the trek.

Plus, getting to the backcountry isn’t easy. A proper 4×4 vehicle is required to reach many of the best roads, trailheads, and canyons to explore, but it’s well worth the trip.

9. World-Class Fishing

Rent watercraft at Marina Puerto Escondido. Photo: Arthur McMahon

Many visitors arrive at Loreto Airport with one thing in mind — fishing! Fishing the Sea of Cortez is fruitful all year long, and it is especially rewarding in the summer.

Seabass and snapper are among the most-caught fish in the waters outside of Loreto, but the summer months are when fishers can reel in prized marlin, tuna, and sailfish. Even if you’re not into fishing yourself, seeing the boats return to the marina with these beautiful fish is a spectacular sight.

The Loreto fishing calendar is packed with events and tournaments during the summer months. Join in the fun during Fishin’ for the Mission, the Dorando Rumble, or any of the other summer fishing festivities. You may just go home with a trophy fish to mount on your wall.

10. Friendly Locals and Safe Travels

Loreto City Hall. Photo: Arthur McMahon

Loreto is a tourist-friendly town, and locals encourage travelers to visit and explore what makes the area so special. They want you to be there, and it shows in their friendly faces and demeanor.

Since Baja California is physically separated from the rest of Mexico, most of the travel risks and advisories associated with the mainland are absent. As a result, visiting Baja California Sur is comparatively safer and more relaxing.

And its population is quite diverse, with many American, Canadian, and European expats calling the peninsula home — or a second home. Just outside of Loreto are small villages mostly comprised of these expats.

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