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Nestled between the Sierra Laguna mountains and the Sea of Cortez on the Baja California peninsula lies the laid-back port of La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. The name translates to “The Peace,” and this lovely spot indeed offers a relaxing, enriching vacation.
On a Baja California cruise, relax on some of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in the Mexican Riviera. Stroll the 20-block waterfront Malecón and admire spectacular sunsets. Dine on the freshest seafood and world-class cuisine. Discover why Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world.” Snorkel with gentle whale sharks. Search for blue whales migrating, manta rays gliding, and dolphins jumping. Experience all of this and more on a luxury Mexican Riviera cruise with Celebrity Cruises.
A short drive north of La Paz brings you to a beautiful soft sand beach with three glittering bays, warm shallow water, and gentle currents. You can wade out hundreds of yards through this breathtaking azure water. Climb a path to the top of the nearby hill for spectacular views of the bays, the mountains, and the Sea of Cortez. Or, simply snorkel, kayak, or paddleboard and enjoy the marine life all around you.
The center of activity in La Paz is the stunning Malecón waterfront boardwalk. Stroll the 3.5-mile-long promenade, where you can marvel at ancient architecture, listen to music, stop at restaurants, art galleries, and shops, grab an ice cream cone, or watch the fantastic sunset over the water.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this uninhabited island is where you can experience world-class water sports like scuba diving, snorkeling, and sea kayaking. On land, trek the trails and see cactus, 98 species of birds, and colonies of sea lions. In the water, you’ll come across colorful parrotfish, moray eels, rainbow wrasse, angelfish, manta rays, dolphins, and sea turtles. It’s an experience not to be missed.
La Paz is one of the very few places in the world where you can swim with peaceful whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea. Snorkel alongside them each year from October to May, when these gentle giants visit the area's waters to feast on a bounty of krill and plankton. Swim with the whales on a snorkeling tour or take a day cruise to watch the whales up close.
On a cruise to La Paz, travel inland to one of the area’s sand dunes for a thrilling sandboarding experience. Rent a board and “surf” the dunes without getting wet. Stand, sit, or lie on the board—the choice is yours.
Take an excursion to go offshore fishing in the bountiful waters of the Sea of Cortez. Anglers here can catch yellowfin tuna, marlin, grouper, snapper, dorado, and many other species of fish. Guides will take you to the best spots for fishing, so don’t forget your camera to document your catch.
As you stroll the Malecón, you’ll see many restaurants and food stalls offering fresh seafood, artisanal cheese, and other local delicacies. Of course, fish tacos and margaritas are a staple in Mexico, but the La Paz area is well-known for local delicacies.
Try an order of chocolate clams, named for their color and not their flavor. Fresh-caught tuna, ceviche, octopus, and other treasures from the sea are ubiquitous in La Paz, but you can also find international cuisine at many of the area’s restaurants. Damiana is a Mexican shrub that has a woody, minty flavor and is used to make artisanal chocolates and flavorful margaritas. Ask your bartender to use it instead of triple sec. From street food to fine dining, La Paz has it all.
La Paz was first inhabited by Stone Age hunter-gatherers who left traces of their presence in the form of rock paintings found throughout the Baja California Peninsula. The area’s modern history begins with the landing of Hernán Cortés, who sailed here 14 years after overthrowing the Aztec Empire in 1535. He named the bay Santa Cruz, but in 1596, Admiral Sebastian Vizcaino arrived and renamed it La Paz.
La Paz was a Spanish possession until Mexico gained its independence in 1822. It became the capital of Baja California in 1830 and La Paz remained the capital of Baja California Sur when the peninsula was split in two. Today, La Paz has a population of nearly 250,000. Spanish is universally spoken in La Paz, and many of the shopkeepers and restaurant staff also speak English.
Your ship docks in the port of Pichilingue, which is about 10 miles north of La Paz. Upon your arrival, the port comes alive with entertainers performing local music and dance. It also contains many outdoor market stalls where you can buy local food, gifts, and other necessities.Taxi fares to town are around $10 USD.
The city is relatively small, so it’s easy to get around on foot. Other options for traveling a bit further include buses, taxis, tours, and collectivos—large vans that transport a group of people heading in the same direction. Taxis are readily available throughout the area, and bike rentals can be found near the malecón waterfront boardwalk.
In this walkable city, you will find many opportunities to purchase mementos to remind you of your Baja California cruise. Peruse one of the numerous art galleries for art by local artists. Pick up some Mexican coffee or chocolate for family back home. Colorful Talavera pottery is another great choice. And of course, take home authentic tequila to sip with friends as you tell them about your trip.
The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso. Carry a little bit of cash for tips, minor purchases, or taxis while you’re in La Paz. You’ll find ATMs are plentiful, and credit cards are recommended for purchases at boutiques or more expensive shops. U.S. dollars (USD) are also accepted in many establishments throughout La Paz. A tip of 10%-20% is appropriate for tour guides and in restaurants. In bars and lounges, the customary tip is $1 a drink.