Last Updated on May 27, 2023 by Ellen
Tourism is rebounding around the world, and some countries already have reached pre-pandemic tourist numbers, like the Maldives, where Chinese vacationers have recently returned. Dubai is printing menus in Mandarin to accommodate the influx. Meanwhile, for average Americans worried about a recession, Mexico remains popular as a closer-to-home — and cheaper — destination than, say, Europe. Mexico expects tourism to reach pre-pandemic levels this year. In order to protect a magical beach ecosystem from throngs of careless people, officials have now set new tourism limits at Playa Balandra near La Paz.
New reports say only 900 tourists are now allowed to visit Playa Balandra daily. Visitors are issued bracelets so officials can track the numbers. There are two windows of time to visit Playa Balandra, which is about a 30 minute drive away from the town of La Paz. One visitation time is in the morning, and the other is in the afternoon, with 450 visitors max each session.
We went to Playa Balandra before these new limits were set – so we understand why this bay near La Paz is such a hit! In fact, we visited the eco-park a few years before the New York Times listed it as one of its ‘places to visit’ in 2020.
Playa Balandra near La Paz
Playa Balandra is an especially fun place to see at low tide because you can wade in clean, clear water that’s below your knees for a long distance. It was one of the cleanest beaches in Mexico when we were there. (We traveled around Mexico extensively over two calendar years.) There was virtually no plastic trash at Playa Balandra. If I saw one remnant of something plastic, that was about it.
With more tourists come more problems, like trash and other issues. The bay’s famous ‘mushroom rock’ is reportedly in danger because visitors want to climb on it to take selfies.
Locals have worked hard to make sure trash does not overrun what UNESCO has identified as “global marine conservation significance” of “outstanding universal value.”
Please treat it nicely!
It’s no wonder the number of visitors has been limited as of 2023.
Starting in La Paz, we took the public bus from the main terminal in town. It cost just a few dollars for two people. The public bus stop is down the road from the entrance and parking lot to Playa Balandra, but it’s a short walk to the bay.
When to go
You’ll have to work within the new admission guidelines, but whenever you go, make sure you time your visit so you are there to enjoy low tide. It’s easiest to crisscross the bay’s sandbars to beaches.
If you are really pressed for time, and don’t have much choice, I’m sure it will still be beautiful. But time it for low tide, if at all possible.
Why it’s so damn cool
There are no services like restaurants on the beach. Remember, this is actually a eco-park. Pack out what you pack in. There are few opportunities for shade – bring a hat and coverup.
Sandbars, sand dunes, rocky ledges, fish, sun, warm salt air. Simple. Beautiful!
We saw kayak rentals, which might be a good idea if you are limited on time. If you rent a kayak at Playa Balandra, you can reach other beaches on the bay easier than wading across.
We saw sailboats and leisure boats anchored just beyond the largest sandbar, where the water becomes deep blue. However, with the new limits, I’m not sure you’ll necessarily see that.
Good enough for a filming
Playa Balandra is so picturesque that during our visit we saw Jeep film a commercial on the top of a rock ridge behind the main beach. Fancy drones flew overhead while the film crew staged a beautiful set.
It’s no wonder Jeep chose this spot. AmIright?
Playa Balandra is a beautiful spot worth seeing if you’re spending any time at all in La Paz – even with the new visitation limits.
Thanks for reading, “Playa Balandra near La Paz has tourism limits.”
This was an updated and revised version of the original post, which still can be found here.