Loreto, Mexico

It seems as though every time it looks like agents have exhausted all Mexico destinations, a new, off-the-beaten path getaway starts picking up steam.

Enter Loreto, Mexico: a destination consisting of 155 miles of Baja California Sur coastline, 466 miles of sea and 14 islands surrounded by the waters of the Sea of Cortés.

Here’s a crash course on what you’ll need to get started for selling this destination to clients of all ages.

A History Lesson

With a history dating back 300 years, Loreto is considered the oldest human settlement on the peninsula of Baja California. It was in 1697 when Jesuit Padre Juan Maria Salvatierra came upon a small port where the mountains sprawled to divide the arid desert and the azure sea that Loreto was born. With him, Padre Juan Maria Salvatierra carried the Virgin of Loreto and placed her image on a wooden cross, adorned her with flowers and founded the first capital of the Californias.

Loreto rests between the sea and the Sierra de la Giganta. The city is about 250 miles from the far south of the peninsula and enjoys a warm climate. Loreto Bay, which includes Coronado, Del Carmen, Danzante, Montserrate and Santa Catalina islands, has been protected as a National Maritime Park since 2000. It provides refuge for mother-of-pearl, starfish, sea urchins, fan coral, killer whales, blue whales, dolphins and sea lions.

The climate has a major influence on some of Loreto’s best features. The coastline in and around Loreto is one of the richest and most varied in Baja. Your clients will find the Sierra La Giganta Mountains, reefs, caverns, bays, oasis, a multitude of islands and coves, all influencing and being influenced by the climate of the region.

Where to Stay

Accommodations throughout Loreto are varied and well suited to appeal to a wide range of interests and tastes. Located on a secluded cove on the Sea of Cortés, the Inn at Loreto Bay is part of the Villages of Loreto Bay master-planned community.

Agent Advice

“The actual town of Loreto is still very typical Mexican, however the malecón has been completely redone,” says Marianne Braly of Now Voyager Travel, a Signature Travel Network member, based in Huntington Beach, CA. “If that is appealing to travelers, then they must stay at the Hotel Posada de Las Flores. The newer, more touristy area is called Nopolo, south of the town of Loreto. Here you'll find the Inn at Loreto Bay Resort (formerly the Camino Real) and activities like golf and tennis. Surprisingly, the Tennis Center in Nopolo, near the Inn at Loreto Bay, was designed by John McEnroe and has nine courts, lit for night play. Fishing is still the big draw here, as is whale watching in January, February and March.

“Nightlife is still pretty quiet, mostly small cafés and bars,” adds Braly. “A great restaurant for the best breakfast in the town of Loreto is Café Ole. A great day trip is to Mission San Javier, about a two-hour drive on a dirt road, but worth it, a real step back in time to a quaint Mexican village.”

The 155-room hotel opened its doors in February 2002. It was specifically designed to take advantage of the landscapes offered by the Sea of Cortés and the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains. Resort amenities include a fitness center, an exclusive beach club, spa and three onsite restaurants.

The Inn at Loreto Bay is located on its own secluded cove with beach and wading pools. The Inn borders the golf course with views of the Sea of Cortés. Loreto Bay Company and Citigroup Investment Partners in December of 2005 acquired the hotel, formerly the Camino Real hotel.

The best room is the Cortés Suite, a one-bedroom suite on the top floor of the hotel with spectacular ocean views and a large balcony. Agents should call the reservations department at 011-52-613-133-0010 and ask for Maude Valdez or [email protected].

A favorite hotel of sport fishermen and nature lovers, Hotel Oasis is a 40-room, family-owned hotel that sits right on the beach at the south end of Loreto’s malecón (boardwalk).

Right on the beach at the south end of the main boardwalk in Loreto, Hotel Oasis offers clients easy access to local shops, restaurants and historic sites. The property has 39 rooms and three room categories: Pool Area, Ocean View and Suite. The best room on the property is room 8, an Ocean View room, right on the beach. It has recently been renovated. Agents can book by calling Adrianna Malvido in the reservations department at 011-52-613-135-0211 or [email protected].

Built in “old hacienda” style, Posada de las Flores is a boutique hotel located in the heart of Loreto, in front of the town’s main square and near Loreto’s ancient Mission.

Posada de las Flores is for the discerning traveler looking for a unique and intimate experience. The ambiance is considered “antique Mexican.” The hotel has 15 rooms, including 10 Standard Rooms and five Junior Suites. The best room is considered to be the Bouganvilia (or Corner) Junior Suite, which has views of Loreto’s main square. Agents should call the reservations department at 011-52-57-57-3600 and ask for Susana Villena or [email protected].

Danzante is an all-inclusive, eco-friendly resort featuring nine junior suites constructed of material native to the environment.

What to Do

Loreto offers a variety of outdoor activities, from water sports to whale watching to exploring cave paintings and colonial missions hidden deep in the mountains. With the largest national marine park in Mexico (Loreto Bay National Park), the waters off Loreto are abundant with marine life and home to numerous species, such as whales, seals, dolphins, corals, starfish and a variety of migratory birds and small reptiles.

The islands of Coronado, Montserrat, Del Carmen, Danzante and Santa Catalina surround the bay, offering their own beaches and underwater adventures.

Sailing off the beach of Nopoló Bay, kayaking within feet of Baja’s rockbound coast, fishing off the pier of Puerto Escondido, scuba diving and snorkeling in the deep blue waters, hiking, biking and burro trekking up the mountains to explore cave paintings and whale watching in panga boats in Magdalena Bay are among Loreto’s most popular activities.

International travelers have come to savor Loreto’s cuisine, which is a combination of northern cooking, seafood and recipes brought over by the missionaries, resulting in wonderful fish and meat dishes such as ceviche, fillet steaks and “almejas,” or clams.

Well-known for its small-town charm, Loreto’s community is abundant with keepsakes for visitors. Genuine silver and turquoise jewelry, paintings, fine textiles, ceramic and wood sculptures, blown glass, metal designs and finely carved furniture are some of the findings in the shops of Loreto.

Travelers can plan an entire day and never once leave the unspoiled beaches of Loreto, ideal for swimming, sunbathing and enjoying an array of water sports.

Planning a Trip

Agents can book this destination to a broad client base, from ecotourists to families to honeymooners to mature travelers, artists and others. With nonstop flights from Los Angeles and convenient connections from multiple cities in the U.S. and Mexico, Loreto is easily accessible. The West Coast and the Southwest are the strongest U.S. markets for Loreto at this time. For more information on Baja California Sur, call (877) MY-BAJA SUR or visit www.mybajasur.com.

Some suggested tour operators are: Arturo Sport (011-52-613-135-0766); Dolphin Dive Center (011-52-613-135-1914), which takes clients to Coronado for tank dives; the Baja Big Fish Company, which specializes in fly fishing and light tackle conventional fishing; and C&C Tours, which allows clients to visit the missions, cave paintings, tour San Javier, whale watch and more. Visit www.loretovacations.com. More well-known operators include Travel Impressions and Apple Vacations.

Nonstop flights are available from Los Angeles to Loreto International Airport and convenient connections are available from multiple cities in the U.S. and Mexico. Two commercial airlines offer service to the Loreto Airport— Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air.