Loreto, Mexico is in the Baja California Sur peninsula about 300 miles from Cabo San Lucas. The town faces the Sea of Cortez, an amazing body of water of the color of lapis lazuli where whales come to mate and birth their young between the months of January-March. The town is surrounded by what is known as the Sierra de la Giganta, a mountain range of rugged golden hills in a desert environment of immense beauty and mystery. If you are looking for a road less traveled or a change of scenery, you may want to head out to Loreto. Here’s why?

Getting to Loreto

If I have one complaint about Loreto, it is flying there. If you live on the eastern coast, you will need to take a connecting flight from Dallas, Phoenix or Los Angeles, making it at least an 8 hour trip. I managed to leave at the crack of dawn from NYC in order to get to Loreto by noon.

Once I landed in Loreto, I could feel the warmth of a summer day while easily taking in this country’s laid back vibe where life here slows down even on the last day of 2022. I immediately hopped in a cab that drove through this amazing mountain range. Only then do you begin to loosen up and feel the stress of traveling slowly leave your body.

Once at the resort, I sat down for a meal and a margarita while waiting for my room. The resort is called Villa del Palmar located south of the town of Loreto. I exchanged one of my time-share weeks to be here. Mexican resorts are all very similar.. ..safe, lots of amenities with very friendly employees. However, the goal is not to stay in the resort but to get out to see what this country is all about. Otherwise, you might as well choose to go to a Florida resort. Needless to say, there are many nice boutique hotels and Airbnb options, less pricey than a resort and in the town (for my perspective on timeshares, click here).

A bit of History on Loreto

The city of Loreto was formed in 1697, where the Jesuits established the peninsula’s first permanent mission strategically placed between the sea and the mountain range, becoming the first colonial settlement by the Spaniards in the Baja area. Prior to these guys settling in, the area was known as Concho, where the Cochimies and Guaycuras people lived. Historians and anthropologists believe Loreto is the oldest human settlement in Baja California Sur going as far back as 12,000 years. Today, this colorful colonial town has a population of 20,000 and is registered as one of Mexico’s Pueblo Magico (magic towns). Its laid back, picturesque and small-town ways are an escape from the crazy deadlines and rushed lifestyle of urban living. It is also less expensive and crowded than Cabo San Lucas, with much better views.

What I Most Loved about Loreto …. (that I have not already mentioned)

The friendliness and hospitality of Mexican people —-it is not only part of their culture but an asset to this country’s economy. Tourism is highly valued here and they welcome even those who are rude and inconsiderate. Over 6 million Americans visit Mexico in 2021. Yet Mexicans are so misunderstood and disrespected in the US.

The Sierra de la Giganta’s rugged landscape of hills, cliffs and canyons peppered with so many species of cactus, some as tall as a three-story house, is just utterly breathtaking. It is a hikers and campers dream. Dealing with a bad back, I chose to do an ATV tour, which was a bit intense but exhilarating with views of both the canyon and the beach. If you are a bit adventurous, and not afraid of heights, I highly recommend it.

The Islands of Loreto — I didn’t quite understand what this actually was about until I got there. There is the town of Loreto and the islands of Loreto. Only by taking a boat tour can you truly appreciate the relationship between the town of Loreto, the Sea of Cortez, and these uninhabited islands. The Mexican government early in 1996 established the Loreto Bay National Marine Park protecting 790 square miles of the Sea of Cortez and the Islands of Loreto by providing a sanctuary from over-tourism for both blue and gray whales, dolphins, sea lions and dozens of birds and fish species. The views are beyond spectacular with water so blue you want to jump in. The whales don’t show up until the end of January, but there were plenty of playful dolphins chasing the boat and flipping in the water as we clapped to encourage them on.

The town of Loreto is small, with its fair share of historic sites that offer you a glimpse of its past with plenty of cobblestone streets, cafes, stores, and hotels. I did not find the architecture as enchanting as Merida but indeed colorful and an indication of how different the peninsula is from other regions in Mexico. I took photos of one of their historic hotels beautifully decorated as well as what was once the capital building with its gorgeous murals of what life was like then and of the historic mission containing a museum which is one of several still standing in the region.

Final Note: My photos in no way capture the beauty of this desert community, with its commanding mountains, giant cactuses and a body of deep blue water. You cannot stop looking at the cascading rolling mountains of different shades of gray against a blue sky which I desperately try to capture in my photos. I am hopeful that they at least inspire you to consider visiting in the near future. There will be no regrets. As always, I try to take photos of what best defines the area I am visiting. For a full view, remember to click the center of the page.

This visit allowed me the time and space to reflect on my life and plans for retirement this coming year of which I am thankful and eager to embrace. More on this later.

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