|NOT OUR PHOTO -- But this gives you an idea of just how big whale
sharks can get (up to 40 feet!). My initial reaction on seeing one underwater
was "Holy cow!" But they are filter feeding and essentially harmless to humans.
|The largest whale shark we saw was about 8 meters (25 feet) long.
Average size for an adult is about 10 meters (32 feet) long. That's big!
|Whale sharks swim slowly when they're feeding, so it’s easy to keep up with them.
January is the best time to see them in La Paz Bay -- but February is pretty good too!
|This one-bedroom FlipKey apartment rental in La Paz ran us $393 for the
week, or $56 per day. It's nice not to have to move your stuff for awhile!
|Afterwards we took a little
nap under a shady palapa
Where We Be
|Balandra Beach near La Paz is an incredible beach with crystal clear water
During our first full day in La Paz we visited two
great beaches -- Balandra and Tecolote -- both
half an hour north of town. Balandra in particular
is gorgeous, with a gentle curve of white sand
and oh-so-blue shallow water. Nearby Tecolote
has more amenities so it's the perfect place to
come afterwards for fresh fish and a margarita.
If you're here in Jan-Feb be sure not to miss the
chance to snorkel with whale sharks in La Paz
Bay. Robin put her mask on, dunked her head
underwater -- and saw a huge whale shark
coming right at her with its mouth open! It
passed directly under her and she had to do a
limbo move to avoid its tail. After that she swam
back to the boat for a breather. My first reaction
on seeing one was “Holy cow!” It's startling how
big they are and how close they get. When one
swims right past you, it’s hard not to feel a little
freaked out. But they're gentle creatures, and
harmless, despite the shark in their name.
|The water is shallow enough you
have to go out pretty deep for a swim
|From the far end of Balandra Beach you can see the hill we
climbed, with the trail to the top making a diagonal line upwards.
|Getting from Balandra Beach to Tecolote Beach is easy -- just follow the road
to the left leading to blue water. Tecolote is only about 2 km (1 mi) away.
|What a great way to spend a day! No wonder Balandra Beach is
the #3 attraction on Trip Advisor for all of the Baja Peninsula.
|At the far end of the second beach -- the deserted one to the right of Balandra as you face
the water -- is a "tornado rock" that makes for a perfect destination for a long beach walk
|The amazing view continues in the other direction. Really this is two beaches in one, since the
beach on the far side of the rocks is just as gorgeous as Balandra Beach, and more deserted.
|Looking straight out from the lookout point. A lone
kayaker paddles in the midst of a blue water dream.
|Hike to the top of the hill for the incredible view down. As the photo shows, you can
park your car at the edge of Balandra Beach and walk barefoot straight into the water.
|The guides would raise their arms whenever
they had a whale shark in sight
|Unfortunately we don't have an underwater camera, so
the best images we have are from the boat looking down
|We did a half-day whale shark tour with Mar y Aventuras Tours ($55 per person). We were lucky: it was
a calm day and there were more than twenty whale sharks in La Paz Bay, all swimming around slowly eating
plankton with their mouths open. That's Robin in the water with the pink snorkel near a juvenile whale shark.
|Having our own kitchen also let us cook
in now and again -- a nice change of pace
|The path is interspersed with sea-themed statues. On the other side of the street are
shops and eateries. It makes for a pleasant outing -- especially if you stop for ice cream.
|The Malecon stretches for a full three miles --
we walked about half of it before turning around
|On one of our quiet days we went for a walk along the Malecon,
the seaside path in La Paz for pedestrians and bikes only
|That's Espiritu Santo Island just across the bay from Tecolote Beach.
Our next page will highlight our full-day snorkel & kayak trip there.
|Even the camera lens looks a little blurry
as it tries to focus in on our margaritas!
|That’s what we did. We sat down in the shade of the Palapa Azul restaurant and had two huge margaritas for 80 pesos
(~$5) each. We split the extra-large red snapper for 170 pesos (~$12) and found it made for a delightful meal.
|After years of traveling we've finally learned to build slower periods into our longer trips.
This gives us time to catch our breath along the way. At both Loreto and La Paz we stayed at
one-week apartment rentals, allowing us to mix quiet days in with the busier sightseeing ones.
|Tecolote Beach has more amenities, so this is the perfect place to come if you want to
combine your beach time with restaurants serving delicious fish and huge margaritas.
|Snorkeling with Whale Sharks
|Robin swam with a guide and got to
look a whale shark right in the eye