The Other Baja: La Paz
BY Matthew Breen
November 01 2013 3:20 PM ET
Where to Play
The Fun Baja adventure excursion company will take individuals snorkeling, kayaking, whale watching, hiking and camping on protected islands, and scuba diving. The staff is friendly and very knowledgeable.
An hour’s drive southwest across Baja is the surfer’s haven of Todos Santos. Galleries and shops dot the main drag, Calle Juarez, selling gorgeous painted skulls (below), metalwork, pottery, and paintings. Skip the schmancy restaurants and get lunch at one of the many cerveza, fish, and taco stands. The area’s unique water supply makes it a lush oasis in the desert.
Where to Stay
The 115-room, five-star Costa Baja Resort and Spa is designed to impress, and sits on a teardrop of land between the sea and a marina, adjacent to its renowned golf course. Steinbeck’s, a restaurant at the resort, makes such good use of the local seafood that the turf dishes are listed on the menu under the heading “Not Fish.”
Where to Unwind
The Espiritu spa at Costa Baja’s signature therapy is the Damiana ritual ($150), a massage and herbal wrap that incorporates the dried leaves of the local shrub that gives the treatment its name. (Damiana is also used to make a liqueur that locals say was an ingredient in the original margarita, in place of Triple Sec, and was brewed as an aphrodisiac tea by the area’s native people.)
Where to Eat
Dinner at Los Tres Virgenes might start with the sounds of a female mariachi band and a mango margarita with a chili rim. It only gets better from there with the chef’s inventive scallop, ceviche, and red snapper dishes. Francisco I. Madero 1130, Centro
Photos courtesy of La Paz tourism board (Sea of Cortez, kayakers, malécon); Peter Kunasz / Shutterstock (sealions); Matthew Breen (skulls)