Loreto  offers outdoor enthusiasts a rare combination of desert, water, and mountain activities, all of which you can pursue independently or through an experienced outfitter.
Loreto offers easy access to a string of islands offshore, including Isla del Carmen (18 km from Loreto, 8 km from Puerto Escondido), with several pleasant beaches. Arrange for a panga through any hotel that offers fishing trips or at the harbor at the north end of the malecón.
To launch your own small boat, head to the north end of the malecón, the Loreto Shores Villa and RV Park (www.loretoshoresvillasandrvpark.com ), or Playa Juncalito or Puerto Escondido, south of Loreto. Larger boats should anchor at the deeper and protected marina at Puerto Escondido. Boat launch fees run US$3 for Loreto (through the port captain’s office) and US$10 for Puerto Escondido.
The port captain’s offices are located in Loreto (tel. 613/133-0656, fax 613/133-0465, VHF radio channel 16) and at Puerto Escondido.
From Loreto, you can easily paddle to Isla Coronado or the north end of Isla Carmen. Puerto Escondido  is a better starting point for the trip to the southern or eastern shores of Isla Carmen, Isla Danzante, and Los Candeleros. Advanced kayakers might attempt to paddle all the way to Isla Monserrate or Isla Santa Catalina.
Loreto Kayak Tours (U.S. tel. 707/942-4550 or 800/398-6200, www.tourbaja.com ), also called Paddling South, is a Loreto-based operation with variety of multiday trips. Cofounders Trudi Angell and Douglas Knapp have been leading trips since 1983. Trudi graduated from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Baja course, while Doug has sailed the Sea of Cortez in a catamaran. They also organize mountain biking, horseback riding, and sailing trips.
Sea Kayak Baja Mexico (tel. 613/113-8262, www.seakayakbajamex.com ) is another option for multiday guided paddles, training, and rentals.
As a safety measure, the Loreto port captain asks kayakers to file a float plan for any overnight paddling trip.
Loreto  is not a wind sports destination per se, but a few pioneers report that winds are strong enough in winter to launch a kite from the beach in front of the Hotel Oasis (at the south end of Calle de la Playa/Blvd. López Mateos). As of press time, La Misión (Rosendo Robles) was planning to offer rental equipment.
You can set sail on the Sea of Cortez with Loreto Sailing (www.loretosailing.com.mx ). Services include sailing instruction, daytrips, and overnight charters.
Divers visit Loreto to explore rock reefs, seamounts, underwater caves, and a few wrecks around five nearby islands (Carmen, Coronado, Danzante, Monserrate and Catalina) in Parque Marítimo Nacional Bahía de Loreto . These waters support some 800 species, including dolphins, whales, sea lions, sea turtles, giant mantas, hammerheads, dorado, roosterfish, yellowfin tuna, and even seasonal whale sharks.
Water temperatures can exceed 27°C in summer and fall, dropping to 20–23°C in winter and spring. Visibility typically exceeds 15 meters and can reach 30 meters on the best of days.
Several shops lead guided dive trips and offer equipment rentals and instruction. Conveniently located a half block from the marina, Dolphin Dive Center (Juárez btw Davis/Mateos, tel. 613/135-1914, www.dolphindivebaja.com ) is a PADI shop that leads dive tours and courses. Two-tank boat trips to Carmen, Coronado, or Danzante cost US$120. Rinse stations for gear and cameras and a secure room for overnight drying minimize the number of times you’ll have to lug your gear across town. This outfitter also offers a special night dive to view the nearly two-meter-long Humboldt squid, which migrates through the area in summer and early fall. These unusual underwater adventures take place in a protective cage with surface-supplied air and cost US$200.
Arturo’s Sportfishing (tel. 613/135-0766, www.arturosport.com ) runs dive trips through 2M (Dos Mundos) Dive Center (tel. 613/135-0961, cell tel. 613/114-7128, www.bajadosmundos.com , 8 A.M.–1 P.M. and 4–7 P.M. Mon.–Sat.). Boats leave at 9 A.M. Dive-and-stay packages are available. Two-tank dives cost US$95–115, depending on the island you visit. Night dives are US$65 per person. A dive-gear rental package is US$20.
Located in the Hotel Junipero, Cormorant Dive Center (Hidalgo at Misioneros, tel. 613/135-2140) runs dive trips to Coronado, Carmen, and Danzante islands (US$95–115) as well as SSI Discover Scuba classes and whale-watching tours.
Anglers know Loreto  first and foremost for its summer dorado catch. A number of other game fish (yellowtail, marlin, roosterfish, yellowfin tuna, cabrilla, grouper, and sailfish) are also abundant, though less so these days than in decades past. Loreto-based fishing charters visit the islands offshore for shelter from wind and to access a variety of fishing environments. A day of fishing typically begins with a 6 A.M. departure from the marina, returning in the early afternoon.
Many hotels in town arrange fishing trips and offer activity packages that include accommodations. With more than 25 years of experience, Arturo’s Sport Fishing (Hidalgo, tel. 613/135-0766, www.arturosport.com ) has a staff of 20 and fleet of 17 boats. In 2008 it purchased new motors for its boats, upgraded its radio system, and added two new super-pangas to the lineup. Current price for a day of fishing in a super panga is US$285 for up to three anglers. Deluxe super-pangas run US$440 for four people, and cabin cruisers run US$550 for four people. Hotel Oasis also has its own fleet and serves an early breakfast at 5 A.M. Its prices (super-panga US$300/day, super-panga deluxe US$360/day) include fish filleting, vacuum packing, freezing, and taxes.
Record-setters bring their catch to The Baja Big Fish Company (Mateos, tel. 613/135-1603, www.bajabigfish.com ), Loreto’s official IGFA weighing station, on the Malecon, inside the Mediterraneo restaurant. Baja Big Fish leads conventional and fly-fishing trips in small groups. Panga fishing costs US$268 for up to two anglers, US$298–333 for up to three in a super- or deluxe super-panga. Half-day rates are US$150 for a standard panga and US$170 for a super-panga. Its Fly Shop is open 2–8 P.M. Monday–Saturday June–August. In the fall, you can stop in by appointment.
Based at the Tripui Trailer Park, Jose Torres Fishing Charters (tel. 613/104-4030, www.loreto.com/josetorres ) is run by a local fisherman who takes anglers, divers, and snorkelers out on a fleet of three pangas.
After many years of neglect, the 18-hole Campo de Golf Loreto (Blvd. Misión San Ignacio, Nopoló, tel. 613/133-0788) is in good condition at last. Greens fees are US$65 for 9 holes, or US$40 for nine holes. An electric cart costs US$36, pull carts are US$15, and Calloway clubs rent for US$25. Villa del Palmar has a new designer course under development at Ensenada Blanca , south of Loreto.
Las Flores Spa & Boutique (tel. 613/135-1162, U.S./Canada tel. 877/245-2860, www.spalasflores.com ) offers massage therapy, facials, and manicures/pedicures. Walk-ins are welcome.
La Misión also provides massage and body treatments at a poolside spa (US$50>–60 per hour). Norma’s Salon & Spa (Hildalgo btw Madero/Missioneros, tel. 613/135-0455, normas_salon [at] msn [dot] com) offers a 3.5-hour basic spa day package for about US$140.
Most of the outfitters that specialize in one activity also dabble in the others, so if you like your boat crew, you can probably go with the same shop to see the cave paintings or the gray whales. Most trips require a minimum of two or three people.
In addition to overnight paddling expeditions, Loreto Kayak Tours (U.S. tel. 707/942-4550 or 800/398-6200, www.tourbaja.com ) offers multiday horseback, mountain biking, and sailing trips as well as combination trips.
You can see San Javier by ATV tour through Cormorant Dive Center/Loretours (Hidalgo at Misoneros, tel. 613/135-2140, www.loretours.com , US$90). This outfitter also has Mongoose bikes for guided trips to San Javier (US$123) and Primer Agua (US$55).
Desert and Sea Expeditions (Hidalgo btw Colegio/Suarez, tel. 613/135-1979, www.desertandsea.com ) leads trips to San Javier , local cave painting sites, Pacific and Gulf-side whale-watching, and Coronado Island.
In addition to these trips, several organizations are supporting conservation efforts in the area and offer ways for visitors to get involved: Licensed gray whale watching guide and Wilderness First Responder Pancho Mayoral (panchomay [at] yahoo [dot] com) has been leading wilderness trips in the area since 1996. He is an outdoor educator for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and he recently began a sea turtle monitoring program.