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By Patti Morrow
On the shores of the Mexico’s southern Baja peninsula is La Paz, an authentic and colorful Mexican city whose name translates “the Peace.” Boasting 340 days of sunshine a year, beaches as beautiful as the Caribbean and a dessert climate that keeps the days warm and dry and the nights cool, you are spoiled for choice of things to do in La Paz.
1. Swim with Sea Lions
Resting lazily on the brilliant blue-green waters of the Sea of Cortez, La Paz was deemed “the world’s aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau because of the abundance and variety of sea life cushioned within its depths. Take a short boat to the protected waters of Isla Epiritu Santo Island where you’ll find a rocky outcrop hosting a colony of wild sea lions. Don your wet suit and snorkel gear and slip into the chilly water and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with a baby sea lion, ready for play.
2. Consume Chocolate Clams
Clams dipped in chocolate? Hardly! These mollusks are so named for their brown outer shell. They are served open with fresh lime which you are instructed to squeeze onto the live meat and watch the clam move. Then… you eat it. Be sure to wash it down with a Michelada, a local cerveza of beer, lime juice and optional sauces served in a salt-rimmed glass.
3. Stroll the Malécon
The boardwalk hugging the shoreline, called the malécon, is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Mexico. People stroll along the malécon safety any time of day or night, but especially to view the stunning sunsets. The malécon bustles daily with both tourists and residents enjoying the variety of restaurants and small shops, viewing the sculptures along the way or simply enjoy an afternoon of rollerblading along the paved pathway.
4. Visit Historic Downtown
For an afternoon away from the beach, take a stroll throughout downtown, visiting La Paz’s central plaza and garden, the historic Catedral de Neustra Senora de La Paz, the aquarium, and plenty of shops along the way. Stop and get a copy of the Baja Citizen, La Paz’s English newspaper and Allende Bookstore which has a large supply of English books.
5. Pamper Yourself at a Luxury Resort
Located right on the Sea of Cortez, CostaBaja Resort and Spa enjoys the distinction of being the only 5-star resort in La Paz. The resort property encompasses a beach club, marina, spa, Gary Player golf course, palapas-strewn beach, infinity pool and a selection of restaurants. CostaBaja does a fine job of tempting its guests to never leave the premises.
6. Hike to the Top of El Morito
Sail to El Morito, a small deserted island near Isla Espiritu Santo, off the coast of La Paz with a crystal aqua bay framed by craggy cliffs. Our boat’s captain doubled as our guide as we hiked to the top of the cliffs. There isn’t a path, so there is a bit of tricky, hand-over-hand climbing, but the panoramic views of the Sea of Cortez from the top are worth the effort.
7. Engage in Water Sports
If you like being in the water, then you’ll be in heaven in La Paz. The coral banks off Isla Espiritu Santo for great for snorkeling and diving. La Paz is one of the best locations for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding because of the shallow, crystal clear inlets. Hop on a boat to try some game fishing, whale-watching, or to simply relax.
8. Chill Out at Tecolote Beach
Drenched in sunshine nearly year-round, Playa el Tecolate is at the northern tip of La Paz’s peninsula and best place for an authentic Mexican beach experience. There are palapas and showers, chairs and umbrellas for rent, fire pits, and two restaurants serving fresh grilled snapper.
9. Play Golf
Just a few years ago, there were no golf courses in or near La Paz. Now, three world-class golf courses are available, including the first Gary Player golf course in Mexico, with panoramic views of the Sea of Cortez at CostaBaja Resort, one at Paraiso Del Mar, and another at Bahia de los Suenos.
10. Safest Destination in Mexico
In a noteworthy move that recognized the safety of La Paz, the U.S. State Department’s 2012 travel update stated no security concerns and no advisory in effect for La Paz and the entire South Baja region, reaffirming La Paz’s reputation of “peace” and one of the safest places in the world to live or visit.
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Patti Morrow was born with incurable wanderlust, eventually leading her to a career as a freelance travel writer and photographer. She specializes in women’s adventure travel and has traveled throughout most of the United States and 35 countries abroad.
Patti has been published in numerous media, including International Living, Women’s Home Journal, Travel Post Monthly, MORE magazine, WAVEJourney.com, and Diva Toolbox and was featured on Tori Johnson (of Good Morning America) Spark and Hustle.
She is the editor of Luggage, Lipstick and Laptop, an online resource for women’s adventure travel, and is a member of ITWPA, AWAI, Intrepid Travel, Media Kitty, and TravelWriters.com.