If you’ve been making your way down the peninsula visiting small towns, fishing villages, and remote coastal stretches, the state capital of La Paz (pop. 226,000) and the largest city in Southern Baja may come as quite a shock.
For many travelers, this city achieves the perfect balance: Nestled at the southern end of the largest and one of the most beautiful bays along the Gulf coast, it is tropical and picturesque, with a five-kilometer-long bayside promenade and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure.
And yet La Paz conveys the feel of a real place with real people and its own distinct history and culture. The first Europeans to set foot on the peninsula arrived at La Paz in the 16th century, and the city was a pearling center long before it became a tourist destination. It is a hub for government, commerce, education, medical services, and environmental conservation.
This is not a purpose-built resort town. La Paz is ideal for the traveler who wants more than a beach-and-booze vacation; here, you’ll get some history, eco-adventure, and a taste of the real Mexico. The locals go about their business, and tourists can take it or leave it. And that’s exactly why many visitors fall in love with the city.
Marine biologists on sabbatical from universities in the United States, young professionals from mainland Mexico, vacationers cruising on their yachts, and baby boomers looking to live comfortably in their retirement are all making La Paz their home base. If you want to move to Southern Baja yet still have some of the conveniences of urban life, La Paz may well be your place.
Despite the feverish pace of real estate activity, the city that John Steinbeck described as antigua has protected its deep-rooted traditions, many of which came from the mainland along with the earliest immigrants. Then, as now, people who came over from Mexico City and other large cities were searching for a slower pace and a better quality of life.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition