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With the Sea of Cortez on one side and the Sierra Laguna mountains on the other, La Paz is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and watersport aficionados. Located 160 km (100 miles) north of the more famous city of Cabo San Lucas, this traditional town is a must-visit. La Paz itself is a bit sleepy, but fear not, it’s far from boring.

These suggestions of 21 things to do in La Paz will keep you on your feet. We decided to spend a week in and around La Paz and enjoyed every single day of our November visit. Planning a trip to Baja California soon? Check out these top 21 things to do in La Paz, it’s one of the best places to visit in Mexico! (Don’t miss the traveller resources section at the end of this post)

1. Stroll Around the Old Town

Where La Paz stands today was visited by Hernan Cortez back in 1535, but the city only started to develop in the mid-19th century thanks to the expansion of the pearl diving industry. Most of the buildings and architecture reflect that period and give the old town its distinctive character.

things to do in la paz mexico visit the old town and see the street art

The main square of Jardín Velazco, also called the Plaza Constitución, is one of the places in La Paz popular with the locals. It’s a great place for people-watching. Sit on one the numerous benches and watch families walking by, seniors chatting together and sharing stories long past.

The old town and Jardín Velazco are centred around Revolución de 1910 and Calle 5 de Mayo. You can wander the area independently or go on a 2-hour free English walking tour. This is one of the best things to do in La Paz and a great way to get your bearings.

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2. Rent a Kayak at Balandra Beach

Several beaches north of La Paz are easily accessible within an hour drive, but Balandra Beach is probably the most protected and ideal for kayakers. Free of motorboats, you can enjoy kayaking through the inland mangroves, explore the shallow bay, and even get out to the sea.

Kayak rental is possible from $15USD / hour, or book a full day or multi-day kayak excursion from $60USD. The mouth of the bay tends to see strong waves and currents and can be challenging for novice kayakers. Watch for the stingrays that sometimes hide in the sandy bay floor.

Kayaking in Balandra Beach, things to do in La Paz, Mexico
Kayaking in Balandra Beach, La Paz, Mexico

If you are looking for other beaches to visit without kayaking, check out Playa El Coromuel, Playa El Caimancito, Playa El Tesoro and Playa Pichilingue, and Playa Tecolote. Tecolote offers more amenities (restaurants & restrooms) than other places.

3. See the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de La Paz

The Cathedral was built in 1861 by the Dominicans and stands across Jardín Velasco. The tall front of the Church is one of the main things to see in La Paz and will get your attention as soon as you arrive at the square. The inside of the Catedral de Nuestra Senora is worth visiting, so feel free to step in. Entrance is free.

Catedral de Nuestra Senora, things to see and do in La Paz, Mexico
Catedral de Nuestra Senora, La Paz, Mexico

Besides its importance as a Catholic church, musical events such as classical and religious performances are sometimes held in the building. The Catedral de Nuestra Senora is at the corner of Revolución de 1910 and Calle 5 de Mayo.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in Cabo San Lucas – A List of The Top 21

4. Visit the Whale Museum

Given their regular presence in the Sea of Cortez, it’s no wonder La Paz has a museum dedicated to whales. The Museo de la Ballena is at the corner of Corner Calle Obregón and 16 de Septiembre, a short distance from the Malecón. You can’t miss it thanks to the massive whale skeleton exhibited in front of the building.

The Whale Museum is on the small side but provides extensive information on whales, porpoises, and dolphins. A worthy stop for everyone.

The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 6 pm, Sunday 10 am – 6 pm, and closed Monday, as well as on holidays (January 1st, May 1st and December 25th). Entrance tickets are 120 to 160 Mexican Pesos ($6 – $8), which includes a 45 minute guided tour (English-speaking guide available).

5. Check Out The Local Artwork

A white-washed historical building on the city plaza, the Governor’s Palace (Palacio de Gobierno) hosts rotating exhibits from the Centro de Artes, Tradiciones y Culturas Populares de Baja California Sur. Local painters, potters, glass makers, and artists get a chance to feature their artwork, and you get to watch them as they showcase their creative talent in front of you.

The centre, located on Calle Francisco I. Madero in front of the Jardín Velasco, is open Monday through Friday 8 am – 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9 am – 6 pm, with free entrance.

Colorful Courtyard, La Paz, Mexico
Colorful Courtyard, La Paz, Mexico

6. Explore the Museum of Anthropology & History

The Museo Regional de Antropología e Historia is an engaging museum located at Altamirano and 5 de Mayo. It features well-researched exhibitions of La Paz and Baja Sur history, from the Paleolithic era to the time of the missions, covering the influence of the Spanish colonization and how it impacted the original inhabitants.

If you’re a history buff, this is one of the things to do in La Paz that you won’t want to miss. Note that most (if not all) descriptions are in Spanish. Entrance costs around 40 pesos ($2) and is open Monday to Sunday 9 am – 6 pm.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in San Pancho – Don’t Miss These Top 15!

7. Shop at the Market

Smell the flavours of Mexico as local people shop for fresh fruits, meats, and vegetables at the Mercado Francisco I. Madero. Check out the leather goods, hats, and quinceañera dresses. Grab snacks and fresh juices from the food stalls (comedors) at the entrance of the market, and take a few minutes to admire the outside mural.

The Mercado is a long-standing institution in La Paz, and among one of the places in La Paz to enjoy cheap and tasty Mexican breakfast and lunch. Head to the corner of Revolucion De 1910 and Santos Degollado Monday to Sunday for your fill of yummy food.

8. Relax on the Malecón

The 5-km (3-mile) long waterfront Malecón is a local favorite and will be yours too. Joggers enjoy their run along the shore on Sunday afternoons, while families and couples walk here daily. The Malecón is also the perfect spot for watching incredible sunsets as the red, yellow and orange rays illuminate the sky above the sea and marina. Another one of the top things to do in La Paz! (Hanging out on the Malecon is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta as well!)

the Beachfront from the Malecon one of the best things to do in La Paz, Mexico
Beachfront from the Malecon, La Paz, Mexico

9. Bike In and Around La Paz

Rent a bike for 30 pesos an hour ($1.50) and enjoy a leisurely ride on the 5km (3 mile) bike lane along the Malecón, while enjoying the ocean views and stopping at the waterfront restaurants for a break. Or, hit the coastal or mountain trails of Baja California for a day of mountain biking.

Those looking for an extended biking adventure might want to consider the 370 km (230 mile) Pichilingue Peninsula coastal loop trail north of La Paz. Mountain Biking Tours start from $60 depending on trails and duration. For those wanting some exercise, mountain biking is one of the best things to do in La Paz.

☞ SEE ALSO: Manzanillo Colima – The Ultimate Travel Guide

10. Snorkel with Whale Sharks

One of the top things to do in La Paz is snorkeling with whale sharks. Whale sharks – tiburón ballenas in Spanish – are the largest known fish, up to 13m (42ft) long. They are present around La Paz between October to March. While it sounds scary, whale sharks only eat plankton and care little about humans.

Swimming by the giant fish is a fantastic experience. However, make sure the tour operator respects the regulations that protect the welfare of the animals, including the strict “no touching” policy. Many boat companies organize whale shark trips from $75 for a 3 hour tour.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta – Don’t Miss Out!

11. Go Whale-Watching in Magdalena Bay

From January to March, Gray Whales come to Baja California to enjoy the warm water of Magdalena Bay’s protected lagoon where they give birth to their young. Going on a whale watching cruise gives you the best chance of seeing the whales breed and raise their offsprings. Day cruises start at $130, though multi-day cruises are also available.

Other whales migrate to the Gulf of California throughout the year: March to July to see the Blue Whale (the largest whale in the world), February to June for the Humpback Whale, and October to February for the Pilot Whale (Calderon Negro). This is one of the things to do in La Paz you won’t want to miss.

12. Swim with Sea Lions on Los Islotes or San Rafaelito

A cluster of smaller islands, Los Islotes is home to several hundred California sea lions. A group of 250 live there in the winter but the summer months can see over 350 with new pups arriving every year.

If you want to look at sea lions up close, Los Islotes is one of the main places in La Paz where you can do so. Note that there are regulations that limit the number of visitors to Los Islotes in order to protect the site’s ecosystem.

Another option for observing sea lions in their natural habitat is at San Rafaelito. Whether in Los Islotes or San Rafaelito, make sure to add a visit to the sea lions as one of your top things to do in La Paz. A combo tour including a trip to Espíritu Santo Island and the Sea Lions starts from $120.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in Playa del Carmen

13. Sail to Espíritu Santo Island (one of the best things to do in La Paz!)

Espíritu Santo Island, or Isla Espíritu Santo as the locals call it, is about a one-hour boat ride north of La Paz. The island is home to a rich and varied marine life. The surrounding reefs are teeming with sea creatures: Moorish idols, rainbow wrasse, parrot fish, rays, turtles, sharks, and the occasional pod of dolphins or whales passing through.

The island was declared part of a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1995, and it’s no surprise that this area is a paradise for divers and snorkellers.

Many of the activities in La Paz like whale watching, swimming with whale sharks, or snorkelling with sea lions can be combined with a trip to Espíritu Santo Island.

Some boats let you land on the island, where you can then explore the volcanic rock formations, kayak around the island, or just chill on the remote beaches. Even if you do not land on Espíritu Santo Island, cruising the Sea of Cortez is definitely one of the best things to do in La Paz.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in Guanajuato

14. Scuba Dive in the Sea of Cortez

Jacques-Yves Cousteau named the area the “Aquarium of the World,” and by all standards, the Sea of Cortez offers stunning diving opportunities. You’ll see manta rays, dolphins, healthy reefs, shipwrecks, sea lions, and more. Top diving spots include Espíritu Santo island and Los Islotes. Visibility is best from May to October.

Cousteau Statue, things to do in La Paz, Mexico
Cousteau Statue, La Paz, Mexico

Book your 2-tank dive boat trip from around $100 through one of the many dive centers in La Paz. And if you’re not yet certified, enroll in a PADI class and start exploring the marine world. If you’re planning a trip to the Yucatan, you can actually scuba dive in cenotes – this is definitely one of the best things to do in Cancun!

If you’re a female scuba diver, check out the Girls That Scuba online store. The products on offer are all environmentally friendly and are really unique! Shipments can be made anywhere in the world, and 10% of proceeds are given back to charities that help keep the oceans clean. Click here to check out the cool products available.

eco friendly scuba diving products

15. Learn to Cook Mexican Food

Why not learn how to cook yummy Mexican cuisine yourself? Buen Provecho offers 5-hour cooking classes for $80 in San Bartolo, about one-hour drive from La Paz. Another option is the downtown-based El Nopal Spanish Academy which offers a $20 lesson once a month. Undoubtedly, this is the tastiest of all the activities in La Paz!

☞ SEE ALSO: Backpacking Mexico – 8 Reasons To Travel Here Now

16. Enjoy the Nightlife

If you want to party, La Paz offers a couple of nightclubs along the Malecón. Otherwise, Cabo San Lucas is the place to go for Springbreak-esque entertainment. But if you prefer a cold cerveza while enjoying views of the ocean and listening to local musicians, then La Paz is your top choice.

The Malecón sees most of the nightlife action, with mariachi bands walking around, bars where you can meet locals, or nightclubs playing disco. A couple of favourite bars include Cafe-Bar KM-0 (Paseo Álvaro Obregón), La Morante Art Bar (Avenida Revolucion de 1910), Cava Sur – Restaurant & Wine Bar (Calle Ignacio Allende), and Bob Marlin (Calle Ignacio Allende).

17. Explore on Horseback

Several ranches offer riding opportunities which take you along the ocean, through cacti, and past fishing villages. Most of these ranches are authentic working operations, and a trip is a great way to see traditional Mexican ranchers. A 3 hour horse ride with Rancho El Cajon is about 500 pesos ($25).

Horseback Riding in the desert fun things to do in La Paz, Mexico
Horseback Riding, La Paz, Mexico

18. Brush Up On Your Spanish

Want to improve your Spanish? Enroll in classes at either Se Habla…La Paz or El Nopal Spanish School and start chatting with the locals thanks to your new language skills. Speaking with the residents is a great way to learn about Mexican culture and traditions, and regardless of how poor your Spanish-speaking abilities are, the locals will appreciate your efforts.

19. Sample Fresh Seafood

Given its proximity to the ocean, it’s no surprise that La Paz is an excellent place for fresh seafood. Eating tasty food is definitely one of the top things to do in La Paz.

One of the local delicacies are the chocolate clams, sold in the streets by the local fishermen. A must-try! Other places to enjoy great Mexican food are Rancho Viejo (Márquez de León 228) and Tacos el Estadio (by the Cathedral).

Famous Chocolate Clams, things to do in La Paz, Mexico
Famous Chocolate Clams, La Paz, Mexico

☞ SEE ALSO: Must-Try Food in the Yucatan Mexico

20. Hike in the Sierra Laguna Mountains

While deserts and beaches might be the main draw of Baja California, the mountain ranges are incredible and offer many adventurous things to do in La Paz.

The Sierra de la Laguna near the town of Santiago are home to unique hiking opportunities, including waterfalls and hot springs. Pack your hiking shoes and explore Canyon del Zorro (Fox Canyon) or the Aguas Calientes (Hot Water). Book a guide or tour company to find your way to the “secret” swimming pools. Day hikes cost from $60, while multiple day treks are around $400+.

21. Try Kitesurfing in La Ventana

If you’re feeling active, head to La Ventana and learn how to kitesurf. A thrilling wind and watersport, kiteboarding will see you surfing the waves of the bay. Given the power of the kite in windy conditions, make sure to take proper training before heading out by yourself.

La Ventana is about an hour drive from La Paz, and the windy season runs from October to April. Experienced riders can rent equipment from $120 for a full day. Beginners can look into lesson packages, with prices varying on skills and duration.

Kiteboarding in La Ventana one of the adventurous things to do in la paz mexico
Kiteboarding in La Ventana

Ready for La Paz and Baja California?

La Paz can easily be explored by yourself, walking or biking your way around. If you want to dive, snorkel with whale sharks, or head to Espíritu Santo Island, reserve a tour through one of the local tour operators. Not only they know the best spots to explore, but they’re knowledgeable about the marine life and the local history.

This local expertise is especially significant when trekking in the mountains, scuba diving, or taking part in any of the most adventurous things to do in La Paz. Safety is important, so always ensure your guide is reputable and knowledgeable.

Beside La Paz, Todos Santos is another favourite of Baja California Sur thanks to its historic centre, wildlife, and surfing opportunities. And you can easily spend several days in La Ventana and Los Barriles enjoying water sports such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, and kayaking.

Leave touristy Cabo San Lucas behind, and explore the many wonders of Baja California Sur – you won’t regret it!


La Paz: Resources & Recommendations


Travel Insurance

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Rent a Car

WE RECOMMEND EXPEDIA.COM

This is a great place to rent a car! We always book with Expedia because they allow you to cancel for free on most bookings and you're never charged until you actually pick up your ride.


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Top Hotels, Hostels & B&B’s in La Paz


Budget

 

Bermejo Hostel & Backpackers – rated “Superb” 9.2/10. Just a 6 minute walk to the beach and a 5 minute drive into the center of La Paz. Featuring a BBQ, garden, lounge, breakfast and bicycles. Double rooms here go for around $20/night in the high season. Click here to learn more and book this hostel.

 

Pension Baja Paradise – rated “Superb” 9.0/10. If you’re travelling with a dog, good news this place is pet friendly! There’s a shared kitchen, BBQ facilities and a terrace. Rooms are small, but adequate and at $21 for a double room in the high season, you really can’t complain. Click here to learn more and book this hostel.

 

Midrange

 

Casa Juarez B&B – rated “Exceptional” 9.6/10. Beautiful, stylish, colourful rooms, outdoor pool, great breakfast and excellent location. One of the best places to stay in La Paz. Double rooms from $65 in the high season. Click here to learn more and book this B&B.

 

Hotel Catedral La Paz – rated “Superb” 9.4/10. Boasting a beautiful outdoor pool (with bar), fantastic views of La Paz and comfortable beds, this is a top choice accommodation. A fantastic breakfast is included and the food at the onsite restaurant is great. Click here to learn more and book this hotel.

 

Top End

 

Hyatt Place La Paz – rated “Fabulous” 8.9/10. Offering all of the usual amenities you can expect from the Hyatt hotel chain, including modern rooms, large outdoor pool, fitness center, onsite restaurant and bar, and golf course (close by). The location is right on the water, about a 10 minute drive from La Paz. Click here to learn more and to book this hotel.


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Patricia Pagenel - Ze Wandering Frogs

Written by

Patricia and Bruno are the French-American travel bloggers, photographers, and video producers behind Ze Wandering Frogs’ adventure travel blog.

They write about their travel experiences and outdoor adventures: diving in Papua Raja Ampat, kiteboarding in Brazil, horseback riding in Mongolia, trekking in the Himalayas, dog-sledding in the Arctic, observing gorillas in Rwanda, and watching traditional dances in Papua New Guinea.

Together, they traveled to 50+ countries, and are currently on a long-term world trip. Follow Ze Wandering Frogs on their blog, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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