Home » 2019 Baja Adventure

Loreto, Mexico

Monday, February 25, 2019 - 7:00pm by Lolo
25 miles and 1 hour from our last stop - 2 night stay


Our Coco Cabana casitaOur Coco Cabana casitaI was really excited about visiting Loreto. Everyone we met along the road had raved about it. When we decided to bug out a day early from Mulege, we went online and searched for hotels in Loreto with availability for the following night that were written up in our Moon guide. Coco Cabanas and Casitas came up, and the description and its location looked great, so we booked it for one night.

As I mentioned in the previous stop, we made the very worthwhile side trip to the lovely Mision San Francisco Javier before checking into Coco Cabanas.

I’m not sure if we booked a cabana or a casita at Coco’s, butwhatever it was, it was great. There was a large kitchen and dining area with a full-size refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, stove, pots and pans, plates, glasses, etc. I had no intention of cooking, but it was nice to have as an option.

Coco Cabanas and Casitas poolCoco Cabanas and Casitas poolStephan, the owner, turned out to be from Petaluma, California, which is two towns over from where we live in Sonoma County, so we chatted about that for a bit. He bought this place about 8 years ago, and only goes back to the States to visit his mother.

Right outside our room was a lovely pool surrounded by lounge chairs and a BBQ area. I definitely think this place is meant for people staying more than one night. Herb fixed that right away and added a second night onto our stay.

This was our 7th day in Baja, but the first that was warm and sunny enough to actually get into a bathing suit, so we did, and spent the next few hours lying in the sun, reading by the pool. I even took a quick dip.

Marina along the Loreto MaleconMarina along the Loreto MaleconI had to come back home with at least a little bit of a tan. Even after just two hours in the sun, I had managed to get a little bit of color. Herb complimented me in his own unique way and said that I didn’t look so pasty. Thanks, I guess.

That evening we decided to take a walk into the main part of town to see the plaza and the mission. Our hotel was in a perfect location from which to take the ultimate Loreto stroll.

We maneuvered our way past the gang of perros (dogs), gatos (cats), and pollos (chickens) that hung around our street - I don’t think they even sell leashes in Mexico -- and walked down the street one block to the beach. To the left was a long sandy beach with hotels, and to the right was the Malecón, the one mile-long palm-tree-lined pedestrian walkway that runs along the waterfront.

Californa brown pelican gatheringCaliforna brown pelican gatheringAbout a quarter mile down the Malecón, we came to a long pier that wrapped around, creating a sheltered cove for a marina of small boats, most of them occupied by California brown pelicans. In fact, there were pelicans everywhere. Some were taking an evening stroll along the pier, others were gathering with friends on the boats, and the more industrious ones were diving bombing through the air in search of dinner - not much different than our plans for the evening.

Herb regretted not bringing his better camera, so we vowed to come back tomorrow night to photograph them during their dinner hour of dive bombing.

Lolo meandering along the Paseo SalvatierraLolo meandering along the Paseo SalvatierraWe continued along the promenade until we came to its end at the Paseo Salvatierra, another lovely pedestrian walkway, this one leading away from the water, under an arch of topiary trees, towards the plaza and the mission.

I loved this place!! Why hadn’t we spent our entire time in Baja here? Well, I guess we earned it by doing it the hard way. Anyone can fly here.

First, we came upon the Plaza Juarez, Loreto’s lively town square, lined with colonial buildings restaurants, and shops. People were dining aire libre (outdoors) at tables on the perimeter of the square, with musicians serenading them - not with standard Mexican tunes, but rather with American oldies like “Hotel California” and “Stairway to Heaven.” The same thing happened to us when we were in Thailand. Everyone just loves American music, or else they are just catering to their audience - elderly American tourists.

Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho - the Mother of all MissionsMision Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho - the Mother of all MissionsWe weren’t hungry yet because of our big lunch in San Javier, so we decided we would cook back in our casita and go out for dinner somewhere nice tomorrow night.

A little ways past the plaza was the Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho. Founded in 1697, this was the first Spanish mission in California (both Alta and Baja). At that time Loreto was the religious center of California, so new missions were built out from here on a network of roads known as El Camino Real. Loreto’s primacy was clearly stated over the church portal, “Cabeza y Madre de las Misiones de Baja y Alta California” (“Head and mother of the Missions of Lower and Upper California”).

Interesting to think that our home in Santa Rosa (once part of Mexico) is pretty close to the Sonoma Mission, which was the last Spanish mission built in California. It made me feel a bit closer to home.

We strolled back along the Malecón to our cozy casita, where we took advantage of our kitchen and made one of our backpacking meals, which we actually enjoy. Tonight’s entree was Idahoan powdered potatoes and Starkist salmon. That plus a glass of wine was just what we were looking for. Tomorrow night we would go out to the best Loreto had to offer.

Strolling along the Loreto BeachStrolling along the Loreto BeachThe next morning, we walked back down to the beach, but this time rather than turn right onto the Malecón, we made a left and took a long. 3-mile stroll along the sandy beach, past beachfront motels and impressive private homes. There was definitely a lot of money in this town, probably much of it from Americans.

It was a lovely setting, sandwiched between the Sea of Cortez and the craggy peaks of the Sierra de la Giganta.

Back at Coco’s we ran into Stephan, our host, and asked him about possible hikes. He recommended Tabor Canyon, a hike he said he loved, but his wife hated, because it involved continuous scrambling over boulders. He also warned us not to leave any valuables in the car.

At little too much boulder scrambling in Tabor CanyonAt little too much boulder scrambling in Tabor CanyonThis didn’t sound particularly appealing to me, but we decided to take a look anyway. The trailhead was only about 25 minutes away.

Sure enough, in the parking lot at the end of the dirt road, there was glass from a broken car window, making us not too comfortable with being away from the car too long. We did go into the canyon a little ways, scrambling over boulders large and small the entire time. Nervous about leaving the car, and feeling that we had better things to do with our brief time in Loreto, we turned around after about a half mile and returned to our car, which fortunately was just fine.

Back at the casita, we made lunch and worked on our tans by the pool for an hour to two.

Afterwards, we repeated our walk of the previous night and headed out onto the pier, this time armed with Herb’s bigger camera, equipped with faster focusing and a longer telephoto lens. We were going to get good shots of pelicans in all phases of their diving, if we had to stay here all night - or until we got hungry, whichever came first.

California brown pelican making his diveCalifornia brown pelican making his diveDozens of California brown pelicans were soaring back and forth over the water right in front of us. Often you would see one point his beak down, contemplating whether a dive would yield a tasty treat. Sometimes it was the signal that he was diving down; other times he would change his mind and continue circling around.

Herb and I developed this system where I would look for potential divers and shout out their location as an hour on the clock. Since they dive at speeds of 41 mph, a quick response was essential to capturing the event. People must have thought I was a crazy woman shouting out random times of the day.

After an hour and a half and over 700 shots taken, Herb announced that he thought he had gotten a decent shot or two (always the ultimate understater). After watching hundreds of pelicans have their dinner, it was now time for ours.

Entertainment at Mi Loreto RestaurantEntertainment at Mi Loreto RestaurantEveryone we had asked along the way about restaurants in Loreto had recommended Mi Loreto, both for its delicious food and its atmosphere. The TripAdvisor reviews confirmed it.

So, we continued on to the end of the Malecon, turned right onto the Paseo Salvatierra, and then walked right through the Plaza to Mi Loretto, right across from the mission. The place was bustling - obviously a popular choice. We put our names in and were told to come back in a half hour, not exactly a hardship as we could spend the time wandering around the square.

As promised, our table was waiting for us when we returned. The atmosphere was very cozy, and there were three hombres with guitars playing Mexican classics, such as “Guantanamera” and “La Bamba” - no “Hotel California” for us tonight.

Lolo contemplating her margaritaLolo contemplating her margaritaWe started off with margaritas - I am embarrassed to say, the first of our trip. I hadn‘t had one in a very long time, but I vowed to change that from this point forward. Everyone could use more margaritas in their life. This one was delicious, and quite large.

The food was the best so far on the trip. I had the flank steak fajitas and Herb, of course, had the chile relleno con queso.

The margaritas were so good that Herb ordered a second one, this time a Mi Loreto Margarita, a larger version of the first. Perhaps that explains his rather uncharacteristic romantic move to purchase the vase on our table to memorialize the evening. Not just any vase they had, but this specific one. $20 American dollars later, the waiter handed us the vase in a bag.

What a great evening, and a great closure to our wonderful visit to Loreto.


Herb and his margaritaHerb and his margaritaThe picturesque town of Loreto is located in Baja Sur, nestled between the Sierra de la Giganta and the Sea of Cortez. Because of its beauty and historical significance, it was designated a “Pueblo Magico” city in 2012, a distinction given to Mexican cities that offer visitors a “magical experience.” With a new commercial airport, it has become an easy weekend destination from the United States.

Some of the major attractions include

  • Malecon - palm-lined pedestrian walkway the runs along the waterfront
  • Plaza Juarez - Loreto’s lively town square, lined with colonial buildings restaurants, and shops
  • Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho - first Spanish mission in California (both Alta and Baja), founded in 1697. At that time Loreto was the religious center of California, so new missions were built out from here on a network of roads known as El Camino Real. Over to the doorway of the church, it reads “Head and mother of the Missions of Lower and Upper California.”
  • Paseo Salvatierra - pedestrian walkway from the mission to the malecon through an arch of topiary trees

Other excursions from Loreto include:

  • Boat excursion to one of the five islands off the coast in the Parque Maritimo Nacional Bahia de Loreto to see whales, snorkel, or kayak
  • Side trip to Mision San Francisco Javier, the crown jewel of the Baja missions

Loreto location map in "high definition"

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