Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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Find the best place to stay — Loreto

Lovely Loreto doesn't disappoint

Visions of old Baja California still spill from the cracked stone walls of the 17th-century mission in Loreto. But that's just one clue to the long past of the town, where experts think humans have been enjoying the mild climate, abundant waters and fertile land since long before the European conquistadores landed in the Americas. These days, Loreto is cool, calm and collected. Touting the shimmering bays of its own national park, whale watching aplenty and some chic Loreto vacation rentals, it's a staple of the Baja's line-up. Yoga retreats, beaches and SCUBA outfitters only bolster what's on offer.

Languishing in Loreto's water

As Loreto spills into the Gulf of California, it's easy to see how the place could be a magnet for watersports and water-based adventure. All protected, the coastal islets of Danzante and Monserrate and Carmen make some seriously awesome territory for SCUBA diving. There's whale watching aplenty there, too _ book your Loreto vacation rental in the main migration season between December and March to spot the grays and blue whales. Glimpses of dolphins and sea lions are also possible on a Mexican marine safari in these parts.

Colonial glimpses in Loreto

Loreto vacation rentals aren't just a springboard to some of the Baja's most acclaimed marine reserves and islets. They are also a gateway to one of its most historic towns _ or, at least, one of its oldest. The Mission Loreto stands in the heart of the city today. Dating from the late 1600s, its grand tower sprouts above the palm-shaded squares. You can go inside the adjoining museum to unravel the culture and past of the Baja region, with bilingual exhibits in English and Spanish.

Loreto's changing faces

Loreto's seasons will determine what sort of holiday you have here. For lazing in the scorching tropical temperatures by the edge of the California Gulf or the side of a private pool, the summer months between June and August could be right. For seeing whales in the Sea of Cortez, the migrations between December and March are better. Spring is a favorite with sport fishers, and offers a fine balance between crowds and accommodation prices.

Loreto means wonders in the sea

Loreto's main natural draw is surely its vast marine reserve. A national park and a protected swath of the Gulf of California, it spreads out on the south-eastern edge of town. SCUBA divers and boaters go there to see the unique array of curious life underwater _ not least of all whales and dolphins. There are a series of islands where cacti groves spill into the sea, and loads of coves with crystal-clear waters to snorkel through. Shimmering beaches await on Coronado and del Carmen _ keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles drifting through the shallows.