Balandra Beach Guide: Nature’s Masterpiece in La Paz, Baja
There’s a good reason why Balandra is considered the best beach in Mexico. I know, I’ve been there.
With its shimmering turquoise waters, rugged desert landscape, and an aura of untouched natural beauty, Balandra Beach is, without a doubt, nature’s masterpiece in this tranquil corner of Mexico.
In this blog post, I’ll take you on a virtual journey to discover the captivating allure of Balandra, where the harmony of sea and land creates a destination that beckons both adventure seekers and those seeking pure relaxation.
Join me as I unveil the secrets, the sights, and the stories that make Balandra Beach an enchanting escape like no other.
Balandra Beach Features
Balandra is a coastal bay enveloped by a breathtaking mountainous landscape, with a significant mangrove area in close proximity.
Due to this, the expansive 2,500-hectare region surrounding the beach has been designated as a Natural Protected Area by environmental authorities.
As a result, you’ll discover an almost untouched beach, free from any man-made structures in its vicinity, as it has been meticulously conserved to promote its preservation.
The beach is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, particularly an array of fish and birds that inhabit the mangrove area.
A prominent landmark at Playa Balandra is the famous stone formation known as the “Hongo,” which has been sculpted by millions of years of erosion and serves as one of the most iconic photo spots on the beach.
Please be aware that climbing on the mushroom structure is strictly prohibited. Some years ago, a group of tourists climbed on it, causing it to collapse.
It had to be reconstructed, and additional safety measures, such as metal bars, were added to ensure its stability.
How is the water at Balandra?
The waters at Balandra are known for their remarkable clarity, featuring a stunning mix of turquoise hues.
Moreover, they are remarkably tranquil, allowing people to wade in the water for several meters without encountering depths greater than one meter.
It’s worth noting that the water at Balandra is relatively cool, but not excessively so. This is due to its location in the Sea of Cortez, which is known for its consistently cool temperatures.
However, the refreshing experience of swimming in these waters is a welcome relief from the local heat.
Additionally, be cautious of the numerous sandbanks scattered throughout the bay. During low tide, you can navigate these sandbanks, creating a picturesque sand pathway. However, exercise caution while doing so.
There is a specific area at the far end of the beach, observed when facing it from the parking lot, that has a darker appearance. It is advisable to avoid this section due to its considerable depth and strong currents, which can pose a potential hazard.
In recent years, Balandra has emerged as a popular tourist destination in Baja California, drawing a substantial number of both domestic and international tourists.
Top things to do in Balandra Beach
Again, Balandra is a lovely beach! making it an ideal destination for relaxation, swimming, sunbathing, and more.
If you plan to swim or take a leisurely walk along the shore (keeping in mind the water’s relatively shallow depth), please exercise caution and be attentive to your surroundings, as there may be stingrays in the area.
It’s worth noting that most stingrays are typically found in the deeper section at the far end of the beach, easily identifiable by a noticeable change in water color.
Previously, kayaks were available for rent to explore the bay, but they are currently unavailable. However, they are likely to become accessible again in the near future, making kayak rental an excellent choice for exploring the bay.
If they are available during your visit, I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity.
Another popular and highly recommended activity is walking along the various trails. The most frequented trail begins near the parking area and involves a brief, relatively easy uphill walk of about 10 minutes.
This short hike rewards you with breathtaking views of Balandra.
There are two viewpoints along this trail: one at the higher elevation and another closer to the shore. Please watch out when navigating the path down to the lower viewpoint, as you have to pass a couple of fairly steep rocks.
Additionally, ensure you maintain a safe distance from the water’s edge, as there is no protective barrier.
You can explore other trails that traverse Balandra through its scenic mountains, provided you stick to the designated routes and proceed with utmost care.
A particularly popular trail is situated 1 kilometer before reaching Balandra; to access it, you must make a left turn off the road and walk for approximately 25 minutes. This trail offers a unique perspective of the beach from the opposite side.
Additionally, a must-do activity is visiting the famous “Mushroom of Balandra” for a memorable photo opportunity.
Feel free to bring your favorite food and drinks, and a cooler for a beachside picnic.
Just remember to pack out all your belongings and trash when you leave, as it’s crucial to leave the area as pristine as you found it.
When is the best time to visit Balandra Beach?
Thanks to its popularity, Balandra attracts tourists year-round. However, it’s advisable to avoid visiting during the Easter season or around Christmas time.
Keep in mind that in winter, the water can be significantly colder, which, coupled with a cloudy day, may not be very enjoyable. I recommend planning your trip to Balandra Beach between March and October to avoid uncomfortably low temperatures.
I also suggest that you thoroughly check the weather forecast online or through various free applications before your visit.
This way, you can prevent any unexpected surprises. Ideally, plan your visit on a sunny day to fully appreciate the vibrant colors of the water.
When it comes to choosing the right day, it’s best to steer clear of weekends, as they tend to be the busiest times.
Weekdays offer a more pleasant and less crowded experience. Personally, I visited on a Tuesday and found it to be ideal.
Where to stay in La Paz, near Balandra
If you plan to stay for a few days and explore other sites of interest, the nearest city to Balandra is La Paz.
Keep in mind that there’s nothing in or around Balandra. So pack accordingly and bring your beach gear and refreshments.
Here are a couple of hotel recommendations in La Paz:
#1 HBlue Hotel
The HBlue Hotel has a perfect location, just a couple of blocks walking from the boardwalk.
The rooms are very spacious and comfortable and have air conditioning, which is very necessary in La Paz.
It has a beautiful terrace with a swimming pool for the best views of the sea.
#2 Baja Paradise Guesthouse
If you are looking for a low-budget option, I can definitely recommend this hotel.
It is located a couple of blocks from the boardwalk, so the location is perfect.
The rooms are very spacious, with air conditioning and even a refrigerator. All for an excellent price.
Where is Balandra Beach?
Balandra is about 25 km (30 minutes) from downtown La Paz, Baja California Sur, and about 2 and a half hours from San Jose del Cabo.
Its access is quite easy, here are all the ways you have available to get to Playa Balandra.
Getting there from La Paz
Driving there is the most convenient choice since there are other beautiful beaches along the way for you to stop and take photos.
There is parking inside Balandra, a few steps from the beach. Sometimes if it gets crowded, cars are left parked on the road and people walk a few meters to get to the beach. It’s completely safe.
There is also the option to get to Balandra by public transportation. On the boardwalk of La Paz, you have to look for the Aguila Busses Tourist Terminal.
There is a bus called “Playa Bus” that will take you to Balandra for about 4 USD each way (it also goes to other beaches as far as Playa el Tecolote).
Note: Schedules may vary depending on the season, I suggest you confirm before your departure directly at the Terminal.
They leave every hour starting at 10 a.m. and the last one coming back to La Paz at 6 p.m.
If you don’t like taking buses, you can also ride an app cab (Uber and Didi are available in the area).
On average the cost per trip will be around $50 – $80 pesos, depending on the time and traffic conditions, as well as the availability of units.
Something very important to consider if you decide to go this route is that there’s no cell phone coverage in Balandra, therefore you will not be able to call a cab to get back (unless you can walk further to the road and see if you can find a signal).
Taking a regular cab is also a way to get to Balandra. I have been asking around, and on average a cab will charge you about $250 pesos per ride (up to 4 people). Taxis aren’t cheap in Baja.
Tours to Balandra Beach… and more
If you are looking for more comfort, and peace of mind, and are short of time, you can always go on a tour.
There are several tours that go to Balandra Beach from La Paz that can be a good option for you. Here are the main ones:
- City Tour of La Paz and Balandra Beach + Tecolote Beach
Includes a visit to Balandra (snorkeling equipment included if you wish), then visit Playa El Tecolote (lunch included), and ends with a guided tour of downtown La Paz. Transportation from your hotel is included. Book here!
- Tour to Balandra and the other 5 beaches of La Paz
This tour is perfect for those who want to visit the 6 beaches closest to La Paz, obviously including Balandra.
In addition, you will visit Playa El Tecolote, Playa Pichilingue, Playa El Tesoro, Playa El Caimancito, and Playa El Coromuel. Includes lunch and transportation. Book here!
- Tour to Balandra and Pichilingue Beach with Hiking, Kayaking, and Snorkeling
Includes a hiking route to Balandra (with spectacular views), then visit Pichilingue Beach for snorkeling, kayaking, and lunch (included).
Walking: There is a walking trail to Balandra from Playa El Tecolote, which takes around 20 minutes.
Visit Balandra from Los Cabos
If you are in Los Cabos and want to visit Balandra Beach, again, the easiest way to do it is by car.
You have to take the highway (there are no toll booths) to Todos Santos, and then take the exit to La Paz, and from there to Balandra (on average it will take you 2 and a half hours one way).
You can get to La Paz by bus, both from San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, once here you would have to take one of the options I mentioned before Balandra.
On average a bus one way will cost you about $300 pesos each way, consider that if you decide to take this option, it is best to spend one night in La Paz (because returning the same day to Los Cabos can be quite tiring and rushed).
If you are short on time and don’t want to complicate things, then taking a tour from Los Cabos to Balandra is a highly recommended option:
Tour to Balandra + El Coromuel Beach + Todos Santos + La Paz
Includes lunch, and transportation from your hotel in Los Cabos. Click here for more details, prices, and booking.
Is there an entrance fee to Balandra Beach?
Because Balandra is a Natural Protected Area, you will pay around 60 pesos per person (about 3.5 USD) to enter. You will be given a bracelet to identify yourself. Cash only.
Children under 12 years old and people over 60 don’t pay. If you live in La Paz (with proof of ID), admission is free.
If you bring a car, parking is free.
Entrance requirements and restrictions
Obviously, being such a popular place and a protected area, the entrance to Balandra Beach has had and still has several restrictions and requirements.
Mainly these are conditions to maintain the local ecosystem and that the place is maintained without damaging it in any way.
One of the main restrictions to Balandra began during the COVID pandemic, in fact, it remained closed for many months.
When access was finally granted, it was done with many restrictions (the main one being that the capacity was minimal and people had to arrive to line up around 6 a.m. to enter).
However, this is no longer necessary. The authorities have now established blocks of hours to enter Balandra.
Beyond the fact that it is due to the pandemic, these “hourly blocks” were also created to restrict the capacity and to be able to take care of the ecosystem more efficiently.
The “Block” system
The 2 block schedules are as follows:
- Block 1: From 08:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
- Block 2: From 13:00 p.m. to 05:00 p.m.
Please note that each block can accommodate only 450 people.
Once this limit is reached, further entry will not be permitted. Therefore, if you find yourself in this situation, you will need to wait until the next block.
At the conclusion of each time block, all visitors are required to vacate the area, even if it entails the involvement of law enforcement and the sounding of patrol sirens to ensure compliance with this rule.
You have the option to arrive either when each block commences or at a later time. For instance, if you select block 1, you can arrive at 9:00 a.m. (provided there is still available space), but you must depart by noon.
If you plan to visit Balandra on weekends or during holidays, it is advisable to arrive at least 30 to 60 minutes in advance to account for potential lines and the people entering.
Additionally, a new regulation was implemented in November 2022, designating the first Sunday of each month for exclusive access to Balandra for La Paz residents only—those who live and reside in La Paz.
It is of utmost importance that we, as visitors, consistently show respect for these natural environments.
What NOT to do in Balandra
Here are the main things you should never do when you visit Balandra:
- Do not walk outside the trails
- Do not swim in the deepest areas, they have undertow and can be very dangerous
- Do not leave garbage, if you consume something take it back with you
- Do not climb the mushroom rock
- Do not climb the dunes
- Do not alter the landscape in any way (e.g., do not move rocks out of place)
- Do not feed or touch wildlife
- Do not play loud music
- Do not use sunscreen when swimming, as it pollutes the ecosystem
What services are available at Balandra Beach?
There are 20 palapas available all along the beach, obviously, they usually run out very soon. They are free of charge.
If you can’t reach a palapa, there are several areas where there is shade, especially under rocks or stones. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to bring your own beach umbrellas if you can.
There are no food and beverage services or vendors here! So again, bring your own.
There are restrooms, but considering that they are ecological (no water use), to enter they ask for a small tip, mainly to maintain cleanliness.
There are no garbage cans in Balandra, so any garbage you generate must be taken back with you for proper disposal.
There is no cell phone signal.
Balandra Beach: Conclusion
In conclusion, Balandra Beach in La Paz, Baja, is nothing short of nature’s masterpiece.
Its pristine beauty, tranquil waters, and breathtaking landscape make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a genuine connection with the natural world.
Whether you’re an avid nature enthusiast, a sunseeker looking for the perfect beach day, or simply a traveler yearning for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Balandra Beach offers a serene and unforgettable experience.
As you explore the crystal-clear waters and the unique rock formations that grace the shoreline, you’ll find yourself not only immersed in the wonders of this coastal gem but also reminded of the importance of preserving such pristine environments.
Balandra Beach serves as a poignant reminder of the fragile beauty of our planet and the need to protect it for future generations.