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Playa Balandra, Mexico’s most beautiful beach

Playa Balandra is considered by experts, tourists, and locals as one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico.

Its white sand beach and turquoise waters nestled in the middle of prickly cardon cactus and red-hued hills attract thousands of visitors each year.

The water from the lagoon is calm and shallow, perfect for kayaking, SUP boarding, and even swimming.

On one part of the beach, the white sand and the turquoise water go into a mangrove forest where you can spot a large variety of colorful fish hidden under the roots of the trees.

If you plan to explore Baja California, you must include the beautiful Playa Balandra and Balandra Bay in your travel plans.

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About Balandra Beach

Playa Balandra is not just a beach; it is a bay home to a lush mangrove forest and many species of birds and fish.

It is a fragile ecosystem that was declared in 2008 as a Natural Protected Area.

Balandra Beach is just one of the seven beaches located in Balandra Bay in the Baja California Sur Peninsula.

Balandra beach low tide
Balandra beach low tide

All the beaches from the bay are protected from the ocean, so the waters are always clear and calm.

The area’s main attraction is the mushroom-shaped rock on the bay’s north side.

Where is Playa Balandra

Balandra Beach is located 24 km north of La Paz, Mexico, in Baja California Sur and 2 hours drive from Cabo San Lucas.

Balandra Beach opening hours

The beach is open on a daily basis from 8 in the morning to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Balandra Beach entry cost

The entrance fee is 54 pesos, but until now no tourist was charged for this fee.

What makes Balandra Playa so special?

The entire Baja California Sur is packed with stunning beaches, but Playa Balandra stands out.

It is constantly ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico and probably in the whole world.

It needs to be clear from the beginning that Playa Balandra is not just a beach but a bay with seven different beaches.

The waters of the bay are calm and clear, and at low tide, when the water level drops, beautiful white sandbanks are revealed.

This creates a really beautiful view, which experts compare with the famous Hill Inlet from Whitsundays, Australia.

The scenery is breathtaking, with cacti-covered mountains, turquoise waters, and a desert backdrop.

Hidden in the mangroves, you will spot a large variety of colorful fish, and the waters of the bay are perfect for swimming and kayaking.

The area is protected, so you won’t see any developments around it.

A parking lot, a few kayak rentals, and a few palapas are the only man-made things in the area.

Balandra Bay from viewpoint
Balandra Bay from viewpoint

How to get to Playa Balandra Mexico?

Playa Balandra is located in the Gulf of California, about 30 minutes drive from the city of La Paz in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico.

You can plan to come here on your own or get a guided tour, but you have to know that each option has its pluses and minuses.

By car

In my opinion, the best way to explore a country is with a rented car, and Mexico is no an exception.

Have a unique experience by exploring the area in your own rented car

Whether you prefer day trips from your hotel or a tour around the country, car rental is the best way for creating your own experience and live your dream vacation

Mexico’s tourist areas are safe for driving, and a car gives you the freedom and mobility you need to maximize your time spent abroad.

Taking into consideration the opening hours of the Playa Balandra, then renting a car is definitely a smart choice.

You can leave your hotel from La Paz at 7.30 in the morning and be among the first visitors on the beach.

Consider also exploring other spectacular beaches in the area near La Paz.

By taxi

If you want to enjoy a full day at the beach but don’t want to drive, consider taking a taxi.

Leave quite early in the morning, at a maximum of 7.15 a.m., to be among the first visitors on the beach.

By bus

There are public buses that leave on a daily basis from La Paz bus station to Balandra Bay.  The first one is at 10 in the morning and the next at 12, 2, 4 and 6 pm.

Returns from Balandra are at 10:40, 12:40, 2:40, 4:40 and 6:40 the last one.

The bus trip lasts about 40 minutes, and don’t forget that the beach closes at 12 p.m. and reopens at 1 pm.

So, the best bus to take is at 12 o’clock so you can enjoy the whole afternoon at the beach.

The bus is the cheapest way to get to Balandra Beach, but it comes with a few downsides:

  • You will need to board the bus 15 minutes before the leaving hour, which means almost half the time it takes to get to Balandra.
  • Sometimes the bus is so full that you won’t get a seat 
  • The last bus departs before sunset, so you won’t see it

Playa Balandra tours

You can reach the beautiful Playa de Balandra by boat on a guided tour that starts in La Paz and combine Balandra Beach with a few other beautiful beaches in the area.

Balandra & San Rafaelito: Sightseeing & Snorkelling is one of the best options when speaking about guided tours.

You will first swim with a colony of sea lions and then continue your trip to Balandra beaches, where you can snorkel and swim to spot the beautiful colorful fish and the reef.

Take a photo of the El Hongo rock and then go back to your hotel.

Balandra and San Rafaelito Sightseeing and Snorkelling guide
Balandra and San Rafaelito Sightseeing and Snorkelling guide

La Paz: Transparent Boat Tour with Mushroom Rock is another beautiful tour I fully recommend. You will explore the crystal clear waters around La Paz in a transparent bottom boat.

Take some beautiful photos of “The Mushroom” Rock at Balandra Beach and enjoy the panoramic views of some stunning beaches: Tesoro, Pichilingue and Isla Gaviotas.

You will also see the sea lions in their natural environment and spot the beautiful marine creatures that live in the area.

La Paz Transparent Boat Tour with Mushroom Rock guide
La Paz Transparent Boat Tour with Mushroom Rock guide

Things to do at Balandra Beach

1. Explore the different beaches

Balandra Bay consists of several beaches, each with its own magic and beauty.

You can choose to hike and discover more isolated beaches where to spend your day or stop on the first beach that comes in front of your eyes and enjoy the sun.

There are seven beaches in the area, so you have plenty of options to choose from.

If you visit the area at low tide, you can walk in shallow water from one beach to another.

If you are willing to walk a little bit and carry your things in a waterproof bag, I am sure you will find an isolated beach where you can spend the rest of the day.

2. Hike around Balandra Bay

The bay is surrounded by deserted mountains with cactuses, and there is no more beautiful view than the one from the top of the hill overlooking the bay.

Plenty of trails start from the parking lot or the beach up the hill.

It requires a little effort but definitely worth the effort, and you will be rewarded with a stunning view from the top of the hill.

If you don’t want to hike at all, you must at least walk up to the closest viewpoint, right above the car park, to see the beauty of the area.

Balandra beach aerial view
Balandra beach aerial view

3. See Mushroom rock

Besides the pristine beaches, one of the area’s main attractions is the Hongo de Balandra or the Mushroom shaped rock formation.

The rock is hidden just around the corner from the main beach.

To get to the rock, you must pass through shallow water, so prepare to get wet.

Prepare for crowds, as everybody rushes here to take a photo of this interesting natural formation.

All boat tours of Balandra Bay include a stop at the mushroom rock from the best angle.

Mushroom rock Playa Balandra
Mushroom rock Playa Balandra

4. Get into the mangroves

A tour to Playa Balandra is not complete without a visit to the mangrove forest.

The easiest way to reach the mangroves is with a paddleboarding tour.

You can rent your equipment from the renting cabanas located on the beach, and if you get a guided tour, you can benefit from a local guide leading you to the best spots.

He will also provide you with a lot of useful information about the local fauna and flora.

5. Go kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding

You can rent kayaks and paddleboarding from the renting shops located right near the car parking.

The best time for these watersports is when it is high tide.

The rental shops are not always open, so it is more of a matter of luck.

Playa Balandra SUP
Playa Balandra SUP

6. Visit Tecolote Beach

After you explore each corner of Playa Balandra, then walk for a few minutes to reach Playa Tecolote.

This beach is located outside Balandra Bay, so the waves are stronger, and the water is deeper.

It is not as impressive and stunning as Playa Balandra, but it is a great place for snorkeling, swimming, and practicing any watersport you like.

7. Swim and perfect your tan

With seven beaches located inside the bay, you have plenty of options when talking about finding the best spot to perfect your tan and swim.

Pick the beach you like most and spend the rest of the day listening to the waves, perfecting your tan, and relaxing.

Playa Balandra hotels

The closest area to spend your night is La Paz, a beautiful city located about 15 minutes from Playa Balandra.

I drop below 2 hotels near Balandra Beach that have the best price-quality ratio where you can spend your night:

Casa al Mar

Casa al Mar is a beautiful hotel located along the Malecon in La Paz, right in front of the beach.

It is a modern hotel with rooms and suites offering spectacular views of the ocean

Casa al Mar La Paz
Casa al Mar La Paz

Hotel Catedral La Paz

Hotel Catedral La Paz is a contemporary hotel located right across the street from Cathedral La Paz.

The rooms and bathrooms are clean and recently renovated, and there is also a patio on the roog and a beautiful pool.

Hotel Catedral La Paz
Hotel Catedral La Paz

Playa de Balandra capacity limits

First of all, there are two shifts to visit the beach. The first is in the morning between 8 am to 12 pm and the second in the afternoon from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Local police and government staff will enter the beach before 12 o’clock to clear out the first session.

The same thing happens at 5 pm.

The number of people allowed per shift is 450 persons, but the number could change depending on the season.

So that is why I recommend you arrive early, to secure your visit.

Weekends and holidays come with long queues; sometimes you must arrive at the gate one hour before the opening time to secure your entrance.

If you want to stay also for the second shift, then at 12 o’clock, head to Tecolote beach for lunch and then come back for the afternoon shift.

During weekdays the queues are not so long, and it is better to explore the area.

Playa Balandra Shallow water
Playa Balandra Shallow water

When is the best time to visit Balandra?

Playa Balandra is a year-round destination. Remember that the water level changes every day, so check it before you go.

During low tide, the place is perfect for swimming, while during high tide, you can go for watersports.

Playa Balandra facilities

There are not many facilities in the area, and the authorities don’t allow access to food and drink vendors in the area.

So, for this reason, we strongly advise you to bring with you everything you need for a few hours on the beach.

One thing is essential: do not trash; it is a protected area and a good destination for a day trip.

Among the facilities you will find are:

  • Bathrooms
  • Sunshades but no sunchairs
  • Paddleboarding and kayak renting shops
Playa Balandra entrance point
Playa Balandra entrance point

Tips for visiting Balandra Beach

  • To secure your entrance, arrive early to the gate
  • Bring with you enough water and snacks for a few hours in nature
  • Wear water shoes, as stingrays are known to hide in the sand at Balandra Beach
  • Put plenty of suncream
  • Weat a sun hat with UV protection
  • Leave no trace

Eco tips for visiting Playa Balandra

  • Pick up your trash and take it with you until the nearest garbage bean
  • Don’t blast music, and pay respect to nature
  • Leave no trace
  • Make sure you don’t step off the marked trails
  • Keep an eye on your garbage so it doesn’t end up in the mangroves or ocean
  • Use ocean-friendly suncream
Balandra beach low tide
Balandra beach low tide

FAQ

Can you swim on Balandra Beach?

Yes, of course, you can. Playa Baladra is one of the best swimming places in Mexico because of its calm and shallow waters. During low tide, you might need to walk further from the shore to take a good bathe.

Does La Paz Mexico have good beaches?

La Paz Mexico is famous for its wonderful beaches. The closest beach to La Paz is Playa Coromuel, just walking from the city center. Furthermore, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to explore.

Is La Paz worth visiting?

La Paz is a fascinating city with an interesting vibe, that will make you want to come back again and again. There are also colonial houses, but something about this city cannot be explained. It simply keeps attracting visitors from all over the world.

Plenty of restaurants in and near the city center serve delicious traditional Mexican food. 

And the spectacular sunsets from the Malecon as well as the water sports activities, are just some of the things that stand out.

How much time to I need for Playa Balandra?

Well, it depends on what you plan to do in Playa Balandra. One day is enough if you want to tick the box and take some photos.

But if you want to explore the area, hike the trails, and get deeper into the mangroves, then consider spending around 2 or 3 days.

Are dogs allowed in Balandra Beach?

Yes, dogs are allowed in Playa Balandra, but make sure you clean up after them.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation

We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance

We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.