La Paz, Baja California Sur
“God this is beautiful” I said as we drove down beside the malecon. “Bill I think we should retire here.”
Of course this was only one of the many places in Mexico that we fell in love with. It has remained a very sentimental favorite for us.” Dorothy Bell
Founded: May 3 1535
Elevation: – Sea Level
Climate: – Desert. Little rainfall.
Daily average temperature:
January High 23.6 C (74.5F) Low 11.2C (52.2F)
July High 36.6C (97.9F) Low 22.9C (73.2F)
Hurricane season June to November 30.
Rainy season: Minimal rain in the desert. Occasional unpredictable downpours. High humidity July to September.
High Tourist Season – Christmas, Semana Santa (Holy week) The bulk of Americans and Canadians come to La Paz between November and March.
Population – 216,000
Peace? Anything but…
The Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortez arrived on May 3, 1535 in the Bay of La Paz. (Indian hunter gatherers had lived here and throughout the Baja for over 10,000 years previous. You can visit many cave paintings nearby.) Cortez’s attempts at forming a colony – named Santa Cruz – failed.
Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1596 attempted to settle the area again – renaming the settlement La Paz. The Jesuits then built a mission settlement in 1710 but it was abandoned as were the others due to disease, harsh desert climate and the Indian uprisings.
In 1854 US promoter and entrepreneur William Walker captured the Baja and made La Paz the capital of his newly formed republic. It lasted 5 months as the US didn’t support the annexation.
John Steinbeck wrote the novel “The Pearl” (1947) and discusses La Paz in his “Log from the Sea of Cortez.” The strong pearl diving industry here was destroyed by disease in the 30’s.
The Trans-peninsula highway was completed in 1973 and fisherman, explorers and tourists arrived in droves to discover the marvels of this land.
La Paz Today
La Paz is the Capital city of Baja California Sur and thus has the advantage of government money and educational centers.
It is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy your time under the ancient laurel trees or coconut and date palms.. There are beaches, city plazas and of course the 5 kilometer malecon and a number of places to sit and watch the magnificent sunsets.
Enjoy the city square or the 19th century cathedral. Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Paz by Dominican priests on the site of the city’s original Jesuit mission. You can see pictures from the original mission here.
Seafood, seafood, seafood. Dorado, sailfish, tuna, blue marlin, rock oysters, clams and abalone and lobster. There is a plethora of good eats with some international cuisines fusing with the local. You will find Italian, Japanese and even a very good Chinese restaurant!
French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau dubbed the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world” and La Paz sits at the sea’s southern door. Fishing is excellent and boat charters are much more reasonable than the mega resort are to the south.
The natural environment attracts divers, eco-tourists, naturalists and whale watchers. Whale watching is spectacular and provides eco-friendly employment to many families.
Beaches are plentiful and vary from quiet and deserted to family party places. Take your pick. If you are a boater or kyaker you can explore many pristine islands and beautiful unspoiled bays. There are many small cruise boats for those that want to discover more of this amazing sea playground.
The Regional Anthropology and History Museum of South Baja California the museum has paleontological and archaeological displays about the region including fossils dating back to 60 million years, cave paintings and engraved of the original Indians on the peninsula and the regions missions.
There are numerous Mexican Celebrations you can experience in La Paz. It is also known for a very entertaining Carnival in the spring as well as a plethora of off-road races from various parts of the peninsula. Go here for a good local calendar.
Drive Highway 1 down the Baja or ferry from Mazatlan or Topolobampo (Los Mochis) on the mainland of Mexico.