Located in Baja California Sur and along the shores of the Gulf of California, the historic town of Loreto is an ideal getaway for families. With its water sports, marine life, animal diversity and epic desert scenery, it’s a quick flight from Southern California and the oldest town on Baja. With Loreto’s warm hospitality, families can learn about the culture and history of Baja while doing lots of outdoor activities, especially on the water. Here are the top things to do in Loreto Mexico with Kids.
Top Things to do in Loreto Mexico with Kids
Take a Boat Trip to a National Park
See a Blue Footed Boobie
Enjoy a Beach Picnic
See the Loreto Mission
Take a Sunset Cruise
See the Whales
Sample Mexican Cuisine
Stay on the Beach
Bahia de Loreto National Park with Wild Loreto
Located off the coast of Loreto, the Loreto Bay National Park protects five uninhabited islands, known for its marine ecosystem. Open for day trips, most hop a panga (a small boat) for the day to the explore the main island, Isla Coronado.
For our excursion, we took the 9 a.m. boat from the Loreto marina, next to the colorful Loreto sign. The ride was exhilarating since most of the pangas leave at the same time and almost race to the islands.
The Animals of Bahia de Loreto National Park
Since the island is a protected area, several marine and bird species can easily be spotted. Our first stop had us watching the wild dolphins as they swam near the boats. The dolphins like to ride the pangs’s wake and were very active during our visit, surfacing and jumping in the open water next to the protected islands.
As we circumvented the main island, we visited a sea lion rookery. Some of the massive mammals barked as we glided by so close I could see their whiskers. Others sunbathed on their rocky ledge, inches from the Sea of Cortez.
The islands in the Bahia de Loreto National Park are known for their sea bird population. Many of the higher rock outcropping are glazed with bird graffiti (poop).
Though the most unique bird native to Baja California is the Blue Footed Boobie (yes the same one that lives on the Galapagos Islands). Though half of the breeding pairs are located on the Galapagos, Blue Footed Boobies can be found flying around the islands in the Bahia de Loreto National Park.
As marine birds, they spend a lot of time hunting for fish and flying just over the water. This was true for our trip. Though our guide knew where they like to roost on a particular rock outcropping.
Before my trip to Loreto, I didn’t know I would see a Blue Footed Boobies. Seeing one was a thrill and a visit to Baja California is easier than the Galapagos.
The Beach of Bahia de Loreto National Park
Located in a protected cove, our excursion dropped us off at a true white sand beach for a lunch break. With a covered palapa along with a vault toilet in the area, this is one of the top things to do at Loreto.
Our tour included lunch so after a quick bite, we explored the beach area. During our visit my 15-year-old son climbed all over a low rock outcropping steps from the beach and found lots of little marine creatures, like small fish and tiny crabs.
My teen enjoyed this and even took a few pictures. We were touring with two other teen boys and they all climbed and explored together, trying in vain to catch fish with their own hands.
My son also borrowed a snorkel and mask from our boat to take a closer look at the marine life. Others chose to snorkel in the protected cove with clear turquoise water. The location looked like a postcard. I wish I could have stayed longer.
Bahia de Loreto National Park excursion depart from the Loreto Marina along the Malecon de Loreto (boardwalk). Wild Loreto offers morning and afternoon departures. Each excursion is three hours long.
Pro Tip: Pack a wind breaker and a fleece for the morning. Wear your swimsuit under your clothes and bring a towel, water bottle and sunscreen.
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Historic District of Loreto
With a walkable downtown, visitors should stroll the historic district of Loreto. A quick walk from the Loreto Malecon, or boardwalk, the area is anchored by the historic Mission.
This area offers several pedestrian only areas like the Plaza de Californias near the mission. The Plaza de Salvatierra is opposite of the Loreto City Hall. This area offers several restaurants and souvenir shops.
For my teen, he peeked into bodegas, or small convenience stores for snacks, like Taki flavors not widely available in the U.S. As a student studying Spanish in high school is was a good experience to use his language skills and each accepted U.S. Dollars and friendly with making currency exchanges.
The Mission Loreto was founded by the Jesuits, Spanish missionaries for the Catholic Church. In 1697, Juan Maria de Salvatierra founded the mission in Loreto, the first success after 150 years of failed attempts to form a colony.
Now the Our Lady of Loreto Mission is an active church though visitors are welcome to enter and we did. It is along the presidio and the building was completed in 1744.
Located at And. Juan María de Salvatierra 14, Centro, in Loreto.
Catamaran Cruising with ABT Sailing
With its location along the Gulf of California, or the Sea of Cortez, Loreto offers a lot of opportunity to get on the water. During our trip, we enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Bel Gato catamaran, or pretty cat in Spanish.
With its distinctive mesh at the bow of the boat, we sat forward and enjoyed the sea breezes and desert scenery. Catamaran rides are fun for everyone, especially older kids who can look through the mesh and see the water below.
Our cruise included a snack service and we enjoyed fresh made ceviche and guacamole, both made in the boat’s galley. Along with appetizers, they served Mexican beers, Mexican wine and margaritas, along with sodas.
ABT Sailing offers several types of excursions from its two-hour sunset cruise to its five-hour tour of the Loreto Bay National Park. The Bel Gato catamaran features several staterooms so it offers restrooms aboard along with a shower.
Departing from the Marina Puerto Escondido, a protected location south of Loreto. It is located off Calle Bahia de las Palmes Mza 15, Lote 1. in Loreto.
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Whale Migration to Baja
As giants of the Pacific, the Blue Whales are the largest of the whales and migrate between Baja and Alaska. They spend the winter in the warm waters of Baja, where they mate and give birth.
In the months of February and March, it is possible to see blue whales breaching the surface from the beach in Loreto. Though to really see the whales up close, we crossed the peninsula to the Pacific side of Baja California Sur.
Gray Whales at Baja California Sur
Migrating 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year, gray whales spend the summer in the Arctic waters feeding then winter off Baja California. They migrate to three nursery lagoons in the area, one at Magdalena Bay.
With its protected location and shallow water, the gray whales arrive in Baja in late December and early January. Starting in January, gray whale mothers and their babies can be seen swimming through the waters.
Gray Whale Excursion with Garcia’s Tours
For our whale excursion we boarded at Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, then motored out into the coastal lagoon of Magdalena Bay. The water is shallower than the more open bay and harbors fewer predators, the orcas.
Since the baby whales have smaller lungs, the pair surfaces more frequently than full-grown adults. During our excursion we watched two separate mother-baby pairs as our boat captain maneuvered the boat.
It was impossible not see the whales breach. They even breached so close to our boats it felt like we would touch them. Then they went under our boat.
After whale watching in Alaska and this experience was more enriching since the pairs spent much more time at or near the surface. The mother train their babies to make the arduous journey to the waters off Alaska. The whales depart and start migrating up the coast starting in April.
During our excursion, our boat captain also pointed out birds, like the Bald Eagle that has recently been spotted in Baja. The sand bar area next to the lagoon is home to other animals, like coyotes.
Located about 100 miles southwest of Loreto, Garcia’s Tours is located at Baja California Sur Cd Insurgentes in Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos and offers daily excursions.
Where to Eat in Adolfo López Mateo
Since it takes about two hours to reach Adolfo Lopez Mateos, we lunched at Cabañas Brisa Restaurant. During my visit, I enjoyed a fried fish entree and the guacamole was particular good. My son had a quesadilla, his favorite.
Located at Calle: 20 de Noviembre e, Ensenada 47, Col. Centro in Adolfo López Mateo. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where to Eat in Loreto
With outdoor tables along the pedestrian walkway, Café Olé has been a favorite since 1982. We sampled its breakfast and ordered the Chiliquiles with scrambled eggs and a red sauce, garnished with cheese. Café Olé also serves lunch and dinner.
Located off Fco. I. Madero in the historic town center, close to the Loreto City Hall. Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
With its bright ambience and a palapa roof, the outdoor dining area at Orlando’s Restaurante is a favorite. Serving up a menu of Mexican specialities, I sampled the Chicken Mole, a rich sauce of chilis, spices and chocolate. It was excellent.
The house-made salsa and guacamole were standout as are the cocktails, blended in the center of the patio. Save room for desert, the traditional Mexican ice cream shop, Michoacana, is next door and a hit with kids.
Located at Fco. I. Madero s/n, Centro, in Loreto. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (closed Monday).
Asadero Super Buro
For all the big eaters, the Super Buro serves huge burritos and a favorite with locals and teens. The burritos almost fall of the edges of the oval plate they are served on. After seeing one pass my table, I ordered a couple of tacos instead (a tip for smaller eaters).
The chicken and steak are grilled at the edge of the patio so the entire seating area smells delicious. A divided serving dish accompanies the burritos and tacos mounded with pico de gallo, limes and a couple of salsas.
The atmosphere at Super Buro is very casual and attracts everyone from family groups to locals after work. Super Buro serves traditional Mexican beverages like Horchata and Jamaica along with Mexican beers and sodas.
Located at Calle Guillermo Fernandez, Blvd. Salvatierra, Obrera in Loreto. Open Thursday to Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. (closed Wednesday).
Located at the Hotel Oasis, the Restaurante Oasis offers an outdoor patio along with indoor seating for their breakfast, lunch and dinner service. The breakfast buffet offers lots of options, including local favorite chiliquiles. Though kids can find cereal along with lots of fresh fruit.
For dinner, the Restaurante Oasis feautures weekly specials like Clam Bake at dinner. Using local clams, the clams are served several ways, including cooked over the open fire on the beach. Another favorite, the Restaturante Oasis offers an Italian night.
Diners can enjoy their meals on the large patio facing the water or order a cocktail in the evening, next to the firepit. It is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Where to Stay in Loreto
Perched along the mocha colored sand beach on the Gulf of California, The Hotel Oasis offers a home base for visitors to Loreto on Baja California Sur. It is a favorite with return travelers along with Baja road trippers.
Loreto Malecon ends at the hotel, guests can explore along the broadwalk and see animals, like the seasonal whales. Visitors will enjoy rooms outfitted with a mini-fridge, a microwave, a fan along with coffeemaker and large TV. Each room features individual climate control along with a unique log vanity and basin. The glass-enclosed shower offers a rain showerhead.
Guests can enjoy the beach with its spectucular sunrises since the hotel faces east. Tthe heated pool offers a large sunning shelf and palapa. Charm exudes the Hotel Oasis with its blend of desert-hued tones and bursts of tropical color that mimic the surrounding landscape. The Oasis Hotel even offers a pet rooster that greets guests with his showy plumage. Birders will want to keep an eye to the many trees on the property to spot migratory birds.
Located at Calle Baja California E, P.º A. Lopez Mateos S/N, Centro, in Loreto.
Getting to Loreto, BCS
The Loreto International Airport (LTO) is a small airport, in fact, it offers four gates and no jet bridges. Travelers won’t find a duty-free area and the food is limited past security. For flights to the U.S., Alaskan Airlines offers service from Los Angeles (LAX) on a Boeing 737. American Airlines uses its American Eagle and flies Bombardier CRJs out of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.
Since all passengers must climb the jet stairs in and out of the aircraft with their luggage, those with small children and mobility concerns need to use extra caution.
For rental cars, Alamo, Enterprise and Hertz all rent vehicles from the airport. Though drivers need to ensure they reserve an automatic transmission if they can’t operate a manual. U.S. licenses are valid in Mexico.
Taxis are available though ride share services are not. Having a car in Loreto is more of a convenience and not necessary if staying in the immediate area, especially for travelers comfortable walking to nearby attractions in town, like the historic district or the marina for trip to Coronado Island.
Safety in Mexico
I felt safe to walk in the tourist areas with my son during the day. For the most up-to-state information about traveling around Mexico, consult the U.S. State Department travel advisories.
Pack layers. It’s the desert so temperatures range quite a bit during the day. So a fleece with a t-shirt and even a wind breaker for any boat expeditions. It’s a casual area, so baja-style works great.
Pack lots of small change in US Dollars. Like most of Mexico, the U.S. Dollar is excepted almost everywhere though change is returned in Mexican Pesos.
Hire a guide and make reservations early for boat trips.
Disclosure: This article was created after a Press Trip.
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