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This Mexican Vacay is Giving Cabo a Run for Its Money

Written and Photographed by: Ashlee Polarek What to Do in La Paz

Photo of writer making food photo credit: Alfredo Ivàn Félix Rayas

For the traveler who craves more than happy hour on a beach saturated with tourists in Mexico, there is La Paz, a locale ripe with delicious fish, marine biodiversity and island vibes. Located two hours north from Cabo, La Paz is the getaway you’ve been waiting for. It’s easy to spend sun-drenched days lounging on the white sandy beaches and long evenings eating more tortilla chips than you’d like to admit. So, I’ve mapped out some of the most exciting places to see and tasty food to eat on your dream vacay in Mexico.

 What to Do in La Paz

Go Snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez and Swim with Whale Sharks

Tuna Tuna Tours

Tons of different marine species call this underwater wonderland home, presumably the reason why Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez, “The Aquarium of the World.” So slip into your flippers, dig out your GoPro and dive into the warm crystalline waters. Join Tuna Tuna Tours on an eight-hour adventure—yes, eight amazing hours cruising and swimming in the sea. Included with your tour are fresh ceviche and chips (or sandwiches), drinks and beer, snorkeling gear, a ticket into the national park and a wonderful guide and captain. You’ll get to swim with baby sea lions, float over the coral reef and relax with your lunch on a white sandy beach.

La Paz is also a whale shark hub. During the winter months, whale sharks head to the area to feed, offering swimmers the perfect opportunity to take a dip with the impressive creatures. The Environmental Protection Agency in Mexico, aka PROFEPA, has strict laws about when, where and how you can swim with the gentle beasts, so be sure to join a licensed tour group if you want to take a dip in the water. Whale sharks are the largest fish species in the ocean so take a moment to dip into the warm waters and admire the gentle giants.

Tuna Tuna Tours
Calle Topete 3040
La Paz, Baja California Sur, MX 23060
+52.1.612.120.6957

 What to Do in La Paz

Paddleboard Through the Mangroves

Baja Desconcida

Join a tour at the La Paz Marina and enjoy a boat ride to Balandra, a series of shallow turquoise blue beaches perfect for sunbathing, swimming and paddle boarding. Hop on your paddleboard and cruise around, taking time to check out the ‘hongo de Balandra,’ the mushroom-like rock formation formed over time by erosion. Then paddle into the thick mangroves taking note of the birds and fish that call the winding branches and roots home.

Baja Desconcida
Paseo Malecón, Interior Plaza Marina Cortez local, Ste 12
Centro 23000, La Paz, B.C.S.
+52.1.612.166.2856

 What to Do in La Paz

Visit Todos Santos For a Bicycle Tour

Locomotion Baja

A one-hour drive brings you from the sandy shores of La Paz to one of Mexico’s “Pueblos Magicos.” Pueblos Magicos are pueblos with history, culture or gastronomy that have been deemed meaningful and special to Mexico’s heritage. Todos Santos is indeed a magical town. With hundreds of palm trees dotting the sky and delicious food it’s not to be missed. While there, hop on the Locomotion Tour for a group bike ride around the city. Enjoy drinks, music, history, and culture on your tour. With stops at textile shops, restaurants where you make guac, tortillas and pico de gallo, rooftop bars and wine tasting, it’s sure to be a hit with everyone.

Locomotion Baja
La Paz, Centro
Todos Santos, B.C.S., Mexico
+52.624.688.1316

 

Take A Stroll Down the Malecon

As daylight dips from the sky, take a stroll along the three-mile boardwalk or Malecon, and enjoy color-drenched sunsets and gorgeous sculptures that dot the path. Stop for a drink at one of the many restaurants or enjoy the kayakers as they paddle by. Be sure to stop at the “La Paz” sign for the perfect sunset selfie.

Stop for Coffee

Doce Cuarenta and Big Sur Café Orgáníco

La Paz is home to several hip and delicious coffee shops including Doce Cuarenta and Big Sur Café Orgáníco. Pop into Doce Cuarenta for delish pastries, sandwiches and other great grub, amazing souvenirs like mugs, T-shirts and postcards, and a cup of their splendid cold brew. Head to Big Sur Café Orgáníco in La Paz for a cup of small-batch roasted joe, beautiful art and fast WiFi. The outside of the coffee shop is adorned with gorgeous murals.

Doce Cuarenta
Francisco I. Madero, Ste 1240
Centro, La Paz, B.C.S
+52.612.178.0067

Big Sur Café Orgáníco
Zaragoza 16 De Septiempre N 40
La Paz, Baja California Sur 23006
+52.612.122.6806

 

Eat Like Royalty in Todos Santos

La Casita

Owner and Chef Sergio Rivera serves some mouthwatering and, honestly, heavenly food at La Casita. The menu features farm-to-table food straight from their own fields—or local farms—and the fish and seafood are caught locally. Try a little bit of everything from the salads to the tortilla soup to the Ahi tuna, flash-seared with papaya, ginger and black bean salsa. The drinks here are as delicious as they are pretty. I recommend ordering the passionfruit margarita while you soak in the ambiance of the open and breezy patio-dining area, making you feel at home while away.

La Casita
Avenida Benito Juárez
Todos Santos, Baja California Sur 23300
+52.612.145.0192

 

On an “I Sea Food” Diet

Nim and Restaurantes Bismark

It would be a shame to not mention grubbing on some seafood while in a town that spends most of its time on or near the water. Restaurants all around La Paz offer fresh seafood caught that same day. Nim is home to Chef Cristina Kiewek, who incorporates fresh fish into thoughtful dishes inspired by worlds of flavor. The catch of the day is a great choice at Nim and for the seafood-free, the chicken breast with almond mole is some of the best I’ve ever had. Restaurantes Bismark is another gem, home to tasty fish tacos and seafood platters pretty enough for Instagram. Order an assortment of plates to share with the table including fresh fish, oysters and shrimp. With views of the Malecon and the water, this is a perfect dinner spot.

Nim
Revolución de 1910 1110
Zona Central, 23000
La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico
+52.612.122.0908

Restaurantes Bismark
Paseo Alvaro Obregon entre Constitucion e Hidalgo
La Paz, Mexico, 23000
+52.612.128.9900

 

Get your Drink On

La Miserable Mezcaleria

Damiana, an herbal liquor known to be a powerful aphrodisiac and a medical tool to fight stress and provide aide with digestion, was born in Baja California. Its light and sweet herbal flavor is perfect for drinking by itself or in a Damiana margarita. You can order it at most restaurants. While in Mexico, it’d be a crime not to try some mezcal. Head to La Miserable Mezcaleria for a tasting of different mezcals, and learn where they came from and enjoy the locals and travelers that frequent the bar.

La Miserable Mezcaleria
Calle Belisario Dominguez 274
La Paz 23006, Mexico
+52 612 129 7037

 

Dance the Night Away

When the sun dissapears below the horizon, turn your ear to the stars and follow the music to the nearest dance spot. La Paz is home to an array of bars and clubs with great music ranging from reggaeton to banda. People spill out onto the streets dancing, enjoying drinks and having a good time. Let loose and dance with your friends or a stranger. Stay at one bar or check out a few, it will be fun either way.