Balandra Beach has become one of the most popular destinations to visit in Baja, Mexico. Made famous after it received the title of one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – visitation to this pristine beach located near La Paz, Baja California Sur Mexico has exploded in recent years.
One glimpse at the stunning crystal clear water and it’s easy to see why Playa Balandra is considered one of the best beaches in Mexico. But is Balandra Beach worth visiting or does it fall short of the hype it’s received?
After visiting Balandra Beach in February 2023 on our four-month road trip to Baja, I’m happy to report that Balandra Beach is in fact, worth visiting.
Its shallow turquoise waters and soft sand are unlike any beach we’ve ever visited and truly was one of the prettiest beaches we’ve ever visited. However, there are things you need to know before you go.
This blog post will share how to visit Balandra Beach and make the most of your visit. From cost, entrance restrictions, tips on what to bring, and how to avoid peak crowds at Mexico’s most popular beach!
Quick facts about Balandra Beach
- 💵 Cost of entry: Free (although there is a rumor a small fee could be implemented in 2024)
- ⏰ Entrance times: You can enter between 8:00 am – 12:00 pm OR 1:00 pm to 5 pm only.
- 🚫 Entrance limits: Maximum of 450 people in either time slot.
- 🏖️ Activities: Swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking.
- ⏳ Time on average to spend there: Around 2 – 4 hours. The maximum allowable visit is 4 hours.
- 🏙️ Closest city: La Paz, Baja California Sur
- 📍Location: Google Map pin
How to get to Balandra Beach
Balandra Beach is located roughly 45 minutes northeast of the city of La Paz, Mexico, and about 2 and a half hours drive from Los Cabos.
Getting to Playa Balandra is definitely easiest from La Paz. La Paz is the capital city of Baja California Sur and the most populated city south of Ensenada. The city has a ton to do and see outside of Balandra Beach. Personally, we prefer La Paz over the more touristic area of Los Cabos but I will share directions to this stunning beach from both La Paz and Los Cabos below.
Getting to Balandra Beach from La Paz
The most convenient way of getting to Playa Balandra from La Paz is to drive your own vehicle like a rental car. Google will give you perfect directions to the parking lot. Parking is limited at the beach though, so bigger vehicles should stay behind. Parking spaces can accommodate RVs or vans less than 25 feet.
If you don’t have your own vehicle you can also take a bus from the town center to the beach. Hop on the “Playa Bus” at the Terminal Turística de Autobuses just off the Malécon. The route stops at three beaches, El Pichilingue, Playa Balandra, and El Tecolote at the farthest end of the peninsula (which is also a stunning beach very popular for camping).
It takes around 40 minutes to get there by bus with routes departing from La Paz every other hour starting at 8:00 am. In 2023, the cost for the bus fair one way was 60 MXP / ~$3.50 (cash and card accepted) 💳 !
The bus doesn’t drop you off directly at the parking lot but further up the road. You will need to walk about 15 minutes to get to the beach area which makes timing the pick up of the bus to return back a bit tricky. 🚗 Overall, having your own vehicle is definitely the easiest and most convenient option.
Getting to Playa Balandra from Los Cabos
Many visitors go to Balandra Beach from Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo on a day trip. It’s a lengthy day trip clocking in at 5 hours of driving in total. However, it can be worth it if visiting Playa Balandra is a non-negotiable for you on your Baja Mexico trip and you are short on time.
If you rented a car in Los Cabos or have your own vehicle (like we did with our RV) hop on Highway 19 and head north. You’ll pass the town of Todos Santos (another great place to visit) and continue about another hour and a half until you reach Playa Balandra.
If you don’t have your own vehicle you can take a guided tour. There are several guided tours to choose from that will offer roundtrip transportation. Below are two of the most popular Balandra Beach tours.
- 🚐 Todos Santos and Balandra Beach day trip from Los Cabos
- 🐬 Balandra Beach and La Paz city tour day trip from Los Cabos
If you’re traveling on a budget taking a bus from Los Cabos to La Paz is the most affordable option. However, you’ll need to stay overnight at a hostel, Airbnb, or hotel room for the night. 🏨 Check out the best spots to stay overnight in La Paz here. Then take the bus (directions above) from La Paz to Playa Balandra.
Getting to Playa Balandra on a boat tour
The last way to get to Balandra Beach is on a boat tour. We took a day trip to Isla Espiritu to swim with sea lions, and our tour boat dropped off three other passengers at Balandra Beach before heading out to the island. They had lunch packed for them and chairs for lounging as a part of the tour!
🛥️ Click here to check out the best boat tour for visiting Balandra Beach.
Things to know before visiting
Balandra Bay is a protected natural area recognized under Mexico’s Flora and Fauna Act. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the largest mangrove community in La Paz. This means Playa Balandra has major ecological importance for this region and is protected vigorously.
Since it’s a protected area there are restrictions on entry.
Balandra Beach entrance restrictions
No more than 450 people can be on the beach at any given time. To ensure population measures are followed they limit entrance times to two times a day. The gate to the beach parking lot is opened twice daily and limits the stay to 4 hours maximum.
- Morning entrance times: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
- Afternoon entrance times: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
You can arrive ANYTIME during these hours. However, once the limit of 450 has been reached they close the doors and don’t let anyone else in for that time block. For that reason, we recommend arriving right when the beach opens.
We visited Balandra Beach on a Thursday for the 1:00 pm afternoon slot. We arrived at 12:30 pm and there was a long queue of cars waiting to get in. Although we got in without worry!
⏰ If you are visiting on a weekend or holiday make sure you arrive at least 1 hour early OR arrive at the morning slot which is the less popular time.
🚫 The beach is closed sporadically for cleaning, rehabilitation of the beach, and occasionally for residents-only access. Before visiting Balandra Beach check for closures on their Instagram page here.
Is there a fee to enter Balandra Beach?
When we visited in February of 2023 it was free to visit Balandra Beach. There is a rumor that they will implement a small entrance fee of around 54 Mexican Pesos (likely cash only). However, that has not been confirmed by officials and we have not heard of anyone at the entrance collecting a fee for bikes, vans, or cars that are visiting.
What to bring
It’s always a good idea to pack sun protection with you for a day at the beach. We like to avoid sunscreen when possible because many have harmful chemicals for our bodies and hurt the environment (even reef-safe sunscreen). We prefer to layer up in a sun hat, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved SPF shirt. If you must use sunscreen, we recommend this brand.
🏖️ We also bring an umbrella with us for shade. There are palapas available for free on the first beach but these spots fill up quickly. If you are not one of the first 20 – 30 people on the beach your chances of securing a palapa are slim.
There is no water available for purchase or to refill your bottles at Balandra Beach. So bring your own water. We recommend this reusable water bottle which has a built-in water filter. On hot days in Baja, we like to add an LMNT hydration pack to our water. LMNT replenishes the electrolytes you’re losing outdoors without adding nasty ingredients or unnecessary sugars.
🌮 There is no food sold at Balandra Beach. If you are concerned you will get hungry bring snacks. However, you are responsible for taking any trash with you. 🗑️ There are no trash bins provided here. Remember this is a nature preserve, and you should leave it better than you found it!
Of course, you’ll want to bring any photo or video gear with you (see our gear here). The last thing you should bring is a bathing suit and towel to drive off with along with any water gear you may have. Since we RV’d the Baja Peninsula, we had our own blowup paddleboard with us that we put to good use here!
Get the gear here:
- 👕 Long-sleeve SPF shirt
- 🕶️ Sunglasses (we love that these are made from recycled plastic)
- 🧢 Sun hat
- 🩴 Sandals
- 📸 Camera equipment
- 🚰 Reusable water bottle
- 🥪 Water and snacks
- 💧LMNT hydration packs
- 👙Bathing suit
- 🧴Reef safe sunscreen
- ☀️ Towel, chairs, or umbrella for shade
Balandra Beach activities
Being a pristine beach, relaxing on its sandy shores or exploring its shallow waters is a top activity to do here. Although, there’s a lot to do at Playa Balandra other than relax on the beach.
You can snorkel if you’d like. But from our experience, there isn’t much wildlife to see. The water at Balandra Bay is extremely shallow so swimming/snorkeling isn’t advised. I will say, that it’s a wild feeling walking close to 100 feet from the shore and still being at the same water depth as when you first got into the water!
🦶🏼If you go into the water make sure to shuffle for sting rays. We didn’t see any during our trip, but they are known to frequent here and blend in perfectly with the sand.
Rather than snorkel we recommend going for a paddle. Its calm shallow waters make paddling on a blowup paddleboard or kayak a popular activity to do at Balandra Beach. If you don’t have your own paddleboard or kayak you can rent them at the beach (near the palapas) for $250 MXP / ~$15 USD per hour.
🪨 No visit to Balandra Beach would be complete without seeing El Hongo. This mushroom-shaped rock has become an icon for La Paz. 🍄 El Hongo, which means mushroom in Spanish is naturally shaped like a mushroom.
This formation is extremely fragile. A few years ago a tourist climbed on El Hongo and it fell. They’ve since repaired the rock, but this is a reminder not to touch, lean, or climb on the rock.
There are several coves you can visit on the beach that offer a more private relaxing beach experience. You have to wade through the shallow waters to reach them, but I think it’s worth it.
I highly recommend getting a vantage point of Balandra Bay from above. Several hikes in and around Balandra Beach give you a bird’s eye view of this stunning area. You can hike from Tecolote Beach to Balandra Beach which takes around 2 hours round trip.
Or you can hike from inside the park. There is an unmarked trailhead about halfway between the main beach and the parking lot that takes you up to a panoramic view of Balandra Bay. The view from the top is incredible! It only takes about 30 minutes to hike to the top making it an excellent way to spend your time at Balandra Beach.
Balandra Beach is a beach worth visiting. Its unspoiled beauty and crystal-clear waters are unlike any beach we’ve ever seen. Hopefully, this guide helped you understand why this is a must-visit destination in Baja California Sur and prepare for your own visit here.
CHECK OUT MY OTHER LA PAZ MEXICO GUIDES
- 7 Unmissable Day Trips from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: This guide will share 6 other amazing day trips from the Los Cabos area.
- 10 Must-Visit Destinations on a Baja Road Trip: Looking for more amazing places to visit along the Baja Peninsula? Check out our 10 favorites here!
- 10 Amazing Things to Do in La Paz, BCS: If you’re going to La Paz, check out these 10 top things to do on your tip here.
- How to Swim With Sea Lions in La Paz: Looking for more unique adventures in La Paz? Check out this bucket list experience on Espiritu Santo island!