Did you know Ventura has a Sister City?

In 2015, Loreto City Council and Buenaventura (Ventura) City Council voted unanimously to approve a Sister City relationship. Loreto and Ventura’s mayors exchanged Keys to their cities, expressing enthusiasm about potential opportunities for both cities in areas of cultural, historical, and economic exchange, and eco-tourism. Ventura’s Mayor Heitmann celebrated the historic, cultural, religious, and natural resources common to both cities, and the exchanges that will benefit both municipalities. Curious what those might be? Keep reading to find out.

Why Loreto?

Something special has to be shared between two cities to call them Sisters, and Loreto and Ventura share everything between our local culture, history, and natural environment.

A Cultural Twin

downtown Loreto BCS

Loreto is a vibrant, beachside community home to 17,000 people. Perched on the east coast of Baja California, facing the Sea of Cortez, Loreto prides itself on its friendly, down-to-earth, artistic community, its beautiful historic districts, pristine natural park, and great local food. Sound familiar? Just like Ventura, visitors come to Loreto to experience the native and colonial history, trek the islands, and paddle the bay. Good food, good people, and good weather are abound every day of the year on this strip of Baja California. No wonder Loreto and Ventura are considered “Sisters.”

A Linked History

Not only are Loreto and Ventura Sister Cities, but our missions are Sister Mission Covenants, too. Just like Ventura was home for generations to the Chumash Native Americans, Loreto was inhabited by the Pericúes aboriginal people long before Spanish colonizers arrived. Over 300 years ago, Loreto became the first Spanish settlement on the Baja California Peninsula and the starting point for the historic El Camino Real corridor–the Spanish mission’s northward route from Mission of Our Lady of Loreto in Baja to Sonoma, California. It was from Loreto that Father Junipero Serra, who established the Mission San Buenaventura, planned his journey north.

An Ecological Mirror

Blue whale at Loreto Bay National Park

Loreto is also home to the protected islands of Loreto Bay National Park and over 800 species of marine life. This marine sanctuary boasts five unique islands, each jam-packed with untouched nature, protected wildlife, trekking, camping, and scuba opportunities, and organisms dating from the Pleistocene–much like our own Channel Islands. Just like Ventura is committed to protecting its vulnerable natural spaces, so too is Loreto. Officialized by President Obama, there is now a Sister National Parks relationship between Channel Islands National Park in Ventura and Loreto Bay National Park that will provide extensive opportunities to share science, research conservation and eco-tourism programs, and sustainable growth efforts.

Gray whale watching in Lopez Mateo

What is a Sister City?

A Sister City relationship is one formed between two cities in different countries. The idea was first introduced by President Eisenhower in 1956, who promoted links between citizens of different countries in an effort to bring about citizen diplomacy and build global cooperation at a local level. Cities can have more than one sister city; Chicago is currently leading the pack with 28 sister cities, followed by Los Angeles with 25. A Sister City is officially recognized once the highest elected official from each city signs an agreement.

Why is it beneficial to have a Sister City?

Sister Cities support and cross-promote one another, encouraging their locals to visit, sharing mutual goals, and exchanging arts, culture, trade, and policy. This relationship helps to put both cities on the map, so to speak, and fosters a greater sense of a global community and mutual responsibility. Sister Cities are all about celebrating what makes us similar, and honoring what makes us different.

What are the objectives of Sister City relationships?

Sister City relationships are mutually beneficial and may address several different aspects of community development:

Business and trade. Sister City programs create connections with international municipal officials, institutions, and businesses. These connections build trust, access, and expertise that help local businesses find new opportunities such as access to new markets, assistance navigating import/export regulations, and expanding the availability of resources.

Arts and culture. Cultural exchanges are some of the oldest international partnerships around. By sharing each other’s cultures, communities can gain insight into the history, values, and spirit that make up their sister city. Exchanges may take different forms including musical performances, art exhibits, peace parks and gardens, and international cultural festivals.

Policy development. Sister City relationships have helped cities implement innovative policies and management techniques in sanitation, water, health, transportation, tourism, economic development, and education.

Community service. Sister City partnerships may help each other during natural disasters or other emergencies by raising funds or collecting needed supplies. Sister cities may also support schools and clinics through the donation of materials or skills-training.

Diplomacy and education. Opportunities for international and diplomacy experience for youth is also a benefit of Sister City relationships. Ventura has just begun its educational exchange between students at Will Rogers Elementary School and students at Escuela Primaria 25 de Octubre de 1697. This opportunity will open the doors for language and cultural experiences between the children at both schools. The program provides a unique opportunity for youth to travel abroad and experience another community as a guest, rather than a tourist. Activities often include short- and long-term student exchanges and sports tournaments.

Ventura Sister City Loreto

Ways to support our Sister City…

Visit! Be a part of cultural communication, diplomacy, and exchange by visiting Loreto, or by welcoming Loreto’s visitors here. If you love the Channel Islands, you will love Loreto Bay, and visiting helps promote and preserve these beautiful spaces. Patronizing local businesses helps stimulate the economy, and chatting it up with locals is just one small part of making our worlds closer, friendlier, and more open.

See it for yourself!

Travel with us to one of the oldest settlements on the Baja peninsula, a city with more than 300 years of history— rich in culture and beauty— and the Sister City to Ventura.
Loreto is nestled between the Sea of Cortez and the majestic backdrop of the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range. Studding the oceanic landscape are the cities of Coronado, Del Carmen, Danzante, Montserrat and Santa Catalina islands, making up the Loreto Bay National Park.

With breathtaking cliffs, spectacular beaches and dramatic rock formations, these islands are a perfect landscape for the ecologically-minded or those who delight in a vast array of marine life. Loreto also offers sport-fishing, golfing, diving, surfing, sailing, mountain biking or rappelling.
Immerse yourself in the Mexico of legends and colonial splendor as you wander the winding streets of this little gem, absorbing the atmosphere, and the sites and sounds of yesteryear.

It was in Loreto that Father Junipero Serra began laying the groundwork for the evangelization of Alta and Baja California. Part of our tour will be the mission, the first developed on the El Camino Real corridor going north along the ancient route to Sonoma, California.

Where the past meets the future, this tour not only offers a peek into history, it also offers the opportunity to meet community leaders, learn more about the government and politics of Loreto and the Sister City relationship.

Leave the hustle and bustle behind as you relax and enjoy this small fishing village with its laidback appeal.

Planning is underway for biannual visits to Loreto including hotel and non-stop flights from LAX. If you are interested in learning more, contact Stephen Joyce at 805-218-1962.

For more information on Ventura’s sister city relationship with Loreto, or to join the sister city committee, please contact Fiorella at fiorella@visitventuraca.com.

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