This Small Town in Baja California Sur Is What a Sun-Kissed Vacation Should Look Like
What’s more Californian than California? Mexico’s Baja California Sur. In BCS, the mountains are steeper, the water is warmer and adventure is more readily available. Along the Gulf of California, the coastal towns maintain that sleepy, relaxed feel that’s often lost in the busy beach cities of SoCal. Just a 90-minute flight from LAX, Loreto is a world away from the hustle and bustle of your usual lifestyle. Here are 10 reasons to make Loreto, BCS your next tropical dream vacation.
1 | Direct Flights from SoCal | LAX to LTO
The flight from Los Angeles to Loreto couldn’t be easier—you can literally have breakfast in LA and lunch in Loreto! With direct flights five days a week from LAX on Alaska Airlines, travelers can skip the international terminal, which means less time in line and more beach time when you arrive! When the plane lands at the tiny Loreto airport, travelers exit the plane onto the tarmac and breeze right through customs. The airport is a seven-minute drive from the historic downtown, which backs up to the water.
2 | Whale Watching
The entire area of the gulf surrounding Loreto is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gulf itself is home to up to 30 marine mammal species, making it an animal lover’s dream come true. Climb into a panga with Wild Loreto and get an up close and personal visit with dolphins, fin whales, blue whales and maybe even orcas. If you are interested in spending more time here, book a day trip to explore the protected lagoons of Puerto Adolfo López Mateos to get a peek at adorable baby gray whales, who spend the season there with their mothers.3/27
3 | White Sand Beaches
The wildlife is everywhere, as exotic birds, hermit crabs and sea lions frequent the gulfside paradise—get a glimpse of it all while you lay down a towel and soak up the sun. With toes in the sand, a margarita in hand and surrounded by some of the most beautiful wildlife on earth, you might find yourself looking to extend your vacation indefinitely.
4 | Small Town Vibe
Loreto is what Encinitas wants to be. The town is small—only about 20,000 people live here, so it maintains that authentic, laid-back resort vibe. As the original Spanish capital of California, historic buildings and museums dot the town, and there’s plenty of history that impacts the State of California to this day. Really get a feel for the old-school vibe of Loreto living by booking a stay at the traditional Hotel Oasis, which is owned by a family that has been in Loreto for generations.
5 | Authentic Cuisine
When in Baja, seafood is a must. A trip to Loreto isn’t complete without getting a feel for the multitude of ways that clams can be prepared. The traditional way to eat the clams, served at the Hotel Oasis buffet every Saturday, is called almejas tatemadas—aka charred clams. The shellfish are lined up in an open fire and cooked on the beach. Once served, open the clams by hitting them against a rock at your table, then enjoy with a delicious cream sauce and tortillas.
6 | Golf at Villa del Palmar
Golfers are hard-pressed to find a course as enchanting as TPC Danzante Bay at the Villa del Palmar. The 18-hole course overlooks the gulf, sitting serenely on the cliffside of the Gulf of California coast. With unbeatable views of the San Giganta Mountains and the islands of the Sea of Cortez, you’ll find yourself slowing down your game just to take in the sights. This course has been named best in Mexico and best in Latin America by various publications, so be prepared for a memorable round.
7 | Water Sports
With so many sites to explore in the gulf, there are countless ways to experience Loreto on the water. If you’re the adventurous type, go scuba diving, skin diving, kayaking and sailing. There are many guided experiences available in Loreto, and passionate local experts are proud of the region and willing to show visitors the best spots to check out. Because of the protected nature of the national park, Loreto’s waters provide undisturbed access for unforgettable memories among the desert islands on or under the water.
8 | Hiking and Biking
The Sonoran Desert offers some of the best desert hiking and biking in the world. The trails extend from the gulf into the mountains, across wild desert landscapes and off to the ocean—so you’ll experience several different landscapes on the same journey. Around 45 minutes from downtown Loreto, San Javier is a great starting place for exploring the Sierra de la Giganta. As the location of one of the oldest missions in the California system and home to ranches and sprawling views, hiking around San Javier is a must-do.
9 | Sport Fishing
The Sea of Cortez is teeming with life, and the clear waters are home to world-renowned sport fishing. The sea has provided for Baja residents long before Loreto’s tourism boom. Now, you have the chance to tap into local fishing hot spots and try your hand at catching dorado, tuna, sailfish and marlin. Restaurants in the area also cook up daily catches on the spot. Big fish stories are always more exciting when told over a fresh-caught dinner!
10 | The Warm Gulf
Even with all of the opportunities for excitement and adventure, it’s worth the trip down to simply spend time in the warm waters of the Gulf of California at Loreto Bay National Park. It also provides the unique opportunity for Californians to see the sun rise over the sea, which is genuinely one of the most stunning views a person can witness. It is truly a bucket-list experience to take a dip in the calm, quiet sea while the morning sun turns the sky and water shades of orange.