My favorite restaurant was Canipole, which has no menu, no roof, and an open kitchen, and provides traditional blankets for diners to wear when temperatures fall. The guacamole was made tableside, followed by the daily special, which almost always includes some divine mole.
El Rey del Taco is so popular it routinely runs out of food while those hungry for lunch still wait in line.
Mezzaluna has terrific empanadas and salads (all the restaurants here cook with bottled water), while Mexico Lindo Y Que Rico had great chili rellenos and a 7-foot (2-meter) shark sculpture beaded in a classic Huichol style to depict scenes of Loreto and the surrounding mountains.
The best beaches are a short drive from Loreto, but the roads are good and the travel easy.
Twenty miles (30 kilometers) south is the community of Ensenda Blanca, which undoubtedly has the most spectacular views of the marine park.
We accessed the beach through a time-share property, the Villas Del Palmar. It sells a visitor pass for $65 per person, which includes unlimited food and drinks, and use of the pools and beach from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
However, since the beach in Mexico is public property, we decided not to get the pass, and instead bought lunch from the resort restaurant. Security kept a watchful eye but no one interfered as we headed to the beach, where we rented kayaks and a stand-up paddleboard from the resort concession.
Closer to Loreto, a mere 5 miles (8 kilometers) south, is the town of Nopolo, where investors in 2004 envisioned a 6,000-home tourist community along with shops and a golf course. The course, a few hundred homes and the Inn at Loreto Bay were built before the project stalled in the recession.
We used the hotel to access the 4-mile (6.5-kilometer) beach, but stayed only briefly as it hadn't been raked and the watersport rental shack was unstaffed. The lack of attention was surprising since the hotel was purchased a few months ago by Carlos Slim, one of the world's richest men.
His move into Loreto has sent quivers of excitement through the local tourist establishments, who hope he can revitalize the development. So far, Slim's presence is subtle, with the renaming of the hotel to the Loreto Bay Golf Resort and Spa.
Whether Slim will do for tourism here what past development efforts have not remains to be seen. But whatever his plans, I certainly hope he keeps the "magic" in Loreto.
If You Go...
LORETO, MEXICO: http://www.visitmexico.com/en/loreto Located on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Alaska Airlines and Delta fly nonstop to Loreto from Los Angeles.