By Alex Navarro
La Paz is the capital city of Baja California Sur and it is located 81 kilometers (50 miles) north of the town of Todos Santos and 202 kilometers (126 miles) north of Cabo San Lucas. The history of La Paz is very vast but one interesting fact is that the first European to arrive in La Paz was Spaniard Fortún Ximénes in 1533 and that he thought that he had found an island. La Paz is a bay on the Sea of Cortez, also called the Gulf of California. In 2005, UNESCO declared 244 islands and protected areas of the Sea of Cortez a World Heritage Site. There are hundreds of species of fish, including the gracious whale shark, and more than 25 species of marine mammals, like playful dolphins in this sea. It is a breeding ground for sea lions, marine turtles, and whales; there are approximately 9 whale species, 22 dolphin species, and 5 turtle species. It is also home to 30% of the world’s marine mammals, and 39% of the world’s fish species. Plus about 4,848 species of macro-invertebrates and 626 forms of macro algae are also found here. The Sea of Cortez has about 900 islands, providing nesting and habitats for hundreds of resident and migratory birds, and most of the islands are uninhabited. The Sea of Cortez was called the World’s Aquarium by the famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
La Paz has amazing sunsets and a calm ambiance, and it has a very pretty Malecón (boardwalk) with many sculptures, benches and food spots. From Cabo the easiest way to La Paz is to take Highway 1 to Todos Santos, then go around Todos Santos via the bypass road and then continue on to La Paz. It is under 2 hours driving from Cabo.
As you can see and imagine La Paz is the perfect place for adventures, so please let me present to you some cool trips and activities from three great adventure companies that are good friends of us here at DESTINO. I think they are great choices for you to choose to have an unforgettable experience in La Paz. These outfitters are Cabo Adventures, Wild Canyon and Baja Cat:
CABO ADVENTURES (cabo-adventures.com)
Private Sea of Cortez Adventure - step aboard their exclusive and private yacht for relaxation and pampering by an attentive crew as you take in captivating views of Cabo that will leave you breathless. You’ll cruise out toward the Espiritu Santo Island in the Sea of Cortez where you will have the opportunity to splash and snorkel alongside sea lions. What makes this private Sea of Cortez adventure one of a kind are the sea lions. The rocky Los Islotes islands, which are located at the northern end of the Espiritu Santos islands, are home to numerous sea lions. These creatures, now accustomed to the comings and goings of people, spend their time basking in the sun, splashing in the water and, of course, barking their unique hellos. If you’re lucky, some of these curious mammals will make their way over to the yacht to get a closer look at you (whether you’re on the boat or snorkeling), and in the process, you’ll have a chance to say hello right back. Private tours are perfect if you want an intimate trip with a close group of friends, family or maybe a group from work. Perhaps you’re planning your holiday to celebrate a special milestone, like a birthday or an anniversary, or maybe you want to propose to that special someone in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Their friendly and multilingual staff show you how to use the snorkeling equipment they provide and mix the perfect drink for you too. Your day will include: a light snack on the way to La Paz, a light breakfast, a deli style lunch buffet, open bar after snorkel activities, snorkel equipment, towels, professional bilingual guides, round trip transportation in an air-conditioned van from your hotel in Cabo San Lucas or San José del Cabo. Restrictions: minimum age of 8 years old, previous snorkeling experience recommended, guests with respiratory problems, limited mobility and expectant mothers may not participate. What to bring: swimsuit, hat, biodegradable sunscreen, non-slip shoes, change of clothes, light jacket or sweater.
Sea of Cortez Wildlife & Snorkeling Adventure - on this tour you will enjoy a relaxing and scenic cruise on a luxury catamaran while witnessing gorgeous views of beaches, crystal coves, and marine wildlife. Swim and snorkel with expert guides amid tropical fish, corals and more as you explore the Sea of Cortez. Also relax in the warm sun at a beach paradise, Isla Partida, with access to an unlimited open bar. On this snorkeling tour adventure, you’ll have the chance of close encounters with dolphins, schools of exotic fish, sea lions, manta rays, and whales among other breathtaking undersea creatures. Discover some of the most extraordinary and remote wonders of the world in this tour. You can also enjoy this amazing experience in your own private group. Your day will include all the same things as the previous tour and the restrictions and what to bring items are also the same.
Whale Shark Snorkeling from Cabo to La Paz - There are a few experiences in the world that match swimming alongside the largest fish in the ocean. The tour stretches from Cabo to La Paz and starts on land, where you’ll get an intimate introduction to the Baja landscape on your way to the sea. Experience a scenic drive to La Paz and receive a back-door tour of Baja California Sur on this ecological adventure. Once you’ve arrived at the water, the expert tour guides will brief you on everything you need to know about whale sharks in La Paz. After that, you’ll take a short boat ride to the areas where these magnificent animals are found, and you’ll get a chance to go snorkeling with them and other marine animals. Jump in and snorkel beside these massive yet peaceful fish, and witness the enormity and beauty that nature has to offer. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for dolphins, rays, whales, and other exciting sea life. Whale Shark season officially begins in October. A whale shark tour allows you to be up close to one of these majestic animals which is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life. You’ll learn a lot during your swim with these creatures, which it should be noted are sharks, not whales. Your day will include: snorkel equipment, wetsuit, towels, bottled water, light breakfast, full "Baja style" lunch, fresh juices and flavored waters, professional bilingual guides, round trip transportation in an air-conditioned van from Los Cabos to La Paz. Restrictions: minimum age of 8 years old, fairly vigorous swimming required, previous snorkeling experience recommended, per maritime regulations life jackets must be worn at all times, guests with respiratory problems, limited mobility, neck or back problems and expectant mothers may not participate. What to bring: same as all previous tours. This tour is also available for private trips.
WILD CANYON (wildcanyon.com.mx)
Wild Bay Beach Day - relax in their private beach club, play in the sand, and go paddle boarding, kayaking, or snorkeling. Climb their hillside on their beautiful walking paths and watch the sunset from above. This is the perfect beach club spot.
Wild Bay Sea lion Snorkel and Relax at Sea of Cortez - explore the sea getting up close and personal with the flora and fauna that La Paz has to offer you. Take a boat to where you can snorkel with some friendly sea lions. During this adventure enjoy a delicious Baja-style lunch that is prepared locally. Enjoy the beach club and all the beach toys and gear like in the previous activity too.
Wild Bay Espiritu Santo Island Explorer - go to Espiritu Santo Island and feel the smooth sand in your toes. Swim in the refreshing and relaxing crystal clear blue waters. During this adventure also enjoy a delicious Baja-style lunch. Espiritu Santo Island is a majestic landscape that you should not miss out during your visit to Baja. Its calm environment will leave you totally captivated with its magic that you will not want to leave.
Wild Bay Whale Shark Adventure - go out on a boat where you can snorkel and get close to the wonderful whale shark. This is an experience that you cannot miss out on either. Travel to new places and swim in the calm waters on this amazing tour.
Wild Canyon is also renowned for their fantastic adventure park right between San Lucas and San José in Los Cabos. It is perfect place for kids and adults of all ages.
BAJA CAT (bajacat.com)
Charter tours - Baja Cat private charters are ALL INCLUSIVE, meaning everything is provided for exploring, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, cruising, beach-combing, etc. Scuba is also available (*there is an additional cost for scuba diving.) The crew are experienced, educated, and professional people. Baja Cat is a charter sailing catamaran that has comfortable cushions where you can feel the fresh breeze, and enjoy the comfort and relaxation as you’re served cold drinks or cocktails and cruise the calm waters of the World’s Aquarium. Don’t be surprised if a pod of dolphins tags along, or large Mobula rays flap out of the water and try to fly. You’ll also snorkel with sea lions and tropical fish, or maybe experience the gigantic whale shark. Later in the day you may be exploring a deserted beach, or snorkeling along a coral reef to watch the thousands of colorful fish darting here and there. Or, perhaps you’d rather just lay-out on a deserted beach. There are lots of options, and you’ll have time to try them all. Some people like to take a paddle board, or a two-person kayak, and move in close to mangrove swamps where there are beautiful aquatic birds everywhere. Top quality food is prepared on board and available throughout the charter period, right along with an open bar and a variety of soft drinks, snacks, and beer. A marine biologist serves as hostess and snorkel assistant. Private bathrooms, with fresh water showers, along with laundered towels soaps and shampoos are also on hand. An additional dive boat is always in attendance to get you up close and personal with sea life, or into that special cove you want to explore. There are half-day, full-day and overnight charters. It includes: a Chef on board, local farm fresh vegetables and fruits brought daily, two meals, snacks, bottled water, soft drinks and beer, open bar, fresh water showers, private bathrooms, freshly laundered towels, new snorkel equipment, snorkel life vests, wetsuits, quality ground transportation. Also 2 paddle boards, 2 kayaks, inside air conditioning, swim steps and a stainless ladder for easy access to the water, built-in trampolines for laying-out over the water, ice and purified water, beach towels, and a full galley-kitchen. Wave runners are also available on a rental basis.
I hope this list of activities from these cool companies gives you some fun ideas to maybe explore La Paz this vacation. I am sure you will have a memorable time! So check out their websites for all the extra details and information, and to perhaps book your next adventure.
*Credits to Cabo Adventures, Wild Canyon and Baja Cat for tour texts taken from their websites and promotional material, and then edited for this publication.