A series of public beaches line the Bahía de La Paz, from the city center all the way to the tip of the Pichilingue Peninsula. As a general rule, the beaches become prettier as you get farther away from La Paz .
To find them, follow the La Paz-Pichilingue Road (Paseo Obregón becomes this road at the northeast end of the malecón ), which is paved all the way to El Tecolote at the northern tip of the peninsula.
Palmira, El Coromuel, and El Caimancito: At Playa Palmira, closest to downtown La Paz (Km. 2.5), resort development has encroached on the sand—so it’s best to continue another kilometer to Playa El Coromuel (Km. 4.3), a small beach with a restaurant, bar, palapa structures for shade, and restrooms. Playa El Caimancito, at the La Concha Beach Resort (Km. 6), has a rock reef close to shore suitable for snorkeling and an aquarium called the Acuario de las Californias.
Playa El Tesoro and Punta Colorada: Playa El Tesoro (Km. 13) has palapas and a hit-or-miss restaurant. The dirt road that heads southwest from the beach goes to Playa Punta Colorada, a secluded swimming cove.
laya Pichilingue: The next beach east of the ferry terminal (Km. 17–18) has restrooms open 24/7 for visitors who want to camp. Its simple palapa restaurant (tel. 612/122-4565, 11 A.M.–9 P.M. daily, mains US$5–15) serves a variety of Mexican fare, but the real reason to go is the shellfish: clams, lobster, mussels, and crab. A taxi from the malecón to the ferry terminal will run about US$20.
Playa Balandra: The best beach for snorkeling along this stretch is Playa Balandra, which came under protection by the La Paz City Council in 2008—a victory for local environmental organizations. Known for Mushroom Rock, which balances offshore, this sometimes-crowded beach is protected from the wind (good for calm water and chilly days, but not so good for bugs when camping). Swim out to the coral reef at the south end of the beach for the best underwater scenery. To get the best views, you’ll have to scale the rock cliffs behind the beach. Look for an access road about five kilometers past the ferry terminal.
Playa El Tecolote: Continue another three kilometers beyond the road to Playa Balandra and you’ll reach Playa El Tecolote, an exposed beach that faces the Canal de San Lorenzo and Isla Espíritu Santo to the north. A handful of pangas are moored here, and you can swim in a roped-off area, or anywhere along the beach. The slope is gentle leading into the water and the bottom is sandy, so you can wade quite far from shore before having to swim. Campers often come here to escape the bugs.
Two beachfront restaurants, El Tecolote (tel. 612/127-9494, mains US$8–15) and Palapa Azul (tel. 612/122-1801, mains US$8–15), offer food and drinks as well as rental gear (chairs, umbrellas, fishing equipment) and boat tours (US$$40–50). There are pay showers and public palapas for shade.
Though you are well away from the city, don’t leave valuables unattended. Theft is rare, but readers have reported that it happens.
Playa El Coyote: After El Tecolote, a dirt road continues around to the east side of the Pichilingue Peninsula to Punta Coyote. Coves along this stretch are rocky and sand is gray or brown instead of white. The road effectively ends here, although the most adventurous off-roaders might attempt to find their way through a maze of sand roads to Puerto Mejia and Las Cruces.
Las Cruces: When Hernan Cortés sailed from the mainland to Antigua California in 1535, he supposedly landed at Las Cruces, about 50 kilometers southeast of La Paz  on the Canal de Cerralvo. Today three stone crosses perched on a bluff mark the historic place. The port here became a key part of the pearl trade but was abandoned by the 1930s when the oyster supply had been depleted.
Believing he had found a diamond in the rough, Abelardo L. Rodríguez Montijo, grandson of Mexico’s interim president (1932–1934), decided to invest. In 1949 he built a luxury fly-in resort on 8,000 hectares, designed to attract wealthy Hollywood celebrities—and went on to found the original Palmilla hotel in Los Cabos in 1957.
Though still a private organization, Rancho Las Cruces has opened its guestrooms to the public again (www.rancholascruces.com ).
The closest land you see when standing on the malecón is the thumb-shaped Mogote Peninsula. Extending 11 kilometers in an east–west direction, it joins the main Baja Peninsula via a narrow sand spit on the north side of the Ensenada de La Paz. Mangroves grow along the Mogote’s southern shore, which faces the city; the opposite shore features a long, sandy beach.
Once the domain of kayakers and other adventure-seekers, the area is now under development as the US$240 million Paraíso del Mar (tel. 612/125-5199, toll-free U.S. tel. 888/207-2825, www.parasiseofthesea.com , stay-and-play packages starting at US$129 and up) real estate project takes shape. Plans call for two golf courses, a clubhouse, hundreds of homes, a shopping mall, church, hotels, marina, and park. Necessary infrastructure will include desalination plants, water and sewage treatment plants, and a ferry terminal. (Although there is a dirt road leading out to the peninsula from El Comitá, north of La Paz, primary access for visitors will be by water taxi, since the distance is only 800 meters from the malecón.)
The project has encountered criticism from environmentalists, including Greenpeace, for endangering hundreds of acres of mangroves, which provide a habitat and nutrients for thousands of marine species in the Sea of Cortez. But the developers are taking steps to protect the fragile ecosystem by landscaping the golf courses with native plants, for example.
Accommodations today consist of a few newly finished condos and rental houses. The resort has an office on the malecón in the Vista Coral Plaza near Papas and Beer, where guests check in and catch the water taxi to the peninsula. Activities so far are mainly centered around golf tournaments, but you can also walk the beach, borrow a kayak, and play volleyball, tennis, horseshoes, or boccie. Transportation within the resort is via golf cart (US$20 per day). A free shuttle is also provided. The golf course (tel. 612/165-1818) is open 7 A.M.–7 P.M. Tuesday–Sunday. A restaurant on the course is open the same hours. La Tiendita, a small convenience store, is open 11 A.M.–7 P.M. daily.