Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Once there was only Los Cabos -- at least, as far as tourists were concerned. But as our knowledge of the Baja peninsula expands, so do the options for travel. The peninsula is as diverse and varied as the rest of the country, from the Pacific towns like Ensenada and Todos Santos to the wine country of the Valle de Guadalupe. There is the Sea of Cortez port, La Paz, the rugged beauty of Cabo Pulmo and the evolving luxury landscape of East Cape. But now there's a new destination to have on your radar: the Pueblo Magico of Loreto.

While small in size, Loreto is quickly growing as the next "it" coastal town on the Baja peninsula. Loreto is home to one of the oldest settlements in Mexican history, and visitors can learn all about the evolution of the town, starting with the Mision de Loreto, which was built in 1697. More than history, Loreto is a beautiful destination for outdoor travel. It is home to the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, a gateway to the "Aquarium of the World," the nickname that Jacques Cousteau gave to the Sea of Cortez. It won't be long before your clients start to ask about what's going on in Loreto, so here's an overview of what you need to know.

What to do in Loreto

The lifeblood of Loreto comes from the Sea of Cortez. The city is the jumping off point from which to explore the Loreto Bay National Marine Park. The park is a protected area of Mexico comprised of the Bay of Loreto, the Sea of Cortez and part of Baja California Sur. It attracts more marine mammals than most of the other national parks in Mexico and is one of the most visited parks in the country. In addition to mammals such as dolphins, seals and sea lions, it is home to nearly 1,000 species of fish. The park was granted Unesco World Heritage Site status in 2005.

The water off the coast of Loreto is crystal clear, and you'll want to get out on it to explore. There are five beautiful main volcanic islands to explore. Most are protected and uninhabited or sparsely populated and provide wonderful wildlife viewing, camping and hiking opportunities.

But land-based travelers will have plenty to see and do in Loreto, as well. As mentioned, it is the oldest settlement in Baja  dating to prior to the founding of the mission. In and around Loreto are prehistoric cave paintings and around 2,000 rock art sites that date back more than 7,500 years. Other outdoor activities include fishing, kayaking, hiking, camping and mountain biking.

Loreto is a growing town, but it still has nearly 20 restaurants that serve the local delicacies from this part of the country. Seafood is of course the star of the menu, with the chocolate clam being the regional delicacy. But you'll also be able to try some of the best machaca, a dried beef dish, as well as the famous esquites corn dish. 

Where to stay in Loreto

For a relatively small community, there are a wide range of accommodations available in Loreto. Choose from hacienda-style luxury resorts to boutique hotels, ecoresorts and campgrounds. 

The Danzante Bay resort community is a master-planned community that includes one of the most famous golf courses in Loreto as well as the Villa del Palmar luxury resort. The resort is anticipating an additional 160 rooms to come online in October. 

Loreto is home to a second world-class golf resort, as well, the Loreto Bay Golf Resort & Spa, a five-star hotel surrounded by La Giganta mountains and the Sea of Cortez.

Flying to Loreto

The main provider of direct international flights to Loreto is Alaska Airlines, which connects Loreto with Los Angeles. However, last year, American Airlines began offering direct flights to Loreto from Dallas and Phoenix airports. Despite the pandemic, American's direct flights did very well this past winter, and the service is expected to continue through the summer. Alaska Airlines continues to offer three to four flights per week and two flights a week through the summer. The routes pick up in October and become daily in February.

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