Rich in both natural and cultural beauty, La Paz hosts a wide diversity of terrestrial and marine animal and plant life. The Baja Peninsula extends 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from the United States border in southern California to its southern tip. While the Sonoran Desert dominates the terrestrial landscape, the Pacific Ocean borders Baja on the west, while the Sea of Cortez surrounds the eastern coastline.
Here, 35 percent of the world’s marine mammals are housed, but two species in particular draw attention: sea lions and whale sharks.
Among the many treasures of Baja are the colonies of sea lions that claim the area. These playful, curious sea creatures prove a powerful lure for many travelers. One of the largest colonies can be found at Los Islotes, a cluster of tiny rock islands north of La Paz, where a colony of some 250 California brown sea lions lives year-round.
Sea lion swimming is also possible at Isla Espiritu, twenty-two miles (36 kilometers) from the city, where sea lions own the cliffs and caves of the island.
Elsewhere, sea turtles, manta rays and dolphins are often seen gliding through the bay of La Paz, even orca whales pass through the waters on occasion, making this a prime spot for whale watching in Baja California.
Adolescent whale sharks, on the other hand, which usually measure between 15 – 25 feet (5 – 8 metres), remain close to shore in order to feed. To ensure animal safety, La Paz scuba diving trips, and whale shark snorkeling experiences require tour boat captains to radio-in and gain permission to enter the whale sharks’ feeding grounds near El Mogote.
Whale shark season also happens to coincide with the best time to see most of these aforementioned animals – between October and March every year.
Looking out across the water from the Malecon is where you’ll discover La Paz’s true allure: a landscape of startlingly turquoise and jade green seas juxtaposed with stark deserts. La Paz, in all its peaceful charm, is captivating, to say the least.