Loreto is the site of the first Californian Mission (founded in 1697 by Salvatierre) and is the start of the Camino Real – the old road up the Californian coast that originally linked the missions.
Today Loreto is a very pleasant place to spend a couple of days. It has plenty of amenities, a small harbour, good seafront and an attractive central district, which though catering for tourists (there is an airport here and plenty of condos) doesn’t feel too developed. There is a marine park offshore and a few dive operators offering diving in the park. We are tempted until I find out that the visibility is currently only 10 feet and the water temperature a chilly 55F. It’s also 170 usd for a 2 tank dive which is pricey.
Instead we take a boat trip out to Coronado island, an extinct volcano about 30 minutes by boat from the marina. The island is not inhabited and is a haven for birds (mainly pelicans and turkey vultures) and home to a sea lion colony. The rock scenery is impressive, particularly where the lava flows have solidified on reaching the sea. We moor up at the main beach so
we can snorkel, it’s OK but not brilliant so expect we made the right call with the diving here.
Between Loreto and St Ignacio we stop at Mulege for 2 nights. It’s still one of the traditional villages but somehow doesn’t have the charm of St Ignacio or the appeal of Loreto. Our hotel had a pleasant garden with hammocks and hummingbirds, but we reckon it’s overpriced as the rooms are basic and the price solidly mid-range.
The Mission in Mulege is on a hill overlooking the village and a lagoon/river which attracts Frigate birds which we see swooping down into the water – I assume to drink. There is a museum here in the old prison. The building had character and the museum holds a very ecletic mix of artefacts. From Mulege it's a 3km walk to the coast. There isn't much to see and this isn't the best beaches in this area so doesn't attract many visitors but it's worth the walk and there are plenty of pelicans and vultures.
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