With a year-round population of about 15,000, this Mexican town is tiny for a port. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; in most cases, it means that once you disembark the tender, the on-the-ground experience is more intimate than it is in other Mexican ports. Be sure to bring a sense of adventure, as most excursions revolve around appreciating wildlife and the Sea of Cortez.
What We Love
Malecon: Paseo Lopez Mateos parallels the shore of the Sea of Cortez with benches that look out on the water. It’s a great spot for a romantic stroll and to buy tamales, aguas frescas, and other street food from vendors.
Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó: Erected in the late 1600s, this was the first permanent mission in the Californias. A small museum next door gives a comprehensive history.
Best Known For
Blue Whales: Because the Sea of Cortez is so deep, whale-watches from Loreto regularly promise to bring visitors up-close-and-personal with the largest animals on Earth: blue whales.
Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto: Loreto Bay has been designated a national park, which means the azure waters, reefs around Islas del Carmen y Coronado, and trails in the Sierra de la Giganta will always be pristine.
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Who It's Best For
Animal Lovers: Marine life abounds in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. Whether you choose snorkeling or whale-watching, it’s hard not to see critters here.
History Buffs: Considering that some of the town’s oldest buildings have stood for more than 300 years, Loreto is a great spot to learn about the area’s past.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You Might Get Bored: We warned you Loreto is small: It has only a handful of shops and restaurants, which means if you don’t love nature, you might find yourself twiddling your thumbs.
McMansions Are Moving In: A U.S.-based development company is building vacation homes at breakneck speed. You might think the outskirts of town feel like Phoenix.
Matt Villano is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Wall Street Journal.