La Paz: The Perfect Introduction to Mexico

La Paz beach

La Paz, a small city on the Sea of Cortez on the lower Baja Peninsula, just might be the perfect family vacation spot or first time destination for anyone wanting to visit Mexico.

La Paz is a port city with a vibrant local culture, that just happens to be near one of the most beautiful islands on the planet and near some stunning beaches. It is a city that has tourists, but isn’t a tourist town. It is a fun place with some authentic Mexican culture. Let me tell you about it.

La Paz, Mexico

The Malecon

My favorite place in La Paz is the Malecon. Each evening, after the blazing tropical sun finally slips below the horizon, the wide pedestrain street on the waterfront, known as the Malecon, bursts to life. Joggers, bikers, skateboarders and walkers come out in force to join the tourists and families enjoying the sunset.

Along the Malecon is a collection of bars, restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops that are reasonably priced and offer great food. The Malecon was one of my favorite places for people watching in all of Mexico and a terrific place to watch a sunset.

Beaches

There several are beaches in and around La Paz, but to enjoy some really stunning beaches you need to go north of town.

Playa Balandra, 14 miles away, offers a shallow cove and clear water in a calm, perfect setting. One mile past Balandra is Playa Tecolote, which has a few beach bars where you can eat and drink under a palapa and gaze out to Isla Espiritu. It is pure bliss.

And if you are restless like me, you can hike the mountainous peninsula between the two beaches and explore cactus studded desert and find totally isolated stretches of sand. After all that desert hiking, a Corona on the beach is really nice.

Isla Espiritu

Espiritu Santo Beach

Isla Espiritu is truly one the most spectacular islands on Earth. It is a mountainous, starkly beautiful, uninhabited island dotted with towering cactus and ringed by pristine beaches. We did a day trip in which we snorkeled with sea lions, swam with whale sharks and had lunch on one of the aforementioned perfect beaches. Luckily, it is a national park so there are no resorts there.

There are no big resorts in La Paz

Speaking of resorts, the La Paz town center lacks the sprawling resorts of Cancun or Cabo. It is possible to stay in boutique hotels or small guesthouses. We got an apartment on Air BnB, with a large kitchen, balcony, living room, and swimming pool, which turned out to be a great deal. It was a perfect way to save some money and have the convenience to eat some meals at home.

Cruise ships don’t go there

Enough said.

La Paz is safe and friendly

Many people are concerned about safety when going to Mexico, which is understandable based on the media coverage of the country. Mexico in general is surprisingly safe for visitors and La Paz is extra safe. Driving a rental car in the area or exploring the town on foot is totally fine. In addition, the locals are very friendly and helpful.

So, next time you are in Mexico or thinking of a sunny get away, go to La Paz and thank me later.


Have you been to La Paz? 

Do you have any other recommendations for Mexico?


 

Note:  I should say that no one is paying me to give all this effusive praise, but if anyone in the La Paz tourism office wants to cut me a check, I will happily accept hit.

To see more of my posts about Mexico, click here.

30 Comments on “La Paz: The Perfect Introduction to Mexico

  1. Jeff…now I’m really upset, because I never went to Espiritu Santo. But luckily I LOVE…really LOVE…every thing Mexican–pinatas, cevice, Dos Equis. I may have been Mexican in a past life. I will return, if only to visit the isla bonita.
    I did take the ferry to La Paz and then moved on to Cabo…but this was in the early 80’s, and there were only one or two paved roads in Cabo.
    If I were to recommend other places, I would say go to Yelapa. They call it an island in Puerto Vallarta when trying to sell you tickets, but Yelapa is actually on the coast, but only reachable by boat. And I would recommend San Cristobal de las Casas, near Guatamala.

    • I think I may have been Mexican too. I love the food, culture, language and the beer too much not to have been. Maybe we were amigos in our past Mexican lives?

      Thanks for the tips. Yelapa sounds like my kind of place, if you can’t reach it without boat.

      The baja has no doubt changed a lot if it was only dirt roads then. There is a lot of good road there now.

      • Shouldn’t you be sleeping? Isn’t it dark all the time there now?
        You’d surely like Yelapa…the bay was an old pirates hangout. You and I probably hid out on our frigates in the harbor there after plundering.

  2. The beaches look truly stunning. I guess it’s a great place for diving and snorkeling. The boulevard looks very alive. Well described, but also wonderfully photographed!

    Happy Monday!

    Kind regards,
    Tieme

    • It is a great place for snorkeling, diving and fishing. There are also great hikes in the mountains but you need to have desert survival skills. It is a great place for the outdoors. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Yeah, La Paz… I loved it there. Like you say, it’s great for tourists but not an obnoxious tourist town. I was disappointed by the restaurants along the Malecon though – all very geared towards western tourists, overpriced, and pretty much the same. Walk 15 minutes north and there are better & cheaper options.

    I definitely want to return to that area. My 5 day kayaking trip at Espiritu Santo was very worthy of a repeat.

    • I can only imagine how awesome a kayaking trip would be around the island. That area is unreal.

      The places on the Malecon were hit or miss, but we found some superb places to eat that were a fraction of the prices in Cabo!

  4. Espiritu Santo sounds amazing! Snorkeling with sea lions? Too cool! Beaches and desert, what more could anyone ask for!

  5. Jeff we are just in the process of booking a sea kayaking trip in this area! I’m so happy to read your post about La Paz. We start in Loreto and finish in La Paz. How’s that for a coincidence?

  6. I have never been to Mexico, but after reading this post La Paz is firmly on my list. The Malecon sounds like a great place to hang out and I am glad to hear it is a safe place to visit. The beaches look so beautiful and sunny it has given me a “virtual” sun boost, since the dark and gloomy weather in the UK is gettind me down. Thank you😀

    • Mexico is great. When you consider the beaches and mountains, colonial cities and ancient ruins, people and food, it has to be one of the top 5 countries in the world. It is a great place to be this time of year when it is dark and cold up north!

  7. A few years back (like about 10 I think) Don and I spent a week at a friend’s place in Buenavista – barely a village on one of those deserted beaches you talk about, a couple of hours south of La Paz. We did a day trip to La Paz and I remember the Malacon. Now I wish we’d had more time there. You make the town and surrounding attractions sound very enticing. Meanwhile we are settling into lovely San Miguel. Mexico is wonderful!
    Alison

    • I am marginally jealous that you are in San Miguel for the winter. Had I not just been to Mexico I’d be very jealous.

      The entire southern peninsula is really amazing. We did a day drop over to Todos Santos on the Pacific Coast and the prices tripled though! I think on the Sea of Cortez coast it is still chill and cheap.

  8. We were in La Paz a few years back when we did a kayaking/camping trip on Isla Espiritu Santo. We didn’t get to spend too much time in the city, but your assessment is right on as far as I remember. All of your Mexico posts make me want to spend some more time exploring the whole country!

    • I am glad we spent and extended time there. There is so much to see and do. I feel like when you consider the colonial cities, beaches, mountains, ancient ruins, jungles and culture, Mexico has to be one of the top 5 countries in the world to visit.

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