Loreto feels like somewhere between an old and new world. Linger along cobblestone streets, past shops selling pottery and a centuries-old mission to find local teenagers practicing a hip-hop act in the square. Perhaps sit at an outdoor cafe to try some local craft beer or stroll along the malécon (beach promenade) where an old man hobbles along with a cane and young women jog by in the latest workout gear. Out in that blue water is a water-sports paradise and the magnificent Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto, where the shoreline, ocean and stunning offshore islands are protected from pollution and uncontrolled fishing.
Anthropologists believe the Loreto area to be the oldest human settlement on the Baja Peninsula. Indigenous cultures thrived here due to plentiful water and food. In 1697 Jesuit Juan María Salvatierra established the peninsula’s first permanent mission at this modest port backed by soaring mountains.