Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article.
One of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, Balandra Beach (Playa Balandra) is a popular stop in Baja California. This gorgeous crescent-shaped beach is sheltered from the waves and has tranquil waters that are perfect for snorkeling and kayaking.
Years ago, there was a plan to build a hotel in the area, but a group of locals fought hard to stop it. Balandra has been designated a protected area and all developed is now banned.
The red-hued desert hills surrounding the beach are dotted with tall cacti and make for incredible landscape photos coupled with the aquamarine waters of the bay.
What makes Balandra Beach so special?
Balandra boasts shallow clear waters surrounded by the dark desrt hills which create a stunning contrast of colors.
Although there are many incredible beaches all around Baja California, there’s a reason why Balandra takes the prize as one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico.
Learn more about the best beaches in Mexico 😊
Where is Balandra Beach?
Balandra beach is located in Baja California just outside of La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur State.
Balandra Beach Map
How far is Balandra Beach from La Paz?
It takes about 30 minutes to get from La Paz to Balandra Beach by car.
How to get to Balandra Beach from La Paz
Depending on your travel plans and budget, there are a few ways to get reach Balandra.
The fastest and most convenient way is by car rental. Since Balandra is open during limited hours, visiting it by car rental allows you to maximize your time and arrive here early. It takes about 30 minutes to get from La Paz to Balandra by car.
I recommend DiscoverCars rentals for renting a car for your trips around Baja California. This is a great car rental website where you can find dozens of vehicles at great rates. I have personally used DiscoverCars several times and always had a good experience with them. 😊
✅ Check my complete guide to renting a car in Mexico to avoid mistakes and have a safe trip
By guided tour
A guided tour of Balandra Beach is an excellent option if you don’t have a rental car and don’t want to use public transportation. You can take a guided tour of Balandra Beach from La Paz or from Cabo San Lucas, and have a professional guide accompany you and provide an overview of the area.
The cheapest way to get from La Paz to Balandra is by taking public transportation. The bus to Balandra Beach stops at Malecón and also makes stops at other beaches near Balandra. Keep in mind that this is the slowest way to get to Balandra Beach, and most likely will take a while.
The ticket costs 60 Pesos one way.
If you don’t have a car rental, you can take Uber or taxi from La Paz. Uber is a safer and more affordable option, and you will probably pay between 150-200 Pesos one way depending on the time of your trip.
Going back to La Paz by taxi can be a bit tricky, as you are not likely to find Uber or taxi readily available near the beach. If you take a taxi, be prepared to take a bus later and have enough cash on you, because there are no taxis in Balandra.
Balandra beach hours
The beach is currently open at 8 a.m. and closed at 3 p.m. If you arrive after 2 p.m., you will not be allowed to enter.
It’s one of the few beaches around Baja that has staff that watches visitors and also keeps tabs on how many people enter the place. Local authorities implemented opening hours to protect this beach from overcrowding and keep it clean, l If you come outside of this time, you will be turned around by one of the staff members at the entrance to the beach.
Balandra Beach La Paz: current restrictions
Playa Balandra has a status of a Natural Protected Area. To minimize the impact on the beach, there is only a certain number of people allowed on this beach.
Balandra Beach is open at 8 a.m. and currently has a limit of 200 people every three hours. The beach closes at 3 p.m. to protect the pristine waters of this place from over-tourism. This is the most recent information as of June 2021.
At the time of writing this blog post, there are still COVID-19 protocols in place which limit the number of daily visitors to Balandra to 400 people.
Tecolote Beach to Balandra Beach
You can also take a boat tour from the neighboring Tecolote Beach (Playa Tecolote) to Balandra.
The boat tour from Playa Tecolote costs about 300 Pesos per person and stops at el Hongo, not the Balandra beach itself. This is a great alternative if you are visiting outside of opening hours.
✅ The area has no ATM’s and vendors here accept only cash, so you will need to bring some Pesos. Learn more of my Mexico travel tips to avoid the most common tourist mistakes.
Balandra Beach La Paz: Best Things To Do
✅ Hike to the overlook
If you want to enjoy the best view, hike to the overlook on top of the hill near Balandra Beach. The trail is located on the side of the road leading to the main parking lot, and you can walk there after parking your car.
It’s a gorgeous view, and I suggest doing it early morning, as it’s not too hot and you can enjoy the view of the various shades of water and dozens of boats moored in the bay. This is one of the most spectacular views in Baja California and if you can, you should make your way up here.
When you get to the top, you will see that there are several trails here. Continue toward the main overlook where you can get a panoramic view of the bay and get a glimpse of the neighboring beach.
This is somewhat a steep hike with a lot of loose gravel, so wear good hiking shoes, and not sandals or flip-flops. Put on sunscreen and wear a hat, because the sun can be very strong here.
✅ Rent a kayak
Kayaking around this beach is so much fun! Several vendors around on this beach can rent you a kayak so you could explore this gorgeous bay.
✅ Take photos with the mushroom of Balandra
I was surprised that many people come here to take photos with El Hongo De Balandra – a rock formation that resembles a mushroom and is located near the neighboring beach.
Many boat tours also stop near El Hongo, however, it’s also possible to visit it by wading through the shallow water from the neighboring beach. Be prepared to wait, as there’s often a line of people waiting to take photos with this famous rock formation.
Do NOT climb this rock! Some years ago it had collapsed because too many people were getting on top of it to take photos and has since been rebuilt to its original shape.
✅ Catch some sun
One of the best things to do at this beach is to enjoy the sun! And the best time to do it is early morning before it gets too hot. There are also many palapas around the beach, and if arrive in the morning, you will be able to get one of them.
✅ Take a refreshing swim
The waters surrounding thee beach are very shallow, so you can tread them for a while before it gets deep or even begins to get above your hips. Taking a swim here is incredibly refreshing, especially on a hot sunny day
Balandra Beach hotels
There are a couple of hotels in the area where you can spend the night if you want to be in the area. This is a great option if you have a car, and don’t have to rely on taxis or public transportation, as you will be away from downtown La Paz.
- Hotel Catedral – One of the most popular hotels in La Paz with contemporary designs, Hotel Catedral is super popular with travelers. This hotel is located close to some of the best things to do in La Paz and offers breakfast, a nice pool, and great views.
- Costa Baja Resort and Spa – One of the best luxury hotels in the area, Costa Baja boasts incredible views of the Sea of Cortez, as well as a spa, outside pools, and several restaurants. This is the best stay if you want to spoil yourself!
Restaurants near Balandra Beach La Paz
Balandra has no restaurants or concessions stores, so bring some snacks. The closest restaurants you will find are located at the nearby Tecolote beach which is just under 10 minutes away by car.
Playa Tecolote also has restrooms, rental gear, and boat tours of the area, so you can come here after the beach closes.
Things to know before visiting Balandra Beach
Playa Balandra is one of the most popular places in Baja California. It’s a wonderful, white-sand beach with shallow waters that is unlike anything you have ever seen. Since it has become popular, local authorities put a limit on how many visitors can visit Balandra each day, so plan your trip accordingly.
Restrictions on Balandra Beach
The beach is currently open to 200 people every 3 hours. If you arrive when the limit has been reached, you will need to wait until the next window.
Best time to visit Balandra Beach
The best time to visit this beach is early morning, before 9 a.m. The area is still relatively uncrowded during this time and you will be in for a great treat when you come here.
By 11 a.m. and noon, the area becomes busy and it can also get pretty hot, especially in summer. You will have a much better experience if you come here early.
Tips for visiting Balandra Beach La Paz
✅ Arrive early
I can’t tell you enough how much of a difference this will have on your experience! If you visit early morning, you will be able to enjoy incredible crystalline waters and uncrowded beaches, before most people begin to get here.
Trust me, getting up early is worth it!
✅ Bring water and snacks
The beach has a protected status and you will not find any restaurants, concession stores, or food vendors here. Bring water and snacks, as you will get thirsty and probably a bit hungry. Nearby Playa Tecolote has restaurants, and you can stop there on your way back.
✅ Put on plenty of sunscreen
The sun can be brutal in Baja California and Balandra is no exception. Put on sunscreen when you come here to avoid sunburn. Remember to use biodegradable, reef-friendly sunscreen that will not hurt local ecosystems.
✅ Wear a hat
The last thing you want to get is a sunstroke, and speaking from personal experience, it can be super unpleasant. The shade is very limited on this beach! While there are few palapas but they fill up very quickly, so you will need to bring your umbrella or a good hat.
✅ Take time to enjoy Balandra
Arrive early and spend a couple of hours exploring and enjoy activities like hiking, kayaking, or paddle boarding. When crowds begin to arrive at 11 a.m., make your way out.
✅ Leave no trace
Take all your trash with you. It’s very frustrating to see people leave their garbage in places like Balandra, and although this beach has a designated staff, do everyone a favor and keep this place as pristine as you found it.
Balandra Beach La Paz: FAQ’s
How to get from Cabo San Lucas to Playa Balandra
Cabo is about 135 kilometers from Playa Balandra.You can get to Balandra from Cabo San Lucas by renting a car or joining a guided tour.
If you are going to visit this beach from Cabo San Lucas, plan about 2,5 hours for driving each way plus 1,5-2 hours at the beach.
While you can make it a day trip from Cabo San Lucas, it’s better to spend a couple of nights in La Paz to enjoy some of the best activities in the area.
Don’t forget to stop at Todos Santos, a charming town with rich history, great restaurants, and some of the best beaches in Baja California.
Is Balandra Beach safe?
Yes, Balandra is safe to visit. The bay surrounding the beach is shallow and has no currents, and you have to wade through the water for a while before it gets deep. It also has staff and is open only during certain hours.
How much time do I need for Balandra Beach?
You will need 2-3 hours for your trip, including travel time. Although some travelers come here just to take a few photos and leave, you should spend more time here enjoying this incredible place.
Can you swim at Balandra Beach?
Yes! Balandra has nice shallow waters that are perfect for swimming. It’s also a popular area for kayaking and paddleboarding, and you can wade through the water for a while before it gets deep enough.
Balandra is one of the most spectacular beaches in Mexico. It boasts postcard scenery, tranquil shallow waters, and some great activities like hiking and kayaking. Don’t forget to include it in your Baja California itinerary.