La Paz (lah-PAHS) which means "peace" in Spanish is the state capital of Baja California Sur and the second largest city south of Tijuana on the Baja Peninsula with a population of around 300,000. As the region's commercial, cultural and political center, La Paz is still a tranquil and very Mexican port town. Through the years it has preserved a sort of nostalgic "old Baja" atmosphere.
A panoramic view of the bay and the malecon
Though the area has fine beaches, La Paz is not known as a beach resort in the traditional Mexican resort sense. Instead, the city has a provincial Mexican town atmosphere. It lies on a deep inlet off the Sea of Cortez, along the southeast end of the gently curved shore of Bahia de La Paz. The sunsets in La Paz are some of the areas most spectacular in Baja.
Surrounded by Sonoran desert, La Paz is set amid ancient laurel trees and coconut and date palms. The city is laid out in the classic grid pattern with streets radiating from the city's northwest facing the waterfront (Paseo Alvaro Obregón). Running parallel to Paseo Obregón is the city's lovely waterfront promenade, or malecón. El Mogote, a flat deserted sandbar, sits just offshore. A few blocks inland in the main plaza, Plaza Constitución, with its pink quartz gazebo, tiled walkways and 19th century cathedral.
The city's main square (also called Jard�n Velasco)
La Paz languished until the trans-peninsular highway was completed in 1973, and became the capital of the newly formed State of Baja California Sur the next year. Today it is a thriving regional center and conduit for nearly all trade between Baja and the Mexican mainland (thanks to the ferry links to Topolobampo and Mazatlan). Commercial fishing is a major industry as is tourism.
La Paz is arguably the ecotourism capital of Mexico. Within easy reach from La Paz are deserted beaches, calm bays, and ecologically pristine offshore islands including Isla Espíritu, Isla Partida and Isla Cerralvo. Further inland lie deserts, oases, and the Sierra de la Laguna mountains (declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1994). The region's complex wildlife, plant life, and geology is truly astonishing. An assortment of professional outdoor guides and outfitters provide excellent tour options.
Looking east, one of La Paz's famous sunrises
Shopping, dining and nightlife in La Paz is varied and plentiful. There are also fine lodging establishments, smaller less expensive options for the budget traveler, as well as RV parks and camping areas. La Paz provides the traveler with everything they'll need to have a great vacation.