Visiting the place where the mountains come to swim
Loreto has often been described as “the place where the mountains come to swim”. One needs only to gaze over the landscape of the area to see exactly what inspired that description. On its eastern shoreline, the Sea of Cortez with its various shades of blue, from Caribbean turquoise to deep dark blue, creates a stark contrast to the mountains to the west. The Sierra La Giganta Mountains to the west of Loreto rise above the town and appear literally to be running into the sea for a swim.
The beautiful vistas of Loreto are certainly a reason to plan a visit, but it is just the beginning. With the range of activities and experiences available to you, you might soon find yourself realizing that even a week is too short to see and do everything.
Certain activities are seasonal, but others can be enjoyed year around. Here are some ideas:
Explore the town of Loreto: Loreto sits directly on the Sea of Cortez, with a small marina and a beautiful malecon (boardwalk) with plenty of benches for you to sit and gaze at the sea. The town itself is flat which makes it very walkable and from the malecon there is a tree-lined pedestrian walkway to the plaza in the center of the town. Loreto was founded in 1697 by Jesuit missionaries. The centerpiece of the town and the building of the most historical significance, is the first Mission of the Californias, Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, which was completed in 1744 and is still in use today. Adjacent to the church is a very interesting small museum that displays many artifacts from the town and provides a glimpse into the lives of the early settlers.
Visit the Mission of San Javier: From Loreto it is about an hours drive into the mountains to reach the beautiful Mission of San Javier. The interior of the church is intricately decorated and embellished with gold. It is worth the trip to marvel at how such an incredible building could be constructed in such a remote place. Behind the church is a garden with olive trees that are over 300 years old.
Experience the abundant sea life: Loreto is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. During the winter months, the sea in front of Loreto turns into a stage of natural wonders. Whales, many of them full time residents of the area come out of hiding. From shore you can see Humpback, Orca, Fin, and Pilot whales. Blue Whales have made Loreto their home, and it is one of the few places in the world where you have the opportunity to see the largest animal in existence up close. Licensed whale watching boats will take you on a trip of a lifetime. And if you are lucky, you will see dolphins and other whales during your trip. In early February, the town celebrates this magnificent creature with its annual Blue Whale Festival.
Get wet: One of the attributes of the sea offshore of Loreto, is that it is safe for swimming. For almost half the year, the water is warm enough to swim comfortably without a wetsuit. Many of the beaches offer great snorkeling right off shore. For those who want see more, a boat ride from the marina over to Coronado Island, is a must do activity. Scuba diving, snorkeling and a picnic lunch on the white sand beach of Coronado is on the top of many visitors lists. The trip to Coronado will provide you with a glimpse of the many full time residents of the Island, including the noisy colony of Sea Lions and the flocks of Blue-Footed Boobies. Loreto is one of the few places outside the Galapagos where you can see these entertaining birds.
Catch a fish: Sport fishing has long been one of the major draws for visitors to Loreto. Every season of the year you can experience the adrenaline rush of pulling in that big fish.
Go kayaking: There are lots of places to visit by kayak along the coast of Loreto either on your own or with a guided kayak company.
Take a hike: Loreto offers hiking adventures for all levels. Some hikes are available close to town, while others will take you on exciting adventures into the Sierra La Giganta Mounains. Tours offered by local guide companies will show you those hidden places where you can see ancient cave paintings.
Finish your day with a great meal: Where do we want to eat tonight? This is the most common phrase you will find yourself pondering at the end of each day. Loreto, for its size, has an amazing number of fabulous restaurants. Most visitors find that they never have enough time to experience them all. Of course, the answer to this problem, is that you will just have to come back and visit Loreto again. I am sure you will agree once you have visited this “place where the mountains come to swim”.