La Paz: A More Affordable Baja, Mexico

by  Karen Gardiner | Dec 26, 2013
Baja California
Baja California / Marion Carniel/iStock

We all know Cabo – the beaches, resorts, and water sports of this Baja Californian city make it a heavily touristed winter getaway. However, La Paz – a quiet little town about 100 miles to the north – makes for a less-crowded, and affordable alternative. The town is set on the Sea of Cortez (described by Jacques Cousteau as "God’s Aquarium") and offers access to an array of outdoor activities including swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and whale watching.

Getting There:
Aeroméxico offers flights to La Paz from New York City (with at least one connection through Mexico City) for under $500. West coasters have it much easier, with non-stop flights from Los Angeles going for under $350 round-trip. Another option is to fly into Los Cabos  (Aeroméxico begins non-stop service from New York on January 18), rent a car at the airport (Alamo charges around $60 for one week) and make a leisurely 100 mile drive up Highway 1. An hour after setting off, midway between Cabo and La Paz, you can pull over at Todos los Santos, a small artist colony and farming village. Designated a Pueblo Mágico by the Secretary of Mexican Tourism in 2006, Todos los Santos is home to numerous small art galleries, boutiques, and, of course, pristine beaches.

What to Do:
Aside from the appeal of warmer temperatures, the winter months, from November to April, are the best months of year for whale watching – an estimated 18,000 California gray whales migrate south in the fall toward the lagoons of Baja California, where they spend the winter. Winter is also an excellent time to dive or snorkel with whale sharks, sea lions, manta rays, and hundreds of species of fish in the Sea of Cortez, one of the most biodiverse bodies of water in the world.

Where to Stay: 
CostaBaja Resort & Spa, La Paz Mexico  is the first and only 5-star resort in La Paz, but that dosn't mean it's beyond the reach of most travelers. The resort features two pools, a beach club, and spa, and all guest rooms offers views of the Sea of Cortez. From the resort's own marina you can take daily whale watching excursions through FunBaja. Rates start as low as $181 per night during high season and, if you stay four nights or more, the hotel offers free transportation from Cabo.

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