La Paz is your next biking destination
Not everybody visits La Paz, to lie on exquisite beaches or visit Espiritu Santo Island (though we highly recommend doing either, or both!) It seems to be a well-kept secret, at the moment, but the beauty of our city doesn’t start and end at its coastline!
Cycling is a popular activity that has both weekend visitors and seasonal snowbirds driving and flying in their bikes to explore the best of Baja California Sur on their own two wheels! Seems like too many logistics getting your own equipment here? Don’t worry. Outfitters such as City Bike offer high-quality and well-maintained bikes to rent during your stay.
Options abound - civic bike trails follow principal urban streets, the surrounding roadways cut through hills and valleys revealing bucolic desert-meets-ocean vistas, and mountain trails connect towns and villages without ever touching pavement.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on two paved-road options, leaving the mountain bike discussion to another day!
1. The Malecon to Playa Tecolote via Balandra Bay, roundtrip
Distance: 30.4 miles / 49 kilometres
Average time to complete: 2.5 hours
Elevation gain: 1,145 feet
Terrain type: paved bike lane, paved roadway, and a small section of dirt road if you’d like to pull right into El Tecolote Beach
Appropriate equipment: Road bike, bike helmet, reflectors and lights if riding in the dawn or dusk hours….and I’d layer a bathing suit too, since you’ll be cruising past the BEST BEACHES La Paz has to offer!
This roundtrip ride has to be one of the most rewarding bike routes in existence. Yes, those endorphins will help to put a smile on your face, but even more so it’s the viewpoints that will light you up. La Paz hosts hundreds of elite triathletes every year who come to compete on this exact same stretch of road and say it’s one of the races they look forward to the most.
You depart here, from El Molinito, riding the bike trail following the Malecon. Eventually, you join regular traffic on Federal Highway 11 where you will essentially have no paved shoulder to work with, so do be aware of approaching traffic at your back. The highway curves you past nine separate beaches, through desert mountain cuts, past mangrove-lined bays, and eventually to Playa Balandra (a left at the fork in the road) or Playa El Tecolote (a right at the same fork).
To mark the halfway point of your ride, wade into the shallow crystal waters of Balandra Bay or get some food and refreshments at El Tecolote, with its panoramic view of the famous Espiritu Santo Island. Seriously, this route has it all!
Protip: The bike lane ends 3.8km from the start of this route, at Hotel La Concha. Once there, you need to bike against the one-way inbound traffic and around a U-turn lane that circles the BMX park, in order to join the outbound traffic leaving La Paz on the other side. In order to avoid this, about 1.5 kilometers from where you started you can elect to leave the bike lane early and join the outbound traffic where it first forks right.
2. The La Paz Malecon, roundtrip
Distance: 11.6 miles / 18.6 kilometers
Average time to complete: Less than an hour
Elevation gain: 141 feet
Terrain type: paved bike path
Appropriate equipment: City bike and bike helmet
The waterfront boardwalk, known as the Malecon, is the crown jewel of La Paz (actually, it’s also where the literal Crown Jewel of La Paz - a black pearl - was given to Queen Elizabeth the Second!).
With its wide sidewalks, public parks and outdoor gyms, bronze statues, historical landmarks, and stretches of smooth sand with regularly spaced benches to just sit and take it all in, it’s no surprise that traveling at least a part of the Malecon every day has become a daily ritual with its own verb - maleconear.
On two wheels and with two dedicated bike lanes, you can efficiently enjoy discovering the various neighbourhoods that have grown up around La Paz bay. Starting here, at the very southern end of the bike path, your there-and-back trip will be an easy to moderate ride.
Protip: There is a fair amount of stop-and-go when you get to the busiest sections of the Malecon, around the Kiosko for example, as pedestrian crossings intersect the bike path and have the right of way. Don’t think of this ride as a get-your-heart-rate-up-and-keep-it-there affair.
By: The Trip&homes Team