Loreto (pronounced LOW-REH-TOE with the accent on the second syllable) is a lovely small town, with a population of approximately 14,000 people. Located about 700 miles south of the Mexican/US border on the east side of the Baja California peninsula, it faces the magnificent Sea of Cortes. In Loreto we use the Mountain Time Zone, which is one hour earlier than California.
The weather in Loreto is typical northern hemisphere weather, for instance we have Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall at the same times of the year as Mainland US. The hottest months of the year are July, August and September, and things start cooling off again in early October.
Winter temperatures average 15 – 25C (55 - 75F);
Spring and Fall temperatures average 20 – 30C (70 - 90F)
Summer temperatures average 25 – 40C (80 – 105F)
The temperature of the seawater of the Sea of Cortes follows the seasonal changes as well. It is not unheard-of for the seawater temperatures to reach almost 30C or 90F in the summer months of August and September.
There are a large variety of activities to enjoy while you visit Loreto, for every interest and pocketbook.
Some of these include: kayaking, fishing, beachcombing, snorkeling, hiking, boat trips to the beautiful surrounding islands of Coronados and Carmen, mountain excursions to the historic village of San Javier, Mission Tours, museums….. and many more.
During the months of December thru February you can view up-close-and-personal the annual grey whale migration, which brings scores of these magnificent animals to us from thousands of miles north to bask in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortes and give birth to their next generation.
During the rest of the year it is common to view other types of whales, including pilot whales, finbacks, greys and of course our favourite Springtime visitors – the enormous Blue Whales. There are also large colonies of sea lions, sea turtles and large schools of dolphins.
Birdlife is varied and numerous – brown pelicans, petrels, blue-footed boobies, orioles, and herons, to name a few... An afternoon can be easily passed sitting somewhere watching the birds fly by!
There are a couple of discos in town and a few bars - there is definitely more ‘action’ than just a few years ago! Loreto does not have a movie theater nor a bowling alley, but none of us seem to miss either…
What we do have regularly are local ‘talent-type’ shows which feature singing and local traditional dances put on by the Casa de Cultura (Cultural Center), that are usually put on in the main square.
Also very popular here are the Drag Races – a 1/8 mile dirt track, Cock Fights, Horse Racing and Local Dances that feature live Mexican Bands. You need to enquire locally when you arrive, as these things are rarely announced much more than a week in advance.
SWAP MEET: One other relatively new activity here, which is becoming increasingly popular, is the Saturday morning Swap Meet (in Spanish ‘Tiangis’). The Swap Meet is typical in that it features a whole lot of stuff to spend your money on – some new, some used items – but is particularly popular with the locals because of the fresh meats (you can buy a whole goat!), fresh locally made cheeses, both cow and goat, and a large variety of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables.
What gets me up and moving around early on a Saturday morning are the ever-increasing numbers of small eateries that have sprung up amongst the other ‘treasures’ that you can find at the ‘Tiangis’. Fresh-made burritos, tacos, gorditos (just TRY one!), birria, menudo, pozole, burgers, hot dogs, and what would a day be without churros, a nieve de Garafa or a raspado???
Burrito – flour tortilla rolled with machaca (dried, then reconstituted beef, doesn’t sound like it, but it is delicious!) or beans and cheese - a national favourite for breakfast!
Gorditos – This is a fat corn tortilla, that is fried then sliced down the middle and stuffed with your choice of many different fillings – try one of each, but don’t miss the ‘rajas’, which is roasted chili poblanos with corn in a creamy sauce – killer!
Birria – a stew-soup made with goat or beef, in a chili Colorado broth. Nice and spicy, but not hot. Delicious, topped with chopped cilantro and onions.
Menudo – is a traditional early morning cure for a hang-over. Forgive me if I don’t make it sound too appetizing, since it isn’t my personal favourite – but the locals seem to love it! What it is is a tripe soup with hominy… give it a try!
Pozole – This is the world’s greatest soup –according to me! It is chunks of pork stewed in a chili Colorado broth with hominy - like menduo without the tripe! Topped with chopped onion, cilantro and the traditional squeeze of lime – yummy is all I cay say!
Churros – these are crunchy pencil – slim doughnuts, extruded from a machine, then fried and covered with sugar and cinnamon… no more needs to be said!
Nieve de Garafa - this is hand made ice cream – but WHAT ice cream - made with chunks of fresh fruit! They have four flavours daily – usually vanilla and a lime sherbet, but the other two flavours change depending upon the availability of the fresh fruit. Flavours most often encountered are strawberry, cantaloupe (called melon here), mango, banana, coconut, and coffee. Even if you don’t much like ice cream you should try one of these!
Raspados – Sort of like a slushi, it is shaved ice topped with a flavoured essence – your choice of nut, coco, tamarind, Jamaica, lime or horchata, with big chunks of fruit or nuts. Really thirst-quenching -these are a must-try!
RESTAURANTS - DRINKING WATER
We have great food in Loreto! Don’t be afraid to eat anywhere – from the hot dog or taco stand on the corner – to any of the more up-scale restaurants in town. And try something different – you will most likely find it delicious! I refrain from recommending particular restaurants because I think they are all worth a try - you can make up your own mind which is the best! But don’t forget that sometimes the best food (and best value) is found in the small off-the-back-kitchen-type restaurants!
Even though most folks drink bottled water here, you needn’t be afraid to drink the water straight from the tap. Our water supply comes from a series of aquifers (underground springs) in a valley north of Loreto, so is not ground water, like some other parts of Mexico. Our local water tends to have a bit of sediment and a bit of a mineral-y flavor, but it is safe to drink or to wash your fresh vegetables and fruit in.
Taxis are plentiful in Loreto or you can rent a vehicle while here. I often suggest that folks rent a car for a day while you are here, since there are many great places to explore within a couple of hours drive. Unless you are really planning on going off-road you won’t need to rent a 4X4 vehicle.
There is daily air service from LAX to Loreto International Airport, which is about 3 kilometers south of Loreto. Taxis are available at the airport to bring you to your rental home. You can also arrange for a rental car at the airport.
Loreto is still a very safe place to be. You need not fear to walk about, by yourself or in a group, day or night.
Bancomer is the one and only bank in Loreto. It is located in the downtown square in front of the Palacio (municipal Building). You can exchange currency inside the bank (the lineups are usually quite long – and don’t forget to take your PASSPORT!) or use your ATM card which is very convenient. I suggest using your ATM card, since the machine will give you your cash in pesos. Currently the exchange is running around 10.70 pesos to the US dollar, however in most shops they will exchange US dollars at 10 pesos to one dollar.
People often ask us what we do when we need a doctor… I usually respond with – ‘Uh, we go to the Doctor?’ Like is this a trick question? We have two hospitals, which are more like clinics, which have 24 hour service. An average visit to the Doctor will cost you about $20US. Serious medical emergencies are transferred to Cd. Constitucion 1 ½ hours south, or to La Paz, about 4 hours south. Currently there is a large new hospital being constructed in Loreto that they say will have more complete modern services.
INTERNET - WIRELESS SERVICES - TELEPHONE
There are several Internet Cafes in Loreto, which charge between 10 and 20 pesos per hour (1 and 2 dollars). Some of them allow you to take in your laptop and plug it in. We have high-speed DSL here, so no worries as far as getting connected.
Telephone service is easily available by buying a Telmex card and using it in a public telephone. The cost of calls to the US is around 30 cents per minute. However, if you plan on making more than a few calls, you are much better off to consider the following option: There is a company here called MOVISTAR that sells cellphones. You can buy a cellphone from them for around $40US. The phone comes with a $30 credit. With this cellphone you can call anywhere in the US or Canada for 11 pesos per 30 minutes. That is about a buck for a half hour. Cheap. Sure the phone only works when you are here in Mexico, but then, you were planning to come back soon anyway, weren't you?
We hope you have found this information helpful, and encourage you to contact us if you have any other questions! Welcome to Loreto!