Jaw-dropping landscapes, beautiful beaches, whale sharks, and food to die for: discover what to do in La Paz, Mexico, and why you should add this destination to your Mexico itinerary.
While Cabo San Luca is the most popular destination in Baja California, the city of La Paz deserves a visit in its own right. Surrounded by the Sierra Laguna mountains on one side, the Gulf of California and the Sea of Cortez on the other, La Paz offers warm and sunny weather throughout the year, perfect for exploring the old town and its surrounding.
La Paz is accessible via a short two-hour flight from California or a three-hour drive from the international airport in San Jose del Luca. Or why not combine the beach time with a visit to Mexico City? There are daily flights from Mexico City to San Jose del Luca.
What to Do in La Paz
Away from the busy touristy Cabo spot, La Paz is a great place to enjoy the traditional Mexican culture. Here is a list of the best things to see in the city.
Visit La Paz Historic Center
Though the city was first seen by Hernan Cortez in 1535, there was no population to speak of until 1811. A Jesuit mission settlement exited from 1720 to 1750, but the harsh desert conditions and opposition from the native community meant little developed occurred during these years. The historic center of La Paz is easily walkable and can be explored in one day.
One of the main attractions is the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de La Paz built by the Dominicans in 1861. Other sightseeing includes the Calle de 16 Septiembre, the Tamal Gallery, and the Museo de Antropologia y Historica. The Museo de la Ballena hosts an impressive life-like skeleton that gives an idea how colossal whale sharks can be. Stop at the Palacio de Gobierno to admire local artists exposing their arts and crafts.
Stroll Down the Malecon
One of the best things to do in La Paz and a favorite for locals and visitors alike, the Malecon waterfront is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) long, built along the Paseo Alvaro Obregon. From Sunday joggers to families, or romantic couples under the sunset colors, the Malecon is the place to be in La Paz. You can also rent bikes if you want to cycle along the famous waterfront.
Swim With Whale Sharks
The Sea of Cortez is renowned for its marine life, among which the whale sharks are probably the most famous. Between November and March, go sailing for the day, or embark on a multi-day cruise and try snorkeling for a chance to meet one of these gentle giants. Make sure to select a boat operation that respects the marine reserve regulations, including not getting too close to the animals, and not chasing after them.
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Don’t Miss the Beautiful Espiritu Santo Island
Several whale-watching operations combine whale shark snorkeling with a visit to the Espiritu Santo Island, where you can snorkel with sea lions. Even if you are not landing, sailing the Sea of Cortez is a top experience in La Paz.
Relax at Balandra Beach
La Paz has several lovely beaches easily accessible within an hour-drive, should you need a relaxing break. Balandra Beach is probably the most swim-friendly one thanks to its sheltered location. You can choose to just lay on the beach watching large groups of pelicans, frigates, and even blue-footed boobies flying around and fishing in the little bay. Or kayak the small lagoon up to the sea opening, or deep in the mangroves. There stay still and observe egrets, herons, and other migratory birds.
As you step into the shallow waters of the Balandra Bay, watch for the occasional stingrays. Note that the mouth of the bay can be challenging due to strong waves and winds during stormy weather.
Dive in the Sea of Cortez
Made famous by world-diver Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez is indeed renowned for fantastic diving. From healthy reefs, wrecks, to large marine animals like dolphins and mantas. Espiritu Santo island has been listed a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1995 and is considered one of the best-preserved world sanctuaries. The best time to dive and enjoy clear visibility is between May and October.
Attend a Mexican Cooking Class
Learn to cook your own Mexican meals with a cooking class. The school Buen Provecho offers courses in and around La Paz at various times of the year. Definitely one of the best things to do in La Paz, Mexico.
Go Horseback Riding
Several ranches provide horseback riding opportunities through a desert landscape of cacti, passing by the ocean and small fishing villages. An excellent way to experience rural Mexico, and see how generations of ranchers have lived in Baja California.
What better place to learn Spanish! Classes are available at El Nopal Spanish Academy to improve your español and start interacting with the locals. The perfect way to explore a new culture and discover new traditions.
Eat! It’s Seafood Galore
Being so close to the ocean, La Paz enjoys excellent fish and seafood. Try a lobster fresh from the morning catch, or some of the chocolate clams fishermen sell on street corners.
Enjoy the Nightlife
La Paz is not a party town or a spring break destination like Cabo San Luca or San Jose del Luca. However, many restaurants and bars stay open late and offer live music and concerts throughout the evenings.
We hope this article was useful to discover what to do in La Paz, Mexico! La Paz was a definite little gem in Baja California, and a great alternative to busy and touristy Cabo San Luca. Perfect for families looking to explore the nearby outdoors, for romantic couples in search of a quiet getaway, and for those interested in traditional Mexican culture.