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Updated: May 10
There’s nearly no way that you’ve made it even ankle-deep into your La Paz vacation research without seeing at least a few pictures of the most famous beach around – Balandra Beach. While it’s a must-see spot, there are practicalities to consider in order to get the most fun and least confusion out of your visit!
In this article, I’ll cover exactly where Balandra Bay is from La Paz city; what makes Balandra Beach so special; the up-to-date entrance regulations and restrictions; how to get to Balandra via various methods of transportation; and what to do once you’re inside one of the most beautiful places not only in Mexico but, dare I say the world!
The Balandra Beach public parking is located 25km north of the La Paz Malecon on Federal Highway 11.
Balandra Beach is unique for the even, shallow depth of its crystal clear turquoise waters, making it sometimes seem like a natural swimming pool. The beach is also part of a larger protected flora and fauna zone, so there are regulations in place against overcrowding, damage to the environment, and unlicensed vendors selling goods or services. By visiting Balandra you’ll be supporting the protection of an important ecosystem, and also enjoying a beach day not overrun by tourists.
Now, don’t take my previous comments to mean that you’ll have the whole place to yourself. Balandra Bay is still one of the most popular tourist destinations of La Paz. Entry limits started as a Covid-19 policy to ensure adequate social distancing, but officials decided to keep them in place to mitigate the inevitable damage done by thousands of visitors a week.
As of April 2023, 450 people are allowed to enter from 8 am – 12 pm and then another 450 from 1 – 5 pm. Lineups begin on the road at least an hour ahead of time on most weekends. So go early to avoid disappointment! During the week you should be okay to arrive closer to the opening hour, or even be allowed in whenever you arrive. Also, the first Sunday of every month is reserved for local La Paz residents. We think it’s nice that they have a day for the local people to enjoy a piece of their national heritage!
Another new regulation in 2022 – an entrance fee for non-residents is (sometimes) collected at the parking lot by city staff, so be prepared to potentially pay $50-$150 pesos per person to enter. Now, do make sure you’re only paying an official Balandra Bay employee, as there have been some reports of scams – folks approaching cars in the line soliciting entrance fees that are far over the rates that have been announced by the municipality and the state. Just be aware and when in doubt, go with your gut. Just say, “No, gracias”, and continue to wait in line and see what happens when you get to the parking lot.
Finally, dogs are allowed on Balandra Beach, but should remain leashed, should be picked up after, and just like the people need to stay off of the dunes. If you have a reactive dog do note that there are often homeless local dogs that live or forage in the area, so be prepared for your dog to be approached; put a muzzle on or consider leaving them at home.
By car, the secure Balandra Bay parking is a simple 35-minute drive out of La Paz. If you don’t have your own ride there are numerous rental options in the city and in the international airports of La Paz and Los Cabos. All the major names are here, as well as a number of local independent rental agencies. Have a good read of reviews before deciding where to rent. Rideshare apps Didi and Uber service Balandra, but honestly can be a little spotty, so you may have to deal with a canceled ride or two before you’ll find someone actually willing to come “that far”.
The La Paz Playa Bus is hard to miss!
A Playa Bus (“beach bus”) leaves La Paz every 90 minutes or so, stopping at maybe 3 beaches before arriving at Balandra, and after it El Tecolote, the end of the line. Unfortunately, the earliest departure normally only gets you to Balandra about an hour before they’re going to kick you out at noon, then you’d have to get back in line and wait an hour to get back in for the 1 pm shift, so if you’re going to bus it we suggest just aiming for the afternoon entrance slot.
Protip: Don’t believe any schedule you read online – even here! – as the bus company changes schedules frequently. Best to simply stop by the tourist bus station and ask for the schedule for the following days. You should also confirm that schedule with the driver when you actually get on the outbound bus: “Regresas de Balandra a las cuatro?” – Do you come back from Balandra at 4 pm?
Another option is taking a tour that departs from La Paz and takes you into the bay via the water! There are a number of operators out there – some offer just Balandra and others pair a visit to the famous beach with a whale shark experience or snorkeling with the sea lions. If you want enjoying and exploring Balandra to be your main focus, you can’t do much better than your own private yacht cruise, with all the water toys and a fresh lunch served on the beach.
More than just lounging and wading in waist-deep warm waters, there is a lot of exploring to be done around Balandra Beach! Head up the official hiking trails to get that Instagram-worthy birds-eye view of the whole of Balandra Bay. Stick to the marked trails though and definitely stay off the dunes, because remember, this is a protected area!
Kayakers winding through the Balandra Bay mangroves.
Kayaking or paddleboarding through the mangroves is a bird watcher’s dream and adds another, much greener, dimension to this already jaw-dropping location. Even in the hottest, driest season, the lush mangroves refresh your senses and contrast exquisitely with the arid desert landscape. Rentals are sometimes but not always available from within Balandra, so best to find something in La Paz and strap that baby to the roof.
Visit the famous Hongo de Balandra (the Balandra Mushroom Rock). A rock formation resembling, you guessed it, a mushroom has become the emblem of the bay and often sees a lineup of visitors waiting their turn to take a selfie. Walk one bay to the right when entering the beach from the parking lot, and you’ll see it at the far end.
Hopefully, this guide will help you make some decisions for your visit to Balandra Bay, an absolute must-see while you are staying in La Paz! If you have any more questions or an update to any of the information provided here, please leave them in the comments below.
If you haven’t secured your accommodations yet for La Paz, check out our vacation rentals section to see the apartments and full homes we have available for your dates!
By: The Trip&homes Team