Bahia Balandra, or sometimes called Puerto Balandra, is one of the most photographed scenes in BCS, and these images are in heavy rotation on the tourist brochures for a good reason – they’re gorgeous. The bay has three lobes, the largest central one ribbed with sandbars and holes, dunes and rock formations. It’s dreamy, and just a quick 5 miles from the La Paz channel entrance.
When approaching from the north, there is one reported rock spire that will show up on your chart, but we have never been able to spot it. Coming from the south (or exiting the bay that way), take great care to miss the very real rocky shoal to the north of the point that forms the southern border of Balandra. When entering the bay, keep a careful eye on the sounder, especially in the middle bight, as depths climb very quickly here, and the sand bars reach further out into the bay than one would think.
You have the option of dropping in the popular middle lobe, finding excellent corumuel protection in the south lobe, or having a lovely stretch of beach, and decent north protection tucked into the northern lobe (substantial swell will wrap around, so beware). All spots are sand bottoms with good holding. Depths typically range from 15-25 feet, but you can go much shallower than that if you choose, but check your swinging room on those bars.
NOTE that as of 2018, anchoring of larger boats is not allowed inside of the two inner prominent points. For more info, check this out from Baja Insider »
AS OF FALL 2022, there are further restrictions on boat and shore access in Balandra following a commercial charter boat wreck and fuel spill in the bay. Rules affecting cruisers are understood to be the following:
1. The overnight stay of any type of vessel in Balandra Bay is prohibited.
2. Vessels longer than 12 meters may not enter the Balandra A and Balandra B Restricted Use Subzone (inside the marked up aerial below).
3. Vessels less than 12 meters may only make a marine tour to the mushroom rock; landing on the mushroom beach and main beach is not allowed. You may land a dinghy on the north beach.
4. Follow the rules of the protected natural area: do not leave garbage, do not climb the dunes, do not damage the mangrove, pets only on the main beach on a leash, no smoking, no use of drones without permission.
5. The first Sunday of every month is “locals’ day” where Balandra area is open to La Paz residents only. It’s unclear if this is a shoreside restriction, or if boats will be asked to leave the area as well.
Click gallery above title for more images.
There are lots of hiking and beach exploration options here, even if you don’t ever set foot near the park parking area. You can certainly head for the famous mushroom rock for a profile-worthy selfie, but note that some jerks broke this rock some years ago and it has been repaired with rebar and cement. Doh!
Snorkeling the obvious reef in the middle of the middle lobe. Even though this is a heavily trafficked tourist area, and this reef has seen a LOT of snorkeling activity, it’s got an amazing variety of critters there, and even some intact sea fans. It’s small and shallow, so great for families or those new to snorkeling. Not sure how affected this reef was with the recent spill, as cleanup continues.
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