About Loreto


 

Loreto History

 

The town of Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico is located on the world’s longest peninsula and faces the Sea of Cortes. It was founded in 1697 at a site of perennial spring water by a small group of Spanish soldiers and Jesuit missionaries led by Father Juan María de Salvatierra. At the time, natives populated the land:  Monqui Indians in the immediate vicinity; Cochimi to the north; Guayacura and Pericú to the south. Loreto became the Spanish capital of the Californias, both Alta California (todays the state of California, U.S.), and Baja California (today the two states of Baja California and Baja California Sur, Mexico).

 

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Loreto’s Catholic mission was the la cabesa y madre de las missions ~ the head and mother of the missions. The Jesuits moved north to Bahía San Luis Gonzaga, establishing a total of 21 missions and visitas (smaller "visiting chapels”), although not all were permanent. The missions gave Spain a valuable toehold in this frontier land, and introduced European livestock, fruits, vegetables and industry into the region. As the Jesuits became too powerful, however, King Carlos III of Spain ordered their expulsion and replacement by Franciscans in this new Spanish kingdom. In 1767, he appointed soldier and explorer, Don Gaspar de Portolá, as governor of Las Californias charged with the Jesuits’ expulsion. Portolá led Franciscans in setting set up their own network of 21 additional missions in Alta California, extending Spanish control far to the north. The expedition departed from Loreto on March 24, 1769.

 

Loreto served as the capital of the province of both Californias, Baja and Alta, from its founding in 1697 until 1777 when the Spanish capital was moved to Monterey in Alta California. Spain continued to control this Pacific kingdom until Mexico’s successful revolt against Spain in 1821. Under Mexican rule, Loreto’s prominence waned politically, and Loreto became a sleepy little fishing village on the edge of the Sea of Cortes, left to develop very slowly on its own over the next 150 years.

 

In 1973 and 1974, two transformative developments occurred: the completion of the peninsula’s Transpeninsular Highway, and the creation of the state of Baja California Sur. The Transpeninsular Highway, which runs 1063 miles from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, opened Loreto to easy vehicular access for the first time. Prior to this, Loreto was accessed primarily as a sea port or by small planes.  On the heels of this new highway came the creation of  Baja California Sur as the last of Mexico’s 31 states ~ the second smallest state by population. Today Loreto serves as the government seat of one of the state’s five municipalities: Loreto, Comondú, Mulegé, La Paz, and Los Cabos.


The last four decades have seen the opening of Loreto as a center of tourism and sport fishing. Increasing awareness and appreciation of the beauty of Loreto, and its rich history and natural environment, has spotlighted the town as a mecca for eco-tourism ~ kayaking, whale-watching, photography, and multi-day mule-pack-rides in La Sierra de la Giganta west of town. Offshore, the five islands in Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto serve as aquatic destinations in close proximity in the Sea of Cortes. Loreto welcomes visitors to partake in all the town has to offer.


Punta Chivato


 

"Hidden Gem".  Punta Chivato is a small community of homes and lots located on beautiful 8 mile long white sand beach, with a private airstrip located on the Sea of Cortes. The waters of the World’s Aquarium sparkle offshore, and invite swimming, snorkeling, diving, and boating in any kind of craft you can handle.  It’s  just a few miles outside the quaint town of Mulege, and within easy driving distance of historic Loreto and its international airport, the oasis mission town of San Ignacio, and the famous cave paintings left by the Baja’s original inhabitants.

The entire community is off grid (all homes use solar power), but there is water from an aquafir pumped into the homes. There is a small inn on site for drinks or a meal, or to handle you overflow guests, who’ll want to kick back in this one-of-a-kind setting and relax into the feeling of Old Baja.  

 

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