Photo: Go La Paz

Seafood, Sustainability, and Sunsets: the Basics of Baja California Sur, Mexico

Insider Guides
by Sara Iannacone Dec 7, 2023

As I sipped my coffee while watching the sunrise, painted with deep hues of pink and orange, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I glanced over just in time to catch a majestic gray whale breaching in the subdued morning waves of the Pacific Ocean, leaving nothing but white foam in its wake. At that moment, as the birds chirped and neighborhood dogs played below, I felt more at peace than ever before.

What I found was that moments like this are the norm in La Paz and the surrounding towns in Baja California Sur, Mexico, or BCS, near the southern tip of the peninsula.

The destination is sometimes overlooked by travelers for its flashy neighbor to the south, Cabo San Lucas, in the county of Los Cabos. But the smaller towns in the area have a completely different vibe compared to Cabo, a well-known party destination.

malecon in la paz baja california sur mexico

Photo: VG Foto/Shutterstock

The small towns around La Paz inspire you to slow down, appreciate nature, experience a new adventure, and indulge in delicious cuisine, nearly all of which you can do in a very sustainable way. Ultimately, the small towns are ideal places to be at peace with yourself and your surroundings – fitting, as “La Paz” means “peace.”

Where to stay around Baja California Sur

In El Sargento: Rancho Cacachilas

The full Rancho Cacachilas experience includes at least a one-night stay, but try to do two or three if you can. Guests can pick from a “Palapa Casita” (glamping tents on raised platforms with sitting areas and hammocks) or a “Ranch Suite” with four solid walls, a double bed, and a bunk bed. The Palapa Casitas are more in tune with the natural beauty of the area, but don’t have electricity. If you have medical requirements like a CPAP, the Ranch Suites are your best bet. The all-inclusive rate starts around $420 per night.

In Todos Santos: Los Colibris Casitas

todos santos la paz hotel

Photo: Go La Paz/ColinRuggiero

Led by a husband-and-wife team pioneering sustainability efforts in Baja California Sur, the carbon-neutral Los Colibris Casitas is a haven for nature lovers and one of the most charming places to stay in Todos Santos. The privileged hilltop location has casitas in lush gardens, with excellent views of the Pacific and a neighboring palm grove. Rates start around $135 per night.

In La Paz: Baja Club Hotel

The Baja Club is in the middle of the malecón, giving it an ideal location for exploring the town. It’s a restored 20th-century villa with richly painted Talavera tiles, dark wood, and floor-to-ceiling windows with iron accents that exude luxury.

If you’re a points junkie, you can claim Marriott Bonvoy points, as the Baja Club is in the Design Hotels portfolio. Rates start around $280 per night.

Where to eat and drink in Baja California Sur



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Oystera is the first Mexican oyster bar in Todos Santos, housed in a building that was once the oldest sugar mill in the town.

It has a rotating raw bar menu with locally grown and harvested oysters, plus the area’s famous “chocolate clams.” Choose a few to try, like the sol azuls or kumamotos. Then, top your selection with a small bit of habanero paste and a little bit of lime.

After the oysters, try the catch of the day or the scallop and fish tostadas. They’re generously topped with seafood cured in citrus and paired with spicy chiles, tart lemon, saffron, and onions.

Viñedo Las Tinajas

While driving from Todos Santos to La Paz, you’ll notice a billboard towering high above, reading “Wine Tasting” with a bright yellow arrow to lead you in the right direction. It’s in the most unlikely of places, as Baja Sur isn’t known for viticulture. But Viñedo Las Tinajas is the first commercial winery in the state.

As you roll down a dusty driveway, rows of grapevines will appear. But the vines are just cuttings to showcase what it’s growing and sourcing from other areas of Mexico, like El Pescadero and Valle de Guadalupe.

In the hacienda-style tasting room, you’ll be greeted by a vintage grape press and wine corker, breathing a bit of historic charm into the otherwise brand-new build. All wine production is done at the winery, with varietals like sauvignon blanc and grenache, as well as local fruit wines flavored with mango and hibiscus. The indoor/outdoor tasting room is open Thursday through Tuesday, 10 AM – 6 PM. You can walk in for a glass of wine (or a wine and chocolate tasting), or make a reservation via the winery website.

El Mirador Oceanview Restaurant

If you choose restaurants based on the views, don’t skip El Mirador Oceanview Restaurant outside Todos Santos. The restaurant, covered by a palapa-style thatched roof, sits on a cliff with an incredible vantage point. It’s the perfect place to capture views of the “desert-meets-the-sea” landscapes the region is known for. You can watch hummingbirds flitter through the sky while whales frolic in the ocean below (during migration season, at least).

The passionfruit mezcalita with a tajin rim is the perfect blend of spicy, sour, and sweet. Start or end your meal with one of those and you won’t be disappointed.

Toto Frito


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Toto Frito is a fast-casual and sustainable seafood chain with two locations. The La Paz restaurant has a roof with sprawling views of the Sea of Cortez.

Head to the counter and order the scallop po’boy with extra sauce. The rich, creamy, and bacon-heavy white gravy perfectly complements the savory polenta breading on the meaty oysters. Pair it with a crisp, fresh jicama salad with rice vinegar and lemon, because balance.

Taco Fish

For the quintessential fish taco in La Paz, Taco Fish is the spot. It’s on the malecón, the main downtown strip on the Sea of Cortez. It’s central and walkable from most La Paz hotels. Order a traditional fish taco on a flour tortilla, paired with a mango agua fresca.

Why a flour tortilla? Because it’s a bit more durable than corn if you’re topping it with tons of juicy salsa.

Hold off on adding it to your DIY taco tour, though. Each fish taco comes with nearly an entire filet of fried fish.

What to do in Baja California Sur

Go on a DIY fish taco tour

fish taco baja california sur mexico

Photo: Sun_Shine/Shutterstock

Fish tacos are a staple in the daily lives of Paceños, the locals in La Paz, and are both a breakfast or lunch food. They’re tasty, small, and budget-friendly, so they make for a great theme on a DIY food tour.

Start with the taco paceño at Claro Fish, Jr. According to Paceños, the best taco is one so full that you can barely close it as you take a bite. So, try the shrimp taco without toppings for your first bite before topping it with onions and salsa from the topping bar in the middle of the restaurant (a staple at most taco spots in La Paz).

Next, hit up the casual eatery Tacos del Estadio for a dorado de marlin ahumado (a smoked marlin taco) straight off the grill. There aren’t really places to sit there, so gobble your taco while standing before moving along to M.C. Fisher’s. The menu’s crown jewel is the taco de cayó encebollado, a local scallop taco with caramelized onions and oyster sauce.

Go whale or bird watching

baja california sur gray whale todos santos

Photo: Go La Paz

One of the most magical features of Baja California Sur in Mexico is its rich biodiversity, both on land and in the water.

Between January and March, you can watch giant gray whales in the Pacific Ocean as they migrate south along the western coast of the Baja Peninsula. Trips leave from Todos Santos (about 45 minutes from Cabo) or La Paz, in which case your tour company will drive you across the peninsula.

Year-round, you can go bird-watching to meet frigate birds, roadrunners, kingfishers, hummingbirds, and more. It’s a good way to learn what names to put to the melodic beauties likely to serenade you in the mornings and lull you to sleep each evening.

Both these adventures are available through Todos Santos Eco Adventures, which operates trips leaving from Todos Santos. It’s a carbon-neutral tour company pioneering sustainable tourism in the region.

Booking through companies that think about their environmental impact, practice Leave No Trace principles, and use guides certified by NOLS is one of the best ways to protect the natural beauty of Baja California Sur, Mexico, and preserve it for the future.

In La Paz, you can book whale watching or other wildlife adventures with the Cortez Club, which includes transportation and meals. Snorkeling with whale sharks is also available in the Sea of Cortez, if you’d rather skip the long(ish) drive to find gray whales.

Sip rooftop cocktails at sunset


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When asking Paceños about can’t-miss activities in La Paz, the common response is, “watch the sunset.”

Google what time sunset is and get to the Baja Club Hotel’s rooftop bar at least 30 minutes prior. Depending on the season, sunset could be anywhere from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM, so be sure to do your research. Order a “damiana spritz” (made with local damiana herb, rumored to be an aphrodisiac), and enjoy the cocktail as the painted night sky slowly goes dark, and the stars take over.

Take a trip to a magical town

baja california sur mexico - todos santos downtown

Photo: Go La Paz

Mexico has designated more than 175 towns as “Pueblos Mágicos,” or magical towns, defined by their unique preservation of culture and history. It’s a tourism effort designed to encourage visitors to journey to lesser-known areas of the country. And Todos Santos, just over an hour from La Paz, is one of those towns.

You can hire a guide or simply wander through the cobblestone streets lined with bougainvillea in vibrant shades of pink and orange. Be sure to admire the carefully preserved, colonial-style buildings while popping in and out of boutique art galleries and shops showcasing the art and craftsmanship of local makers.

You can also pop into the famous Hotel California. While it isn’t technically the one from the famous Eagles song, it has become forever linked to its lyrics, drawing fans from around the world. Grab a coffee and sit in the pretty courtyard when your feet need a break.

Get off-grid at Rancho Cacachilas

Just 45 minutes southwest of La Paz, you’ll find Rancho Cacachilas, an all-inclusive adventure camp. The 40,000-acre working ranch and regenerative tourism project takes visitors off the grid and into the rugged landscapes of Baja California Sur. The business is fascinating, and everything at the ranch is profitable, productive, and sustainable.

You can take a day trip if that’s all you have time for, but staying overnight is a great way to experience all Rancho Cacachilas offers.

Stays include one daily activity, ranging from mountain biking or mule riding to hiking, goat cheese making, and beekeeping. Meals are all farm-to-table, with ingredients grown either on the property or by sustainable local partners. Lunches range from seabass with spicy chipotle sauce to the signature Rancho Cacachilas burger on homemade brioche, topped with a juicy beef and bacon patty.

Getting to and around Baja California Sur

The first, and arguably most convenient way to reach La Paz and surrounding towns like Todos Santos, Loreto, La Ventana, and El Sargento, is flying directly into La Paz International Airport (LAP). The airport is about 20 minutes from the malecón.

The downfall is that flights aren’t as frequent or affordable as flights to Los Cabos International Airport (which is actually closer to Todos Santos). Los Cabos also has many direct flights from the US, which La Paz currently does not. As a result, most people fly into Los Cabos and make the pretty drive to the smaller towns. There are shuttle services between the Cabo Airport and La Paz, as well as lots of private drivers happy to keep their eyes on the road while you enjoy views of the blue ocean and endless sea of cacti.

La Paz is easy enough to explore on two feet, or with taxis and rideshares. But traveling between the funky little towns you can explore in Baja California Sur, Mexico, is a bit trickier.

driving around baja california road

Photo: Go La Paz

It’s best to rent a car if you’re planning to explore beyond La Paz’s borders. Roads in Baja California Sur, Mexico, are well-paved and easy enough to navigate. Just be on the lookout for the odd cow or two traversing the highway, and you’ll be fine.

If you’re not interested in driving but still want the full Baja experience, you can book transfers between cities with a company like Pita’s Tours.

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