I really enjoyed the 17 days I spent in Baja last year. I wasn’t ready to leave, but decided to head back for fear the unanticipated cloud cover in San Diego was prohibiting my solar panels from sustaining life in the Winnie without me. So I left La Paz last March before I was ready to go. I was eager to return this year and pick up where I left off.
Last year, I entered the Baja at the Tijuana border crossing, traveled south all the way to Cabo San Lucas, looping back up to La Paz where I flew back to Tijuana. This year, I entered via ferry from Mazatlan with the intention to reverse my trip northbound. Not wishing to subject blog readers to a series of “reruns,” I didn’t plan to blog about Baja on my repeat visit. Yet as I branch out on my longer stay this time, it’s impossible to keep the camera in its case. La Paz is just too lively!
The Central Zone of La Paz nestles a beautiful horseshoe-shaped waterfront overlooking the Sea of Cortez. In the middle of the bay is a small peninsula, “El Mogote,” which tends to shelter the waterfront, giving a calm, peaceful feel in keeping with the city’s name which translates to “The Peace.”
The waterfront is rimmed by a wide, heavily trafficked multi-use path. And when I say “multi-use,” I mean nowhere are you going to find a more creative mix of fitness and fun. Construction on the malecón continues from last year, with the extension now linking the Marina de La Paz in the southwest to the Marina Palmira at the northeast end of the bay. It’s mayhem on the malecón with the usual mainstream marathoners, running, power-walking, and riding bikes. But then there are also skateboarders, rollerbladers, dog walkers, strollers, and even the occasional recumbent bike fashioned from a lawn chair. Can a place be lively and relaxing at the same time?
Another thing I love about La Paz is the close proximity to pristine beaches, the best of which are Balandra and Tecolote, just a 20 minute ride by bus. The EcoBaja bus line offers frequent schedules throughout the day. For 100 Pesos round trip, or $5 US, the bus follows the bay, dropping off passengers at the public beaches along the way. Last year, I spent a good bit of time at Playa Balandra which is on the “lee side,” meaning the water is glassy calm. This year I ventured a bit further to Playa Tecolote on the windward side. Bigger waves, fluffier sand, and more beachside bars and restaurants. It also appears to be a boondocker’s dream.
I visited the beach on three separate occasions while in La Paz…once to Balandra and twice to Tecolote. Only one of the three times was I able to “gut up” enough to get in the water. It’s been unseasonably cool on the Baja this trip, and in spite of repeated attempts, I just can’t seem to make myself “submerge.” Last year, I was in shorts and flipflops the entire visit. This year, I am wearing a fleece jacket over my swimsuit, and a sarong wrapped around my neck like a winter scarf. Still…..as the ad campaign says, ”No bad days in Baja!”