It was on my bucket list for such a long time – México 🇲🇽!
Finally in March we packed our luggage and spent 3 weeks there, in different places. We spent our first week in Mexico City but I’ll tell you about that stay in another post. One of the highlights was definitely Baja California Sur. Our trip started in the beautiful little city of La Paz, located on top of B.C.S directly at the sea. The AirBnB we stayed at was a ten minute drive outside the city (El Centenario) and I can highly recommend this beautiful place from Dan & Wynn, it’s called Casa Xochitl, check it out here, it’s an amazing place to calm down!
La Paz has a beautiful beach promenade which invites for walks and is by the way a nice spot to watch the sunset from. There are plenty of restaurants along the promenade, however what needs to be said is that most of them are not outstanding, let’s say at least not if your European 😉. Let’s clarify on something you need to know before you go – the whole area of B.C.S is quite overrun by American tourists, first because there is a nice road trip you can do from the city of Tijuana (right at the US/Mexican border) all the way down to B.C.S and second because American Airlines is offering short and cheap flights to both, La Paz and Cabo San Lucas which makes it kind of a weekend destination for many Americans living close to the border. So given these facts, unfortunately the good Mexican cuisine is not found very often especially not along the promenade. What we found instead and really recommend is an Italian one called Oliva al mare – reservation highly recommended since it’s moste the time fully booked even on weekdays as it is one of the rare good restaurants in the area and it seems, from what we’ve seen across the whole country, Mexicans are really loving Italian food.
If you are looking for European breakfast make sure to check out Doce Cuarenta, not only are they offering the best French croissants I ever ate on this planet, they also have incredibly good Mexican coffee, a must do if you are a coffee lover ☕️😍!
THE BEACHES OF LA PAZ
Well, a story for itself 😌 but let’s start from the beginning. The region of La Paz is quite famous for its beautiful beaches with crystal clear water like you can find it in the Caribbean. The one which is most likely the most famous one is Playa Balandra. It looked really nice and seems to be in a preserved area so we were really interested in visiting since we also got recommendations from colleagues who have been there some years before. Unfortunately the Corona pandemic and the greed for money of some people destroyed that little paradise, at least a part of it. No question, the beach and its surrounding area mus still be stunning but the restrictions they implemented are killing the vibes. In order to prevent Corona from spreading too fast, the number of people who can access the beach at the same time has been restricted – which, also with regard to the flora & fauna there – is not a bad thing. BUT! even though Corona measures are gone now, the restriction is still in place + you have to pay a fee in order to enter. So guess you can imagine what that means – the beach is pretty famous, everyone wants to stay there & access is limited: you have two possibilities to access the beach: in the morning or in the afternoon – yes this means, additionally to the restrictions already mentioned there is another restriction: you can only stay there for three hours, after that time you have to leave because the “second” shift wants to enter. If you want to stay at the beach you need to line up around/before 8am, if you’re lucky you can stay there for three hours, if not you either have to wait until 2/3pm or you need to go to another beach. We found the whole story super annoying and in the end decided to skip this beach, it’s simply not worth the time and effort for three hours.
Continuing our search for a peaceful beach we ended up in Playa El Tecolote – a “secret tip” from some American tourists 🙈. Okay the water at the beach is amazing, no question. We could see tons of fish and crabs and I was staying in the middle of a shoal of fish, it was amazing 😍 but that’s it. The beach itself is very crowded since there is a street which allows you to almost drive into the sea, there are plenty of food trucks and drinks available. There are many campers staying at the beach and a lot of bigger American groups as well, all with their own sound and tents so yeah, it’s not the place to calm down and relax and in the afternoon when the Mexican families start to arrive for their BBQs it becomes even more inconvenient. So at the end we stayed there three to four hours and left again.
We were close to give up our search but at the end we found the perfect beach – El Saltito 🌴 it’s at least a one to two hour drive from La Paz and you need to have a good car since you’re driving through sandy “streets” for at least half an hour but it’s worth it. You will follow a long sandy street where it’s hard to cross other cars but if your lucky you will be at your own anyways. At the end of the street you will reach a crossing with three possible ways to continue. Make sure you take the one on your right. You will continue driving on a sandy street for approx. 10′ before you will reach a little house. There are three men sitting there but don’t worry, they are relaxed. You can either park your car in front of the house and continue by feet (another 20-30′ walk) or you can offer them 200 pesos and a smile and they will let you drive through their property and you can park a few meters in front of the beach 😉. The beach is amazing, the water is crystal clear and calm, there are some cactuses, palm trees and other plants but nothing else. There is no possibility to buy food or drinks so make sure you carry something with you as well as a parasol if needed and sun protection! There was nobody else at the beach despite two nice American travellers who were also looking for the perfect place to relaxe, it was like heaven on earth and very well worth the drive 🐠!
In general all the beaches are offering nice water, it just depends on what you are looking for, if you don’t mind noisy music and crowded spaces you will be happy with every beach around La Paz 😊.
PUNTA PESCADERO & DRIVING IN MÉXICO
Before I continue with our story, a short but important thing you need to know when driving around in México (continue reading if you wanna save money 💸 and keep your driving license 🚔): renting a car is pretty easy, 10′ at the car rental office and off you go, no need to provide an additional international driving license or anything. Once on the road, make sure you keep an eye on the speed limit signals. It’s super super annoying to understand the current valid velocity because f.e. you can see a sign that signals allowed velocity is 40, you drive 40 (most the time it doesn’t make sense btw) but you will never ever find a sign once you are allowed to drive faster again. Maybe you will see one after 20 or 30 kilometres but all the Mexicans will be overtaking you way way earlier without a sign that 40 is no longer valid. If you drive with 40km/h you can imagine how long it takes you to go somewhere + you will really become a traffic disturbance because all the others are driving 80km/h. Honestly it was so annoying that we started to drive at the same speed than the locals, if you do that just make sure to keep an eye on the rear mirror and the police that might be following you 👀 luckily the streets are most the time very flat and straight and their cars are conspicuous. Just slow down if you spot them, they will overtake you anyway or change direction at the next crossing. If they stop you and tell you that you have been driving too fast, ask them (very decently, don’t forget to whom you’re talking) if you can pay right now in order to avoid bureaucracy since you’re a tourist and you wish to continue your journey. They will accept your offer because in this way they can keep the money for themselves 😉. What we found out is that they are always asking for 1000 pesos. That’s way too much, if you show them your wallet and tell them that you don’t have more to offer than what’s in it they will take it and leave – whether it is 300 or 400 or 600 pesos, they don’t care. Just stay nice and friendly🐒.
So after driving through fantastic landscapes and our meet & greet with the police our next stop was in Punta Pescadero, right next to Los Barilles. On your way down from La Paz you will pass thousands of thousands of cactuses – really I have never seen so many of them, it’s an amazing, unique landscape 🌵! Most of these cactuses belong to the species of the giant cardon cactus (Pachycereus pringlei) and this plant is also what B.C.S is famous for. It’s the biggest cactus in the world, it can reach up to 20 meters and attain a weight of 25 tons. Many of them are older than 100 years. It’s really worth to read more about this plant if you have time, they are true survivors in a very dry and rude environment and have evolved some fantastic skills in order to survive.
Punta Pescadero – the name keeps what it promises. Maybe I need to adjust my previous statement “right next to Los Barilles”. Punta Pescadero is not really a village, it’s a 20′ drive from Los Barilles along the sea with pretty nice views and every 500 meters you can rent a house or villa directly at the sea but to be clear, it’s in no man’s land. But if you wanna be on your own for a few days one of the casas along the beach are perfect to rent! We had a wonderful room with sea view and could not only watch a beautiful sunrise from our terrace but also dolphins in the mornings 🐬. Punta Pescadero and its beaches are totally different from La Paz. They are wilder, the sea is rougher, it is still crystal clear but there are more waves and more cliffs and rocks. What we recommend is definitely renting a quad! You’re much faster than driving with your car, f.e. if you want to go to Los Barilles for dinner or shopping and there are many paths through dried out riverbeds where you are allowed to go for an adventure 😉, it’s pretty cool! We stayed there spontaneously for three nights since it was so peaceful and away from civilization before we left for Cabo San Lucas.
CABO SAN LUCAS
After three peaceful days arriving in Cabo was quite an awakening 😄. Cabo is much bigger than I thought, there’s much traffic and a lot going on. It’s actually not especially beautiful but it has a nice harbour with plenty of restaurants, shops, clubs etc. Luckily we found out that we stayed there just a week before all the spring breaker kids from the U.S. arrive. We didn’t know that it is famous for spring break but it must be terrible being there at this time according to what locals told us so make sure you keep an eye on these dates. Cabo is famous for its sea lions and you don’t even need to pay to see them, you can spot them swimming and jumping around in the harbour 🦭 so cute! if you’re lucky you can also spot huge swordfish, crabs and other animals. What we didn’t know is that it is quite hard to find a beach around Cabo. There is one right next to he harbour, Playa Pública, but this one is small, crowded by drunken tourists all day long and absolutely not natural. There is one beach that must be very nice right next to the Arco, Playa del Amor & Playa del Divorcio, they are only accessible via boat that’s why we didn’t visit them but should be nice. We spent a day at Playa el Chileno, it’s nice but only in the mornings, in the afternoon also this beach became crowded and tons of tourist boats started to arrive so you couldn’t really enjoy a view anymore. The problem in and around Cabo is that at many beaches you are not allowed to swim simply because it’s too dangerous due to undercurrents. So as a consequence the few beaches were you can swim become crowded very fast, it must be even worse during the weekends. Luckily we’ve rented a room with a nice terrace and a pool on the top so we could enjoy the sun up there and that’s also what we would recommend you, make sure you have a hotel or AirBnB with a pool 🐳.
For breakfast you can check the harbour area, most of the restaurants are offering breakfast in the mornings and dinner in the evenings. There is also another Doce Cuarenta in town but we had one next to our accommodation that was pretty nice: Cafe Distrito 23cuatro10 😋
For dinner we can recommend Da Vincis & the Fisherman’s Landing, both at the harbour. The only annoying thing are the vendors staying around the whole harbour area, you have no other choice than passing them every time you want to go for dinner or shopping or whatsoever but just calm down and let them talk 😌.
In a nutshell…
We spent a little more than a week in B.C.S and if you are a fan of nature, beaches and nice drives I can highly recommend this part of México. It’s totally different from the life in Mexico City and other areas we have visited. The nature and climate up there is unique and has amazing things to offer. People are pretty open minded and friendly, coming from all over the world, each with another story to tell and another reason why he/she ended up in B.C.S. I would definitely stay here again, maybe travelling down from La Paz to Cabo along the western coast which must be nice as well. Also the drive up to Tijuana is something I would do, it sounds like a good plan if you’re looking for an adventure on the road 😉.
Let me know your thoughts, tips or stories you have experienced there and enjoy your stay if you will go there one day 🚗✈️!
¡Buen viaje! 👋