Another popular escape for fishing and diving enthusiasts, Loreto is enjoying something of a renaissance. Some 138km down the coast from Mulegé, this was the site of the earliest permanent settlement in the Californias, founded in 1697 by Juan María Salvatierra as the first Jesuit mission to the region. Loreto served as the administrative capital of the entire California territory until a devastating hurricane struck in 1829 and La Paz took on the role. Eight kilometres south of town, the new “town” of Nopoló has evolved into the largely expat community of Loreto Bay, the largest residential development by a foreign builder in Mexico. Construction was placed on hold in 2009, in part due to the US recession, but once a new buyer is found it should provide a massive economic boost to the entire region (and support for the town through the Loreto Bay Foundation). Critics, however, claim that the project threatens to overwhelm the already limited water supply and Loreto’s delicate natural assets: Mexico’s largest marine park, Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto, lies just offshore, while the weathered landscapes of the Sierra de la Giganta provide a stunning backdrop.