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Odds are, you’ve never even heard of Loreto unless you’re the adventurous type or perhaps discovered it while traveling down the Baja Peninsula. A small town along the Sea of Cortez in the Sierra de la Giganta, it’s about a 5-hour drive north of La Paz, the capital city of Baja California Sur. The original capital of the Province of the Californias, it’s an ideal destination for nature lovers who can enjoy the mountains and the sea as well as offering a rich heritage with an authentic Mexican feel. In fact, it’s one of the Puebo Magicos in the state, or magic towns, a title given exclusively to towns in Mexico for their remarkable cultural authenticity, heritage, and charm.
You’ll see a number of colonial buildings in town, like the 17th-century Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, while the waters of Bahía de Loreto National Park are home to whales, dolphins, sea lions, and a wealth of other marine life. If that isn’t enough reason to visit, let’s take a deeper dive.
Along with the best hotels in Loreto, we’ve provided the top things to see and do that make it more than worthy of your next escape.
What to Do in Loreto
Explore the Historic Center
The center of town, or centro, is home to buildings and monuments dating back centuries, like the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto. Next to it is the city museum where you can learn all about the history of Loreto as the first permanent Spanish settlement in the Californias. You’ll also find art galleries, shops, charming cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants, while the seaside promenade (Malecon), offers spectacular views. It’s the perfect place to come to watch a sunrise or a sunset.
Loreto is also one of the best places to see the rare blue whale, the largest living animal on Earth. They come to the area to have their babies in February and March and Wild Loreto Tours will bring you to see them. Loreto Bay is a natural reserve home to over 80 percent of the aquatic life that lives in the Pacific Ocean. You’ll also want to watch for fin whales, humpbacks, orcas, and dolphins. The town is also a great jumping-off point to see the famously friendly gray whales who come to Baja’s lagoons on the Pacific side of the peninsula to have their calves, with Adolfo Lopez Mateos the closest.
Kayak and Snorkeling Tours
Paddling through the aquamarine water is unforgettable, but you might want to consider an overnight kayak adventure tour with Sea Kayak Baja Mexico that includes camping on one of the uninhabited islands, with a variety of trips to choose from. Snorkeling is often included too, bringing the opportunity to witness a wide range of marine species in a place famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau once called the “world’s aquarium.” It’s also possible to grab your own gear and jump in or take a separate tour that will bring you to the best snorkeling sights.
Walk or Bike the Malecon
The Malecon is a long waterfront promenade ideal for walking or biking. As you gaze out over the bay you’ll see multiple rugged islands and countless pelicans. This is also a perfect vantage point for watching the incredible sunrises and sunsets Loreto is known for. The letters of Loreto are an iconic photo-op and at the north end, you’ll find the Loreto Marina, where tour boats and fishing boats head out to sea. You can watch them haul in their day’s catch or cast a line from land here yourself.
See the Ancient Cave Paintings
In the hills behind the town, ancient cave paintings have been discovered by archaeologists. You can see them by heading out with a local guide.
Loreto is a birder’s paradise. In fact, you can even see blue-footed boobies – the same species that were studied in the Galapagos Islands. They build their nests on Loreto’s islands, making a sailing excursion to Coronado Island a great way to see them. On the land, watch for eagles, hawks, owls, roadrunners, turkey vultures, woodpeckers, and much more. Tours are available for going out with an expert guide.
Take a Hike
The hills and mountains are home to beautiful oases with palm trees, streams, hidden waterfalls, and wildlife, with miles and miles of trails for exploring. Mesquite Canyon and Tabor Canyon are two of the most popular.
Where to Stay in Loreto
Located right on the beach, from Hotel Oasis you can wake up to what may be the world’s most spectacular sunrises every morning with the sky often filling with vibrant shades of oranges, yellows, and reds. A mid-range, high-value property, Some rooms have patios just steps from the sand and all include air-conditioning, coffeemakers, Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. There’s an outdoor swimming pool and the excellent Del Carmen Restaurant is on-site, serving authentic regional and local fare, with special all-you-can-eat nights including the Saturday clambake and BBQ.
Villa Del Palmar At The Islands Of Loreto By Danzante Bay
Villa del Palmar is nestled in the mountains overlooking the stunning islands of Loreto. A sprawling beachfront complex, all-inclusive packages are available that include food and drink, and activities like paddle boarding and kayaking. There are four on-site restaurants, a market, five pools, a fitness center, and a luxurious spa with a menu of more than 75 different treatments and a meditation room. Nearly all of the spacious suites come with fully equipped kitchens and all have private balconies, flat-screen TVs, and spa-inspired bathrooms. Some of the higher-end options also come with Jacuzzis and butler service.
Hotel 1697 sits within a charming building in the heart of the historic center just a 5-minute walk from the beach. You’ll be just a short stroll from it all, including the Malecon, cafes, shops, restaurants, the mission, and the museum. Rates include a light Mexican-style breakfast such as quesadillas, burritos, or eggs with fruit and bread. El Zopilote Brewing Company Restaurant is right on-site, offering a menu of Mexican and pub-style fare that can be enjoyed with Loreto Brewing Company brews. Rooms are warmly decorated and include cable TV, Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, minifridges, and private balconies or terraces.
Hotel La Misión de Loreto
This upscale hotel offers a breathtaking view of the sea just opposite the waterfront while overlooking the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains. Set within a Spanish Colonial-style building, you’ll be just three minutes on foot from the marina and a short walk from the historic center by booking a stay here. It hosts an outdoor swimming pool and the Los Olivos Restaurant where you can dine with a gorgeous view looking out to the Malecon and sea beyond. Starbucks coffee is available in the lobby and the Agave Cantina offers a wide selection of tequilas and margaritas. The Mezquite Bar & Pizza Grill is the place to be on Thursday nights with all-you-can-eat brick oven pizzas. Rooms feature terraces with mountain or sea views, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. There are one- and two-bedroom suites too, some of which come with kitchenettes and soaking tubs. A variety of packages are available that can combine your stay with activities like sports fishing, diving, whale watching, and more.
Hotel Santa Fe Loreto by Villa Group
Located in the heart of downtown Loreto, Hotel Santa Fe Loreto offers suites that are sized for families, accommodating as many as eight guests. All come with kitchenettes, Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and air conditioning. There are also options for suites with two- or three-bedrooms that include living areas and some come with balconies or whirlpool tubs. There’s a hated pool and Jacuzzi that offers the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring and there’s also a market on-site for groceries and other items. Laundry facilities and dining on-site at Casa Mia restaurant which serves everything from traditional Mexican breakfasts, burgers and wings to Italian fare are available too.
Hotel Posada de Las Flores
Hotel Posada de Las Flores is set within a beautiful rose-colored hacienda-style building in the historic center of Loreto. The Malecon is just a short walk away and you’ll be steps from all there is in the heart of town, including Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto and a wide range of shopping and dining venues. It has an outstanding eatery of its own along with shady courtyards splashed with bougainvillea, leafy gardens, and the highlight, a unique glass-bottomed rooftop pool. The rooms are all unique, each reflecting traditional Mexican design with some modern touches. They include air-conditioning, cable TVs, Wi-Fi, and minibars. Book a suite for antique furnishings and wood-beamed ceilings.
Hotel Angra offers a great value for a comfortable stay in a colorful Spanish Colonial-style building that’s less than a 10-minute walk from Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto. Guests enjoy an intimate stay with just a dozen rooms here, all of which come with Wi-Fi, cable TV, and air conditioning. A complimentary breakfast is provided and there’s a cafe on-site along with a tour desk to help you arrange a variety of excursions.
Hotel Loreto Bay Golf Resort & Spa
Hotel Loreto Bay Golf Resort & Spa is a five-star oceanfront resort located in a tranquil area with its own golf course, about a 15-minute drive from the Loreto town center. The setting is truly spectacular, with artificial lakes and the sea at its doorstep while surrounded by the La Giganta Mountains. The property also includes an outdoor plunge pool, tennis courts, an exercise room, a spa for indulging in a massage, a sports bar, and a restaurant with alfresco dining. Guests also enjoy access to a private beach. The rooms come with balconies overlooking the sea and golf course, flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and coffeemakers. Book a suite for a Jacuzzi and other upscale perks. An all-inclusive plan is available that includes meals and watersports gear too.
Located in the town center just over five minutes on foot to the Malecon, Rosarito Hotel offers a clean, comfortable stay with staff that will treat you like family. You’ll enjoy a free breakfast every morning along with an outdoor soaking pool while rooms come with Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, complimentary toiletries and bottled water. A shopping tote made by local artisans is available for complimentary use during your stay and can also be purchased before departure. Laundry facilities are available and there’s a bar on-site too.
Bugambilias Suites Hotel
One of Loreto’s highest-rated value options, Bugambilias is an all-suite hotel with rooms that include air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TVs, kitchens and dining areas, and private bathrooms with complimentary toiletries. Some come with city views as well. From the hotel’s rooftop terrace, you can enjoy a beautiful vista of the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains.
Casa La Castañeda
If you’re looking for a good budget-friendly option, Casa La Castañeda offers units with private entrances and access to a kitchen with a stovetop, electric kettle, microwave, refrigerator, coffeemaker, kitchenware, and dining table. All come with air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and comfortable beds. A shared shady yard in the back offers lots of seating space for relaxation and some rooms have their own private patios with garden views.
Cabañas Rústicas El Benny
Cabañas Rústicas El Benny offers low rates that make it ideal for those on a tight budget, yet it boasts a prime location near the marina and the town center. It includes a beautiful shared garden/courtyard area furnished for unwinding among lush greenery as well as a shared kitchen. Rooms are basic, each of which comes with private bathrooms and some have with their own patios and garden views. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.