Everything to Know for Visiting Balandra Beach in Baja California Sur, Mexico

Girl in denim overalls looking out at Balandra Beach in Mexico's Baja California Sur

Nestled in the picturesque region of Baja California Sur, Balandra Beach is a hidden gem that offers an idyllic escape for beach lovers and adventurous travelers alike. Known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, soft white sands, and breathtaking natural landscapes, this stunning beach is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Mexico.

In this comprehensive travel guide, we'll take you through everything you need to know about visiting Balandra Beach, from how to get there and what to do, to tips for making the most of your trip.

Ariel view of the water at Balandra Beach in Mexico with swimmers enjoying the water
Swimmers swimming in the clear, blue waters at Balandra

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Introduction to Balandra Beach

Located just 17 miles north of La Paz, Balandra Beach is often hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in Baja California Sur. Its shallow bay, clear waters, and striking rock formations create a serene environment perfect for relaxation and exploration. The beach is also part of a protected natural area, ensuring its pristine condition and diverse marine life.

Whether you're a solo traveler, a couple seeking romance, or a family looking for a fun day out, Balandra Beach has something for everyone. It's the epitome of a tropical paradise and a testament to Mexico's natural beauty.

Are Balandra Beach and Playa Balandra the same thing?

Yes, they are the same. "Playa" means beach in Spanish, so Playa Balandra simply translates to Balandra Beach in English.

Chris looking down towards Mushroom Rock at Balandra Beach
Chris looking down towards Mushroom Rock at Balandra Beach

Where is Balandra Beach?

Balandra Beach is situated on the southeastern coast of the Baja California Peninsula, in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Specifically, it lies about 17 miles (27 kilometers) north of La Paz, the state capital. This prime location makes Balandra Beach easily accessible for both locals and tourists seeking a tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The beach's geographical position not only provides stunning coastal views but also a sense of secluded serenity, making it a perfect destination for those looking to immerse themselves in nature's splendor.

Playa Balandra: Carretera a Pichilingue KM 7, HWY 11, Tecolote, 23040 La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico | Google Maps

Is Playa Balandra dog friendly?

Yes! Dogs are allowed at Balandra Beach but unfortunately they are not allowed in the water or in the grassy protected areas. Dogs must remain on a leash and under control at all times and they are only allowed on the beach. While our dog loves to swim, he still had a lot of fun hanging out under the palapa and digging in the sand for a few hours. If your dog enjoys digging like ours does, make sure you fill in the hole after he/she is done playing in the sand so the next visitors don't accidentally step in the hole and twist their ankle.

Kramer digging in the sane at Playa Balandra
Kramer digging in the sane at Playa Balandra

How to Get to Balandra Beach

While Balandra Beach (Playa Balandra) is closest to La Paz, if you're coming from an international location you'll likely be flying into Cabo San Lucas so we'd recommend combining a trip to Balandra/La Paz with a trip to the Los Cabos area.

By air

The closest major airport to Balandra Beach is Manuel Márquez de León International Airport (LAP) in La Paz. From there, you can rent a car or take a taxi to reach the beach, which is approximately a 30-minute drive.

If you're coming from an international destination, you'll likely be flying into Cabo San Lucas International Airport which services most major USA based airlines including Delta, American Airlines, and United.

Cabo San Lucas International Airport to Balandra Beach: 189 km | 2 hr 26 min | Google Maps

By car

If you're driving from La Paz, head north on Highway 11 towards Tecolote Beach. Follow the signs for Balandra Beach, and you'll arrive in about half an hour. The road is well-maintained, and the journey offers scenic views of the coastline.

La Paz to Balandra Beach: 27 km | 34 min | Google Maps

Cabo San Lucas to Balandra Beach: 188 km | 2 hr 28 min | Google Maps

Loreto to Balandra Beach: 391 km | 4 hr 52 min | Google Maps

Todos Santos to Balandra Beach: 113 km | 1 hr 29 min | Google Maps

By public transport

For those opting for public transport, the most convenient option is to take the Palaya Bus from La Paz. This bus service offers regular trips to Balandra Beach, making it an accessible choice for travelers without a car. The journey is comfortable and allows you to enjoy the scenic views along the way without the hassle of driving. Once you arrive, it's a short walk from the stop to the beach, giving you more time to relax and enjoy this beautiful destination.

Playa Bus runs ~$68 pesos each way which as of 2024 equals about $4 USD each way.

Balandra Beach from the top of the hike
Balandra Beach from the top of the hike

Best time of year to visit

The best time to visit Balandra Beach is during the dry season, which runs from November to April. During these months, the weather is warm and pleasant, with minimal rainfall and plenty of sunshine. The peak tourist season is from December to March, so if you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting in November or April.

We spent March-April 2024 driving through Mexico's Baja Peninsula and absolutely wonderful weather! It only rained (okay, it was more of a drizzle) one day when we were in the northern part of the peninsula. Past that it was perfectly sunny beautiful almost every day!

The water in the Sea of Cortez (easter Baja) is always so much warmer than the Pacific side of the peninsula, so if it's warm water and quiet beaches you're after, head to the Sea of Cortez! If you're looking for good surf conditions, head to the Pacific coast of the Peninsula. Balandra Beach is on the eastern side and is in a cove off the Sea of Cortez so you can expect warm and clear waters all winter!

Things to see and do at Playa Balandra

A trip to Balandra isn't just about relaxing (unless that's what you prefer!). The beach is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy nature through a variety of activities.

Kayaking and paddle boarding

Kayaking and paddle boarding at Balandra Beach offer visitors a unique way to explore the shallow, calm waters and nearby coves. Thanks to the beach's protected status, the waters remain relatively undisturbed, resulting in crystal-clear visibility that allows for an immersive experience as you glide across the bay. These activities not only provide a great workout but also allow you to get up close with the area's diverse marine life and marvel at the stunning rock formations and mangroves that surround this natural paradise. Rentals are typically available on-site, making it easy for both beginners and experienced paddlers to enjoy the tranquil beauty of Balandra Beach.

Snorkeling

Snorkeling at Balandra Beach is an unforgettable experience that brings you face-to-face with a vibrant underwater world. The beach's crystal-clear waters and well-preserved ecosystem provide excellent visibility, making it ideal for observing the rich marine life that inhabits the area. Among the colorful coral reefs, you might encounter a variety of tropical fish, sea stars, and even the occasional stingray or sea turtle. The gentle currents and shallow depth of the bay make it accessible for snorkelers of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned adventurers. Whether you bring your own gear or rent equipment from local vendors, snorkeling at Balandra Beach allows you to immerse yourself in the stunning aquatic beauty of one of Baja California Sur's most treasured natural sites.

Hiking

Hiking around Balandra Beach offers an opportunity to explore the surrounding landscapes and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the bay and the Sea of Cortez. Several trails wind through the area's iconic rock formations and arid terrain, providing hikers with diverse experiences and challenges. As you venture along these paths, you can appreciate the unique flora of the desert region, spot local wildlife, and even find secluded viewpoints perfect for photography or quiet reflection. Whether you choose a short, leisurely walk or a more strenuous hike, the pristine environment and stunning natural beauty make hiking at Balandra Beach a rewarding activity for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Chris hiking back down from the viewpoint at Balandra Beach
Chris hiking back down from the viewpoint at Balandra Beach

Sunbathing and swimming

Sunbathing and swimming at Balandra Beach offer visitors a quintessential relaxation experience against the backdrop of its stunning natural beauty. The beach's soft, powdery white sand provides the perfect spot to lay down a towel, soak up the sun, and unwind. For those looking to cool off, the shallow, clear waters of the bay create an inviting environment for a refreshing swim. The gentle waves and gradual slope of the shoreline make it an ideal location for swimmers of all ages and abilities, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Whether you prefer to bask in the sun's warm rays or take a leisurely dip in the turquoise waters, Balandra Beach offers the perfect setting for a day of indulgence and relaxation in paradise.

Note: If you want a palapa (umbrella as seen in the photo below) make sure you're one of the first 10-20 cars in line. There are very few palapas available so you'll need to run to the beach when you get there! The palapas are free to use and they're large and offer great shade during the heat of the day.

View from under our Palapa on Balandra Beach

Iconic Mushroom Rock

One of the most photographed landmarks at Balandra Beach is the iconic Mushroom Rock, known locally as "El Hongo". This unique rock formation, shaped remarkably like a mushroom, has become a symbol of the beach and a must-see attraction for visitors. To get to the Mushroom Rock, you can either kayak or paddle board across the bay, as it is located just a short distance from the main beach area. Alternatively, you can hike along the scenic coastal trails that offer stunning views of the bay and lead directly to this natural wonder. Whether you choose to paddle or hike, the journey to Mushroom Rock provides a fantastic opportunity to take in the breathtaking landscapes and serene beauty of Balandra Beach.

Mushroom Rock, Balandra Beach, Mexico
Mushroom Rock, Balandra Beach, Mexico

Where to stay near Balandra Beach (Playa Balandra)

La Paz is a wonderful town, but there are few higher end accommodations since the city isn't nearly as popular amongst tourists as the Cabo area. However, there are a couple of great hotels that are in teh four to five star range.

Baja Club

Baja Club, located in the heart of La Paz, offers guests a blend of modern luxury and historic charm. Housed in a beautifully restored colonial-era mansion, the hotel features elegantly appointed rooms, a rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city and the bay, and an inviting swimming pool surrounded by lush gardens. The on-site restaurant serves a variety of delicious, locally-inspired dishes, allowing guests to indulge in the flavors of Baja California Sur. With its prime location and upscale amenities, Baja Club provides the perfect retreat for those looking to explore the vibrant culture and natural beauty of La Paz.

Kid friendly: Yes

Pet friendly: Yes

Check-in & check-out: 3:00 PM / 12:00 PM

Address: Paseo Álvaro Obregón 265, Zona Comercial, 23006 La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico | Google Maps

Check for the best rates and book your reservation below:

Expedia | Booking.com | Hotels.com

Hotel Indigo La Paz Puerta Cortés

Hotel Indigo La Paz Puerta Cortés provides a contemporary and stylish retreat with views of the marina and the Sea of Cortez. The hotel combines modern aesthetics with local touches, offering guests a unique and comfortable stay. Amenities include a rooftop pool, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant that serves both international and local cuisine. Its strategic location allows visitors easy access to explore the local attractions and the vibrant cultural scene of La Paz.

Kid friendly: Yes

Pet friendly: Yes, for a fee of $1,500 MXN + tax per stay

Check-in & check-out:

Address: Carretera Pichilingue Km 7.5, Zona Industrial, Lomas de Palmira, 23010 La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico | Google Maps

Check for the best rates and book your reservation below:

Expedia | Booking.com | Hotels.com

Scams to avoid at Balandra Beach

Balandra Beach, renowned for its serene beauty and crystal-clear waters, unfortunately, attracts not only tourists but also scammers. The most popular scam to be aware of is the belief that a permit or reservation is required for Balandra Beach. While researching for our own visit to Balandra we saw multiple places where resources claimed needing a cheap (~$5 USD) reservation permit for the beach. However, this is not true at all! The beach is entirely first come first serve based on the in person line. Another common scam to be cautious of involves fraudulent tour guides who approach tourists offering boat rides at seemingly cheap prices. These so-called guides often have no official credentials and may end up overcharging or abandoning tourists mid-tour. Another scam to be wary of is overpriced rentals for snorkeling gear or beach umbrellas, where scammers exploit the unavailability of nearby alternatives. To enjoy your visit safely, ensure you book services through legitimate operators and double-check prices. Remaining vigilant can help ensure that your experience at Balandra Beach is memorable for all the right reasons.

Sara at Playa Balandra, BCS, Mexico
Sara at Playa Balandra, BCS, Mexico

Tips for a Perfect Trip

  • Arrive Early: Balandra Beach is a popular destination, especially during peak season. Arriving early in the morning ensures you get a good spot and can enjoy the beach before it gets crowded.
  • Respect the Environment: Balandra Beach is a protected area, so be sure to follow all guidelines and regulations. Avoid littering, and do not disturb the local wildlife.
  • Check the Tides: The tide can affect the accessibility of certain areas, so check the tide schedule before your visit to plan accordingly.
  • Pack Essentials: Since amenities are limited, bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and any other necessities you may need for the day. We have a free downloadable packing list for tropical vacations that would work perfectly for your trip to the entire Baja Peninsula, but especially Balandra Beach. You can download it for free here!
  • Watch for stingrays: Stingrays regularly make themselves comfortable in the sands in the bay at Balandra Beach because of the warm temperatures and still waters. Because of this you should always do the stingray shuffle in the water to notify any stingrays of your presence so you do not accidentally step on one which can be very painful! (Note: As I was doing the stingray shuffle during our visit I saw one swim away quickly as I approached which was pretty cool!)
Instructional and warning signs at Playa Balandra, Mexico
Instructional and warning signs at Playa Balandra, Mexico

FREE AND PRINTABLE TROPICAL VACATION PACKING LIST

Free and downloadable printable packing list

    Final thoughts

    Balandra Beach in Baja California Sur is a true paradise that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, tranquility, and adventure. Whether you're kayaking through the crystal-clear waters, hiking to scenic viewpoints, or simply relaxing on the pristine sands, Balandra Beach promises an unforgettable experience.

    Plan your trip today, and immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and serene ambiance of Balandra Beach. For those passionate about beach destinations and the wonders of Mexico, this hidden gem is a must-visit.

    Ready to explore more of Baja California Sur? Stay tuned for more travel guides and tips to make your next adventure unforgettable.

    Safe travels and happy beachcombing!

    Like this travel guide? Checkout some of our other Mexico articles!

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    Hi! We're Chris and Sara a husband and wife video making, storytelling, travel loving duo with a passion for sharing travel tips, tricks, and inspiration with others.
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