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Cruises to La Paz

La Paz (Photo:Barna Tanko/Shutterstock)
La Paz (Photo:Barna Tanko/Shutterstock)

About La Paz

La Paz, meaning peace, is a tranquil Mexican town where the cactus-studded desert abruptly meets the sea in eye-popping fashion. Located on a large bay on the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California), La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur, an arid peninsula extending some 800 miles south of the U.S. border. It's famous for its pastel neocolonial homes, beautifully updated waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, fiery sunsets and abundant marine life.

Once a simple spot for sport fishing (John Wayne and Bing Crosby were frequent visitors), La Paz has evolved into something of a hot spot for ecotourism. Its proximity to the gray whale winter breeding grounds in Magdalena Bay, pristine islands of the Sea of Cortez and Sierra de la Laguna mountains attracts whale watchers, kayakers, hikers, birders and scuba divers.

Still, exploration and adventure are nothing new to La Paz. Nearly five centuries ago, Hernan Cortes arrived there, followed by Jesuit missionaries. English and Dutch pirates raided treasure-filled Spanish galleons trapped in the La Paz Bay. In the early 19th-century, La Paz became the capital of Baja after a hurricane wiped out Loreto. The city prospered as a pearl center until the 1930s, when local oyster beds were destroyed by disease.

While nearby Cabo San Lucas attracts hordes of tourists, La Paz still offers an authentic provincial experience, although in recent years beachfront condos have been springing up at the north end of town. Of all Baja's cities, La Paz draws most heavily from the traditions of mainland Mexico. Many pacenos (locals) are descended from mainlanders who came in the 19th and 20th centuries to escape political upheaval.

Today, this university town has a large cultural center that features a theater for dance and music performances, plus whale and anthropology museums. The biggest annual holiday is the pre-Lent Carnaval, a six-day party with parades, costumes, music, dancing and fireworks. In early May, Cortes' 1535 landing is reenacted during the Fiesta de la Paz. In mid-November, the Baja 1000 off-road racers roar into town at the end of their dusty, 1,000-mile race.

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DAY 1: San Diego

14 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, La Paz ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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10 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, La Paz ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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DAY 1: San Diego

10 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, La Paz ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

10 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, La Paz ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, La Paz ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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10 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Cabo San Lucas, La Paz ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
Puerto Vallarta
Visiting:
La Paz, Loreto ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Channel Islands, Ensenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Lindblad Expeditions
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8 Night
Cruise to La Paz

Leaving:
Loreto
Visiting:
La Paz, Bahia Almejas ...
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Cruise Line:
Lindblad Expeditions
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Why go to La Paz?

Pros:

La Paz has become a hot spot for ecotourism; museums and a cultural center add to the diversity

Cons:

If enjoying the plethora of marine life with a dive, beware of jellyfish

Bottom Line:

This cultural hub offers a more authentic provincial experience than other Mexican ports

La Paz Cruise Port Facilities?

Strolling from the in-town Port of La Paz along the three-mile-long Malecon Alvaro Obregon is a local tradition. The tiled seaside walkway is dotted with sculptures of marine animals and offers great bay views, as well as shops, cafes and restaurants. One block away is the Centro Cultural La Paz, housed in the restored 1910 city hall. Inside are a bookshop and Baja-themed exhibits (open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily). Three blocks inland is the city's main square, Plaza Constitucion, also called Plaza Jardin Velasco, with its tile-roofed gazebo and 1865 cathedral. The adjacent Centro de Artes Populares showcases art and photography (open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday).

At the Pichilingue dock, a craft market is set up on cruise ship days. There are no other facilities.

Good to Know?

La Paz is surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with exciting marine life, so swimming, snorkeling and diving with sea lions and whale sharks rate as top attractions. Anyone planning to go in the water should be aware of the chance of encountering jellyfish or getting a warning bite from a sea lion. Always follow the lead of your dive guide, wear protective gear (a wetsuit) and check out your underwater companions carefully.

Getting Around?

On Foot: With its streets radiating from the waterfront in a classic grid, La Paz is best explored on foot.

By Bus: Cruise lines such as Azamara offer complimentary shuttle buses from the Pichilingue cruise pier to town. Public buses leave daily at set departure times from the pier to Terminal Turistica on the malecon. Some buses stopping at the pier continue to the beaches at Tecolote and Balandra. Be sure to check the return schedule because buses can show up as infrequently as one every two to three hours.

By Taxi: Cab fare from the cruise ship terminal to downtown runs about $20. To visit beaches north and south of the city, either take a cab (La Paz taxis don't have meters, so agree on the fare upfront) or rent a car.

By Car: Most major car rental chains have offices along the malecon.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The official currency is the peso. Check www.xe.com and www.oanda.com for current rates. Most restaurants, shops and hotels accept credit cards and U.S. dollars. Be aware, if you pay cash, the exchange rate may not be the best, and you will probably receive your change in pesos. It pays to carry small bills.

The best place for banks, ATMs and currency-exchange houses (casas de cambio) is on Calle 16 de Septiembre near the seaside walkway known as the malecon. Banks exchange currency from 9 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday. Most exchange houses such as Tony Money Exchange (Calle 16 de Septiembre) are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. If you need to change dollars for pesos on Sunday, large hotels are your best bet.

Language?

Mexico's official language is Spanish. English is widely spoken.


La Paz Cruise Reviews

Ruby Princess
MikCar
Sail Date: Feb 2019
Good guide. Lives in La Paz. had a lot of history of Baja to share. The ceramic factory is great. The malecon stop allowed some shopping or margarita sampling... Read More
Ruby Princess
w6dx
Sail Date: Feb 2019
We took the free bus into town and walked around the town, eventually having food and a beverage at one of the local sidewalk cafes. We are familiar with the town and enjoy it.... Read More
snbjacobs
Sail Date: Nov 2018
You failed to include Loreto in the list of ports so here...this our very favorite port on this cruise!... Read More
Ruby Princess
meh56
Sail Date: Jan 2017
We used the free shuttle provided by La Paz. It was an enjoyable ride into the city with guide provide to tell us about the area. The city was very clean and had a large market place.... Read More
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