Balandra Beach is a must-do when visiting La Paz. We’d taunted our SoCal friends so much with photos of blue bays and beautiful beaches that they finally decided to come see for themselves. So we took them to Balandra, considered by some as one of the most spectacular in the world. Last year, it was rated the number one beach in all of Mexico by USA Today’s readers. Check out touropia.com for an amazing aerial shot. While I disagree with the #1 status, simply because we've been to several spectacular, more remote beaches, it's definitely in my top ten!
The Perfect Beach
If you are looking for sapphire blue waters and white sand beaches, you’ve come to the right place. Crystal clear, the shallow water extends out hundreds of feet into the bay, perfect for kiddies, kayaking & paddleboarding. Snorkeling opportunities are limitless - just search for some underwater rocks and you’ll find fishies (mostly small ones since it’s very shallow). A hard-packed, sandy sea floor makes for easy strolling to explore the various caletas (little coves). And, well, if beaches aren’t your thing, you can always indulge in photography: dark brown/black volcanic outcroppings contrast with creamy sand, while rippling turquoise water meets a stark azure sky. Ahhh.
Balandra’s main attraction is “El Hongo” or “Mushroom Rock”, a natural rock formation that sort of looks like a mushroom. Maybe “fungus” ball growing on a stick is more accurate. (Hongo can mean either.) Despite the unusual shape, it’s still a pretty amazing natural wonder. It’s mushroomy stem has eroded over the years to a teensy foot. But don’t look too closely - it’s been shoddily shored up with concrete and rebar to keep the precariously perched blob from toppling. So treasured by the townspeople, El Hongo has become an icon symbolizing La Paz. There is even a replica statue of it in the town square. A visit to the real El Hongo is a must, but you may get wet depending on the tide.
In the Boonies
Balandra is just 20 miles from La Paz close to the end of a windy, nearly uninhabited, dead-end road. Beware: there are no “facilities” at Balandra. But there is no parking fee either. Usually, kayaks are available for rent. There may or may not be a food truck selling snacks and beer. Eight of us hopped in a taxi-van and had our driver wait while we explored for a couple hours. There is also bus service from downtown La Paz. Got your own car? Once finished with Balandra, keep driving to the end of the road & have lunch at the restaurant on Tecolote Beach.
Balandra Beach is far off the beaten track so if you are looking for Cancun-type hordes, you will be disappointed. Its allure is its seclusion. Go on a weekday to beat the “crowds”, meaning 10’s of people. Go early to stake out one of the palapas for shade. But don’t miss this beach!