Clients who want something more from a Baja California experience
than the modern resorts and clubs of Cabo San Lucas should visit La
The state capital is located on a huge bay on the east coast of
Baja, about a two-hour drive from Cabo. It is an excellent
launching point for fishing, sailing and diving expeditions to the
Sea of Cortes, the aquatic paradise that inspired John Steinbeck
and Jacques Cousteau.
Several stark desert islands off the coast provide bountiful
coves of blue-green water, surrounded by some of the most barren
landscape south of Death Valley.
English and Dutch pirates once operated around La Paz, raiding
Spanish galleons laden with treasures from the Orient. Hundreds of
years later La Paz was one of the world’s top, pearl-producing
regions, until the oysters disappeared in the 1940s, the victim of
either over-harvesting or a mysterious disease.
Later, in the 1950s, La Paz was a favorite getaway for such
Hollywood celebrities as John Wayne and Bing Crosby, who went on
fishing expeditions in the Sea of Cortes.
La Paz is not for everyone, especially clients looking for wide
sandy beaches. The beaches around the city tend to be dirty and
crowded. Clients who go to Mexico for all-inclusive resorts, Planet
Hollywood and handy McDonalds will be disappointed in La Paz.
Golfing fanatics will be downright shocked there are no golf
courses in La Paz.
But the spectacular bay of La Paz and the Sea of Cortes are ripe
for adventure. Half-day snorkeling trips, led by Baja Quest, head
to Los Islotes, a small cropping of rock that serves as a home to a
loud, playful colony of sea lions. You can snorkel in the warm
water while the curious sea lions check you out, diving to the
bottom and shooting toward you, just to see if you’ll react. On the
way back, the groups stop in a small cove on Isla Espiritu Santo, a
14-mile deserted island. There are several coves, each an oasis in
the desert heat. Longer snorkeling and diving excursions visit Isla
San Jose, where visitors can romp through a forest of the world’s
biggest cactuses. Overnight visitors often park their boats at Isla
San Francisco, just north of La Paz, where rugged cliffs protect a
horseshoe-shaped bay, blocking the winds of the Sea of Cortes.
Call Baja Quest at 011-52-612-123-5320. Web site:
Baja Expeditions Inc. also arranges a variety of excursions. For
example, a three-night dive package stops at Los Islotes, Santo and
Cerralvo Island, where giant mantas accompany divers. The cost is
$1,075 per person, including hotel rooms.
Call 858-581-3311. Web site: www.bajaex.com.
Perhaps the best way to explore the islands is by sailboat.
Moorings Inc. (800-535-7289; www. moorings. com) runs charters,
including bareboats, out of La Paz.
Where to Stay
La Casa Mexicana, a bed and breakfast located a
block off the malecon, is one of the newer additions to La Paz. Its
five guest rooms, most with bay views, rent for $65 to $85 a night.
La Casa Mexicana pays 10% commission on undiscounted rooms.
Web site: www.lapace nalapaz.com.
La Concha Beach Resorts and Condos is the only
real resort property close to the center of town. The condo suites
offer great views and a separate pool. Be aware that the hotel can
be loud and crowded. The complex includes a dive shop and a
restaurant. Rates range from $95 to $260 per night for a
Web site: www.laconcha. com.
La Posada de Engelbert, a collection of rooms
and casitas owned by crooner Engelbert Humperdink, is located in a
quiet neighborhood on the south end of the bay about 15 minutes out
of town. John Wayne used to stay at La Posada, where rooms have old
Mexico charm stone floors, hardwood furniture, wrought-iron
fixtures and fireplaces.
The property includes a pool, a restaurant and a beachside
Rates range from $65 for a room to $95 for a casita with a
Web site: www.laposada engelbert.com.
Web site: www.vivala paz.com for general information on La Paz.