Loreto is a small historic city visited mainly by American tourists who arrive daily at the small international airport. Also known as a Pueblo Mágico, it is faithful to its ancient traditions and its history, full of testimonies that you will find inside and outside the city.
Downtown and Mission Nuestra Señora de Loreto
Loreto was the first Spanish colonial settlement in Baja California and its origins, dating back to the 17th century, are due to the Jesuit missionaries. Its historic center is characterized by the Mission Nuestra Señora de Loreto, founded in 1697 and today very well preserved. Inside, there are statues and an altarpiece from the 18th century. We also find remains of a small boat, weapons of the time and other antique objects in its small museum.
The mission is very important from a historical point of view because it is the first to be founded in the peninsula and because it is right there where the preaching of the Jesuit fathers began in the two Californias.
The entire center is characterized by buildings of typical colonial architecture and numerous artisanal shops.
Another important site is the oldest restaurant in Loreto, where the owner and chef cooks only traditional dishes in an ancestral way (without using electric utensils), using local ingredients and following recipes from thousands of generations.
The mission of S. Javier
Near Loreto, half an hour by car on a dirt road, in the middle of the vegetation next to an oasis of palm trees is the old and great mission of San Javier. Its imposing stone construction, still very well preserved, stands on the large square surrounded by entertainment venues and few houses. Next to the cathedral, there is a small historical cemetery and behind it, there is a huge olive tree that must be at least three hundred years old, almost the same age as the cathedral and the religious garden.
The promenade and Isla Coronado
Loreto’s promenade is protected from the sun by tall palm trees and lined by villas and resorts, embellished by large statues dedicated to various marine species. The bay is guarded by a large white lighthouse, under which small boats are moored, not only for fishermen but also those that go to Isla Coronado, which together with 4 other islets are part of the protected National Marine Park.
Isla Coronado is a little paradise of transparent turquoise water and white sand that contrasts with the dark gray of the volcanic rocks and which is crossed by small paths that lead to spectacular views of the bay. The marine life is incredible and very abundant; it is easy to see manta rays, dolphins and sea turtles as well as a large number of multicolored tropical fish of all sizes. You can participate in snorkelling activities to see this beauty and natural wealth.
Tourism development and environmental risks
Similar to other towns in Baja California, the government has tourism development plans based on the model used in Acapulco and Los Cabos.
Fortunately, the local population and fishermen are aware of the impact this could have on the environment and do not seem very willing to massively exploit the resources. Some remember how in the 60s, the waters of Loreto Bay were the target of predatory fishing tourism that was about to destroy some species such as the Grouper and since then, has not been able to increase their size or their reproductive capacity, which seems to be linked to the dimension that some achieve.
Concerned about water, not just the sea, since it is a desert town whose hydraulic resources are not unlimited, the inhabitants of Loreto are prepared to oppose any development plan that is not sustainable from an environmental point of view. In fact, it was this community who wanted this area to be protected and who asked for laws to safeguard the beauty and natural wealth of the region.
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