La Paz, California Baja Sur
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
If you are looking for a quieter, non-touristy option to jet-set Cabo San Lucas, La Paz might be just the place for you. Years ago it took hours to drive from Cabo to La Paz, over dangerous, dirt roads. More recently, it took hours to drive past all the road detours and construction. Now, in just under two hours, you can scoot along the new, paved, and well-designed ‘freeway,' for the day, overnight or to spend the week, at this quieter option to Los Cabo.
La Paz enjoys a beautiful, 3-mile Malecón, spotlessly clean, adorned with interesting statues and nary a vendor (and scarcely a tourist) in sight. It’s a large city, (over 300,000) and the capital of the state of Baja California Sur. We strolled the Malecón several times during the day and evening, tried several of the restaurants across the street and enjoyed some beautiful sunsets.
The beaches that front the Malecón are not meant for swimming. La Paz is a commercial port, not primarily a tourist destination. However, if you head north around the point, you'll find some of the loveliest beaches in Baja California. One of our favorites is Playa El Tecolote. The restaurant there is pretty good and each time we've visited (usually on a weekday in October or November) the beach has been practically deserted. The water is a clear, beautiful turquoise and you can wade out quite a ways before it deepens. It's not the best snorkeling area, but it's great for walking or watching the petrels and pelicans from a beachside table at Restaurante Bar El Tecolote. Playa El Tecolote is about as far as you can go on the main, paved road. There are a few other beaches and restaurants along the way: Playa Balandra (serene and quiet; no facilities), and El Tesoro which has palapas, is family friendly and has a few places to eat.
There are at least two, not-to-miss, excursions in La Paz; swimming with whale sharks and swimming with sea lions. There are a number of vendors that will take you out to Isla Espiritu Santo for snorkeling and exploring adventures.
We hired Capt. Boa (Jose) and Negro, with Club de Playa de Tecolote, located next to the restaurant at Playa El Tecolote to see the sea lions and they did a great job! We left about 11:00 am, motoring through the beautiful blue water to Isla Partida.
As you can see from the pictures, you can get up close and personal with the Sea Lions. We weren't there for more than 20 minutes but it was plenty of time to do some snorkeling and take underwater photos. Next stop was Ensenada Grande, with blissfully, serene, clear, warm water for lounging or snorkeling. They brought umbrellas, drinks and snacks (shrimp ceviche, and smoked marlin) and we were able to stay there for about an hour. On the way back, we made one more snorkeling stop at a deep-water coral reef. Along the way Capt. Boa narrated in both English and Spanish and both our guides were friendly and fun to be with. We returned about 5:30 pm. It was a great value for the $55 per person/USD!
An exciting, new adventure for us was swimming with the Whale Sharks. We decided on the early morning excursion, meeting our guide at about 8:30 am in the marina area. We hired Benjamin Duarte, a very knowledgeable gentleman who does a wide variety of snorkel, scuba and kayak adventures. We motored out about one-half hour to surprisingly, shallow water where whale sharks were in abundance. The water was a little murky so sometimes you couldn't see them until they were right next to you! It was a little difficult to take underwater photos, simply because they move fairly quickly and they're so big it's hard to fit them in the frame. Benjamin has some great photos on his facebook page and I've included a few here. I would absolutely do this again.
If you Google the ‘Top Ten things to do in La Paz’, you'll see that they have trouble coming up with ten different adventures, but there is an abundance of things to see and do out at Isla Espiritu Santo, including snorkeling, diving, kayaking and sailing. Whale watching is popular in the winter months. The north side beaches are a beach-lovers paradise and walking, jogging and sunset viewing from the Malecon, particularly in the evening (when it's cooler), is a relaxing way to spend the time. There are very few "tourist" shops, although La Paz does have a mall, anchored by Liverpool, if you are stretched for something to do. If you really want to get away from it all, then by all means, spend a week in La Paz. However, if you want a little more excitement out of your Cabo vacation, then I highly recommend taking a day trip or overnight trip to La Paz from Cabo.
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