Diving La Paz

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La Paz, Mexico

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Country: Mexico  Area: Mexico

Water Temp: 20 - 29°C (68 - 84°F)

Visibility: 15 - 30m (49 - 98 ft)

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Gateway to the magnificent Sea of Cortez, with access to a diverse selection of enjoyable and exciting dive sites, La Paz is a brilliant base to experience some of the best marine life encounters in the area has to offer.

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La Paz, “The Peace”, is a tranquil town next to the Sea of Cortez on the east coast of the Baja Peninsula.

La Paz’s diving provides a lot of variety of all levels and plenty of marine life, although it is no longer the amazing diving it once was! Twenty Years ago the Sea of Cortez and the area near La Paz was home to countless schools of Hammerheads Sharks, Giant Manta Rays and the diving was better than the Cocos Islands. This was due to the newborn hammerhead nursery in La Paz’s Bay. Here juvenile Hammerheads were protected from any predators and had a high food concentration so could grow up safely. Sadly now that is not the case, Fishermen are catching these babies in their hundreds! So the once common schools have now disappeared and you are now lucky to glimpse hammerheads! 

Bottle-Nosed Dolphin, Credit

Even with this destruction to marine life through over fishing there are still many great dive sites in the area still filled with some incredible marine life. There is something for all levels and interests including caves, wrecks, sea mounts coral reefs and amazing wildlife dives.

La Paz Waterfront, Credit

Climate & Sea conditions

The climate at La Paz is dry, warm and sunny year round, with really warm summers and mild winters with very little rainfall. This gives an excellent year round diving and holiday season. The best recommended time to dive is June to November when the waters are warm with great visibility and the chance of seeing juvenile Whale Sharks in October. You can also spot these gentle giants again in the spring when the water warms up again causing the plankton to increase drawing in the Whale Sharks.

The water temperature ranges from 20 to 29C which as usual the coldest temperature is in the winter from December to March then warming up peaking at the end of the summer.

Marine Conservation

The Baja California peninsula hosts a World Heritage Site, three biosphere reserves and numerous protected habitats for turtles and grey whales. Numerous local and international non-profits work in the region to protect these sensitive regions from industrial development, poaching, overfishing, illegal fishing and uncontrolled expansion of the tourism industry.

The Ocean Foundation is an American charity that has partnered with numerous small locally based initiatives, coordinating their depth and breadth. In the Baja Peninsula, they work alongside Pro Peninsula as they conserve local ecosystems through research and community education. Many local dive operators also work to conserve the marine environment through sustainable diving practices, and by making contributions to local organizations, including the major turtle conservation organization Grupo Tortugero.

Finally, the area also attracts a wide variety of researchers from both Mexico and abroad who seek to better understand this area. The local university, CICIMAR, offers numerous courses in marine scientists, with students and graduates contributing greatly to the region. Schools and charities alike also host various research positions and internships for visiting scholars.

 
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Wildlife Calendar

                           
                             
                 
                           
                                       
                           
                       

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Diving

El Bajo also known as “The Seamount” is one La Paz’s best known dive sites and one that every experienced diver must give a go. Its fame and popularity are due to this being the place where schools of Hammerheads, ranging from six to hundreds in number, will be if you are lucky enough to witness this magnificent scene.

Scuba diving in La Paz, Credit

The best time for these schools is in the autumn and winter when the sea is at its coolest. This site is also one of the best places in season to spot Whale Sharks and Manta Rays, so all in all an excellent area! El Bajo is a few hours boat ride from La Paz, but it’s definitely worth it to be so close to Hammerheads! The currents around the sea mount can be quite strong, which is what brings in the sharks, but it also means that this dive is only suitable for experienced divers.

Another great dive site for marine life encounters for all levels of diver is Los Islotes, aka “The Colony”. This site is home to over 200 Californian Brown Sea Lions and these friendly Sea Lions are very curious showing great interest in divers. You can quite regularly play with some little pups, who do like to pull on and play with fins, so it make be best not to wear your best pair for the dive! This is a very fun, exciting dive, it’s always an enjoyable experience to interact with a creature in its own environment.

Sleeping tightly! Credit

Whale spotting

On a lot of the boat trips to and from the sites divers can frequently have the opportunity to spot whales and dolphins on the surface. The Sea of Cortez is home to a range of Whale species, some are residents year round and some which pass through during different seasons. The main whales spotted are the Humpback Whale, Finback Whales, Sperm Whales, Grey Whales, Minke Whales, Pilot Whales, Orcas and even the largest mammal in the world, the gigantic Blue Whale!

Whale Sharks, Credit

The best time for whale spotting is from late December through to April as this is when most of the whales migrate up from the cooler waters in the south to mate and give birth in the warm waters. If spotting a couple of whales to and from the dive sites isn’t enough then there are many dedicated Whale watching tours available and even ones which travel over to the Pacific side of the Peninsula to find the migrating Grey Whales in Magdalena Bay. The Grey Whales use the lagoons on this side of the peninsula as nurseries for their newborn calves and can frequently get within touching distance of the boats!

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How to Get There

 La Paz can be easily reached from the rest of Mexico and the US with direct flights from LA and Mexico City. This makes it a very affordable and low hassle option for divers in these areas and relatively easy for others around the world to reach as well.

La Paz is serviced by numerous domestic and international flights daily, including many direct flights to LA, Tijuana and Mexico City. The flights are fairly inexpensive making air travel an easy and affordable transportation option. The airport is located only 9km from the city centre.

 A Street in La Paz, Credit

Alternatively, the city’s port of Pichilingue also connects the city by ferry  to several neighbouring towns including Mazatlan and Topolobampo. These ferries are however expensive and slow.

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Where to Eat & Drink

La Paz is allegedly the city that prepares the best fish tacos in Mexico – so, be sure to try that along with a plethora of other fresh seafood dishes. Super Tacos Baja California is a small stand that has some of the frehsest and tastiest tacos, served with delicious fresh salsa. The beachfront promenade (the “Malecon”) is dotted with a variety of Mexican and international restaurants to choose between. There is even a vegetarian/vegan restaurant (El Quinto Sol), which has become a bit of an institution for health-food aficionados.

Food! Credit

Nights in La Paz generally begin with a cocktail at a café somewhere along the Malecon. Margaritas are a local staple, and Kiwi, an ocean-side restaurant is reputed to have some of the best. As the night picks up, a variety of clubs and bars open up through the Vista Coral entertainment centre. Jungle Bar is popular until late nearly every night, while La Encantada gallery and wine bar is somewhat more subdued. 

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Other Activities

La Paz is an excellent destination for all, whilst not diving its worthwhile taking time to enjoy the town and beauty of the surrounding country.

La Paz is the capital city of Mexico’s Baja California state. This international city manages to incorporate all that is modern and cosmopolitain while still preserving aspects of the old city. As such – there is a wide variety of non-diving activities available.

Swimming with Whalesharks, Credit

Spectacular beaches line the city, with many tourists opting to spend non-diving days relaxing on the shores of the Sea of Cortes. If you are a shopper, the artisans, shops and restaurants that line the beachfront promenade (the “Malecon”) are a particular treat. The shops are generally free of pushy vendors, making it a nice area to stroll and window shop. 

If looking to soak up a bit of Mexican history and culture, be sure to visit the Museo Regional de Anthropologia e Historia, which documents the peninsula’s varied history. Then, for visitors interested in a bit more authenticity, you should consider signing up for one of the many schools offering Spanish classes for beginners. Many include opportunities to learn Spanish through a Mexican cooking class, a visit to a local market and volunteer work with local non-profits. Homestays are also available, for those seeking total cultural immersion.

Isla Espiritu Santo, La Paz, Credit

Others may opt to take day trips to the neighbouring towns of Cabo Pulmo or Todos Santos if seeking a break from the city life. These trips can be organized with an operator or independently, with a rented car.

Given the wide variety of activities, La Paz is a great destination for families. There are many great beaches to relax on and bars and restaurants to enjoy in the evenings. Whatever level of diver, with the chance of so many exciting marine encounters combined with great dive sites, La Paz rarely disappoints. Some of the dive operators offer bubble maker courses for children and otherwise there are plenty of shallow water and on land activities for them as well!

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Tips

La Paz is a generally safe city to visit and is located in Mexico’s safety province; however, an increase in crime has been witnessed in recent years. Regular travel precautions should be exercised by all visitors, which include stowing valuables and enquiring about general safety in the city after dark with local lodges and operators.

 The city has a well maintained hospital and numerous dentists, which often attract American retirees. Be sure to load up on health insurance though – prices can escalate very quickly at private practices.

Into the waters, Credit

 La Paz is a very large and spread out city that can, at times, be difficult to navigate. If interested in a full city tour, consider renting a bicycle for a few hours to tour the city and the coast! This flat city makes for easy biking with a series of opportunities to swim!

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Is the Hammerheads common in la paz?

I'm going to La paz in jan-feb. I wants to dive with the hammerheads. Is it a good spot for it, I mean is there a good chance or are they actually rare there?

Eric Mittelmann

0 votes

I am not certain of the season but I went there a year ago with Dive Cabo (from Cabo San Lucas) and did indeed see a few hammerheads.

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Andreas Siersbæk

0 votes

Good to hear!

Dayboat Privat charter

Has anyone chartered a (private/fisher) boat for a full daytrip to go snorkeling with the whale sharks and sea lions in LaPaz Mexico and can recommend operators?

Thanks, Chris

when is manta ray season in the Sea of Cortez?

When is manta ray season in the Sea of Cortez?

Whale Shark Season?

From the Wildlife Calendar it looks like whale sharks are around during the months of March, April and May - Planning a trip at the end of April and would like to know if there will be whale sharks then.

Thanks,

David

Diving in Baja End of June

Hi,

I am planning to be at Baja around the end of June, what's the general condition going to be like around that time? From looking at the Wildlife Calendar it does seem that Cabo is a better diving destination than La Paz, is going to La Paz even worth it?

Thanks!

Water visibility in March

Hi all,

I'm planning to go dive at La Paz last week of March. From the table, it seems like there's a lot of big animals to be seen!

Would anyone know how is the water visibility at that time? Am I right that the water temperature is going to be very cold?

We want to see big fish & colorful corals. Would La Paz or Cozumel be a better destination for end of March?

Thanks!

B

Paige Dellit

Paige Dellit

0 votes

Probably about 20deg C in march

Trevor Brown

0 votes

Visibility can vary a lot here in La Paz, I've gone out two days in a row to the same sites and had very different dives. La Paz definitely has lots of fish and big ones but Cozumel will be much better for clear water and colorful corals. (the colorful bits are actually mostly sponges). La Paz does have bigger wildlife encounters, including whale sharks, sea lions and whales so it's a tough choice.

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