The Ultimate Traveler's Guide to Loreto, Mexico: 21 Must-Do Activities

Cobblestone street in Loreto, Mexico at sunset

The Ultimate Traveler's Guide to Loreto, Mexico: 21 Must-Do Activities

Set on the vibrant coast of the Sea of Cortez, Loreto is a hidden gem in Mexico that offers travelers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and exhilarating outdoor adventures. If you're dreaming of a place where history meets adventure, and the sea kisses the desert, then Loreto might just be your next perfect getaway. Here are 21 incredible activities that will make your trip to Loreto an unforgettable experience.

Chris and Kramer walking through arch in Loreto
Chris and Kramer walking through arch in Loreto

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Where is Loreto, Mexico?

Loreto is located on the eastern coast of the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico, nestled right by the stunning Sea of Cortez. This picturesque town is approximately 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of the state capital, La Paz. Known for its tranquil beaches, rich history, and vibrant marine life, Loreto serves as an enchanting escape for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure in a beautiful, less commercialized setting.

Boats in the Loreto marina
Boats in the Loreto marina

Is Loreto, Mexico safe?

Yes, Loreto, Mexico, is generally considered safe for travelers. Like many destinations, exercising common sense and staying aware of your surroundings will contribute significantly to a secure experience. The town is known for its friendly locals and serene atmosphere, distancing itself from the tumult often associated with more tourist-heavy regions. As always, it's wise to check the latest travel advisories and local guidelines before your trip, but many tourists enjoy Loreto without any issues relating to safety.

Generally speaking though, many expats from the USA and Canada have chosen the Loreto area as their retirement home which is a solid indicator that it's a very safe region of Mexico.

Malecón in Loreto
Malecón in Loreto

How to get to Loreto

Reaching Loreto, Mexico, is relatively straightforward, with several convenient options available for travelers. The easiest way to get to Loreto is by air, as the city hosts its own airport, Loreto International Airport (LTO), which welcomes flights from various cities within Mexico and direct flights from the United States and Canada. Keep in mind that many of these flights are seasonal and only run during Loreto's peak tourist season (fall - spring).

Visitors can also choose to drive to Loreto via the picturesque Transpeninsular Highway (Mexico 1) that stretches the length of the Baja Peninsula, offering stunning views of the desert and sea.

City hall in Loreto
City hall in Loreto

What airlines fly to Loreto, Mexico?

American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, WestJet, and Volaris. As of 2024, the only direct routes to Loreto are as follows:

  • Dallas, Texas (DFW) to Loreto, Mexico on American Airlines (October through April)
  • Phoenix, Arizona (PHX) to Loreto, Mexico on American Airlines (mid October through early August)
  • Los Angeles, California (LAX)to Loreto, Mexico on Alaska Airlines (all year round)
  • San Francisco, California (SFO) to Loreto, Mexico on Alaska Airlines (November through April)
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada (YYC) to Loreto, Mexico on WestJet (November through April)
  • Tijuana, Mexico (TIJ) to Loreto, Mexico on Volaris (ends in October 2024)
  • Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL) to Loreto, Mexico on Volaris (ends in October 2024)
Streets of Loreto at night
Streets of Loreto at night

How to get to Loreto by driving

While driving to Loreto is straightforward since you mostly stick on Mexico's highway 1 if visiting from La Paz or Cabo, it should be noted that the drive is remote and long. However, if you're up for an adventure and have the time to make the trek, we'd recommend the drive to see the real Baja which is largely remote, agricultural, and deserty.

La Paz to Loreto: 356 km | 4 hr 12 min | Google Maps

Cabo San Lucas to Loreto: 508 km | 6 hr 8 min | Google Maps

Todos Santos to Loreto: 433 km | 5 hr 9 min | Google Maps

San Jose del Cabo to Loreto: 537 km | 6 hr 21 min | Google Maps

Sailboat and ship in the Loreto harbor
Sailboat and ship in the Loreto harbor
Kramer and a turtle statue
Kramer and a turtle statue

What time is it in Loreto, Mexico?

Loreto, Mexico, is located in the Mountain Time Zone (MTZ). It operates on Mountain Standard Time (MST) during the fall and winter months, which is UTC-7. During daylight saving time in the spring and summer months, Loreto adjusts to Mountain Daylight Time (MDT), which is UTC-6. It's always a good idea to check current local times before making travel plans, as daylight saving time dates can vary.

Two locals enjoying the beach in Loreto
Two locals enjoying the beach in Loreto

Where to stay in Loreto

When planning your stay in Loreto, Mexico, you'll find a variety of accommodation options catering to different preferences and budgets. For those seeking a bit of luxury and comfort, there are three hotels that stand out above the rest. The Loreto Bay Golf Resort & Spa at Baja offers guests a serene oasis with breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez, complemented by its world-class golf course and luxurious spa facilities. La Mision Loreto Hotel is another exceptional choice, providing an exquisite blend of modern amenities and rich history, set right on the waterfront. Lastly, Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is a secluded paradise offering an ultimate retreat with its pristine beaches, elegant accommodations, and array of outdoor activities. Each of these hotels ensures a memorable stay, immersing you in the splendor and tranquility of Loreto.

La Mision Loreto Hotel front
La Mision Loreto Hotel front

21 Fun Things To Do in Loreto, Mexico

Loreto, Mexico is full of things to do for all ages and interests. Here are our 21 best recommendations of things to try when visiting this incredible area of Mexico.

Walk, run, or bike the Malecón

Start your day with a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Malecón. The seafront promenade not only offers stunning views of the sea but also provides a glimpse into the local life. You can enjoy the morning sun, watch fishermen unload their catch of the day, and grab a freshly-squeezed juice from a nearby stand. For those seeking a bit of adventure, biking or running the Malecon is a great way to stay active while taking in the coastal beauty.

Personally, we loved running the Malecón with our dog, Kramer, every morning during our stay in Loreto. We'd run the pathway a couple of times to get in anywhere from 2-5 miles and then we'd conclude by walking on the beach and letting Kramer cool off in the Sea of Cortez. It was the perfect way to start a day in Loreto and one of our absolute favorite ways to soak up this city's rhythms amongst the locals.

Malecón in Loreto, Mexico at sunset
Malecón in Loreto, Mexico at sunset
Sitting area along the Malecón in Loreto
Sitting area along the Malecón in Loreto

Go diving in the Sea of Cortez

Loreto is a haven for underwater enthusiasts with its clear and calm waters renowned for their abundant marine life. The Sea of Cortez, often described as the "Aquarium of the World" by Jacques Cousteau, is home to a wide variety of colorful fish, dolphins, sea lions, and even the majestic whale sharks. Whether you're a seasoned diver or a newbie, the numerous reefs and underwater caves make for an exciting and diverse exploration.

You can take diving lessons in La Paz but you must be 18 or older. If you do intend to take diving lessons while in La Paz, be sure to book your stay for long enough to take lessons and enjoy your new skill afterwards.

Catamaran in Loreto harbor at sunset
Catamaran in Loreto harbor at sunset

Stroll the cobblestone streets near Loreto's plaza

After the liveliness of the Malecon, take time to wander the charming cobblestone streets near Loreto's central plaza. This area is steeped in history and showcases the town's colonial past with its quaint architecture. Stop by local cafes to savor traditional Mexican cuisine, visit artisan shops for unique souvenirs, and don't forget to capture the colorful buildings that line the streets. Grab a beer at El Zopilote Brewing Co. or a cup of coffee at La Route Bikes + Coffee and enjoy a bit of time people watching.

Gazebo in the plaza in Loreto, Mexico
Gazebo in the plaza in Loreto, Mexico
Main plaza with tables and umbrellas at cafés and restaurants in Loreto, Mexico
Main plaza with tables and umbrellas at cafés and restaurants in Loreto, Mexico

Give horseback riding a try

For an authentic connection with the landscape, saddle up for a horseback riding adventure in Loreto. Explore the desert oasis, spot indigenous flora and fauna, and witness breathtaking panoramic views of the sea and mountains. The riding tours cater to all levels of experience, ensuring that you can enjoy the adventure at your pace.

Hit the trail on an ATV

For a more fast-paced experience, jump on an ATV and feel the wind in your face as you explore the rugged terrain around Loreto. There are multiple trails that cater to different levels, from novice to expert. You'll traverse sand dunes, rocky mountain paths, and pristine beaches, all while basking in the sunshine and taking in the unspoiled nature.

Soak up some sun during a day at the beach

Loreto's coastline is dotted with breathtaking beaches that beckon sun-seekers and nature lovers alike. For a serene day by the sea, head to Playa Juncalito, a picturesque beach known for its tranquil waters and pebbly shores, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Another gem is Playa Zaragoza, offering soft sand, clear waters, and a quaint, secluded atmosphere. Not to be missed is the stunning Isla Coronado; accessible by boat, this island boasts pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and picnicking. Whether you're looking to relax under a palm tree or engage in water sports, Loreto's beaches provide the perfect backdrop for any beach day adventure.

Visit the Loreto Mission

Stepping into the heart of downtown Loreto, you'll find the Loreto Mission (Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó), a historic monument that stands as a testament to the town's rich past. Established in 1697, this mission marks the site where Spanish colonization of the Baja California Peninsula began, making Loreto the first city to be colonized in Baja. While colonization is certainly not something that should not be praised, we do believe it is important to learn from our past and try to best understand all parts of history. The mission's architecture offers a deep dive into the cultural and religious history of the region making it a must visit. Taking a moment to wander through this serene and hallowed space allows visitors to connect with the very roots of Baja California's diverse heritage

Address: And. Juan María de Salvatierra 14, Centro, 23880 Loreto, B.C.S., Mexico | Google Maps

Steeple of Loreto Mission
Steeple of Loreto Mission
Front of the Loreto Mission
Front of the Loreto Mission

Get a massage and/or facial

Relaxation is key to any vacation, and Loreto offers a range of services that will have you feeling rejuvenated. Whether it's a deep-tissue massage to unwind those muscles after a long hike or a soothing facial to revitalize your skin,  take the time to pamper yourself and enjoy the luxury treatments available in the area. When considering a spa treatment while in Loreto we'd recommend checking out Sabila Spa and Spa Las Flores.

Go for a hike at Tabor Canyon

Tucked away between the mountains and the sea, Tabor Canyon offers enchanting hiking trails that lead to natural caves and hidden waterfalls. The serene ambiance and the opportunity to spot endemic wildlife make this a perfect expedition. The challenging yet rewarding hikes provide unobstructed views of the coastal landscape and will leave you with a sense of tranquility.

Find Tabor Canyon in the AllTrails app

Indulge in fresh seafood

Loreto is renowned for its delectable seafood, freshly caught each morning from the Sea of Cortez. From shrimp tacos and ceviche to the local specialty, chocolate clams, the gastronomy of Loreto is a treat for any food lover. Many restaurants along the Malecón offer ocean-view dining, providing a perfect setting to savor the essence of the town's culinary delights.

If you're up for a bit of adventure, we'd highly recommend visiting La Picazon. While this restaurant is about 25 miles out of town down a dirt road, the view, food, and margaritas make it worth the trip! This family owned and operated restaurant serves up some of the best seafood around and the customer service and experience are wonderful. Definitely our best dinner splurge during our time in Baja so far!

Directions: North of Malecón Only Access, Davis St Norte, When you get to the long wall, keep going, don't turn around, 4 miles, 23880 Loreto, B.C.S., Mexico | Google Maps

Hours: Monday - Saturday 12:00 - 6:00 PM, closed Sundays

Currency accepted: Bring cash! While La Picazon does accept credit cards, the day we were visiting the card reader was unavailable so go prepared with cash and be sure to tip!

Note: You'll want to be sure to have a vehicle that can get down a dirt road. While the road isn't horribly difficult or technical, it is bumpy and a bit sandy. If you're unsure if your own vehicle can make the drive, most taxi drivers will feel comfortable getting you there. Just be sure you pay to have your taxi driver wait for you during dinner because you're unlikely to catch another cab from the middle of nowhere.

La Pacazon restaurant in Loreto, Mexico
La Pacazon restaurant in Loreto, Mexico
Inside the restaurant La Pacazon
Dinner at La Pacazon in Loreto
Dinner at La Pacazon in Loreto
View from our dinner table at La Pacazon

Visit Loreto Bay National Park

Loreto Bay National Park, a marine paradise off the coast of Loreto, is a must-visit for nature and adventure enthusiasts. This expansive protected area is comprised of several islands, each offering unique landscapes and ecosystems. The park is a sanctuary for a diverse array of marine life, including various species of fish, birds, and marine mammals. Only accessible by boat, the islands provide an exclusive and intimate experience with nature, allowing visitors to explore pristine beaches, hike scenic trails, and enjoy unparalleled snorkeling and diving opportunities. The remoteness and untouched beauty of these islands make a trip to Loreto Bay National Park an unforgettable adventure.

The islands are too far off shore to kayak or paddle board to (unless you're a pro), so we'd highly recommend booking a boat tour of Loreto Bay National Park with a local guide.

Try your hand at deep sea fishing

Loreto is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. The calm, warm waters are perfect for catching a variety of species, including yellowtail, red snapper, and marlin. Charter a fishing boat with experienced guides who can take you to the best spots. Whether you're a seasoned angler hoping for the catch of a lifetime or a novice looking for a fun day out on the water, deep sea fishing is an adventure you won't want to miss.

If you don't have a boat with you in Mexico, you'll want to book a tour with one of Loreto's many guided deep sea fishing tours.

Enjoy yoga on the beach

Enhance your vacation with a serene yoga session on the soft sands of Loreto's beaches. Engage in sunrise or sunset classes and feel the connection with nature as the soothing sounds of the waves provide a calming backdrop. The tranquil setting and gentle sea breeze create an ideal environment to practice mindfulness and find your inner peace.

Beach in Loreto with Catamaran in the background
Beach in Loreto with Catamaran in the background

Lounge by the pool at one of Loreto's hotels

Take a break from your adventures and spend a day relaxing by the pool at one of Loreto's unique hotels. Whether you're looking for a family-friendly complex or an exclusive adults-only resort, Loreto boasts an array of options. Enjoy the luxury amenities, sip on a refreshing cocktail, and soak in the sun, as you prepare for the next activity on your list.

Discover ancient cave paintings

Journey into the arid mountains surrounding Loreto to discover a history written in stone. The rich rock art of the Sierra de San Francisco, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to ancient cave paintings estimated to be over a thousand years old. These murals give insight into the lifestyle and beliefs of the indigenous people who once thrived in this region. Want to learn more about these incredible cave paintings with a local guide? Consider booking a tour with a professional for the best experience.

Rent a kayak or paddle board

Calmer days in Loreto offer the perfect opportunity to rent a kayak or paddle board and set out on the tranquil waters. Explore hidden coves, glide alongside dolphins, and paddle to remote beaches where you can enjoy a peaceful day of swimming and picnicking. The experience offers a personal interaction with the Sea of Cortez's marine splendors. Paddle boards and kayaks can be rented for many different vendors along the beach in Loreto.

Kayaks for rent in Loreto, Mexico
Kayaks for rent in Loreto, Mexico

Go bird watching along the coast

Loreto's coastal and marshy areas are a haven for bird enthusiasts, offering an opportunity to observe a wide variety of bird species in their natural habitat. From the vividly colored kingfishers to the majestic ospreys, the region's biodiversity is truly remarkable. Early mornings or late afternoons are the best times for bird watching, when the birds are most active. Whether you're an experienced birder with a keen eye for spotting rare species or someone who enjoys the serene beauty of nature, bird watching along the coast of Loreto promises a delightful experience.

Bird flying at sunset in Loreto
Bird flying at sunset in Loreto

Explore the Sea of Cortez through snorkeling

The shallow waters of Loreto are a snorkeler's paradise with their rich biodiversity and crystal-clear visibility. Enter an underwater world filled with schools of colorful fish, eels, and even the friendly sea lions that reside in the area. Join a snorkeling tour to access some of the best spots and ensure you make the most of your aquatic adventure.

Don't have your own snorkel gear? Consider booking a tour or renting snorkel gear in Loreto.

Enjoy a sunset margarita tour on a Catamaran

Conclude your day with a breathtaking sunset margarita tour on a Catamaran, an experience that combines the beauty of Loreto's seascape with the pleasure of a classic Mexican cocktail. As the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink, you'll have the unique opportunity to witness this spectacular show from the water. Sipping on a freshly made margarita while the Catamaran glides through the calm waters of the Sea of Cortez is the perfect way to unwind and reflect on the day's adventures. This memorable tour not only offers stunning views but also a chance to relax and connect with fellow travelers in an idyllic setting.

Sunset in Loreto
Sunset in Loreto

Schedule a round of golf at TPC Danzante Bay

For those who enjoy golfing, a round at TPC Danzante Bay is a must. Situated against the backdrop of the Sierra de la Giganta mountains, this 18-hole championship course offers a truly unique golfing experience. The scenic beauty of the course is matched only by the challenge it presents, with holes that offer breathtaking views of the sea and the desert landscape.

We can't personally speak to the gold course since we aren't golfers, but from what I've read online it looks to be a top notch course to enjoy with some of the most beautiful weather year round!

Immerse yourself in traditional festivities

Loreto celebrates a number of traditional festivities throughout the year, from Patron Saint Day to the Annual Mako Shark Fishing Tournament. These events offer a fantastic opportunity to witness authentic Mexican culture, enjoy live music, taste local delicacies, and partake in festive activities. Check the event calendar for your trip dates and join in the local merrymaking.

When we were visiting Loreto we were there for a jazz festival that was fundraising for underprivileged children. The live music along with the vendors selling food and gifts was a fun night. We even had the chance to watch a local dance school perform traditional Mexican dances on another stage across from the Mission.

Jazz festival fundraiser in Loreto Plaza
Jazz festival fundraiser in Loreto Plaza
Making friends with some of the local dogs in Loreto
Making friends with some of the local dogs in Loreto

Final thoughts

In conclusion, Loreto, Mexico, is a destination that offers much more than just sun and sea. It provides a rich tapestry of experiences for the traveler eager to explore new horizons. Whether you're a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, a food connoisseur, or simply seeking relaxation, Loreto has it all. Ready to start planning your adventure? The wonders of Loreto await you.

Like this blog post? Checkout some of our other Mexico travel guides!

21 Things To Do in Loreto, Mexico
21 Things To Do in Loreto, Mexico

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