10 Places to Visit In and Around La Paz



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By Flavia Faustini

The entire Municipality of La Paz has become the ultimate snowbird hangout with warm temperatures during the day and cooler evenings along with its beautiful natural resources and laid back culture.

There are several must-visit places while here in the Baja than can be counted on one hand, but the following are ten you simply don’t want to miss in and around La Paz.

1. Tecolote Beach and Balandra

Every time I think of Tecolote and Balandra, I remember the first time I visited La Paz with a girlfriend, before I ever dreamt of becoming a transplant. It was the height of summer a few years ago. As a resident of Los Angeles, I actually appreciated being in weather and water warm enough to be inviting to swim (I’m Brazilian, and so is my thermostat). The drive to the beaches is a treat in itself, with the sight of turquoise, clear waters in contrast to the cacti along the road. The minute we hit the white sands of Balandra, we nodded at each other and said in unison, “Yes… that’s a score!”

Balandra is under its best light early in the morning. Wading in the water is glorious.

My favorite stretch of Tecolote is the far East end. That’s where I’ve enjoyed my best swimming and snorkeling.

 

  1. Espiritu Santo, Los Islotes

“This is a magical island,” was the most concise description I’ve heard, by my niece, who visited last winter. And you’ll have to agree, as you realize that at each turn you’re able to spot different colors, layers, formations, profiles, contrasts and wildlife. Every time I’ve been to Espiritu Santo, I remember spending the entire day in awe.

 

  1. Tiburon Ballena in the bay of La Paz

Whale sharks are the biggest fish on earth. Placid, contemplative animals; impressive in their mass, speed, the markings on their skin, and the height of their tail fins. It is a true privilege to see them, and swim with them.

 

4. The town of El Triunfo.

El Triunfo guards the resquice of a mining town that was incredibly active and successful in the second half of the 19th century. One of the prominent towers was designed by French engineer Eiffel himself. I have spent perfect afternoons in El Triunfo with a group of good friends. We pick one of the two main eateries there and we are always pleased. What a perfect day it makes to taste the food, walk around, explore. The rain season works its magic throughout the desert and makes beautiful shades of green.

 

  1. La Ventana, El Sargento.

The route to La Ventana and El Sargento goes through several ranches neighboring La Paz. Uphill at first, then a stretch of a winding road; and all of a sudden the road drops to the East, and descends towards miles and miles of beach. I’ve spent hours watching windsurfers, wild birds, and Cerralvo Island, and had amazing fresh seafood meals.

 

6. Todos Santos, Pescadero.

Todos Santos is one of two “Pueblo Magicos” (Magic Villages) in Baja California Sur. I especially enjoy walking around town enjoying the Pacific breeze.

I recently had a great day exploring restaurants in Pescadero. And I was very lucky to have a local friend share folkloric and witch stories of the area.

 

  1. Humpback whales, Mag Bay

I am definitely not a morning person, and this is the one special thing that will make me get out of bed before sunrise in wintertime. I have never been disappointed. A good friend mentioned Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos as a starting point for whale watching. Pangas are well organized and easy to arrange. Captains know where to find humpback whales. A few of the mama whales, accompanied by their calves, are extremely friendly. Of course, like anytime you’re dealing with nature, you’ll need a dash of luck; however, it’s not uncommon that they will come up to the pangas and examine their human visitors in their boats with as much curiosity and interest as we will them. It is an unforgettable image, to me, of an eye as big as a saucer, looking at me as if making acquaintance.

 

  1. El Mogote

I had a couple of good friends visit me from Germany in late summer. I drove them to El Mogote, swept the scenery with my arm (Italian style), and asked them, “Do you understand, now?” And they responded, “Yes, yes, we do.” To me, the reason I love this corner of the Earth is summarized in that long stretch of sand, populated with marine birds, filled with a salty scent in the air, and the brisk wind (always there in the afternoon). The warm water, the millions of shells along the waterline, the view to La Paz. I love to “bring my own everything,” and losing track of time here.

 

  1. San Juan de la Costa, Chayo’s Ranch

San Juan de la Costa is a tiny village that harbors a phosphate mine, which is active 24/7/364. Every time I drive here, I’m reminded this road is the daily commute to its hundreds of workers.

The main attraction is the changing coastline, and the surprises each twist and turn brings. Curves, ascents and descents reveal a different shade of green or blue in the ocean below. It’s not a long drive; it is a very, very rich one. When you get to the village, the most prominent white house as you ascend the hill at the end of the road is the mine cantina. I love eating there. The staff is kind, attentive, and appreciative of visitors.

I always bring friends and family to the 17th kilometer (11th mile) on the way over there. The ranch has been passed down through several generations before Chayo became the current owner. He’s got a huge family, and everything is in it: dogs, cows, burros, turkeys, horses, hens and goats. You get a lesson in living in harmony when you ride a horse through Chayo’s ranch.

 

  1. Sunset on the Malecon

It’s been stated that living near the ocean is beneficial for human health. The malecon as well as the perfect expression of the strong sense of community in La Paz. Walking the malecon, whether at sunrise, sunset, or in between, provides not only a view to the Sea of Cortez, but a window into the joy, light heartedness and warmth of the beautiful people of La Paz.

 

Flavia Faustini (NOT Claudia) is an adventure experience curator with a degree in Economics and a career in the Visual Arts, and translations. Currently on an extended sabbatical, on a mission of gathering as many stories for her Book of Good Memories as possible. Yes I’m a Brazilian and no, I can’t dance.

 

 

 

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