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About Chris Sands

Chris Sands is the author of Bohemia by the Bay, and writes about wine, golf, and travel for publications such as, Los Cabos Guide, Los Cabos Magazine, 10 Best, and USA Today. He is a full-time resident of Cabo San Lucas.

Baja Road Trip Tips: Best Places to Visit in La Paz

The first Europeans ever to arrive on the Baja California peninsula landed at La Paz. The initial sortie was led a mutineer named Fortun Ximenez, who had killed the captain of an exploratory expedition sent by Hernan Cortes. The conquistador-in-chief had heard tales as early as 1524 of an “island” rich in pearls off the western coast of Mexico. A little over a year after Ximenez made landfall, Cortes himself arrived. That was May 3, 1535.

Over the next 482 years later, La Paz remained at the forefront of peninsular history.  It was the site of a fiercely contested siege during the Mexican–American War, and for hundreds of years adventurers flocked to its picturesque shores in search of its fabled black pearls. It became capital of what was then the Baja California territory in 1830, after a hurricane devastated Loreto, and since 1974 has been the capital city of the state of Baja California Sur.

Best Places to Visit in La Paz

The seaside malecon is the center of the social schene in La Paz.

Today, La Paz is still a destination of consequence, renowned for its architectural monuments, beautiful beaches, venerable cultural institutions, and, most of all, its warm and welcoming people.  The modern city – home to well over 200,000 residents – boasts thriving dining and nightlife scenes, abundant shopping options, and by far the greatest collection of museums on the peninsula.

In short, it’s a mandatory stop for anyone considering, or in the midst of, a Baja road trip adventure.

Here’s a short guide for first-time visitors.


Best Places to Visit in La Paz

Playa Balandra is not only the most beautiful beach in La Paz, but one of the most picturesque in all of Mexico.

The most notable natural attractions are the three-mile malecon, or seaside promenade, which looks out over the Bay of La Paz and the tip of the El Mogote peninsula; and the string of gorgeous beaches that stretch northeast of the city towards Punta Las Pilitas. Local families throng the malecon each evening – strolling or riding bicycles – enjoying the gentle sea breezes and the invariably spectacular sunsets (La Paz is on the eastern coast of Baja, but its seaside vantages angle towards the northwest).

Playa Balandra is the most famous beach, thanks to soft white sands and the sort of electric blue water seldom seen outside of Quintana Roo. Balandra is also home to El Hongo, a mushroom shaped rock that is La Paz’s version of El Arco in Cabo San Lucas. Nearby Playas El Tecolote and Pichilingue are also worth a visit. The latter is located near the ferry terminal (with service to Topolobampo and Mazatlan) and offers  good swimming conditions and platters of fresh local seafood.  El Tecolote also features plenty of ceviches and almejas (chocolate clams), plus water sports and picturesque views of the uninhabited Isla Espiritu Santo, one-time home to the world’s first pearl cultivation farm (an achievement often erroneously attributed to the Japanese instead of visionary Paceño scientist and long-time La Paz municipal president Gastón Vives).


Best Places to Visit in La Paz

Las Tres Virgenes is beloved by local Paceños, and has been one of the capital city’s most popular restaurants for over a dozen years.

The local food scene is diverse, but first-class. Las Tres Virgenes is considered by many locals to be the city’s finest restaurant, despite the fact that Chef Jesus Chavez is originally from Tijuana. Chavez’s facility with mesquite grilled meats and seafood paired with romantic moonlit courtyard dining provides a memorable local dinner experience.  Bismark-cito offer seafood pleasures overlooking the malecon, as well as the best micheladas in Baja Sur. Taco lovers will want to check out the downtown stand operated by the Hermanos Gonzalez. The best comfort food options, however, are found at Bandidos, where enormous half-pound burgers are grilled under the hood of a bisected pickup truck, and served up with delicious french fries and ice cold cervezas.

Best Places to Visit in La Paz

Bandidos is famous for its burgers, grilled in a bisected truck.


Five Places to Visit in La Paz

La Miserable in La Paz

La Paz has a surprisingly varied nightlife scene, ranging fron nightclubs like Las Varitas and La Cabaña, and popular malecon based bars like Jonathan Roldan’s Tailhunter, to off-kilter spots that show off the city’s penchant for vintage decor and sophisticated pleasures. La Miserable is far and away the best example of the latter group, a downtown hangout that features eclectic good-time music curated by the Ireland born bartender, as well as a potent collection of artisanal mezcals. The nearby Beer Box, meanwhile, offers the finest selection of craft beers in the region, from international bottles to Baja born microbrews from producers like Ramuri, Fauna, Cucapa, Agua Mala and Baja Brewing Company.

Five Places to Visit in La Paz

Vintage charm at La Miserable, a mezcaleria in downtown La Paz.


Best Places to Visit in La Paz

Whale skeletons hang from the ceiling at the Museo de la Ballena y Ciencias del Mar in La Paz.

La Paz is not just the seat of government for Baja California Sur, but the state’s cultural capital as well, with a superb collection of museums, and a large theater capable of seating more than a 1,000 people. The Whale Museum –  Museo de la Ballena y Ciencias del Mar – is the chief attraction, with a central location overlooking the malecon, and a large number of life-sized whale skeletons pieced together from specimens that washed up on regional shores. Sharks, porpoises, sea turtles and other marine creatures are also well-represented at the popular museum, which together with the reptile focused Serpentario de La Paz, offers a relatively complete look at the natural history of the region. The local chronology is filled out in even more detail at the recently renovated Museo de Antropologia, which offers insightful displays that exhibit the beliefs, customs and primitive tools of indigenous peninsular inhabitants like the Pericu, Guaycura and Cochimi.


Five Places to Visit in La Paz

The Ibarra family has been making pottery in La Paz since 1983.

Ibarra Pottery leads the list of shopping attractions in La Paz. The family-owned workshop has been in operation since 1952; in La Paz since 1983. Visitors can watch as handmade, hand-painted ceramics like bowls, tableware and tiles are brought into being by skilled artisans (all of the creations, by the way, are microwave and dishwasher safe). Antigua California is the best option for traditional folk art sourced from mainland Mexican states, and Allende Books is a mandatory stop for literature starved daytrippers from Los Cabos.


Best Places to Visit in La Paz

Model T with a stuffed monkey at the wheel at the Hotel Arte Museo Yeneka in La Paz.

Spiraling exchange rates in recent years have made even the best hotels in La Paz a certified bargain. Rooms at the historic Hotel Perla, a fixture on the malecón since 1940, start at just over $50. Trendy inn el angel azul, which occupies the historic site of a former courthouse,  offers a comfortable central location with shared kitchen and bar privileges for only $75–85 per night. The absolute best bet for budget conscious travelers, however, is Hotel Arte Museo Yeneka. Rates  begin at about $30 U.S. at this bohemian downtown lodging, which features a complimentary continental breakfast, air-conditioning, and a courtyard filled to bursting with family heirlooms and found objects. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at

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Golden Ghosts: El Triunfo and the Soul of Baja California Sur

All photos courtesy of Michael Kull

The two-lane stretch of Highway 1 between San Pedro and Los Barriles is one of the most beautiful on the Baja California peninsula. After climbing several thousand feet into the Sierra de la Laguna, the mountain range which dominates the center of Baja California Sur between La Paz and Los Cabos, the road curves perilously through a breathtaking panorama of peaks and valleys, the views of cactus, scrub and tree strewn slopes made more piquant by the specter of wandering goats and cows.

Traffic along this portion of Highway 1 is almost always sparse, limited to the occasional pick-up truck or dust-covered SUV.  In the rare event where traffic backs up, there are pull-off overlooks located between the winding mountain passes, and once in awhile a small town will appear, offering refreshments and a chance to rest one’s nerves.

El Triunfo

Choyero style limo service.

El Triunfo (pop. 321) and San Antonio (pop. 463) are the most notable of these small towns. They’re located 35 and 40 miles south of La Paz, respectively, straddling the highway at altitudes close to 1500 feet.  Although each has a few tourist attractions, it is only on special occasions, like the El Triunfo Arts and Crafts Festival – the 9th edition of which took place on a recent Sunday – that people ascend en masse to these sleepy mountain hamlets.

On festival days like this one, El Triunfo glows. A kaleidoscopic profusion of cars pull off onto every conceivable shoulder of the road and its downtown arteries, while clusters of brightly dressed people file through the slowed traffic along the highway towards the sounds of music and the smell of grilled meat. The dominant color motif, as always, is gold. The traditional costumes of the women swirling with their dance partners around the plaza principal are accented in gold. Many of the large, well-preserved homes that sit south of the highway are painted white but trimmed in gold. The old church, whose profile looms above the modest skyline, boasts a golden coat with royal red piping, its golden bell towers glinting in the afternoon sunlight.

El Triunfo

The golden bell towers of the El Triunfo church evoke the town’s mining heritage.

Once upon a time, El Triunfo and nearby San Antonio were the wealthiest and most famous towns on the Baja California peninsula. This legendarily prosperous period occurred during the latter part of the 19th century, but in truth the two were mining capitals and historical anomalies long before post San Francisco gold rush fever put the small Sierra de la Laguna communities on the international map in 1862.

It all started in the winter of 1720, during the age of Jesuit mission building, when padre Jaime Bravo and soldier Ignacio de Rojas stumbled upon a vein of silver ore while exploring the region south of La Paz. But close to 30 years passed before anyone took advantage of the find. That was Manuel de Ocio, a former soldier at the Loreto presidio who had retired and subsequently made his fortune from pearl diving. He and his partner, a Guadalajaran merchant named Antonio Ignacio de Mena, started the first mining operation on the peninsula, Real de Santa Ana, in 1748.

Historian Harry Crosby refers to Santa Ana as “the cradle of private enterprise in California.” It’s an apt description.  The most prolific mine, El Triunfo de la Cruz (not to be confused with the ship of the same name, which was the first ever built on the peninsula), was registered with the Spanish crown in 1751. Pioneer entrepreneurs Ocio and Mena also started raising cattle, and between the two industries, attracted a sizeable workforce from the mainland. This labor influx provided, after Santa Ana was abandoned, the populace for the first permanent secular communities in California: at San Antonio and El Triunfo.

San Antonio is, in fact, the longest continually occupied secular community in the Californias, and in 1829 was briefly the capital of peninsular California, after a hurricane devastated Loreto. The following year La Paz became the capital, which it remained for what ultimately became the southern territory of Baja California, and since 1974 has been the state of Baja California Sur.

The second boom hit in 1862, when a silver lode was discovered in San Antonio, followed by gold and silver deposits in El Triunfo. A little more than a decade had passed since the San Francisco fever of 1849, so the Sierra de la Laguna strikes offered a second chance for previously unsuccessful prospectors. Thousands eagerly joined fledgling mining companies – many of which were outright frauds, set up to swindle greedy investors – while others packed their pickaxes and boarded seagoing transports vessels bound for Baja Sur. Almost overnight, the population of tiny El Triunfo swelled from a few hundred to 10,000 strong. Many prospective miners landed at Cabo San Lucas, where one of the town’s founders, Thomas Ritchie, made his own fortune arranging for mule teams to ferry them overland.

Soon, El Triunfo had outstripped San Antonio as the premier mining center in the area. By 1874, its mines were shipping some $50,000 in silver to La Paz each month (over one million per month in modern U.S. dollars). Once larger companies like El Progreso moved in, prospectors scattered and the mines were mainly worked by Chinese immigrants and Yaqui Indians from Sonora. The largest chimney stack for smelting operations, dubbed Ramona, was built by none other than Gustave Eiffel, whose successes with the Statue of Liberty and a certain tower in Paris were yet to come. El Triunfo flourished for a time, becoming a regional cultural center, and the first town on the Baja California peninsula to install modern conveniences like electricity and telephones.

But the mine at El Triunfo was flooded during the hurricane of 1918, and although attempts were made to revive it a few years later, it closed for good in 1926. Today, the town and its once famous neighbors are largely forgotten: stage sets for ghost towns in movies, whose long ago heydays provide off-the-beaten-track diversions for intrepid tourists, and are occasionally revived for events like the Arts and Crafts Festival.

El Triunfo

Local color: residents showcase regional costume and dance.

El Triunfo

Outdoor stalls line the streets, offering traditional arts, crafts and cuisine.

Although cattle ranching and farming have become the main commercial industries, it’s almost impossible for visitors to separate present day El Triunfo from its prosperous mining past. Walking the streets one is struck by the town’s stately old buildings, its charming cafés, hand-painted advertisements and looming redbrick smokestacks: all of which hark back to the halcyon days of the late 19th and early 20th century mining boom. The stiffly posed black and white photographs in the fin-de-siecle focused cultural center seem more real, somehow, than the stalls filled with vendors selling pottery, blankets and carne asada; standard issue at any festival in any small town in México.

Are the vividly costumed residents who waltz around the town square – the young men dashing in white with their straw-woven cowboy hats, the young ladies sporting ruffled blouses, colorfully patterned skirts and flowers in their hair – celebrating regional tradition, or are they locked in a perpetual recreation of a long-dead era, a golden ghost dance in the name of tourism? Will they be celebrating the same things a hundred years hence, or will they have lost faith in the historical imperative that has shaped  their lives?

These are questions of somewhat more than rhetorical interest, because  El Triunfo is not just a town haunted by its past, but also by its uncertain future, and the vast untapped resources that still lay buried in the Sierra de la Laguna.

El Triunfo

El Triunfo’s stately homes are a legacy from its gold and silver mining days.

El Triunfo

Painted signs evoke El Triunfo’s golden age.

Here is a story sometimes told in El Triunfo. It’s probably apocryphal, but even as fable its lessons are instructive.

Many years ago there was a certain lady – let us call her Violeta – who although descended from a prominent gold mining family, was living in reduced circumstances. One day an elderly aunt, near death, confided to Violeta that there was a cache of gold hidden beneath her living room floor. Violeta returned to her home, and over the next few weeks became increasingly convinced that her aunt was right:  the beautiful house she had grown up in contained vast riches. Finally, unable to bear the thought of being relatively poor with a fortune in gold near at hand, Violeta began tearing up the elegant marble floor in her parlor. Her search was in vain, however, and she destroyed a significant part of her inheritance without unearthing any concealed wealth.

Some months later, Violeta returned from a trip to visit distant relatives and discovered her dining room floor had been dug up. A discarded wooden chest suggested that well-informed burglars had not only found, but escaped with the buried gold she had previously sought. What the thieves did not know, however, is that gold kept in a confined space for long periods corrodes, creating what are called “treasure gases.” If the gold is not aired out and the gases dispersed, the effects can be lethal. Thus it was in this case. The housebreakers were poisoned, and before they could spend a single gold sovereign became violently ill. Their last act before dying was to send a written apology to Violeta, apologizing for stealing her birthright. Nobody knows what ultimately happened to the gold.

El Triunfo

Birria and menudo headline the food options at this highway-side eatery.

Even after its lengthy history of mining, it’s estimated that some 1.73 million ounces of gold still remain in the Sierra de la Laguna, or an estimated two billion dollars worth. It’s a staggering sum, and one that has understandably created avid interest on the part of international mining consortiums. The publicly traded Canadian company Argonaut Gold has been among the most aggressive, embarking upon a campaign of political influence peddling. Despite legal setbacks to this point, Argonaut remains undaunted, and still classifies its “San Antonio Project” as in the “advanced exploration phase.”

The arguments on both sides are familiar ones. Proponents for mining argue it will create jobs, and stimulate the local economy. And of course there are many from traditional mining communities like El Triunfo and San Antonio who feel it is a well established industry in the region. Which, in fact, it is. Opponents, of course, point to the awful environmental consequences. It is not hyperbole to say that the proposed open pit mining operation would completely and irrevocably transform the magnificent landscape, leveling mountains and creating new ones from contaminated waste.

But what’s more terrifying for residents and lovers of Baja California Sur are the potentially devastating effects open pit mining could have on the water supply for the southernmost portion of the state. Anyone who doubts the possibility of a catastrophic contamination of ground water – and the source of the underground streams that replenish the regional aquifer are located distressingly near El Triunfo – need only look at the present day issues afflicting these mountain communities, where nearly half the wells show toxic arsenic levels that are not only well above legal Mexican limits, but way over the standards mandated by the U.S., and advocated by the World Health Organization. This from century old mining waste.

El Triunfo

Maestro Vicente Cardoza performs a classical piano concerto.

El Triunfo

The heart of the Museo de la Música is its collection of vintage pianos.

Indoors – far removed from the sunlight, the sound of electric guitars and the joyous shouts of energetic dancers – a man with thinning gray hair tied back in a ponytail places his long fingers on the black and white keys of a piano. An audience of some 50 people is crowded into seats in the intimate performance room of the Museo de la Musica, the seats framed along one wall by a row of antique pianos. In the back, where a small set of steps lead up from the main exhibit hall, latecomers maneuver for views, tugging at restless children as Maestro Vicente Cardoza  launches into a classical piano concerto.

The Museo de la Musica, more colloquially known as “The Piano Museum,” is a highlight of any visit to El Triunfo. Housed in an impressively maintained building just off the highway, the museum’s eclectic collection of musical artifacts contains everything from ancient victrolas, stereos and record albums to horns, drums and large paintings devoted to musical themes. But mainly there are pianos. Some date to the time when El Triunfo supposedly had more pianos per capita than any place in México, but the majority are of a somewhat more recent vintage.

There is also a scroll dedicated to classical composers from Baja California Sur:  Juan Nava Udiot, Gilberto R. Mendoza Ibarra, José de Sandozequi, Pedro Peláez Manriquez, Gilberto Isáis Moreno and Jesús Leonor Isáis Verdugo, most notable among them. Virtually all, by the way, hailed from or made their reputations in the capital city of La Paz. The homegrown genius of El Triunfo was concert trained pianist and teacher Francisca Mendoza, who could not have lacked for instruments with which to practice.

El Triunfo

One of Gustave Eiffel’s lesser known achievements: the 35 meter smelting chimney “Ramona” in El Triunfo.

Mendoza’s prime, like that of El Triunfo itself, belongs to another age. But the pall of nostalgia that clings to El Triunfo does not lessen the town’s attraction as a contemporary travel destination. Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland “there’s no there there.” El Triunfo has a “there,” not to mention abundant cultural resources; and its present, although overshadowed by its now romanticized past, provides plenty of day-tripping possibilities for those whose idea of a Mexican vacation extends beyond the boundaries of an all-inclusive beachfront resort.

The real issue, however, is not the future of tourism in El Triunfo, but the future of the town itself. Depending upon your perspective, its signature landmark, Eiffel’s early Baja “tower”, is either a quaint relic from an increasingly distant past, or an awful premonition of a not-so-distant future. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at


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City of Pearls: The Beauties of La Paz

City of Pearls: The Beauties of La Paz

Summer is the slow season in Baja California Sur for a reason: it’s really hot. But those willing to brave the heat – air-conditioning and the cooling waters of the Sea of Cortez are never far away –  will be amply rewarded with discounted hotel and activities rates, plus avoid the high-season crowds at area beaches and restaurants. There’s another added benefit: you’re likely to have a more authentic experience of local culture, particularly if you eschew touristy hot-spots like Cabo San Lucas – where the vendors and barkers are ever-present – in favor of more traditional vacation spots.

La Paz, the state capital, is a great choice. The scenery is every bit as spectacular as that in Los Cabos, the water-based activities choices are even greater – the proximity of Isla Espiritu Santo offers opportunities for world-class kayaking adventures, and ferry service is available for side trips to the mainland – and there is less emphasis on luxury developments (so far, anyway) and high-end wining and dining. Even the best and most scenically situated accommodations are affordable, and the cultural scene – specifically museums and  theater offerings – offers many more options than you’ll find in Los Cabos.

Or you could just rent a car and spend a week making the coastal loop, with stops at Todos Santos, Los Cabos, Cabo Pulmo and Los Barriles. But La Paz is certainly the best base for seasoned, budget-conscious travelers.

The Beauties of La Paz

La Paz is famed for its malecon, a three mile seaside promenade lined with palm trees, statues and wrought-iron benches.


There are tons of reasonably priced hotels in La Paz, two of which – Seven Crown  and Hotel Perla (612-122-0777) enjoy prime locations along the malecon. Seven Crown offers the most modern conveniences, while Hotel Perla is a more traditional stop, with a nice restaurant, La Terraza, and a nightclub called La Cabaña that pulls in big crowds on Saturday nights.

Posada LunaSol is not quite so central, although it’s certainly within walking distance of the malecon, and within a couple of blocks of two popular marinas. It’s a favorite of return visitors and those traveling with pets, and the onsite activities company, Mar y Aventuras, is notable for its excellent snorkeling and kayaking excursions. Posada LunaSol is also around the corner from local burger joint nonpareil, Bandido’s Grill (612-128-8338), which cooks up tasty bacon and egg-topped  burgers on a grill wedged under the hood of a bisected pick-up truck.

Hotel Arte Museo Yeneka  (612-125-4688) also lays on the local color. It’s just off the main plaza, and features a courtyard “museum” chockablock with four generations of family heirlooms and found objects. Rates are negotiable, and continental breakfasts and evening tequila shots are complimentary.

All four hotels offer that most vitally important of summer amenities: great air-conditioning.

The Beauties of La Paz

Hotel Posada LunaSol is a popular stop for budget-conscious travelers, particularly those traveling with pets. Image: Stephen Simpson/Hotel Posada LunaSol

Drinking and Dining

One of the true joys of visiting La Paz is the city’s surfeit of great budget-friendly restaurants, many of which look out across the malecon to the bay. Bismark-cito (612-128-9900) is one of the most popular afternoon drinking and dining spots. The taco menu offers affordable seafood options, and the chile and tamarindo stick garnished micheladas are as good as you’ll find anywhere in Baja California Sur. If you want to splurge on dinner, they also offer excellent steak and lobster options.

For those wandering the downtown area, the go-to spot for creative yet traditional Mexican cuisine is El Tupe (612-158-9524), which offers 6 and 12 course meals nightly. For cheap eats, try Tacos Hermanos Gonzalez (612-120-5074). This long-time local’s favorite now sets us shop at Calles Madero and Degollado, with sidewalk service on a host of seafood style tacos and specialty dishes.

Looking for a bite to eat late night? Stop by Ranch Viejo (612-128-4647), which serves Mexican specialties dishes like pozole and tacos de arrachera 24 hours a day. Of course if you’re up that late, there’s a good chance you’ve been partying at Las Varitas (612-125-2025). The downtown nightspot is open until 5 a.m. Thursday through Sunday, with drink specials and live Mexican music across a variety of styles (ranchera, banda, norteña, etc.).

The Beauties of La Paz

Playa El Tecolote is one of the most popular beaches near La Paz, with excellent food, drinks, and water-based activities options. Image: Palapa Azul Restaurant


La Paz is famous for its malecon, the seaside promenade that runs for close to three miles along the bay. It’s in many ways the center of the local social scene: joggers, families, cyclists crowd the promenade during late afternoon, while cars move slowly along the neighboring boulevard, Alvaro Obregon, and diners enjoy cocktails and fresh local seafood at restaurants across the street.  It’s the perfect place to watch the local sunsets, which are routinely spectacular.

Rental cars are the best means of getting to some of the area’s premier beaches – including Pichilingue, Balandra, and El Tecolote – all of which are north of the city, beyond the ferry terminal at Pichilingue. Kayaks and snorkeling equipment may be rented at all three, but the best facilities and amenities are found at El Tecolote, the farthest north. Palapa Azul (612-105-5508) is the go to pit-stop at El Tecolote, and the perfect place to enjoy Coronas and Pacificos, or chocolate clams and marlin en escabeche. For sheer natural beauty, however, Balandra reigns supreme.

La Paz excels at many of the same water activities as Los Cabos: world-class fishing, snorkeling, and diving are all readily available (whale watching season runs Dec. – Apr.). La Paz has some added options however, including the opportunity to swim with whale sharks, the world’s largest fish (Sept. – Feb., and occasionally much later), and unforgettable kayaking trips around Isla Espiritu Santo.

The Cortez Club is one of the top local water activities companies, with snorkeling trips to see the sea lion colony at Los Islotes, kayaking explorations of Isla Espiritu Santo, and fishing charters available through their Mosquito Fleet. Summer is a great time to try your luck with the wahoo, tuna, dorado, and marlin populations; one more reason (if any more were needed) to visit Baja during its “slow” season.  

The Beauties of La Paz

The Cortez Club is one of the top local activities companies, with snorkeling, diving, fishing, and kayaking excursions. Image: The Cortez Club is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at

Images courtesy of Hotel Posada LunaSol, Palapa Azul Restaurant and Bar, and The Cortez Club. 

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CostaBaja Resort in La Paz Offers World-Class Deal. Come Have a Baja Moment!

 CostaBaja Resort & Spa is a World-Class Resort.  Now, book  2 nights (1 room) and  the 3rd free!

 by Chris Sands 

CostaBaja Resort & Spa is just 10 minutes south from downtown La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. This world-class resort is set on the magnificent Sea of Cortez, overlooking a 250-slip double-basin marina and a white sand beach. Just north of the hotel, lies Isla Espiritu Santo where you’ll discover one of the greatest marine reserves in the world, along with the best sport fishing in Baja Sur.


CostaBaja Resort & Spa: Enjoy a A world-class resort for 2 nights (1 room) and stay free the third night.

Special Offer at CostaBaja Resort:  It is this spectacular locale that has attracted hordes of travelers from the United States, Europe and Asia.   CostaBaja is like its own village, in many ways.  With restaurants, bars, vistas and a friendly community of staff and visitors, it provides the perfect one-stop venue for total relaxation in spacious, well-appointed rooms.  Or, it provides the perfect base from which you can plan your travel adventures and pretty much do it all.  Now, until March 31, if you book one room for two nights, the third night is free. 


CostaBaja's rooms are comfortable and spacious.


What does ‘do it all’ mean?  Well, let’s just talk about two of his expansive world-class resort’s major offerings:  whale-watching and golf.


CostaBaja’s Whale Watching Package!

Now is the time – the amazing whales are the headliners, taking advantage of the warm waters off of the coast of Baja.  You can have one-on-one experiences with these magnificent creatures, perhaps even touching a baby whale as its mother hovers nearby.  Venture out on the Sea of Cortez for a day of whale watching and enjoy luxurious accommodations, daily buffet breakfast and a complimentary room upgrade from just $619 USD for two (1 room) and a minimum of two nights!


CostaBaja Resort offers an exclusive whale watching package that includes a two-night stay at this world-class resort.


Long Drives and Perfect Lies Headline Gary Player’s Signature CostaBaja Resort Course

La Paz may lack Los Cabos’ reputation as a golfing destination, but in terms of sheer star power, Baja Sur’s capital city is gaining fast.

Gary Player has joined Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Tom Weiskopf, Davis Love III, and Tiger Woods as major champions who have brought their design talents to Baja Sur, and the legendary South African linksman is the only one of the group to venture outside Los Cabos, crafting a gorgeous 7,229 yard layout at Costa Baja, a five star resort and residential property located ten minutes south of downtown La Paz.


Golf at CostaBaja on the signature Gary Player course.

“I’ve built more than 300 golf courses around the world,” Player is fond of saying, “and I’ve never seen a course with better views. It’s ocean all the time, and suddenly there are massive mountains.” Gary Player’s Costa Baja course showcases spectacular views of the Sea of Cortez and the resort’s double-basin marina.


With rolling fairways and views of the Sea of Cortez, golf at this world-class resort is ann outstanding travel adventure.

A nine-time major champion, and the only golfer ever to accomplish the career grand slam on both the regular and senior tours, Player brought over five decades of experience to bear on his design for the Costa Baja course, which opened to widespread acclaim in November, 2010. In addition to the spectacular scenic grandeur – an astounding 14 holes feature Sea of Cortez views, million dollar yachts can be seen at the resort’s double-basin marina, and luxury villas hug the surrounding hillsides – the layout features some unique challenges for players of all skill levels.

With extensive bunkering, plenty of uneven stances, and the danger of desert hikes after wayward tee shots, Costa Baja is certainly no pushover. But unlike many courses of this caliber, which seek to punish the slightest misstep, Player’s design philosophy is to temper risk with big rewards. Few courses are this much fun to play, and the combination of elevated tee boxes, wide fairways, and slow greens give even the worst weekend duffer the chance to score well.


CostaBaja's signature Gary Player course is challenging and beautiful.

The diminutive Player, who always had to counter the strength of larger golfers with cunning and accuracy, has achieved some measure of revenge at Costa Baja, a course so generous off the tee that every David feels like a Goliath. Elevated tee boxes abound, and there are several opportunities to hit your driver a country mile (or the better part of a kilometer, if you want to convert to the metric system for the length of your stay). Even the shortest of drivers will be bragging about 300 yard bombs after their round here.


Elevated tee boxes are a course specialty at Costa Baja, and provide plenty of long driving opportunities. The signature par 5 14th hole features a drop of over 200 feet from tee to fairway, and allows golfers  to admire their shots for what seems like an eternity. A number of par fours are reachable off the tee, and  the par 5 18th can be greened after two well struck shots, with expansive fairways providing a nice margin of error. In other words, leave your 3 wood in the bag.


Elevated tee boxes are a course specialty.

But for all its exhilaratingly elevated tee shots – roughly a third of the holes feature elevated tee boxes, although it feels like more – Costa Baja is a sophisticated layout carved and contoured to preserve the integrity or the surrounding mountain and desert terrain, and a complete test for golfers. The course requires strong iron shots from uneven and downhill lies, as well as a deft touch around the slow-paced seashore papsalum greens (a popular turf alternative in water scarce regions, as it doesn’t require fresh water).   Costa Baja also requires the ability to focus on shotmaking amidst breathtaking backdrops of giant Cardon cacti, rugged mountains, and deep blue sea. This heady combination of world-class golf and picture postcard beauty makes Player’s only Mexican design one of the country’s most memorable courses.

The golf course wends through desert and mountain terrain, always with the Sea of Cortez as a backdrop.

As if Player’s pedigree, monstrous tee shots, and awe-inspiring views aren’t enough to entice, Costa Baja is administered by Troon, one of the world’s largest golf course management companies, with top-level layouts in 23 countries and 31 American states, including Troon North in Scotland, and Indian Wells in Palm Springs. Complementing the superb 18 hole layout are a full practice range, short game area, and putting greens, as well as a fully stocked golf shop (with rental clubs by Callaway). There is also a 19th hole bar and grill, where golfers can relive and exaggerate their round over margaritas and other tasty treats.

For information about stay and play packages at Costa Baja, you can visit, or call (612) 123-6000. Or find out more by calling, toll free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at


All photos courtesy of Costa Baja Resort & Spa.

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Looking for Windsports in Baja? Visit Captain Kirk’s Windsport Resort in La Ventana

Looking for Windsports in Baja? Visit Captain Kirk’s Windsport Resort in La Ventana

“Don’t beam me up Scotty, I want to stay!”

When looking for windsports in Baja? Vist  Captain Kirk’s Windsport Resort.

That’s the feeling one gets after visiting Captain Kirk’s in La Ventana, a boutique beach central lodging in close proximity to some of the world’s best windsurfing and kiteboarding. Captain Kirk and his wife Kitty have been running this unique windsport resort in southern Baja (Baja Sur) since 1993, offering a fresh alternative to the traditional seaside vacation. This is NOT your typical Mexican resort, with crowded swimming pools and beaches patrolled by insistent vendors; it is, rather, a secluded property set near a quiet, pristine beach, with beautiful botanical gardens and gorgeous views, overlooking the dazzling blue waters of the Sea of Cortez.

Captain Kirk’s Resort and the sparkling Sea of Cortez

La Ventana also happens to be one of the most consistently windy spots on a notably windy coast (from November through April, anyway), and guests at Captain Kirk’s have ready access to world-class kiteboarding, windsurfing and stand up paddleboarding.

Sea of Cortez waters provide the perfect venue for windsports in Baja.

The team at this premier windsport resort provides expert instruction, essentially teaching everything from “ride the wind 101” to more advanced techniques, with detailed performance analysis available for experienced “lords of the wind.” A complete inventory of new and used equipment is available, and every dollar spent on lessons and rentals qualifies guests for the Baja Bucks customer rewards program.


Nowhere is better than Captain Kirk’s for windsports in Baja.

If the kiteboarding and windsurfing are world-class, the sportfishing and diving are merely spectacular. The local waters are teeming with big fish, and the resort’s panga guides take guests out for dorado, yellowfish tuna, striped marlin, roosterfish, wahoo, sierra, and other denizens of the deep. After reeling in your limit, it’s considered de rigeur to cook up the catch back at the Clubhouse Cocina, although area restaurants are happy to take care of the task for a nominal fee (about $5 U.S.). Snorkel and dive aficionados, meanwhile, can let the Captain set them up with a top local dive master for an unforgettable underwater adventure in the Sea of Cortez, with up-close-and-personal looks at what Jacques Cousteau once referred to as “nature’s aquarium.”

The wide variety of lodging choices at Captain Kirk’s offers privacy, charm and fun.

Lodging at Captain Kirk’s is spacious and spread out, so that each guest has a feeling of peace, privacy and seclusion. Accommodations are available to suit every budget, and include a charming selection of casas and casitas, all of which feature air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and views of La Ventana Bay.


Great views are a featured at Captain Kirk’s casas and villas.

The resort boasts several common areas, such as the Clubhouse, Captain’s Deck, and Bath-house, and Continental breakfasts are complimentary. Try starting the day with Kitty’s delicious breakfasts – different every day – that vary from her famous waffles, to huevos rancheros, egg burritos, French toast and huevos Mexicanos.  Fresh fruit, yogurt, cold cereals, toast, orange juice, and tea and coffee are available, too. Cooking facilities are available for lunch and dinner, and guests may also explore local restaurant favorites like Las Palmas, Adelita’s and Bandito’s Sushi and Sports Bar.

Before windsurfing and after a Huevos Rancheros breakfast, what about lounging around?

For the first three weeks in March, Captain Kirk’s will be hosting a “Spring Cleaning Yoga Retreat” with Body Soul Movement gurus Federica Clemente and Joshua Gefroh. The retreat will focus on improving mental, physical and emotional health, and in addition to yoga, also features African dance, meditation, and other enlightening pursuits. All-inclusive packages are currently available – accommodations, healthy food, and morning and afternoon classes included –  for this unique opportunity to experience light, beauty, and clarity in one of Baja’s most beautiful locations.

For the first three weeks in March, Captain Kirk’s is offering the ‘Spring Cleaning Yoga Retreat’.


Special offer for readers!

March visitors to Captain Kirk’s can also take advantage of a special “4 nights for the price of 3” accommodation package, perfect for maximizing sun and surf and even romance in this secluded seaside paradise. One thing is guaranteed. After the final night, you’ll be begging Scotty not to beam you up.

How to get to Captain Kirk’s:  Just fly to Cabo, rent a car, and it’s less than a two-hour drive, with well maintained paved roads the whole way. Or you can fly to La Paz, which leaves only a 45-minute drive or shuttle ride (but airfare and rental cares might be a bit more expensive.  At your request, Captain Kirk’s will arrange a door-to-door airport shuttle.   The guest must pay the driver directly $70 USD with cash, ($140 for Cabo) each way, per group (up to 4 people, $10 per extra person. 8 maximum).  He will meet you outside  baggage claim with a “Captain Kirk’s” sign and take you directly to your lodging at the beach. For a good tip, he’ll make a quick stop in La Paz at the Walmart so you can stock up on any special items you may  need for your stay. Otherwise you can just go to any of  the local La Ventana mini-markets or restaurants that are  near our resort.

Where is Captain Kirk’s?

Looking for windsports in Baja? Want to know how you can find the gusts, the sea and the sky at Captain Kirk’s and La Ventana?  Visit the resort page at




A Glimpse of La Ventana from Marshall Miller on Vimeo. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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