Less known than Cabo San Luca, this little gem is nestled on the Peninsula of Baja California Sur. Featuring a desert climate, La Paz offers a dry, warm and sunny weather most of the year. Situated at the end of an extension of the Sierra Laguna, the city is circled by tall mountains bordered by the Gulf of California and the Sea of Cortez. For those interested in Mexican culture, but want to be away from the hustle of touristy Cabo, La Paz is the perfect base for exploring Baja California. The city can be reached on a two-hour flight from San Francisco or a three-hour drive from San Jose del Luca International Airport. Find out our list of Top 10 Things to Do in La Paz.
Visit the Historic Center of La Paz
Visited by Hernan Cortez in 1535, the area was not populated until 1811, even though a Jesuit mission settlement was briefly built and occupied from 1720 to 1750. The desert conditions and the Indian opposition made it hard for the land to be developed.
The pearl diving industry helped La Paz develop from mid-19th century to mid 20th-century and set the city as the capital of Baja California Sur since 1830. This brought the different architecture of the historical buildings in La Paz. La Paz’ historical area can be easily walked around, with very manageable hills.
Make sure to check the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de La Paz built by the Dominicans in 1861, the Museo de la Ballena, the Museo de Antropologia y Historica, the Tamal Gallery, the Calle de 16 Septiembre, and the Palacio de Gobernio which features local artists. Read more about walking through La Paz Historic Center.
Walk along the Malecon
Built along the Paseo Alvaro Obregon, the 5-km long Malecon is a popular place for locals and visitors alike. Families stroll on a Sunday afternoon. Joggers run in the early hours of the day. Couples go on romantic walks under the sunset. In short, the Malecon is a must-see while in La Paz.
Take a Mexican Cooking Class
Buen Provecho cooking and culture classes in the village of San Bartolo, which is an hour and a half drive from La Paz or two hours by bus. Classes last 5 hours and are offered from December to mid-March, for US$85 per class. El Nopal Spanish Academy offers a class in downtown La Paz once a month for US$20 per class.
Go Horseback Riding through Cacti
Rancho El Cajon is a 30-min drive north of La Paz and settled within fields of cacti. An authentic Mexican ranch, horses are let free most of the time on the property and are gathered upon demand for riding. The horses are full of characters but friendly and for all levels of riding experience. The rides go through miles of cacti and go by the ocean, giving the opportunity to visit small fishing villages and to gallop on the beach.
Snorkel with Whale Sharks
One of the top activities while in La Paz, snorkeling with the whale sharks is a must-do between November and March. More about our snorkeling with the whale sharks outing coming soon.
Cruise to Espiritu Santo Island
Whales travel in the winter to the warmer waters of the Sea of Cortez and the Golf of La Paz. Whale watching cruises can be done for a day or as a multi-day cruise. Cruises can be also taken to see the Espiritu Santo Island.
Kayak at Balandra Beach
About 45 min north of La Paz, the small beach of Balantra is protected and free of motorboats. Kayaks can be rented by the hour to discover the bay, reaching out to the sea or into the inland mangroves. During stormy days, the mouth of the bay can present challenges with strong wind, waves, and currents. The mangrove area will offer an opportunity to see herons, egrets, and other birds. In any case, large groups of pelicans, frigates, and even blue-footed boobies are present in Balantra Bay. Stingrays sometimes flock the Bay so one should be careful stepping in the shallow waters. Another popular kayaking destination is around Espiritu Santo Island.
Dive the Sea of Cortez
Named the “Aquarium of the World” by world-famous Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez offers great diving spots. Reefs, and wrecks, and even a chance to see mantas, dolphins, and other big animals. Visibility is best from May to October. Enjoy a day boat trip to Espiritu Santo island. One of the best-preserved sanctuaries in the world, the island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1995. A highlight when in La Paz, kayaking around the island is popular, as well as diving and snorkeling with the friendly sea lions on Los Islotes, north of the island.
Start or improve your Spanish comprehension with classes at Se Habla…La Paz and get you up and running in español as fast as possible while enjoying your vacation.
Taste Top Seafood
With such a marine diversity, La Paz is a great place for fresh fish and seafood. Taste chocolate clams served fresh by the local fishermen on street corners – we bought ours right from our street, and I had to ask the vendor to show me how to eat them. Try a full lobster or sushi. All fresh and exquisite!
Walking and exploring La Paz is easily done individually but we would recommend booking a tour for diving, snorkeling with the whale sharks or taking a boat trip to Espiritu Santo Island
As the former Director of Content Marketing at Viator.com, I would recommend their La Paz tours and activities This is an affiliate link, which means we receive a percentage if you make a purchase using this link, at no additional cost to you. Our opinion is our own and is not impacted by this affiliate link.