Cathedral de Nuestra Senora de la Paz (Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace)
The Malecon (‘Sea Wall’)
In 1535, Hernán Cortés arrived in the bay by La Paz and named it Santa Cruz; he attempted to start a colony but the hostility of the environment forced him to retreat a year later. In 1596 Sebastian Vizcaino arrived, giving the area its modern name, La Paz (Peace). In 1720, Jesuit missionaries attempted to settle the area. This lasted only 30 years as indian revolts, disease and Baja’s harsh setting led to abandonment. Only in 1811 a permanent settlement was established, and in 1829 La Paz become Baja California’s capital when the historic capital of Loreto was leveled by a hurricane.
A strong pearling industry kept La Paz going until the 1930’s when the oyster beds were destroyed by disease. La Paz languished until the trans-peninsula highway was completed in 1973, and La Paz became capital of the newly formed state of Baja California Sur in 1974.
Today La Paz, with its rich history, delightful people, delicious food, perfect weather, and an easy-going lifestyle welcomes travelers from all over the world. It is a city that exists for its residents, which is a great benefit for visitors, who get to experience the simple and happy life of a genuine Mexican community.
Marine Life and Activities
Located on a large bay (Bahia de La Paz) on the Sea of Cortes, La Paz is 137 miles by road north of the southern tip of the peninsula (Los Cabos). The waters surrounding La Paz and it’s offshore islands offer some of Baja’s most incredible diving and snorkeling. You can go on day and multi-day dives or snorkel right off one of the many beaches.
The Sea of Cortez is a feeding, breeding and nursery ground for some of the world’s rarest marine animals, including 32 species of marine mammals, 170 species of sea birds, 3,000 species of invertebrates, and 875 species of fish. The 900 or more islands and islets in the gulf serve as important nesting sites for migratory and residential birds and breeding grounds for sea lions. The coral and rocky reefs that dot its shallow waters are home to a wide variety of endemic species, including corals that do not exist in any other sea. World-famous explorer Jacques Cousteau named the Sea of Cortez “The Aquarium of the World”.
La Paz is one of the favorite beach areas for Mexican and foreign visitors. While scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing and ecotourism trips to the islands enchant the visitors but it is the beaches that keep people coming back. The best beaches for swimming and sunbathing are found north of the city on the road to Tecolote. Playa Palmira, Playa el Coromuel, Playa el Caimancito, Playa del Tesoro, Playa Pichilingue, Playa Balandra, Playa el Tecolote and Playa el Coyote are havens for the beach lover.
Dolphins near Isla Espiritu Santo
California Sea Lions and Pelicans
Is it safe to travel to La Paz?
On March 14, 2010 the U.S. government has issued a Mexico travel warning which has been renewed on May 6, 2010. According to the U.S Department of State “Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable.”
While travelers should remain alert to their surroundings, they should understand what is really happening. Mexico has become more aggressive in fighting drug cartels. This has resulted in some gun battles in both Baja California and Baja California Sur in the last 6 months of 2009. No foreigners were injured in these events.
Lap Paz remains one of the safest cities of Mexico. Here is the article in USA Today that talks about the actual crime rates in Mexico and about the disconnect between the statistics and the perception of the public.
Mexico’s violence not as widespread as seems
Where to stay in La Paz?
As owners of vacation rental condos, we suggest that you look at the option to rent directly from owners. This way you can stay in a large condo or home, as opposed to a small hotel room. Owner direct rates are a great way to save some money that you can better spend on abundant activities in the area. Take a look at Paraiso del Mar Beach and Golf Resort. This vacation rental property sits on one or the largest and finest beaches in the area and provides free transportation to the downtown of La Paz.