Balandra Beach is considered by many as one of the most spectacular beach locations in all of La Paz, with its dramatic turquoise crystal blue waters shallow enough for tourists to easily wade among the sandbars.
Balandra Beach had unfortunately become a victim of its success with tourism overcrowding that was threatening the natural area’s fragile ecosystem. Complicating the threat was a November 2022 incident at the beach when a tourism yacht caught fire, spilling fuel and resulting in ash that polluted the water, beach, and fragile ecosystem.
At the onset of COVID-19, the local tourism office restricted visitors to Balandra Beach to only 120 per day. This was not a big deal at the time due to the lower number of tourists during the pandemic.
However, as the pandemic continues to wane, tourism counts at both Los Cabos and La Paz have significantly increased, with a 15% increase in visitor counts expected for Los Cabos this year. The beach is an easy two-hour drive from Los Cabos and a quick 30-minute drive from La Paz.
The tourism office responded by increasing the number of tourists permitted for Balandra Beach to 900 per day and recently announced that they intend to strictly enforce this number as visitor counts continue to swell in the region.
Around-the-clock security patrols have been dispatched to the beach, both on-ground and in the water, to make sure that the visitor rules are enforced at all times.
Balandra Beach is more than just a popular beach. It is actually a bay that contains seven different beaches.
The beach is shallow enough to walk from one side to the other to not only enjoy the crystal waters. Many visitors actually prefer the kayak or stand-up paddleboard route as a more leisurely journey at Balandra Beach. Others choose to lace up their hiking boots for a scenic hike around the area taking in the sea viewpoints.
However, it is also a government-recognized protected natural area that has a specific environmental management plan to protect the plants and animals in the area. Because of this, local officials have decided to limit the impact of tourism while allowing a limited number of visitors to enjoy the site.
What are the Restrictions?
There are two four-hour strictly enforced time slots for tourists to visit Balandra Beach. A morning slot is available from 8:00 am to noon, and an afternoon time slot is available from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Each time slot is regulated to only 450 visitors and is controlled with the use of bracelets.
The tourism office is also asking visitors to follow the established rules at the iconic Mushroom Rock. Mushroom Rock is a delicate stone formation that, not surprisingly, looks like a mushroom with a round head and narrow body.
Unfortunately, some visitors have tried to climb the fragile formation for a quick photo opportunity. The tourism office has strictly banned this activity so that this unique rock formation does not get destroyed.
Tourists are also asked not to alter the ecosystem; bring reusable items; pack out what they pack in; use the toilets provided and have their pets on a leash. No smoking is also in effect at the destination.
Best Ways to Visit
Ultimately, it’s the number of visitors allowed that will have the largest tourist impact. It is recommended that tourists engage in a local tour to reserve one of the bracelets in advance to gain entry to Balandra Beach.
Tourists deciding to arrive on their own should expect to arrive early, well before the stated session time, and expect to wait in line for their bracelet.
Alternatively, there are a number of tours provided in the general area, some of which allow easy boat access to Balandra Beach at a nearby drop-off location. The tours generally come with a reserved bracelet. Some of the popular tours even provide kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for visitors to enjoy their time at a very special La Paz location.
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