Laid out in the shape of a Greek cross, Mission (Mision) Neustra Senora de Loreto is the centerpiece of topside Loreto. Established in 1697 by the Jesuit priest Juan Maria Salvatierra, this beautiful mission has undergone several attempts at restoration, but still retains a strongly rustic character. Located 84 miles south of Mulege, quiet streets lead to a wealth of outdoor activities. The town itself is located within one of Baja’s two national marine parks, the Parque Marino Nacional Bahia de Loreto. With an abundance of islands located near to shore, Loreto is the prime destination in the central region of Baja for snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and sailing. Must Sea’s Isla Carmen: One of the larger islands in the Central Gulf, this island is a favorite day trip for adventurers based out of Loreto. Only 8.5 miles (13.7 km) off of the coast of Loreto, and approximately 20 miles (32 km) long, this island is accessible even by kayak on calm days, affording tremendous possibilities for exploration. At its closest point, it is only 3.5 miles (5.6 km) from shore. Highpoints for scuba divers includes the possibility of seeing the giant black sea bass, especially along the deeper rocky sites along the Northern tip. Snorkelers may especially enjoy exploring the small islet on the West side of Carmen, Isla Cholla. Isla Coronado: Located only 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore, the small island of Isla Coronado is a popular destination for scuba diving, snorkeling, and sport fishing. The Southern end of Isla Coronado is very sandy and sheltered, providing a safe site for swimming and snorkelin. New scuba divers will be especially comfortable practicing here. Be careful wading in this bay, stingrays also enjoy the tranquil warm waters and sandy bottoms. The rest of the island is characterized with substantial rocky outcroppings where moray eels, parrotfish, and a wide variety of groupers and cabrillas are seen. The Eastern side of the island is especially known for the occasional visits by bigger pelagic species such as manta rays and whale sharks. Scuba divers may find these species in deeper water, but should be aware of currents as they venture away from the island. Isla Danzante: Lying roughly between the Southern tip of Isla Carmen and Puerto Escondido is the small island of Isla Danzante. Similar to the Northern tip of Isla Carmen, the Eastern side of this island possesses many large boulders and large steep drop-offs. Reaching significant depths quickly, scuba divers have reported frequent encounters with pelagic species and even scalloped hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna lewini, are sometimes seen in small schools at depths below 110 feet (33m).