La Paz is a city of contrasts. Marinas full of retired North Americans desperately competing to see whose boat can stay put longest, young backpackers and bikers begging boaters to haul their gear across the sea, entrepreneurs running restaurants and corner stores. Real estate sharks eying the next plot of land to flip, oblivious to how the churn of property and nonstop construction will all too soon morph La Paz into a clone of Cabo. God forbid.
La Paz is authentically Mexican and maddeningly beautiful. Tourism thankfully clings to a fairly low profile, and so far has maintained a delicate balance with the daily lives of the inhabitants of this wonderful city. Palms sway on the waterfront walkway (locally known as the “Malecon”) where families stroll late into the night. Weekends find local restaurants and bars packed for dinner by 9pm, and each weekend a surprising number of clubs are full of trendy youths long past 3am. This place is people-watching perfected.
Some local pangas (work boats with nice outboards) will enthusiastically ferry small groups between town and the amazing islands to the north, Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. Amazingly, it is possible to snorkel with whale sharks just outside of town where they feed, but we’ve yet to take advantage of this.
When we first arrived we bounced back and forth between friends boats and friends of friends boats. Everyone had advice. “You’ve got to try the street taco place on the Abasolo and Revolucion.” “Lopez Marine has all the marine gear you need.” “Oh Palmira is the BEST place to keep your boat. It’s just so lovely.” Ha Ha boats were still all over town so we chose a fairly new marina (Marina Cortez) and have loved every day. It is located downtown, and you pass three restaurants and a cafe literally steps from the gate. The city is yours to discover from this great central location.
Young cruisers are pulled together as if by gravity. There just aren’t that many of us. So after the customary game of Liars Dice with Sea Otter we met up with the great couple on Moments, Rachel and Adam. We had a blast exploring the town with them, including local markets and everything else that caught our eye. Before we realized it, Thanksgiving was quickly upon us. Both Moments and ourselves missed out on the “official” cruisers Thanksgiving, which apparently was a great feast and a sight to behold (picture a couple hundred folks and innumerable Turkeys.)
So – we founded a rebel cruisers Thanksgiving, an intimate and VIP only affair. It was Moments, ourselves and an intrepid Swedish couple on Ariel IV who had already circumnavigated twice in their lives. It was hilarious, because our new Swedish friends were enamored with an “authentic American Thanksgiving” holiday. Apparently it was on their bucket list because being a part of one clearly made their day. The best question they asked was if there is an official Thanksgiving dance. Not yet!
Restaurants in the city of peace are pleasantly varied and of a high quality. Local treats include incredible street tacos, carne arrachera, seafood and more. There are more than a couple ice cream parlors, cafes, and a huge amount of grocery stores. “The Shack” is really close to us, and the best place to find a great burger downtown. Local craft beers are found in a couple places, and those from Baja Brewing Co. are found with a marvelous view at the Hawker board shop rooftop.
La Paz has some unexpected options in the way of culinary treats. One cute location is affectionately known as the “Bagel shop” and has great coffee and of course bagels, as well as an assortment of other delicious treats. Perhaps the most interesting is the tiny new Thai restaurant – which is outstanding, even by VANCOUVER standards we are informed by friends who know. Should temporary insanity strike you – there is a Burger King with no appreciable difference from any other on earth. (The poor Applebee’s alas is quite terrible apparently.)
No one blog post could do this place justice, but suffice it to say it lives up to its name – muy tranquillo.