Mexico

The Best Way to Explore Balandra Beach, the Most Beautiful Beach in Mexico

June 26, 2019
View over Balandra Beach, the most beautiful beach in Mexico

Balandra Beach is an easy pick for the most beautiful beach in Mexico. Its crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sand dunes are set to a desert backdrop of red-hued hills and prickly cardón cactus that dot Baja California, making it feel like a remote, deserted beach even though it’s only 30 minutes from the busy city of La Paz. 

The calm, shallow waters of the lagoon are perfect for swimming, SUP boarding, and kayaking. At the inner edge of Balandra Beach, the fine sand and blue water transitions into a mangrove forest where thousands of small, brightly colored fish dart through the roots of the trees. While SUP boarding through the mangroves, we spotted long triggerfish, blue crabs, and a few herons looking for their next meal.  

Don’t miss visiting Balandra Beach while exploring Baja California. After traveling to some of Mexico’s most popular beach destinations including Cancun and Tulum in the Riviera Maya, we’d still slot Balandra Beach at the top spot for the best beach in Mexico.

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Paradise is found at Balandra Beach, a beautiful bay surrounded by white sand dunes just 30 minutes from the busy city of La Paz, Mexico. Go Stand Up Paddleboarding in Balandra to explore the mangroves and the shallow bay. Balandra Beach is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. | #Mexico #LaPaz #Balandra #BalandraBeach #BajaCalifornia

How to get to Balandra Beach 

Playa Balandra is located along the Gulf of California, about 30 minutes north of the city of La Paz, Mexico in the state of Baja California Sur.  

If you’re planning on coming here as part of a day trip from Cabo San Lucas, plan on about 2.5 hours each way.

The easiest way to get to Balandra Beach on your own is to rent a car if you plan on doing some exploring during your time in Baja California. The most convenient place to rent a car is at the Los Cabos Airport. Check RentalCars.com to compare prices of the world’s biggest car rental services, including Hertz, Avis, and Budget. Note that you will have to purchase third-party liability insurance when renting a car in Mexico. 

Another great option is to book a tour of Balandra Bay. We booked a SUP boarding tour with Baja Desconocida which left from their office near the marina in La Paz.  

SUP boarding in the bay at Balandra Beach

Sand dunes along the Playa Balandra near La Paz, Mexico

Hotels near Balandra Beach 

The shores of Balandra Beach are pure and pristine because it was designated as a Natural Protected Area in 2008, so no construction is allowed. The closest hotels are in La Paz, which is where we decided to set up a home base for a few days to explore the area.  

We use Airbnb or Booking.com most often when booking accommodation. Booking.com wins for convenience in making a reservation because most places offer free cancellation up until your stay (or only a few days before). Plus, the site often has great last-minute deals. This means we usually book something in advance, but check back close before our trip to see if there is a better hotel or discounted rate available. 

Exploring Balandra Beach along the Gulf of California

Here are a few great options for hotels in La Paz: 

Hotel Catedral La Paz – This bright, contemporary hotel is located right across the street from the Cathedral in La Paz. The rooms and bathrooms are updated and spacious, and there is a pool and patio on the roof. We stayed here and would definitely book this hotel again. This hotel seems to be one of the most popular in La Paz and was fully booked while we were there. Doubles start around $70. 

Casa al Mar – Casa al Mar is located along the Malecon in La Paz, the waterfront walk that stretches from Marina de La Paz to Playa Coromuel. This modern hotel has apartment-like rooms and suites and amazing reviews. Doubles start around $75.  

Costa Baja Resort & Spa – For a luxury resort with all the amenities, book a room at Costa Baja Resort & Spa. Rooms feature views over La Paz Bay or the resort’s golf course. The hotel also has several pools, a spa, and three onsite restaurants. Doubles start in the low $100s. 

Airbnb Apartments in La Paz – If you’re looking for great budget-friendly options, check Airbnb. There are entire apartments with great reviews (like this one bedroom apartment) between $20 and $60 per night. If you’re new to Airbnb, use our referral link here for 15% off your first home booking, up to $400 off! You can also use it for $15 toward an Airbnb experience of $50 or more.   

Empty beaches at Balandra near La Paz, Mexico

Stand Up Paddleboard through Balandra Beach with Baja Desconocida 

Stand Up Paddleboarding is the best way to explore the glassy waters of Balandra Beach and the nearby mangrove forest. We booked a tour with the company Baja Desconocida, which means Baja Unexplored. We opted to use Baja Desconocida because of their stellar reviews on TripAdvisor, and we were so happy we did. 

Balandra’s Mangrove Forest 

Our guide for the day was Josef, who is also the owner of the company. Sometimes we’re hesitant to book group tours because they can often feel rushed, but when never felt that way with Baja Desconocida. Josef was helpful and told us all about the fishes and birds in the mangroves, but gave us the time and space to explore on our own and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.  

While paddling through the mangroves, which Josef called the heart of Balandra, we saw triggerfish, grouper and blue crabs, plus herons and osprey circling above.  

Mangroves in Balandra

Exploring the Lagoon 

Once we were out of the mangroves, we started paddling across the salty lagoon. Because the bay is protected from the ocean waves, the water is so calm and smooth. During low tide, a sand bar forms in the middle of the bay.  

Pelicans on the Sand Bar at low tide in Balandra Bay

We watched the pelicans dive bomb the schools of sardines while we were paddling across the water, finally making it to an empty beach on the other side. We had our own little private beach where we stopped for a refreshing snack of chips and watermelon. After spending some time exploring this side of Balandra Beach, we hopped back on our boards to make the paddle back.

Balandra is the perfect place to SUP because of the calm waters, plus it allows you to explore the mangroves and the whole bay! The SUP Balandra tour with Baja Desconocida is $79 per person and includes transportation from their office at Marina de La Paz. Baja Desconocida offers a number of other tours, including snorkeling with whale sharks, visiting Isla Espíritu Santo, and Sandboarding at El Mogote. Book a tour with Baja Desconocida here 

SUP Boarding at Playa Balandra with Baja Desconocida
SUP Boarding at Balandra Beach with Baja Desconocida

SUP boards on an empty stretch of beach at Balandra Beach

Walking through the clear shallow water in Balandra Bay

Tips for visiting Balandra Beach 

1 Get there early to enjoy Balandra Beach without the crowds 

It’s amazing to see Balandra Beach while the white sand beaches are still empty. It makes me happy to see a place this beautiful preserved from the commercialism that encroaches on so many other places that look like a natural paradise. Besides the dirt parking lot and a few palapas on the main beach, Balandra appears untouched. Get there early (before 9 am) to enjoy the beach and the views before the crowds. There are a few free palapas for shade on the beach, so you may be able to snag one of these too if you’re early enough.  

Balandra Beach in the morning, before the crowds come

Get a view from above 

If you park in the small dirt lot in front of the main beach, there’s a small hill where you can get an amazing view over the whole bay. Follow the rocky trail to see Balandra Beach from above!  

If you look out to the edge of the bay, you can see El Hongo, a mushroom-shaped rock that’s a popular image for tourism in La Paz. While photos might make it look large, it’s actually pretty small and not that impressive, but fun to see where it is in real life.  

View from the hill above Balandra Beach near La Paz, Mexico

Bring your own water and food 

There are no restaurants at Balandra Beach because of the Natural Protected Area designation, so make sure you have enough water and food for the day. We did see a small food truck in the parking lot while we were there, but I wouldn’t count on it.  

Shuffle feet if you’re walking through the sand to avoid stingrays 

Stingrays love the warm shallow waters of Playa Balandra; they rest on the bottom partially covered by sand. This is another reason why SUP boarding is a great option for exploring Balandra. If you are walking through the water, make sure to shuffle your feet so you don’t step on a stingray. 

Thank you to Baja Desconocida for hosting us on this tour. Next time we’re in the area, we wouldn’t hesitate to book another tour with them! 

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