Rated by Mexicans as one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, Balandra Beach is unmissable during your Baja Trip.
Why we love Playa Balandra
For over 40 years, this iconic beach near the city of La Paz has been a symbolic recreation place where residents love to spend their time away from the daily hustle.
This beach was pretty much a well-hidden secret by locals back in the day. Not many tourists were interested in visiting this part of Mexico like other popular places with more potential like Cancún, Acapulco, or Puerto Vallarta.
In recent years, Baja California Sur has gained some fame, and visitors from inside and outside the country are blown away by Balandra’s beautiful blue turquoise waters. It makes you feel extraordinarily connected with nature!
In 2018, Balandra was rated as “World’s Top 50 Beaches 2018” by the Canadian travel site Flight Network, occupying the #17 position on the listing.
Indeed, one of the reasons it is considered so special is the Mexican desertic landscape that makes Balandra unique.
If you come to La Paz and miss Balandra Beach, it’s like coming to Mexico and not eating tacos! It’s simply a colossal MUST.
Natural Protected Area
Balandra is more than just a beach. This spectacular place is considered a wetland surrounded by three different species of mangroves: red, white, and black – all of them are endangered and need to be protected.
Besides their role as hurricane barriers, these mangroves provide refuge to species with commercial value like shrimp and snapper fish.
Also, this area represents a primary food source for herons, frigatebirds, pelicans, and ospreys.
In 2008 Playa Balandra was declared “Area Natural Protegida” (or Protected Area) by the government in response to a social movement initiated by Colectivo Balandra, a group of passionate activists who work to promote environmental awareness in La Paz municipality.
Colectivo Balandra raised significant concerns about the possible damages the urban development can inflict on this beautiful bay and initiated a project to keep it pristine, that means, without hotels or restaurants. Yep!
Another significant achievement is the allowance capacity of only 450 people and the vendors banning, both measures to maintain the place clean – and crowd-free!
Thanks to the activists and the government’s diligence, we still can enjoy Balandra Beach’s pure charm, and we hope this remains forever.
How to get there
Located only 30 minutes away from the city of La Paz, this used to be the easiest way to get to Balandra Beach. You can rent a car on Booking.com or get a taxi on Uber for MXN 150.00 (USD 7.32) approx. As a one-way rate.
Special considerations: The parking lot capacity is limited to 80 vehicles, and you might be charged MXN 50.00 (USD 2.44) to park your car and access the beach.
Currently, the pandemic is still bringing some challenges to the area, and the authorities only allow 280 people on the beach, which makes access a little more complicated.
To date, these restrictions will remain indefinitely.
Same as El Tecolote Beach, you can access Balandra by bus, and it’s pretty easy. If you stay near downtown La Paz, you have to go to the Malecon Bus Terminal and take the “Playa Bus.”
The “Playa Bus” is the local transportation service, and that’s why you’ll not be able to book online. Don’t forget to ensure this is the Pichilingue – Balandra – Tecolote route!
Special considerations: You’ll have to pack your shade and some goodies with you to stay until the bus comes back to pick you up.
Nowadays, this seems to be the best way to get to Balandra Beach. Comfortable and way much more enjoyable than any other transportation you can take, after all, you come here for the sand and waves.
You can book a tour to this wonderful beach, setting sail from the Malecon.
Some services include extra fun in surrounding areas like San Rafaelito and Isla Espíritu Santo. Also, you can get a tour from Cabo here.
Even though this is the most expensive way to get here, the access is 100% guaranteed and based on reviews of hundreds of people, and you’ll not regret this decision.
What to do at Balandra Beach
The main attraction in Balandra Beach is “El Hongo,” a famous rock with a mushroom shape that has become the symbol of the city of La Paz. So, your Instagram might love a nice pic here!
Also, one of the essential things you can do at Balandra is sunbathing or chilling under a “palapa” (Mexican styled shade), but you’ll have to arrive in the early hours to snatch one of these otherwise, you’ll have to bring your own.
Either way, you can put some music on your speaker and enjoy the view while you drink a refreshing cold beer on the beach.
If you prefer to have a complete experience, we recommend booking a tour to explore the area, depending if it is a group or private tour, you can make your visit more comfortable.
Some tours include plenty of food and drinks, plus you will not need to carry many things with you besides the essential beach gear (sunglasses, towel, sunscreen, hat, etc.).
For our romantic Baja travelers, there are sunset tours worthy of any marriage proposal.
There is no doubt this place has a lot more to offer to every visitor, and there are many other activities you’ll enjoy. That’s why we listed them below.
Let’s find out!
Since mountains surround it, this fantastic beach can only give soft waves that rock you like in a cradle.
For this very reason, this peaceful beach is excellent for children and the elderly, who can swim carefree all around the bay with no danger as the water only reaches 1.20 meters at most.
Other aquatic activities
This swimmable paradise with clean turquoise waters is a fantastic spot for snorkeling around the coral reefs – which no one should touch, by the way – and admiring the plethora of marine life there.
Also, Balandra Beach’s calming waves allow a fantastic experience while paddleboarding or kayaking, and this is my favorite spot in all Baja Sur!
You can try a sailboat trip or even get a boat with rows for a more dynamic experience if you feel more adventurous.
Even though Balandra Beach is renowned for its aquatic activities, not many people explore the full potential of its mountainous landscape.
The area of Balandra is segmented by the edge of the mountains surrounding the area, and it is not just one big shore everyone can easily access.
To reach the famous Hongo, people must swim through the bay’s edge or hike the hills near the parking lot but don’t worry. It’s just a small hike.
Besides, if you want to show off Balandra Beach to your followers on IG, hiking to the far end of one of the mountains near the beach entrance will give you a fantastic view of the whole bay!
The hiking paths of Balandra
In Balandra, there are six beautiful hiking paths, and each one of them brings a unique view you’ll love to see.
- Valle de Balandra (Balandra Valley)
Distance: 5.4 km / Altitude: 84 msnm / Travel time: 2 hours 20 minutes.
- Merito Sur – Manglar – El Merito
Distance: 2.9 km / Altitude: 34 msnm / Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes.
- Mirador Bahía de Balandra – El Merito
Distance: 2.9 km / Altitude: 120 msnm / Travel time: 1 hour.
- Merito Norte – Punta Diablo
Distance: 4.7 km / Altitude: 120 msnm / Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes.
- Manglar y Playas Sur de Balandra
Distance: 2.7 km / Altitude: 20 msnm / Travel time: 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Circuito Norte de Balandra
Upper side distance: 4.1 km / Altitude: 67 msnm / Travel time: 2 hours 25 minutes.
Lower side distance: 3.0 km / Altitude: unknown / Travel time: 1 hour 55 minutes.
Not many people know that overnight stays at Balandra Beach are allowed in designated areas. If you are more into full nature experiences, this might be your thing.
But beware! Spending one-night camping at Balandra is terrific as a local, but this is not for everyone.
I know it can be very tempting to contemplate the sky full of stars while we drink our favorite beer next to the bonfire, right? But during the sunset hours, you definitely will have a hard time dealing with gnats or “sand flies.”
These fellas come out of the mangroves to eat, and we should be prepared for that. In my experience, I used to do the camping prep before the sunset and avoid the “crazy gnats’ hour” inside my tent or car. They leave once the sun is gone, guaranteed!
If you are still interested in camping at Balandra Beach, bear in mind:
- There are no restaurants or toilets, so you need to come prepared.
- Sometimes it can be very windy. It is wise to check the forecast when you plan to camp.
- Bring a lot of bug repellent to fight the gnats.
Maybe this is not the most comfortable way to enjoy Balandra, but hey, you can have the most beautiful pictures of this place and enjoy a majestic sunrise, no doubt!
Our Advice to Baja Travellers
To get the best experience at Balandra Beach, we have listed a few recommendations we think will improve your visit:
- Try to leave before the sunset, and don’t forget to bring bug repellent. Otherwise, you’ll get gnat bites!
- As there are no restaurants and hotels, you should bring some lunch, snacks and plenty of water.
- Bring extra towels to lie on the sand for more comfort.
- Bring your snorkeling gear if you didn’t hire a tour with this activity included.
- If you are not coming by boat and are not planning to arrive too early, bringing your shade would be crucial.
- If you are planning to hike, bring comfortable and non-slip shoes.
- Before coming here, leave all your pending communications solved as there is no signal, and you will be unreachable for a few hours.
- Even though pets are not banned, Mexican authorities regulate their access. We think it is best not to bring “fluffy” with you for a more relaxed visit.
- When swimming, be careful when you touch the sand and shuffle your feet when you walk to avoid stingrays! These are pretty painful, although not dangerous.
The Do Not’s
Balandra is a natural beauty, and we need to keep it this way, so there are some things you need to take into consideration:
- Any motorized boat is not allowed (unless a tour boat).
- Don’t use a Jetski inside Blandra bay.
- Even though it is tempting, it is not allowed to perform any fishing technique.
- Whenever you want to enjoy a snorkeling session, please do not touch the coral reefs as they are vulnerable and get damaged easily.
- Avoid walking all over the dunes to keep them unaltered.
- If you decide to bring your pet, we kindly ask you to comply with the government regulations: use a dog leash, keep an eye on your pet to avoid damages in the area and prevent them from getting into restricted areas (mangroves and hiking hills) and, of course, pick the poops up!
- Avoid leaving any waste on the beach.
We hope you find this helpful article to spend a great vacation at the Sea of Cortez! If you take photos of your Balandra Beach adventure, don’t hesitate to tag us on our Bajasur.life Instagram!
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