11 Best Things To Do in La Paz Mexico

I stumbled into La Paz in Mexico by accident. I was tired and, after a night ferry from the mainland, a little less than fresh. But I forgot about my fatigue the second I saw the sea. The Sea of Cortez has long been declared (by none other than Jaques Cousteau) as one of the most biodiverse places on the Planet. Yes. The. Planet.

But it didn’t take me long to realise that the Sea of Cortez wasn’t the beginning, middle and end of this part of the southern Baja Californian peninsula. It was just one part of the myriad things to do. And in this article, I’ll share with you my 11 best things to do in La Paz.

1. Swim with the Sea Lions in the Sea of Cortez

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Swim with Sea Lions Sea of Cortez


If you do only one thing in La Paz Mexico, making it this.

Whether you’ve marvelled at the sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco or watched with amazement as they flat their paws…claws…flippers (what is the correct name, anyone?) at La Jolla beach in San Diego, nothing beats swimming with these smooth and graceful creatures in their natural habitat, around Espiritu Santo island.

Add in: a day out on the Sea of Cortez, lunch on a secluded beach and snorkelling opportunities and you’ll struggle to have a better experience in La Paz Mexico.

How to do it:

Chicalera Tours – this company would be my top recommendation for booking your tour of Espiritu Santo island. Unfortunately, I don’t have a website or booking link for you, just a Facebook page and a couple of phone numbers. Tel cel.6121554464, 612 1416019 tel. casa.6121286755.

Punta Baja – this is the second company I toured Isla Espiritu Santo with and, although a shade less fun than Chicalera, I’d still recommend them.

Sunrider Adventure Tours  – prefer to book online in English and pay in dollars?

You can read about my (two) trips and recommended tour companies in my related article Swimming with Sea Lions in Mexico – Isla Espiritu Santo Tour

2. Go Whale Watching

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Whale Watching


If we’re talking about a list of the best things to do in La Paz, surely whale watching has to beat swimming with the sea lions, I hear you cry?

Well: yes and no. Yes because…whales. Obviously. (By the way, it’s the gray whale that you can spot off the coast of Baja California. Not that you need to do much spotting – these mammals can grow up to 50 foot).

And no because, sadly for us snap-happy humans, whale watching is highly seasonal. Migrating from Alaska down to the warmer waters around La Paz, whale watching season is only three months long – from January to March. Sadly, I’ve never been in La Paz at the right time.

3. Stroll along the Malecón – morning, noon and night

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur Malecon pier


The malecón is both one of the simplest yet most rewarding sights of La Paz. A wide pavement that skirts the edge of the sea, the malecón is a place of cafes, bars, restaurants and excited Mexican children wobbling along on two wheels.

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur beach and malecon

By day you can cross the small slip of beach and pop into the sea for a quick cool down. By night you’re going to want an ocean facing seat (in a bar or one of the many free-to-use benches that dot the malecón) to watch the sun, which is going to set right in front of you.

After dark, the street sellers roll out their carts and friends, families, couples and solo travellers stay out on the malecón enjoying the cooler evening air. There’s a small pier that is worth a wander and if you’re really up for exploring, walk the malecón end to end (it’s around 5 kilometres/ 3 miles long).

As a solo female traveller, I felt entirely safe on the malecón after dark.

4. Hit the beaches of La Paz

Isla Espiritu Santo Tour Swimming with Sea Lions in Mexico view

The swatch of beach in La Paz itself is somewhat disappointing compared to the rest of the beaches that are accessible from the city. Partly because the beaches are small and partly thanks to the road just behind you. That said, I’ve have managed to spend more than one afternoon enjoying the proximity of the sea and the sand from within the city.

However, if you want to really see La Paz’s finest beaches, you should take a tour to swim with the sea lions (you can skip the snorkelling part if you aren’t so interested in the sea lions). Alternatively, head to Balandra beach.

Located about 25km/15 miles outside the city, it’s definitely one of the most popular things to do in La Paz. However, you’ll need to hire a car or line up a few buses. If you’re feeling particularly active, you can take a sea kayaking tour (don’t worry – you’re driven to the beach and sea kayak from there).

How to do it: Try SUP and/or kayaking at Balandra beach with Baja Desconocida – you can check reviews on TripAdvisor here. I booked my car through RentalCars.com – it’s a rental price comparison site that makes life a lot easier than comparing prices on individual rental company website.

5. Dine in style at the marina

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur marina

Is all this strolling, swimming, snorkelling and sea kayaking sounding a bit exhausting for you? Then why not flex your inner sloth and spend a long, lazy lunch or evening near Marina Cortez, a short walk from the centre of La Paz.

Wealthy yacht owners have always been a prompt for upscale restaurants to appear (for which I thank you) and the beauty is that you don’t need to throw down the price of a yacht to enjoy the restaurant facilities. Sunset is a great time to stop by, sip a cocktail as the sun sets and play ‘if I was a millionaire, I’d buy that one.’ (My chosen ‘one’ is above).

10 Best things to do in la Paz Mexico Malecon

6. Visit the Cathedral Nuestra Señora de La Paz

Whether you are an ardent visitor of religious building or just want to take a pretty picture (I fall into the latter category), the Cathedral of Our Lady of La Paz, located right in the centre of the city, is a beautiful thing to do in La Paz.

7. Explore La Paz’s museums and cultural corners

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur Cultural Museum

With all the lure of the sea, it’s easy to forget that La Paz has a cultural side. However, as the capital city of southern Baja California, La Paz is not short of cultural activities. I confess, the lure of the sea (and tacos) has always been so strong that I’ve never visited any of these attractions, but I stopped by the exterior to take a couple of pictures once, so that counts, right?

Here are some of the main cultural buildings La Paz:

  • Centro Cultural La Paz – picture above, this striking building has had a political as well as military past and can now be visited.
  • Museo de La Ballena – you can’t fail to notice this museum on the malecón thanks to the gigantic whale skeleton lingering outside. I’ve failed twice to visit. Let me know how it is if you go.
  • Museo Regional de Antropología e Historia) – the anthropology and history museum gives an in-depth look at Baja Califonia’s past from pre-history onwards.
  • Teatro de la Ciudad – for theatre performances (as the name suggests) but also apparently popular for the Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) celebrations in La Paz.
Things to do in La Paz - Casa de Gobierno

The picture above of the Casa del Gobierno. I can’t figure out (despite some Googling) whether it’s possible to go inside. I think it might now be a history library. If you know the answer, can you drop me a note in the comments below?

8. See the sculptures in La Paz

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur ocean pearl

Sculptures are to La Paz what street art is to Berlin and whether you set out to track them all down or not, you’re going to stumble across several of them regardless. And that isn’t a bad thing.

I don’t have a full list of the sculptures (nor pictures of them all) but here are the most popular, most of which are dotted along the length of the malecón.

  • Giant pearl (above)
  • Dove of Peace
  • Sirena with Dolphins (immediately below)
Things to do in La Paz Mexico Sirena con delphines
  • Old Man and the Sea
  • Jaques Cousteau
  • Jesus and the Seashell (immediately below)
Things to do in La Paz Mexico Jesus del Caracacolonjpg
  • Mermaid and the Dolphin (see further above)
  • And plenty of other sculptures of the local marine life (immediately below)
Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja whale

9. Get a picture in front of the La Paz sign

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur La Paz sign

This was a new addition since the first time I visited. In fact, trying to get a picture of it without someone in the frame took a couple of days’ effort. Tip: in the middle of the day, under the blazing Mexican sun, when all other sensible people are under shade or in the sea, is the ‘best’ time. At night, when it’s illuminated – good luck.

Another tip: if you’re heading through Baja California on a road trip, you’ll find similar signs in some of the major stops like Loreto.

10. Don’t miss the sunsets

Pictures of Sunsets

Yeah, I know I mentioned the sunsets more than once already but so stunning they are, they merit a mention all on their own. Up there with Hawaii, La Paz puts on some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. So much so that every time I’m there, I plan my days’ activities around it. Because where else would you want to be than sat on the malecón, cold beer in hand, watching the ret hot ball of fire sink behind the sea one more time.

11. Go swimming with the whale sharks in La Paz

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur statue
Mermaid and the dolphin sculpture

Another popular but seasonal activity from La Paz is going swimming with whale sharks. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these bus-sized fish (yes, they are fish!) from Isla Holbox, Mexico. You can read about it here.

Want to go experience it from La Paz? The whale shark swimming season is from October to March. Check out La Paz Whale Sharks VIP Toursa firm favourite on TripAdvisor.

Tip: the middle of the season is when you’re more likely to spot them.


Tips for Visiting La Paz

In this section I’ll share where to eat, where to sleep and some of the best tours in La Paz.

Hotels in La Paz

Pictures of sunsets

Hotels falls into a few categories in La Paz – those in the town/centre and those that aren’t. The latter tend to be more resort-based, so make sure the place you book corresponds with the kind of trip you’re after. You’ll also find a handful of cheap, locally run guest houses and hostels if you’re on a budget.

Hyatt Place – a beautiful spot in the marina for a trusted brand that gets great reviews.

Costa Baja Resort & Spa – if you’d prefer a resort style stay right on the sea front.

Hotel Lorimar – just a block from the sea, this is a great budget choice for under $50 a night.

Hostel Casa Esterito – La Paz isn’t teaming with backpackers but there are enough to merit a few hostels. Casa Esterito is both cheap and has a perfect location.

Best day trips from La Paz

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur sealion

Here are a few alternative tours that look fun, all departing from La Paz Mexico:

North La Paz Self-Drive Discovery Tourhire a 4×4 and with a guide take to some of the coastal off-road tracks to explore North of La Paz. Having driven from the north to La Paz, I can tell you the sights (and the photos) will be beyond your imagination. For example, did you know that Baja California is home to the world’s tallest species of cactus, which has been know to grow up to 63 feet/ 19 metres?

Two-Night Glamping Adventure at Camp Cecil on Isla Espiritu Santo – a day-trip to Isla Espiritu Santo not enough? How about glamping under the stars? Adventure and romance rolled into one.

Rancho El Cajon – channel your inner cowboy with a horse riding experience just outside La Paz.

Where to Eat in La Paz

Things to do in La Paz Mexico Baja Sur tacos

Here are some of my favourite places to eat in La Paz Mexico.

Superburro – if you want a big plate for a low price and you want to eat with the locals, this popular local chain has what you need. Location isn’t ideal but cheap food rarely comes with a good view.

Rancho Viejo – is the exception to the rule above. Sea view, excellent Mexican food and cheap prices, this small restaurant doesn’t have all the signage it’s neighbours have and you’ll want some Spanish to work the menu but it’s also half the price. This is my favourite place to eat in La Paz.

La Fonda – a few dollars for a set menu breakfast including eggs, tortillas, salsa, fruit and coffee, served in a beautiful courtyard. What’s not to love?

Frida Cafe – popular with the locals, this cafe is open late and serves coffee as well as local food and alcohol. If you’re after a quick bite with some A/C and atmosphere, it’s a good choice.

Street food sushi – surprising (to me, at least), sushi is very popular in Mexico. It contains a little too much cream cheese for my liking but you can still get very good sashimi and nigiri and it’s great when you’re in need of a taco break. The best I found was a street food cart where they prepared the sushi fresh (from an ice box). It’s  past the marina and located in front of Argencia Arjona. Otherwise, closer to the centre, Sushi Zone is a fair choice.

Tailhunter restaurant – if you want a more Americanised version of Mexican food (I believe the owner is American), try Tailhunter restaurant. Split over 3 floors, this place is great for watching the sunset away from the crowds.

Toscana Pizza Gourmet – Mexican pizza is pretty darn good (says the person who has been to Naples and tasted the real deal) and this was a cute, romantic spot the first time I visited. It seems to have lost some of it’s popularity (judging by the chef and waitress who were sat chatting and eating when I turned up to an empty restaurant second time around) but the food was just as good as I remembered.

More Mexico Blog Posts

Blog posts and packing lists for planning your trip

And that is my guide to the La Paz. Have you been? Any other recommendations ? Let me know in the comments below.

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Balandra beach in La Paz Mexico Baja California

Photo credits: Whale

85 thoughts on “11 Best Things To Do in La Paz Mexico”

      • Hi Joe, my wife are planning to retire in La Paz, can we do it on $2500 usd a month, we are planning a visit to there in December of 2021 and making the move before the end of 2022, we would appreciate any feedback, thanks Ron and Jen.

        Reply
        • Hi Ron, what a lovely place to retire. As with any of these things, it really depends on the level of luxury you want and the frequency you do things like dine out. Personally, I could live comfortably in La Paz for less than $2000 per month, staying in a small one-bed apartment and eating local food as well as cooking. Check out Numbeo, it’s a great website for telling you the cost of living in different places including things like typical rental and utility prices as well as food and drinks. Hope you have a great retirement!

          Reply
  1. Hi! Just a note to let you know how extremely informative your blog was. Thank you so much for sharing. It certainly will assist me in planning our trip there. Happy travels! Ali

    Reply
  2. I was reading some of the older post and to the person who commented on the sunsets, I was thinking the same thing but somehow it works out. Sunsets out here are absolutely stunning. Loving La Paz so far. Oh and just in my opinion Apple Maps works good for the streets but seems to be lacking on business when you type what you are looking for into the Apple Maps search bar.( For me this was trying to find a grocery store nearby) I have better luck googling what it is I am looking for and then using either Apple Maps or google maps. Thanks a lot for all the info Jo!

    Reply
    • Thanks Yancy and also for confirming I wasn’t making it up about the sunsets 🙂 Great tip about the maps. Have a great trip.

      Reply
  3. Excellent Post. I´m Mexican and I´d recommend you to vistit the beaches of The Conception Bay in Baja California Sur, If you realliy was awesome with La Paz You´ll love that beaches, My reommendation is to get a car and drive for all peninsula from Tijuana to Los Cabos, some beaches that you´ll find there are the below:

    Playa Santispac (km 114)  •  Posada Concepcion (km 112)  •  Playa Escondida (km 111)  •  Playa Los Cocos (km 110.5)  •  Pink Shrine with Cross (km 109)  •  Playa El Burro (km 108)  •  Playa El Coyote (km 107.5)  •  Playa Buenaventura (km 94.5)  •  Playa El Requeson (km 91.5)  •  Playa La Perla (km 91.3)  •  Playa Armenta (km 90)

    All of you are welcom to Mexico.

    Reply
  4. Hi Jo,

    Awesome and very helpful article! I will be heading to La Paz either Feb 27 weekend or the March 5 weekend, I was wondering if the water will be clear and comfortable to go in at Balandra Beach? What is the weather like in late February and beginning March? And are there a lot of tourist during those times? Thank you for your help! -Jade

    Reply
    • Hi Jade, Feb and March are both during the peak weather time (Nov to April) so the water is likely to be perfect. Although peak weather usually brings peak tourists, tourism isn’t so saturated in La Paz so I think you’ll be able to have a very enjoyable crowd-free trip. But come back and let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  5. Hi Jo, recently ran into your page and i love all your suggestions so far. We are planning to head there beginning of september this year. What do you think of this time? is it ideal? i know its somewhat the start of hurricane season. We are about at group of 6 going out there looking to do lots of activities as a group.

    Reply
    • Hi Maribel, it’s really hard to predict the weather, especially since we collectively broke the planet but I think that the beginning of September should be a pretty nice time to visit. Have a great trip!

      Reply
  6. Hello! This was an awesome review, I’m really excited about my trip! I have rented a car and I’m (unnecessarily??) worried about being stopped by the police and ticket scams. How safe did you feel and did you run into any of this? I do not have a look that “blends in like a local” so i’m a bit worried about being a target in a rental car. Can you tell me about your experiences driving around the area?

    Reply
    • Hi Melinda, I’m not saying it won’t happen but I think you can shelve the worries about being stopped and scammed. I felt very safe and didn’t run into any of this. I’m British and can’t pass as a local either and had zero trouble. Just take it easy and follow the road rules and you’ll be fine!

      Reply
  7. Looking for a close location (baja cali is close to me) to go for an extended weekend in January… any idea how the weather is?? And water conditions for swimming and or scuba diving??

    Reply
    • Hi David, I’m in Mexico as I write and although I’m over on the other coast, the weather is divine. December to April is the peak, dry season here so if you’re looking for clear water, this is when you’ll find it. Hope you have an amazing trip!

      Reply
  8. Heading there in February 2020, for 7 days with my wife..,.
    Been looking a lot at package deals.
    Leaving from Seattle, and trying to get into the La Paz airport seems to take 18-20 hours of commuting with multiple flight changes.
    If I go directly to Cabo, only 5 hours, then rent a car and drive up/back, which looks to be a couple hours of driving each way.
    I can’t seem to beat the prices they package, on my own, how do you normally arrange your trips?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Ed & Denise, it might be that you have a good package price but typically I book everything separately – flights, hotels and car hire. Being a bit flexible on flight dates can make a huge difference as can booking local hotels instead of big international brand chains. If you don’t think you’ll need the car in La Paz, why don’t you catch the bus? I’ve taken it a bunch of times. It’s safe and you’ll get at least half a movie dubbed in Spanish ;p But seriously, it drops you off bang in the centre of La Paz and you’ll save on parking for your trip. Hope that helps?

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  9. I’ve been from Hawaii to Cancun and i can say that balandra beach has been one of my favorite places , beautiful, and relaxing. Also played some football there since it’s only waist deep for miles ??

    Reply
    • I’m in Mexico at the moment (other coast) and seriously considering hopping over to Balandra beach….and I agree – it’s absolutely divine!

      Reply
  10. We, senior husband and I, spent about six weeks in La Paz in winter 2018, and were back there several times in early 2019 for shopping trips. It’s cheaper and less congested than Cabo/San Jose. There were some great cultural exhibits and events—check on-line newspapers and Facebook pages or announcements. We enjoyed the Malecon and sculptures and the whale museum, too; the whale museum was closed last season and moved, but maybe it’s reopened. Areas along the Malecon and downtown have some great street murals. There are two markets that have daily seafood, veggies and fruits, and one has fresh tortillas. If you’re planning to visit during the annual fiesta—check to see if the city is doing it in 2020. It sets up on the Malecon. Very, VERY loud with competing bands, carnival, and lots of drinking—very congested. Even when streets were empty at night we had no hassles. A boat trip to Espiritu Santos is worth the money for the photos alone. Only problem we had was Hotel Lorimar, where we had booked an apartment (non-refundable) for 2 months. The landlord lived below us and keep 2 large nasty dogs—one was a loud barker—and barked constantly when no one home as well as barking at any noise during the night!!! Landlord was real ass. Also lots of traffic noise and air pollution from the coal power plant and traffic. La Paz is growing, and this year it has both water shortages and electricity blackouts. Be prepared!

    Reply
  11. Hi, Jo
    I was wondering if vaccinations are required in Mexico (since I’m anti-vax- I don’t believe in vaccinations) and if I can bring my essential oils along. Will anyone be offended?
    Also, I have three beautiful kids, Jake, Jackie, and Sinead (he’s adopted), and they are my precious little shmookins, I wouldn’t want them to get hurt. Are there any safe activities that they can partake in? No walking, cause that can lead to scraped knees and broken hearts. And no swimming, because the fish will hurt them.
    Thanks, Jo. By the way, I sell my own essential oils (made with my own saliva, gotta be natural) and free advice ($20). Let me know if you need these 🙂
    Thanks, Jo
    Karen

    Reply
    • Hi Karen, I suspect that I’m unlikely to change your mind about vaccinations. In absence of that, I’d like to request that you and your non-vaccinated children stay home in order to prevent the risk of jeopardising the health of others, particularly in countries where healthcare may not be as premium and privileged as in your own country. Also no, thank you, I have no interest in rubbing your saliva on my body…even despite the fact that I’ve been vaccinated – successfully and without any impairment – against many diseases. I wish you all good health.

      Reply
  12. Hi Jo,

    I am in the midst of planning my trip to La Paz so your article was helpful. I’m wondering what made Chicalera Tours more fun than Punta Baja Tour? What didn’t you like about Punta Baja Tour?

    I appreciate your insight.

    Sandy

    Reply
    • Hi Sandy, it just felt more relaxed, like a group of friends hanging out rather than a structured ‘now on your left you will see….’ kind of tour. Both were great though so don’t let my subjective opinion sway you one way or the other 🙂 Have a great trip!

      Reply
  13. Hi Jo,

    Just discovered your site, it’s fantastic!
    My friend and I are self-employed and looking to work remotely in Mexico to escape some of the Canadian winter. We’ve got it down to La Paz, Campeche, Manzanillo, and San Miguel de Allende. I backpacked through Mexico about 15 years ago and spent a few days in La Paz. Can’t remember how gringo it was but I remember the beaches were amazing. How gringo is La Paz these days? Looking for a slightly more authentic place, local culture to set up shop for a month.
    What are your thoughts?
    Steve

    Reply
    • Thanks Steve. It’s hard to compare a place to 15 years ago but I definitely felt like there were very few non-Mexicans in La Paz – one of the reasons I liked it so much. In fact, I’m considering it as a base myself later this year for exactly that reason.

      Reply
  14. Nice article. Encouraging me to go there, except…..how do you get a sunset over the sea when La Paz is on the East Coast of Baja?

    Reply
    • You’re going to have to consult a astronomer on that one but I do know that the east-west rule is impacted by proximity to the equator and time of year. You can also check the map and see La Paz is west facing on a bay. Also check the internet for other sunset pictures to confirm that I am not – as your comment suggests – making this shit up. Happy hols 🙂

      Reply
  15. Hey, im planning on going to La Paz in July, what kind of device do you use to get around? incase your phone doesn’t have any signal

    Reply
    • Hi Marlen, I just used my iPhone (data off) and used Maps.Me. It’s free and tracks you by GPS even offline (though you need to download the relevant area/country while you’re online). Hope that helps. Have a great trip.

      Reply

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