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20 Cool Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico

Ready to take a deep dive into the Sea of Cortez? Here’s my guide to the best things to do in La Paz, the gateway to the world’s aquarium.

Despite being just two hours from Los Cabos, La Paz is refreshingly authentic and untouristy compared to its hedonistic neighbor. It’s lively and vibrant, but not overly busy or commercialized, just the way I like it. What makes La Paz so special is its location along the Sea of Cortez, where you’ll find some of the best beaches in Baja California.

Oceanographer Jacque-Yves Cousteau once called the Sea of Cortez the “Aquarium of the World” for the incredible marine life and diversity – and it’s easy to see why here in La Paz. It’s one of the few places on Earth where you can swim with sea lions, leatherback turtles, as well as the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.

Underwater adventures are definitely the biggest appeal of La Paz, but there are lots to do on land as well. Here, I’m sharing a detailed list of things to do in La Paz, based on our recent trip to Baja California.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico

1. Walk the Malecón

La Paz’s city center is surprisingly pleasant,  flanked by a lively malecón, or waterfront boulevard. Stretching for over 5 kilometers, the malecón starts from Playa el Coromuel in the north and runs all the way to the Marina. It’s lined with palm trees, benches, and colorful sculptures, and is a hive of activity particularly in the evening. As the sun sets, head here for a stroll to see locals jogging, kids playing, and families walking hand in hand. 

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Walk the Malecón

2. Admire the Art Sculptures

Lining the malecón is a string of brass art sculptures that are designed to reflect the character of the city. Most of them are marine-themed, as they’re facing the sea. My favorite art sculpture has to be the shiny giant clam and pearl right in front of the pier.

You can also see sculptures depicting a mermaid, humpback whale, whale shark, hammerhead shark, and dolphin. Even Jacques Cousteau, the world-renown oceanographer who named the Sea of Cortez “World’s Aquarium”, makes an appearance.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Art Sculptures

3. Rent Go-Karts 

To traverse the entire malecón, you can even rent bicycles or pedal karts from Baja Blast, right across the malecón by Harker Board. We hired the pedal karts for 150 MXN (US$7.5) per hour and had a blast riding them from one end of the malecón to the other. Remember to stop and take in the views from its scenic piers and overlooks, or take a refreshing dip in the sea. 

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Rent Go-karts

4. Eat the Freshest Seafood 

Across the road from the malecón is an endless row of restaurants, bars and cafes. Many of the town’s best restaurants are found here. Harker Board Co is our favorite spot in La Paz to go for craft beers, oven-baked pizzas and spectacular sunset views from their rooftop.

Right next door to Harker Board is Hambrusia, housed in a prominent white building – you can’t miss it! The small Mexican-Asian dishes are superb and pair well with their mezcal cocktails. Further down the road is Mariscos los Laureles, which serves the freshest seafood at affordable prices. Next door is Taco Fish, a locals’ favorite for shrimp and fish tacos!

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Freshest Seafood

5. See the Historic Center

Just two blocks behind the malecón lies the historic center of La Paz. The main focal point of the historic quarters is Jardin Velasco, a green park featuring an ornate gazebo and lots of benches for people-watching.

Overlooking the plaza is the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Paz, the Cathedral of the city. The current building was constructed in the second half of the 19th century, under the orders of Bishop Francisco Francisco Escalante y Moreno. A neoclassical style on the outside, the Cathedral has a pair of twin towers, as often seen in Romanesque architecture throughout the Spanish Empire. 

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - the Historic Center

6. Admire the Baja California Sur Art Museum

Across the road from the Cathedral stands the Baja California Sur Art Museum (MUABCS), the newest museum in the state. Housed in the first Government House that was rebuilt in 1981, the museum showcases contemporary art exhibits from local and national artists.

In coordination with the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, the MUABCS holds a permanent exhibition named “Paisajes”, which displays the work of renowned artists such as Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Rufino Tamayo, Juan Soriano, Carlos Mérida, among others. Right outside the museum is an interesting maze of lamps that make a great backdrop for photography.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Baja California Sur Art Museum

7. Explore the Baja California Sur Regional Museum

Housed in a modern building, the regional museum displays a few thousand-year old remains of human life in the state. You can learn all about the geology, the Jesuit Missions, natural environment and ethnology of the Baja California peninsula.  The museum building was constructed in the 20th century by the architect José Figueroa Vázquez, and houses an extraordinary collection of artifacts.

The objects, finds, explanations and works of art exhibited here reflect universal values, such as the cave paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco, which are a World Heritage Site. The space also reflects the world view of a people who were forged in a desert peninsula, far from the main centers of population in Mexico, endowing them with a unique culture that endures to this day. Within the permanent galleries, this singularity is reflected in the careful curating and the museum displays, as well as the outstanding and fascinating paleontological, archeological, ethnographic and historical collections.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - the Baja California Sur Regional Museum

8. Visit the Museum of Whales

Our favorite museum in La Paz is the Museum of Whales, where you can learn all about the gentle giants that live in the waters off La Paz. This small but interesting museum is said to house the biggest collection of skeletons in Mexico.

See also  20 Best Beaches in Baja California

You’ll find the remains of gigantic whales hanging from the ceilings and interactive displays about the whales, dolphins, and whale sharks that live in the Sea of Cortez. Kids can even get their hands dirty at the fossil-digging sand pit and learn about the various parts of the whale.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - the Museum of Whales

9. Explore the La Paz Serpentarium

The serpentarium in La Paz is home to more than 150 species of fauna endemic to the region. What makes this park special is its focus on rescuing and caring for local species, including snakes, turtles, iguanas, lizards and crocodiles.

The main objective of the La Paz Serpentarium is to raise awareness about the importance of preserving these species and their habitat. This park is also a study center and research place for scientists, researchers, and students of all educational institutions. The park also manages a program called “Adopt a Pet”, where donors can contribute a fixed fee from 50 MXN (US$3) to 1000 MXN ($60) per month.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - the La Paz Serpentarium

10. Snorkel with Sea Lions

La Paz draws a legion of scuba divers and underwater lovers because of all the underwater adventures on offer. After all, the Sea of Cortez is known as “the World’s Aquarium” for good reason – it’s home to a marine ecosystem that is so unique and diverse that it earned the Sea of Cortez special status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

There’s a huge spectrum of marine animals that in the Sea of Cortez, but the sea lions definitely steal the show with their playfulness. It’s incredible snorkeling with them and watching them zoom around, biting our flippers and coming up close to sniff us! The Californian Sea Lions are found here all year round, but it’s only allowed to swim with them between September and May. The breeding season runs from June to August, and it’s forbidden to enter the water (for their own safety).

Los Islotes, a small island off the northern coast of Espiritu Santo, is home of the largest colony of sea lions in the Sea of Cortez. If you book a day trip to Espiritu Santo, you’ll be able to snorkel with the sea lions and spend some time watching them. San Rafaelito has a smaller colony, but it’s closer to La Paz.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Snorkel with Sea Lions

11. Swim with a Whale Shark

La Paz is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with whale sharks, and the operators here are definitely some of the most ethical. It’s only a 30-minute boat ride to the area where the whale sharks are usually found, that means you get to spend less time traveling and more time in the water with them! 

The season runs from October to May, as the gentle giants migrate to the Bay of La Paz to feed in the plankton-rich waters. Swimming with whale sharks is both humbling and awe-inspiring, especially for those traveling with kids. I’ve swum with whale sharks a few times, and can promise it’s a life-changing experience.

Growing up to 12m (39feet) in length, whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea. Unbeknownst to many, whale sharks aren’t actually whales. They are sharks – but they’re often nicked ‘gentle giants’ because they feed on only plankton and pose no threat to humans. Book your whale shark tour here.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Whale Shark

12. Book a Day Trip to Espiritu Santo

The most popular thing to do in La Paz is taking a day trip to Espiritu Santo, an uninhabited island north of Balandra Bay. It was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in the 1990s, and since then, it has remained a pristine wildlife haven. The waters off the island are home to stunning coral reefs and a huge array of marine life: from manta rays to hammerheads and colossal whale sharks. 

The highlight of Espiritu Santo actually lies on the tiny islet of Los Islotes, home to a colony of around 400 sea lions. Most will be basking and barking on the rocks, but enter the sea donned with snorkel and mask and you’re treated to the magical sights of them diving and frolicking around in the water. They’re very playful, curious, and completely accustomed to the humans who regularly come to visit – some can even feel a little too familiar.

Espirtu Santo can only be visited on a boat tour – which usually includes snorkeling with the sea lion colony, watching the blue-footed boobies that migrate here from the Galapagos, and lunch on the gorgeous Playa de Ensenada Grande. We booked this Espiritu Santo tour and had a great female guide who made the tour fun and engaging! 

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Day Trip to Espiritu Santo

13. Frolick on Coromuel Beach

One of the best things to do in La Paz is hit the beach! You don’t have to go far; the city is lined with some of the best beaches in Baja California, most of which have shallow, spearmint waters perfect for swimming. El Coromuel is the closest beach to La Paz, and the malecón runs all the way from the city center to this beach. The beach has crystal-clear waters and a large sandy stretch perfect for lying out under the sun. 

There used to be a slide and water park right on the beach, but sadly that has closed down. These days, you can rent sunloungers, kayaks, paddleboards and floats here and enjoy the meals served at the restaurant. There’s also a pier that extends out to sea that you can stroll along and see the pelicans and seagulls that hang around the area.

14. Spend the Day at Balandra Beach

At just a 30-minute drive from La Paz, you’ll find the legendary Balandra Bay, lauded as the most beautiful beach in Mexico. With magical swirls of sugar-white sand, shallow spearmint water, backed by cacti-studded mountains, Balandra Bay truly is one of the most spectacular beaches I’ve seen (and I’ve been to many stunning beaches in the Maldives, Seychelles and the Caribbean). 

The sheltered bay is in fact made up of seven beaches, all of which can be visited at low tide. To get the best view of the bay, hike up the trail (off the first carpark) which will lead to a viewpoint. It’s a short 15-minute uphill walk; even my kid was able to walk it easily. Back on the beach, there are actually palapas (thatched shade) on the beach that are free to use, and kayaks available for rent. 

Because of previous accidents, Balandra Bay is now highly protected by CONANP (a government agency). Entrance is free, but it’s regulated. Visitors can enter between two timeslots: 8am-12pm; 1-5pm. Only 450 people are allowed in at each timeslot, so if you come too late, you might not be able to enter. I recommend coming 30 minutes before the start of each timeslot. 

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Balandra Beach
Tips for Visiting Balandra Bay
  • I recommend visiting Balandra Bay early in the morning when it’s high tide and there are less people. You’ll see the different shades of blue more clearly. 
  • Balandra Beach is a highly protected area, so there are no amenities or restaurants. Make sure to pack your own snacks and drinks, beach mat and towels.
  • There is free parking right by Balandra Beach; in fact there are two, if the first one is full, you’ll be asked to park at the second one that’s further out and walk 5 minutes to the beach.
  • The water can be cold in winter – we visited in February and the weather was warm but the water was chilly.
  • At low tide, you can walk all the way across to the Hongo de Balandra, a mushroom-shaped rock formation.
  • There isn’t a lot of shade along the bay, the only area to get some shade is under the rocks near the Hongo de Balandra. Pack a hat and sunglasses.
  • Consider booking one of the tours if you plan to spend more quality time here.
See also  Baja Road Trip: 10-Day Baja California Sur Itinerary
Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Balandra Beach

15. Snorkel at Tecolote Beach 

After spending the morning at Balandra, I recommend heading over to Tecolote Beach just 30 minutes away from Balandra Bay. It’s the closest beach to Balandra with facilities and restaurants and it’s located at the tip of the bay. You can do water sports here, rent a beach bench or eat at one of the three seafood restaurants. If you have snorkeling gear, take the opportunity to head out and explore the marine life.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Coromuel Beach

Things to Do around La Paz

16. See the Grey Whales at Magdalena Bay

Each winter, grey whales migrate south to the waters off Baja California to mate and give birth in the warm, shallow waters of the bay. But something else happens here, that makes Magdalena Bay such a special place.

The grey whales that migrate here are extremely friendly and they love to get up close to humans. I’ve never seen this happen anywhere else in the world – and I’ve seen whales in Iceland, Antarctica, Svalbard and Alaska – but only here do the whales allow people to touch, caress, and even kiss them. It’s an impressive phenomenon, and one that only happens here in Magdalena Bay.

The bay is around a 3-hour drive each way, but many operators run day tours from La Paz that include transport. We booked our boat tour with Magdalena Bay Whales; they have been running tours here for 40 years and they charge a reasonable price of US$90/person + taxes or US$450 for a private boat. He’s lived in San Carlos his whole life, and have been a fisherman and boat captain for the last two decades.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Grey Whales at Magdalena Bay

17. Do a Day Trip to Todos Santos

The pueblo mágico (magic town)  of Todos Santos, is just a 1-hour drive away (75km or 43 miles) from La Paz. It is the home base to many artists and is particularly popular amongst surfers in search of smooth waves and sunny beach days.

Todos Santos has a thriving community of artists and galleries, showcasing a diverse range of artwork from traditional Mexican folk art to contemporary pieces. Take a leisurely stroll along Calle Centenario, the main street lined with art galleries, studios, and boutique shops. 

Next, visit the iconic Todos Santos Mission, a beautiful 18th-century church that serves as a centerpiece of the town’s heritage. Wander through the cobblestone streets of the historic center and discover charming adobe buildings adorned with colorful facades and wrought-iron balconies. To get to Todos Santos, it’s best to book a day tour if you don’t have your own transport.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Day Trip to Todos Santos

18. Release Baby Turtles at Tortuguero la Playita

While in Todos Santos, head slightly further south to los Cerritos beach, where you can actually help to release baby turtles and watch them waddle into the sea. Tortuguero la Playita is a turtle conservation camp that protects the turtles that lay their eggs here. Three species of Sea Turtle (Leatherback, Olive Ridley and Black) nest on the beaches of Todos Santos. Olive Ridleys nest year round, Leatherbacks from October – April, and Blacks from September -February. 

They run turtle release programs everyday from December to February from 5.30pm to 7pm, and you’re welcomed to join them with a donation. Check their Facebook page as they update regularly. The volunteers first provide an educational talk about the turtles, then explain the process of hatching, and how the baby turtles need to crawl across the sand to reach the ocean.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Tortuguero la Playita

19. Go Kite Surfing at La Ventana

Less than 1 hour south of La Paz is the Bay of La Ventana, a world-renown kitesurfing destination. The winds and swirls here draw thousands of kitesurfers from around the world here, every winter.

La Ventana translates to ‘the window’ in English, and it earned this name from its geographical location between the mountains and an offshore island, Isla Cerralvo. This window funnels strong winds into the bay, creating the perfect conditions for kitesurfing. Every November to March, the northerly winds (El Norte) blow on most days, between 12 pm and 5 pm. During this time,  the bay is literally covered with colorful kites.  Even if you’ve got no experience, this is a great spot to learn kitesurfing.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Kite Surfing at La Ventana

20. Try Sandboarding at El Mogote Dunes

If you’ve never tried sandboarding, this is a great spot for beginners! El Mogote is a peninsula that juts out in front of the city center, forming the northern shore of the Bay of La Paz. The steep hills of soft, fine sand create the perfect conditions for sandboarding. The top of the dunes overlooks endless stretches of cactus-covered landscape on one side and the deep blues of the Sea of Cortez on the other.

I’ve sandboarded in South Africa, Peru and Mozambique; and I found el Mogote Dunes to be one of the most beautiful spots I’ve sandboarded at. This sandboarding tour includes transport to the area, all your equipment, and basic training to get you cruising down the dunes in no time.

Be sure to choose a tour that departs at sunset, as the views from the top of the dunes are stunning!

Things to do in La Paz, Mexico - Sandboarding at El Mogote Dunes

La Paz Travel Guide

How to Get to La Paz

The La Paz International Airport (LAP) is the main gateway to the area. But it’s a small airport and mainly serves cities in Mexico: Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Tijuana, Culiacán, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, Los Mochis, Ciudad Obregón, and Hermosillo. 

Most international travelers fly to Los Cabos and drive to La Paz (just 2 hours away). Flights from Los Angeles to Los Cabos are really cheap at $150 return (2.5-hour direct flight). You can fly from New York to Los Cabos for as little as $300 return. 

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - How to Get to La Paz

Getting around La Paz 

By Car

La Paz is a big city and most of the beaches are a drive away, so it’s best to rent a car. If you’re planning to do a Baja California road trip, it’s wise to rent a car to explore all the hot springs, rugged deserts and beaches of Baja California. The distances aren’t too long and driving is easy, plus you’ll get to experience some off-road adventures while driving on certain dusty, unpaved roads.

For all my car rentals in Mexico, I always book with Discover Cars as they offer the best prices and excellent customer service. An economy rental car with pickup/dropoff at La Paz Airport costs only $150 for a whole week, which is less than $21 a day. You will need to pay extra for insurance and add-ons, but that’s a really decent price to pay. Search for car rentals in La Paz here!

See also  25 Fun Things to Do in Los Cabos 2024

By Colectivo/Bus

Colectivos (shared minibus or minivan-like vehicles) run all around La Paz, but they don’t go to the beaches outside of La Paz. The colectivo fares are cheap, and you just need to flag them down along when you see one. Be sure to have Mexican pesos in hand to pay the fares.

By Taxi/Uber

You can easily flag down a taxi from anywhere in La Paz, but make sure you negotiate and agree on a rate before starting the ride. Uber works rather well and prices are very cheap; a trip within the city center of La Paz won’t cost more than $5.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Getting around La Paz 

How Many Days to Visit La Paz?

We spent 4 days in La Paz as part of our Baja California road trip. I would have preferred to spend at least 1 week here. There’s so much to explore, especially along the coast. We didn’t get to visit all the beaches we wanted. Considering there are so things to do in La Paz, I’ll suggest spending a week here and another week driving around Baja California Sur. 

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - How Many Days to Visit La Paz

Best Time to Visit La Paz 

Generally, the peak tourist season in La Paz runs from November to April when the weather is most pleasant and chances of seeing whales and whale sharks are at the highest. During this time, temperatures ranging from 24-29°C (75-85°F). This period coincides with the dry season, offering plenty of sunshine and little to no rain. However, this is also when prices for accommodation and activities tend to be higher and the sea is colder. 

For lower prices and less people, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of May to June or September to October. During these months, temperatures can reach around 31-34°C (87-93°F), and there’s a higher chance of encountering brief afternoon showers. 

The summer months from July to August are the hottest and most humid, with temperatures often exceeding 32°C (90°F) and occasional tropical storms. However, this time can be ideal for travelers looking for budget-friendly deals and quieter beaches.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Best Time to Visit La Paz 

Is it Safe to Visit La Paz?

La Paz is considered one of the safest cities in Mexico. Local authorities in La Paz, along with the Mexican government, often implement various measures to ensure the safety of tourists. These measures may include increased police presence in tourist areas, the installation of surveillance cameras, and collaboration with hotel staff and tour operators to enhance security protocols.

Regardless, it’s important to follow common-sense safety practices, such as avoiding isolated areas at night, securing valuables, and using reputable transportation services. Additionally, staying informed about local developments and consulting recent travel advisories can further contribute to a safe and enjoyable experience in La Paz.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Is it Safe to Visit La Paz

Travel Insurance for La Paz

Don’t forget to consider purchasing travel insurance before your trip! Whether you’re going to La Paz for three days or a month, it’s important to have travel insurance in case of incidents. It’ll protect you from emergencies, flight cancellation or loss of baggage.

If you’re unsure where to start, Safetywing offers excellent options for travelers. I personally use their Nomad Insurance plan and highly recommend it for comprehensive coverage and peace of mind during your travels. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.

Where to Stay in La Paz

Airbnb: San Jose

We stayed at an excellent 2-bedroom Airbnb (pictured below) just one block from the malecón and steps from popular restaurants like Harker Board and Tiger Club. It had a great location, spacious living area and comfortable beds. Highly recommend it! Check rates here.

Luxury: CostaBaja Resort & Spa

CostaBaja Resort & Spa offers a luxurious retreat nestled along the tranquil shores of the Sea of Cortez. This upscale resort features elegant rooms and suites with modern amenities and stunning ocean views. Guests can indulge in gourmet dining at the on-site restaurants, relax by the infinity pool, or pamper themselves with a rejuvenating spa treatment. Check rates here.

Mid-Range: Hotel Catedral La Paz

Hotel Catedral La Paz offers comfortable accommodations in the heart of downtown La Paz. Located just steps away from the Malecón and the city’s main attractions, this mid-range hotel provides convenient access to shopping, dining, and entertainment options. The hotel features cozy rooms with modern furnishings and amenities, as well as a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city and the bay. Check rates here.

Budget: Hotel HBlue

Hotel HBlue offers budget-friendly accommodations in a convenient location near the Malecón and downtown La Paz. This simple yet comfortable hotel provides clean and cozy rooms with basic amenities, making it a practical choice for budget-conscious travelers. Check rates here.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Where to Stay in La Paz

Where to Eat in La Paz

Mariscos los Laureles

Overlooking the malecón, this humble local joint serves the freshest seafood at affordable prices. We had the best shrimps and fish here, and didn’t even have to spend alot! Read reviews here.

Taco Fish

A local’s favorite, this joint is the go-to for Baja-style fish and shrimp tacos. You’re served the tacos in their simple form (just shrimp and tortilla), but there’s a buffet of dressings, guacamole and salads that you can use to elevate your tacos. Read reviews here.


Housed in a prominent white building, this cool and hip gastrobar serves small Mexican-Asian dishes that pair well with their mezcal cocktails. Read reviews here.

Harker Board Co

Harker Board Co is our favorite spot in La Paz to go for craft beers, oven-baked pizzas and spectacular sunset views from their rooftop. Read reviews here.

Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico - Where to Eat in La Paz

Further Reading on Mexico

I hope you’ve found this La Paz travel guide and comprehensive list of things to do in La Paz useful! La Paz was my favorite spot on our Baja road trip, and one of the coolest beach towns we’ve been in Mexico. Let me know in the comments field below if there are any other fun places to visit in La Paz worth mentioning in this article. 

For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support! 

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Things to Do in La Paz, Mexico

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