La Paz, capital of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, overlooks a huge bay of the Sea of Cortez with beautiful white sand beaches.
Very little is known about the history of its inhabitants: the Baja California peninsula, in fact, has been inhabited for more than twelve thousand years by various populations, but the testimonies they left are limited to the beautiful and well-preserved cave paintings. The few historical facts that we know are that in the 16th century, some semi-nomadic fishing tribes – Cochimí, Guaycura and Pericu – lived on the peninsula.
While in those years, in the Bay of La Paz, notorious corsairs were called in with the purpose of boarding the galleons that arrived to get the water supplies.
The Conqueror, Hernan Cortés, protagonist of fantastic stories like the one told by the Spanish epic poem Las Sergas de Esplandián, organized the first trip to these lands in 1533 by sending ships. Only one went and had no luck.
When the Concepción crew reached the bay, they were welcomed by the Guaycura, the quiet indigenous community that lived in those lands. The Spanish noticed the large pearls that the natives extracted from the oysters of the bay and did not hesitate to loot their villages and rape their women.
The Guaycuras, despite being peaceful, knew how to use bows and arrows and responded to the aggression by wounding the invaders one by one. The few survivors who remained managed to escape.
At that point, Cortés, disappointed by the results of his mission, decided to direct the second expedition himself, arriving at the bay on May 3, 1535, baptizing it under the name Santa Cruz.
Two years later, he left the colony he had founded, overwhelmed by the difficult territory and by the hostility of the Indians who had not forgotten the atrocious invaders.
Finally, in 1596, Sebastian Vizcaíno landed again in the bay, baptizing it this time as La Paz and established a definitive colony.
The Spanish quickly realized the pearl wealth of the sea and exploited it intensively until practically ending the natural production of oysters.
In 1720, the mission of Nuestra Señora del Pilar de La Paz Airapí was founded by the Jesuit fathers and in 1974, the territory was definitively constituted as a State. Since then, this place hasn’t changed much and legends of the pirates continue to spread, attracting a few treasure seekers.
Imagine a place suspended in time, with starry skies and strong contrasts, deserts where ancient cacti slowly grow, and beautiful beaches with pristine sand that separate land and sea and create dreamy views.
The Bay of La Paz in Baja California is distinguished for all this, and also for the calm waters that embrace all the turquoise tones, nature and its spectacular sunsets. In its waters, there is a protected marine park of incredible beauty, Isla Espíritu Santo.
La Paz is also characterized by its tranquility, as if its name had given it a personality, perhaps because of this, it has become a perfect destination to start a new life or to simply spend a vacation.
The hospitality and warmth of its people, the “paceños”, make this port a comfortable and quiet place.
Where the Malecón begins, perhaps to keep alive the legendary history of the corsairs and their treasures, there is an arch where it says: “Welcome to La Paz, the port of illusions.” It is a message that seems to warn those who take migration to these places lightly.
Best beaches in La Paz
La Paz, like all of Baja California, has wonderful beaches. El Coromuel is one of the closest beaches to the city and has everything you need to enjoy a wonderful day; it is the one where the local population goes the most, especially on the weekend.
Another one of the most famous beaches – and surely one of the most beautiful – is El Tesoro, which is found by following the streets that lead to the Pichilingue Port. Protected from the wind, it maintains a very low water level and calm waves. It is perfect for children.
Playa Balandra and El Tecolote
Balandra and El Tecolote beaches are among the most visited and well-known in Mexico.
Balandra seduces you by the color of the water as it has all the possible shades of blue and turquoise and also by its fine white sand from which a rare mushroom-shaped stone that was sculpted by water erosion emerges and is one of the symbols of La Paz.
It is an excellent place to enjoy nature, such as exploring its mangroves by kayak. It’s a shame that there have been a lot of people lately, especially in summer.
El Tecolote is a perfect white beach to spend a day of leisure and fun. It is undoubtedly one of the beaches where swimmers and lovers of water activities go the most. Luckily, its length allows it to never be too crowded. In summer, it is best to go early in the morning, when the only presence is that of the animal kingdom and if you look towards the crystal-clear water, you may be surprised by the jumps of the sardines followed by golden ones or driven by the somersaults of the giant blankets.
To eat, you can savor tasty tacos and seafood with a good Mexican beer in a beach bar that overlooks the sea and after eating, you can relax and enjoy the breeze that rises in the early hours of the afternoon.
In winter, however, there is a lot of wind and it is not always accessible.
Isla Espíritu Santo
Just 25 km from La Paz in a straight line is Isla Espiritu Santo, the closest to the bay and the most beautiful among all the islands in the Sea of Cortez.
It is a protected natural area with a kingdom of biodiversity: the indigenous creatures include sea lions, dolphins, turtles, and at some times of the year, gray whales and gray sharks. Its exciting contrasts of the reddish color of the volcanic rocks, the turquoise blue of its sea and its brilliant sunsets produce an extraordinary scene.
It is made up of two main islands: Espíritu Santo and La Partida, almost five times smaller than the first.
In front of the western side of the main island, there are three reefs: La Ballena, El Gallo and La Gallina, and four rocky cliffs: Los Islotes.
This complex of islands and islets usually has many tourists attracted by the opportunity to enjoy nature with minimal human impact.
On the island, in fact, you can do various activities such as exploring by kayak, snorkeling or diving with sea lions, trekking through the trails between the pink rock canyons or going camping on secluded beaches under the stars.
Winter is mild although with cold winds, it has minimum temperatures of 10 or 12º C.
During the day and throughout the year, except in the summer months, the weather is spring-like and very pleasant. There are practically no rains, since they are basically concentrated in the month of September, and the climate is very dry.
In summer it has characteristics of a desert climate; it is dry and very hot, with maximum temperatures of more than 40º C. However, in the summer afternoons when the sunsets light the bay on fire, Corumel rises from the sea, and there is a sweet and fresh wind that comes from the south-east side that soothes and grants a pause to the heat of the day.