La Paz, The City of Pearls
We were scheduled to fly out of La Paz to Puerto Vallarta at 6:30 am on the morning of June 19. Opting for an extra hour of sleep, we decided to spend the night in La Paz. La Paz used to be a sleepy fishing town famous for its pearls. Unfortunately, now, like much of Baja, the town is increasingly surrendering to the pressure of tourism and industry. Frankly, in our limited exposure, Ellie and I have never been too enamored with the town. Admittedly, however, we haven’t really seen much of La Paz. In fact, we have only spent the night at the iconic Los Arcos (on the malecon) when we needed to fly out early after a weekend in Todos Santos. We had both heard there are some nice developments (oxymoron?) that were being constructed north of town. So, this time we decided to venture to the new Marina district 5 minutes north of town. After some limited haggling, we secured a mountain view room at the Fiesta Inn. As far as large branded hotels go, it was a nice “business class” hotel. But, we stayed there only after being assured we’d have internet access in our room (and being offered an off-season rate). Ultimately I ended up sitting in the lobby until 1am to access the internet since the coverage was limited.
We did manage to salvage the afternoon exploring the beaches even further north. We drove past Playa Pichelingue (fairly crowded beach for low season but had amenities). Just when we were about to give up, we found Playa Balandra, home of La Paz’s famous Diamond Rock. It was pristine and fairly empty (although the local polka music could be heard for at least a mile). You can walk almost a mile in the shallow bay and it offered a perfect anchorage for sailing. I even emulated Patrick Davenportâ€™s tradition to embrace nature by a long swim in the suit of my birth. I swam about a mile out to two sailboats. The water was crystalline and incredibly tepid. There’s some old school brick grills on the beach if you wanted to cook. I was surprised as the sun went down that due to the geography, it set over the bay even though we were on the west coast. http://thoos.com/fishing/places/Playa+Balandra.
We finished the night with a very average lobster dinner for two at El Bismarck in the town of La Paz. The restaurant was named after a the German battleship as evidenced by some poor frescoes on the walls.
While we’ll certainly give La Paz another chance, next time we’ll be sure to arrange for some boating and/or diving as well as try a new place to stay and restaurant.
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