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Frequently Asked Questions about La Paz
La Paz – not to be confused with the capital of Bolivia – is the capital of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, facing the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). La Paz lies about 1470 km south of Tijuana and the US border, 150 km north of Cabo San Lucas, and over 1600 km northwest of Mexico City. Non-stop flights to La Paz take 1 hour 45 minutes from Tijuana, and 2 hours from Mexico City.
La Paz is also a short (2hr 30 minutes) bus or car ride from the resorts of Los Cabos, making it a popular day-trip. Because of its relatively remote location, getting here overland can be very time-consuming. First-class long-distance buses run down the Baja peninsula from Tijuana (at least 24 hours), though these can be infrequent. Car ferries from Mazatlán can save time if driving from central Mexico.
Uber does operate in La Paz (assuming phones have roaming, and the app works), but drivers are usually reluctant to pick-up from the airport due to hostility from the airport taxi union. However, it’s possible to get an Uber back to the airport for as low as 100 pesos. Once in the city, getting an Uber should be no problem, and can be cheaper than regular taxis.
La Paz beaches are at their best from November through May when there’s great weather (and whale-shark watching). La Paz experiences broiling hot summers that are best avoided – also skip Christmas and Easter, to avoid the crowds of local tourists.
The best beaches of La Paz are a short ride north of the city center but are definitely worth the effort. Our favorite is Playa de Balandra (27km north of La Paz). It’s a superb option for families, featuring a sheltered, shallow bay (no more than waist deep) and warm water for swimming and snorkeling. Rent kayaks and shelter under small palapas (palm shelters) set on the beach. Playa de Tecolote, another 2km north from Balandra, offers fine sands and excellent snorkeling right off the beach. Unlike Balandra, this is a long, straight strip, facing Isla del Espíritu Santo and the open Sea of Cortez. There are also lots of places to eat and drink here, with a party atmosphere at weekends. Take the bus to both beaches from the main terminal on La Paz bayfront; it costs around 50 pesos and departs on the hour between 10 am and 5 pm (on the way back the last bus leaves the beaches around 6:30 pm). Taxis also shuttle back and forth from the beaches, though Uber is a little cheaper – around 150 pesos each way to Baladra and a little more to Tecolote. The best beach within hiking (or at least biking) distance of the city center is Playa El Coromuel (4km north of the center). It’s a small but beautiful beach with a long pier, palapas, a few places to eat, and even a giant water slide.
First timers to La Paz should aim for anywhere along the waterfront malecón, close to the action and well located to enjoy the city’s celebrated sunsets. There are hotels in all price ranges here. We like the modern Seven Crown, which has a fabulous rooftop bar and chic rooms.
Other than checking out the nearby beaches, La Paz makes a good base for exploring the rich marine life in the Sea Cortez. We recommend taking a boat trip out to uninhabited Isla Espíritu Santo; snorkeling trips off the island usually encounter sea lions, dolphins, manta rays, and, depending on the time of year, fin whales – between November and March its possible to swim with whale sharks. Recommended operators include the Cortez Club at La Concha Beach Resort, especially for diving. On land, spend some time strolling the bayside malecón, one of the most attractive in Mexico, with sensational views of the mountains across the water, especially at sunset. The city’s simple cathedral, the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Paz, lies on Plaza Jardín Velasco (aka Plaza Constitución), three blocks inland. Nearby, the Museo Regional de Antropología e Historia is the best place to learn about the region’s history.
Eating – especially seafood –is excellent in La Paz. Cheap Mexican street food and fresh fruit juice is sold at Mercado Francisco Madero on Revolución de 1910 (at Degollado), while the popular stand known as Taquería Hermanos González (Lerdo de Tejada, at Madero) serves some of the best fried fish and shrimp tacos in Baja California. Other favorites for fish tacos and seafood include Bismark-Cito on Obregón (at Hidalgo y Costilla), and Mc-Fisher at Morelos y Pavón 965. The best place for coffee is hip contemporary café Doce Cuarenta at Madero 1240, while La Fuente (on the bayfront) serves fabulous home-made ice cream.
The Mexican peso (often prefixed with a “$” sign) is the currency of Mexico and La Paz – most places will not accept US dollars. Most major shops and restaurants in La Paz accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some peso cash on hand for bus trips and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. Most banks and ATMs are on 16 de Septiembre near the waterfront and generally give better exchange rates than casas de cambio.
Yes. La Paz has generally avoided the drug violence that has affected other parts of Mexico. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep valuables in room safes. Theft of personal items from beaches does happen – never leave anything of value unattended, even on seemingly empty stretches of sand.
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