La Paz: Experiencing the Lesser-Known Side of Baja California Sur

La Paz is looking for love—of the romance travel kind. The capital of Baja California Sur is positioning itself as a unique choice for destination weddings, honeymoons and romantic getaways. A two-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas, La Paz is Spanish for “The Peace.”

It’s tranquil, for sure, with miles of white sand beaches set against a desert backdrop. But, activity and adventure are La Paz’s biggest draws. Eco-tourism is a mainstay, with countless marine marvels.

The La Paz region includes Todos Santos (“All Saints”), Espíritu Santo (“Holy Spirit”) Island, and the Sea of Cortez. The latter is also known as the Gulf of California; in Spanish, Mar de Cortés. It’s actually a sea of the Pacific Ocean that separates the Baja California Peninsula from mainland Mexico.

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While most equate the Sea of Cortez with Baja California Sur, it actually borders three additional Mexican states: Baja California, Sonora and Sinaloa.

Chronicled by Steinbeck and beloved by the National Geographic set, the Sea of Cortez’ allure is legendary. But, what many visitors don’t realize is that it’s dotted with Islands and inlets. Nearly 250 of them are under UNESCO protection as World Heritage Bio-Reserves.

It makes for world-class marine life encounters. And, the appeal is not lost to hoteliers in Los Cabos.

Casa Tara Retreat

“You can drive to La Paz, the capital. The diversity of the sea there is something you can’t believe. There are schools of fish everywhere. Now, we have the whale sharks,” Krystal Grand Los Cabos Director of Sales Rafael Sanchez Navarro tells us.

While scuba is no doubt the premier attraction, the La Paz region offers countless opportunities for wedding party diversion. Whale watching charters bring guests close to the largest mammals on earth. Sports fishing for marlin, tuna, sailfish and wahoo is a year-round activity all age groups can enjoy together. And, who wouldn’t want to snorkel with sea lions?

It’s a good fit for today’s romance travel clients.

“My clients traveling to Mexico are looking for that ‘WOW factor,'” Melissa Varela, president of Modern Romance Travel, says. "They are seeking an authentic experience, filled with local immersion and personal enrichment. They are looking for something unique and the fact that they are able to something that others cannot do."

For a truly romantic adventure, consider Espiritu Santo Island. The protected national reserve is acclaimed for scuba diving, hiking and kayaking opportunities. It’s possible to overnight there, immersed in a unique ecosystem of desert and sea.

Luxury operators such as Baja Expeditions and Todos Santos Eco Adventures operate camps on Espiritu Santo. The experience includes safari-style tents equipped with proper beds with fine linens, warm showers, afternoon cocktails and gourmet cuisine.

Whether it’s a destination wedding or honeymoon, clients are definitely looking to escape the ordinary. And, La Paz is quite distinct from the traditional all-inclusive resort settings.

In stark contrast to government-planned tourist developments, La Paz is half a millennium old. Visitors can stroll through (the somewhat hilly) streets and historical buildings such as the old City Palace, the Juarez Theatre, the Velasco Garden and Cathedral of Our Lady of La Paz. Daily mercados offer fresh fare and exotic juices; while the seaside Malecon boardwalk is a gathering spot for visitors and residents alike, coming together by walking, jogging and inline skating. It’s lined with bronze sculptures and features the best sunsets in town.

Costabaja Resort & Spa

Hotels have come of age in La Paz as well. Attracting attention of late is the luxury boutique Costabaja Resort & Spa. It offers an array of ocean-view rooms, suites and residences. The property features its own marina and the first Gary Player Signature Design Golf Course in Mexico.

Costabaja’s Espiritu Spa features an “Holistic-Reiki” concept. It’s a fusion of aromatherapy with local healing herbs, Reiki and Chakra balancing.

For a romantic experience infused with wellness and mindfulness, Casa Tara Retreat is an option. It’s located in El Sargento, a small beach community 35 minutes away from La Paz.

The name Tara comes from a Buddhist female meditational deity. The luxury property draws inspiration from the deity, and is dedicated to enhancing guests’ mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Daily yoga rituals take place in beachfront palapa shalas overlooking the Sea of Cortez and Cerralvo Island. They’re also used for meditation.

But, guests are also encouraged to make the most of the unique surroundings. They can try their hand at standup paddle boarding, kiteboarding and mountain biking. Casa Tera offers certified courses in Freediving and Scuba Diving. (The visibility in the water there is 85 feet.)

Complete wedding packages are available, as well.  

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