The peaceful city of Loreto is also known as the 'Historic Capital of the Californias' and it was in fact the political center of the region, which ran from the lower part of the peninsula of California to the border of Alaska from 1697 to 1777. This rich historic past is evident in modern day Loreto in its beautiful erections from the 17th and 18th centuries. These same edifices have been reconstructed, carefully preserved and turned into museums for locals and visitors alike to learn about the challenges that the founders of the city had to undertake.
Nestled among endless natural landscapes, the desert, the Sierra de la Giganta Mountain Range, and the deep blue sea, Loreto offers countless recreational activities, such as sport fishing, scuba diving, tennis, golf and camping. This unique geographical region was first settled by the Spanish Jesuit missionaries 300 years earlier and by different nomadic tribes before them.
Built around the end of the 17th century by Father Juan Maria Salvatierra, the mission was the first of many Jesuit missions on the peninsula. Since its construction, the Loreto Mission has been remodeled several times due to natural wear and tear. Although the mission's original facade was altered a bit, the inside still conserves its original design. Among the most prominent relics that are still preserved and displayed, are liturgical objects dating back to the 18th century, oil paintings, the main altarpiece designed in Churrigueresque (Spanish Baroque) style, and the original sculpted image of Our Lady of Loreto.
The museum is located in what was once the town hall, later a warehouse, and finally the governor's house. First opened to the public in 1973, this charming museum houses an important collection of artifacts that depict Loreto's past and present. On display are different tools employed by the nomadic Indian tribes and the Jesuits, such as spears and darts, as well as other types of weapons, maps, oil paintings, sculptures from the colonial era, religious artifacts, a life size carved figure of Christ and a unique wooden cross carved from a tree trunk, bearing a plate celebrating Loreto's 300th anniversary.
The mission is perched on the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains, only 22 miles from the center of Loreto near the small village of San Javier. Founded in the beginnings of the 18th century, the mission is well preserved, and looks very much like it did during those times. Among the most important relics found on display are the golden altarpiece in Churrigueresque style, as well as religious sculptures and oil paintings in the chapel brought here from Tepotzotlan, in the State of Mexico, where there was also a Jesuit Monastery and School.
Founded by the Jesuits in 1697, this mission is like an oasis featuring a fresh water spring formed by precipitation from La Sierra de la Giganta. The Jesuits planted an orchard and the wonderful fruit trees, which still stand today, offer a splendid shade to visitors who come here on picnics. The property, which is exactly 8.70 miles from Loreto, is a cool haven in the middle of the desert and there is a pool fed by the water spring, where visitors can beat the heat and use the grills for a barbecue.
Loreto consists of 138 miles of coastline including several islands with deserted beaches and amazing landscapes, which are ideal for ecotourism and its bountiful waters, are ideal for sportfishing . You can catch marlins, swordfish, sailfish, and tuna during the summer, amberjacks during winter and red snapper, bass, grouper, jewfish, shark, and mackerel, all year round. The most predominant catch is marlin, abundant in these waters, where anglers can test their skills in any of the seven tournaments held in Loreto each year.
Loreto Bay National Park, extending from Isla Coronado in the north, to Isla Catalina in the south, was officially declared a National Nature
Reserve in 1996.
This breathtaking park offers several ecosystems, such as mangroves, algae and seaweed beds, rocks and sand that are home to many land and marine species, marine mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, and plants which cohabit and keep the ecosystems in perfect balance. The surface of the park comprises of 496,210.76 acres, including the islands off the coast of Loreto, known as the Islands of the Gulf of California. You can go swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing or kayaking in the park.
Exploring Loreto up hills and into the Sierra of Guadalupe, you can find the hidden caves, known for their marvelous primitive paintings dating back to prehistoric times. Scholars believe that these paintings were made prior to the Aztec civilization in central Mexico, which makes them at least 7,500 years old. The paintings depict gigantic human and animal figures mostly in black and red, with touches in white and yellow color pigments.
Nopolo offers the best golf in Loreto, featuring 18 holes scattered throughout its landscaped course, built in a desert with semiarid cacti
vegetation within and around, the beautiful Sea of Cortez, and the impressive mountains of the Sierra de la Giganta as a backdrop.
The golf course also features two artificial lakes and several dunes surrounding the holes, which are challenging, even to the experienced golfer. The recently opened Costa Loreto Golf Club is only 5 miles from the town center and features an 18-hole course, three artificial lakes, and sweeping views of the sea and the mountains as well.
There are eight professional courts in this compound, all of them in perfect condition including an efficient lighting system, enabling
players to play in the evening. The club also offers a pool with a kid's section for some good family fun.
There are also a restaurant bar, a steam bath, and other facilities, as well as beautiful landscaped gardens suitable for nice strolls. If you are new to the game, the club offers professional instructors who will kindly help you build up on your technique.