A Baja Carnival in La Paz

Think Carnival and most will say Rio de Janeiro. Yet there are numerous other places in the world famous for their Carnival celebrations ranging from Mardi Gras in New Orleans to Carnival in Venice or the fiestas surrounding Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on the Canary Islands. Few may think of Mexico as a carnival destination, even less so since the rise of one-sided media reporting on the ongoing drug war and its potential dangers for visitors. Within Mexico, the carnival in Veracruz is probably the best known and most ebullient, but there are other well-known Carnival hotspots in Mexico including Mazatlán, Sinaloa and La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. 

Located thousands of miles away from the more populous areas of Mexico on the main land, the South of the Baja Peninsula is truly a far cry away from many of the country´s ongoing woes, including the power struggles between drug cartels near the U.S. border. Southern Baja´s capital city, La PAZ,  is a charming, picturesque community of about 200 ooo inhabitants and captures the peace & quiet of this remote part of the world – except may be during the Carnival season. Then uncountable stands are erected alongside La Paz´famous MALECÓN (seaside promenade) with a main stage in the very center at the crossing of the Malecón and La Paz´ main street “16 de Septiembre”. The stage functions as a focal point during the city´s carnival celebrations featuring the nightly appearance of well-known Mexican celebrities throughout the festive period. The carnival frenzy then extends along both sides of the Malecón for up to 5 blocks and later at night continues in La Paz´numerous clubs including the Jungle and the alternative The Dome.

Visitors will be thrilled to find out that La Paz boasts great hotels at a reasonable price located close to the heart of carnival madness. Among the best values in town we find the BAJA SOUTH hotel (550 MXP for a double room) conveniently located right behind the bus terminal and 1 block away from the Malecón. Here nights won´t be too quiet however, with all the carnival music and partying nearby. A quieter alternative would be the Hotel Del Ángel on C. Revolución (400/600 MXP per room) within immediate surroundings to the city´s attractive Cathedral CATEDRAL dE LA PAZ & the Centro de Artes y Cultura of Baja California Sur. Here we also find our favorite breakfast, brunch and lunch hangout, CAFÉ CORAZÓN serving scrumtious Mexican specialties at very competitive prices. Our other perennial favorite, LA BOHèME, located on C. Esquerro downtown, boasts a magnificent inner courtyard with lush vegetation. Run for decades by a string of French owners, La Bohème also serves esquisite food but at much more elevated prices. The atmosphere alone, however, is worth a visit. Lovers of seafood will equally be delighted by La Paz´ vast selection of sea food eateries, the most famous of which, EL BISMARKCITO is located right along the Malecón. A less expensive and more local alternative is Mc Fish on C. Morelos between Revolución & Madero featuring delicious seafood dishes – their seafood soup and shrimp burgers are among the best in town. Also see “Eat like a Paceño”, http://visit-lapaz.com/?p=335, for further recommendations.

Yet La Paz also boasts breathtaking surroundings. Heading towards the port of PICHILINGUE, we pass several newly developed beach resorts, including the prestigious golf course of the recently built COSTABAJA property. Further afield, a true highlight awaits with the bay of BALANDRA beach, among the most picturesque and pristine in the entire Baja pensinsula. Yet caution is advised when bathing at this beach as the Bay is full of shellfish and their sting may be quite painful and potentially fatal. Finally La Paz also serves as the ideal gateway for destinations further afield such as Constitución and Loreto towards the North or the East Cape of Baja towards the South. An ideal destination to retire or just to get away from civilization for a while, Southern Baja´s capital truly enchants visitors with its scenic beauty and genuine local Baja culture and hospitality.