Diving in La Paz - Bluewater Dive Travel

La Paz

Mobula rays seen during a night dive in La Paz
Mobula rays in La Paz
A sea lion swims through a school of sardines in La Paz
A scuba diver explores a reef in La Paz
A cormorant in the water in La Paz
Dolphins swim at a dive site in La Paz
A whale shark in La Paz
A sea lion in La Paz
A person enjoys scuba diving in La Paz
Surgeonfish swim along a reef in La Paz.
A cute porcupine fish in La Paz.
A whale shark with its mouth wide open toward the camera in La Paz

Scuba Diving in la paz

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As one of the most popular diving destinations in Mexico, La Paz and its nearby islands offer a wide range of diving opportunities and some unique big animal encounters that are hard to beat. Many of the best experiences are just as exciting and accessible for snorkelers, making La Paz a great family destination and perfect for groups with non-divers.

For another great snorkeling destination, read our guide to diving French Polynesia.

Interested in diving La Paz?  View the live availability of some of the best liveaboards in La Paz and book online at the best price or check out our sidebar for specials and workshops!



While some Sea of Cortez liveaboards depart from La Paz and visit local sites, the majority of diving here is resort-based or in the form of day trips. Dive sites around La Paz are accessed by small pangas or speedboats.



Situated on the southeastern edge of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, La Paz is one of the easiest warm water dive destinations to reach from the US. The area’s diversity of dive sites includes wrecks, caves, offshore pinnacles, and rocky reefs, as well as some sheltered inshore diving and snorkeling in the Bay of La Paz. 

mobula rays at the Sea of Cortez

Photo taken by Helen Brierley on our Explore Baja Photo Workshop last year

La Paz Mobula Ray night diveLa Paz Mobula Ray night dive

Mobula Ray night dive

By far the region’s biggest attraction is year-round access to some of the ocean’s most impressive pelagic species. Depending on the time of year, divers can expect to spot whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, sea lions, mobula rays, several species of whales, and a myriad of other local and migratory species. There is so much marine life in this area that La Paz is included in the Sea of Cortez UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

View Location on Google Map 

Learn more by reading our Sea of Cortez trip report.



Diving in La Paz is great year-round, but the best time to go depends on what you want to see. We recommend diving between October and December when water temperatures are warm, the sea lion colony is diveable, and topside conditions are not as hot as in the summer months. Whale sharks arrive in the region around mid-November, so if these gentle giants are on your bucket list, visit La Paz later in November or into December.

More on the best time to dive La Paz. 

Learn all there is to know about La Paz and see if this is the destination for you! (video)

And check out this video from one of our previous trips!

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La Paz’s protected location at the entrance to the Sea of Cortez makes for a great base to spot both migrating pelagics and local species. Around 850 marine species are found in these waters, from the biggest of fish and marine mammals to macro species such as seahorses and nudibranchs. 

List of some of the marine animals you may see around La Paz:

  • Whale shark
  • Hammerhead shark
  • Gray whale
  • Humpback whale
  • Mobula ray
  • Eagle ray
  • California sea lion 
  • Turtle
  • Dolphin
  • Marlin
  • Tuna
  • Wrasse
  • Moray eel
  • Angelfish
  • Seahorse


The Bay of La Paz is considered one of the best destinations in the world to swim with whale sharks, and these huge fish flock to the southern Sea of Cortez in the fall to feed on plankton. Robust licensing restricts the number of boats and individuals that can be in the water at any one time, therefore there is a good chance of achieving a one-to-one encounter with these gentle giants. The La Paz whale sharks are found quite close to shore, and this is a great place for non-divers to snorkel and swim with them without a lengthy boat journey to a remote offshore location.

Hammerhead sharks were a common sight in La Paz waters until fishing decimated their numbers in the 80s and 90s. The good news is that the hammerhead nursery in the Bay of La Paz is slowly regenerating, and sightings of these unique sharks around El Bajo seamount are becoming more frequent again. Also at El Bajo, expect to encounter key pelagics such as mobula rays, eagle rays, dolphins, marlin, and tuna, all against a dramatic offshore backdrop of steep walls and rocky reefs.

One of the most memorable experiences at La Paz is a visit to the sea lion colonies at Los Islotes. Although sea lions will likely pop up on many dives around the area, Los Islotes is home to a rookery of around 400 sea lions and pups, and snorkeling or diving with these inquisitive youngsters is a real treat.

Read all about our recent trip to La Paz



Diving in La Paz is possible year-round, but the best time to go depends on what you want to see. We recommend diving between October and December when water temperatures are warm, the sea lion colony is diveable, and topside conditions are not as hot as in the summer months. Whale sharks arrive in the region around mid-November, so if these gentle giants are on your bucket list, visit La Paz later in November or into December

La Paz underwater photoLa Paz Underwater Photo

From January to May, the water can get very cold and visibility is reduced; however, this is the best time to spot hammerhead sharks, whales, and mobula rays. December to March is the peak season for tourism in Mexico and like many other resort areas, La Paz can get busy and experience an increase in accommodation rates.

The sea lion colonies are active year-round, however, they are closed for breeding from June 1st to August 31st each year.

La Paz Underwater Photo La Paz Underwater Photo



  • June - November: The summer months are hot and humid top-side, with some rain towards the end of the season. Water temperatures are at their warmest with an average of 80oF (27oC). Visibility is very good outside plankton blooms, often approaching 80ft.
  • December - May: The top-side conditions cool off over the winter, but with plenty of sunshine. Water temperatures also cool down, averaging 72oF (24oC) but dropping as low as 64oF (18oC). 



La Paz offers diving and snorkeling suitable for all levels. Swimming with whale sharks and diving and snorkeling with the sea lions can be enjoyed by everyone, including children - and they love it! The colorful inshore reefs of Playas Tecelote and El Coyote offer excellent snorkeling in calm, clear waters.

The offshore sites at El Bajo are best suited to experienced divers. Large swells and strong currents can make for tricky conditions, especially over the winter months.




1. Los Islotes - One of the biggest sea lion colonies in the area can be found to the north of Espritu Santo Island. Two large rocky promontories featuring a natural arch create a fun game of hide-and-seek for extremely playful pups, keen to get involved in any diving or snorkeling activity. Also, expect to see large shoals of sardines, angelfish, and surgeonfish amongst the rocky coral reefs. This shallow site is great for snorkelers.

2. El Bajo - A group of three isolated seamounts 8 miles from Los Islotes, that attract a great number of pelagic species around steep walls, canyons, and drop-offs. This is a prime spot for catching a glimpse of large schools of fish and schooling hammerhead sharks, who have been known to gather here in hundreds. Resident species include  moray eels, octopus, tuna, and schooling amberjack.

3. La Reina - One of the most beautiful sites in the area, this large reef is located just north of Isla Cerralvo at a depth of around 80 feet. Large gorgonians and brain coral dominate the landscape. Divers are also likely to encounter several resident manta rays.

4. Swanee Reef - An exciting dive site on the southern tip of Isla Espirito Santo, featuring huge coral heads, gorgonians, and sea fans smothering the rocky reef. Shoals of small fish school and then vanish to escape larger predators, and a good amount of macro can be discovered when the visibility is good.

5. Salvatierra Wreck - A great dive site for novice divers or those without wreck experience, the Salvatierra sunk in 1976 after hitting Swanee Rock, leaving a scar on the reef that is still visible today. Much of the ship's cargo of trucks is still intact, as are both propellers, and the artificial reef attracts a wide variety of marine life.

Also on Swanee Reef, the wrecks of the Fang Ming and C59 make for fascinating dives, and cement La Paz as a great wreck diving destination.

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La Paz is serviced by Manuel Márquez de León International Airport (LAP), with flights from the US via Mexico City or Guadalajara. Flights from other continents also connect in Mexico City. Once on the ground, it's a quick shuttle ride to the dive resorts. 

Many visitors also choose to fly directly into Cabo San Lucas International Airport (SJD) and then take a 2.5-hour shuttle north to La Paz. This is a beautiful drive in the Baja California Desert with glimpses of both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. 



La Paz offers a great range of resort accommodation to suit all budgets. Inshore diving is either from small pangas or speedboats where divers will backward roll into the water. Access to offshore sites such as El Bajo is via larger day boats that offer more facilities and are better suited to heavier seas. Most resorts will arrange whale shark trips with one of the locally licensed operators.

View our next dive trips to La Paz or contact us to start planning your dream trip! (LV PAGE)



Many of the best experiences around La Paz are open to snorkelers as well as divers, so this is a great place for divers and non-divers to travel together. There are also many other water-based activities available, such as whale and bird watching tours, fishing, and kayaking. La Paz has a healthy resort-life, with lots of shopping, a wide choice of restaurants, bars, and clubs, spas, and good beaches. Playa Balandra, located about 20 minutes from La Paz, is consistently named as one of the top beaches in Mexico, and even the world.

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See the availability of liveaboards such as Rocio del Mar in La Paz and book online. Best price guaranteed. No credit card fees.

The rates shown below are per person in USD. Some operators may quote in a different currency and the final pricing may vary depending on the latest exchange rates.


New to liveaboards? Let's help you get started with our Guide to Liveaboard Diving.

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  • Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN).
  • Language: Spanish, but many people speak English, especially in tourist areas.
  • Main Aiport: Manuel Márquez de León International Airport (LAP).
  • Time Zone: Mexican Pacific Standard Time (GMT-7).
  • Electricity: 127V.




Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

And let us book your dream vacation!

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La Paz underwater photoLa Paz Underwater Photo

La Paz Underwater Photo La Paz

La Paz La Paz

La Paz La Paz

La Paz La Paz


Reviews (5)


I went on the La Paz photo workshop. This was a great experience. I was just starting with a new camera and the leader Nirupam went above and beyond in helping me learn. He even set up a zoom call in advance of the trip to make sure I had some of the basics set up with my camera. I learned so much in a week! The trip it’s self was fun. The sea lion dives are always super fun and the wrecks we saw were really nice. Sadly the whalesharks hadn’t migrated to the bay yet but we got an extra day with the sea lions and it was a great substitute! Bluewater was super helpful from the gear to the trip and I’ve already booked 2 more trips with them for next year.

Visited on 10/2020 - Submitted on 03/11/2021

I had a great time in La Paz! The ability to dive with the sea lions and the whale sharks was awesome. Not only did we get to enjoy that but they did a great job pointing out nudibranchs!! Small to large a great trip for everyone. The trip was well organized and the dive operation was organized, boats clean, on time and dive guides were excellent. Scott and Nirupam did a great job!! Excellent pointers and tips to improve photos!

Visited on 10/2019 - Submitted on 02/13/2020

A very good trip overall. The Hotel was very nice. Good place for whale sharks on our second half day but the visibility was not ideal. The Mobula Ray night dive was a good experience as they were everywhere but again, visibility was poor. The best part was the sea lions. They were pretty much everywhere and they came quite close frequently. I would do this again at some point, but with a full-frame, wide-angle setup instead of my point-and-shoot and a wet wide lens.

Visited on 02/2020 - Submitted on 02/13/2020

La Paz is easy to get to from North America, and a great value. The locals are very friendly and helpful. Seemed very safe. Scuba diving is always after a long boat ride but very enjoyable. Visibility not bad and the water is warm. Not a lot of marine life diversity but proximity to what is there makes up for it. Bring receipts for your expensive underwater photo equipment when going thru customs.

Visited on 10/2019 - Submitted on 02/13/2020

The La Paz dive trip was simply excellent pretty much across the board.
Travel is pretty easy, even from the Mid west. Blue Water Travel did an excellent job arranging my flights when it became problematic for me to figure it out. Customs can be a pain at times but BWP had a shuttle set up for us to travel from the airport to the hotel. Long drive but really not bad either (good company always makes for a better journey). The Hotel is very nice. Overlooking the harbor, it is within walking distance from some pretty nice dining option and one really nice restaurant. The Hotel itself has convenient options for food as well. Nice Breakfast buffet as well.
We were picked up each morning by a shuttle which took us to the boats each morning. Both BWP and the dive operations went the extra mile to take care of everyone - exceptional service! Longer boat ride out to the park but it was a great part of the experience. Some of the days we would go to beach picnic area managed by the dive shop who also provided a hot lunch which was awesome! The cook really knocked it out of the park in regards to food. By doing so, we reduced or "drive" Time going back and got more dive time as a result.

Diving. The Dive Masters really knew the sites and got us into and out of the water without any issues. The there were four types of dives; Seals, Hammerheads, reef/wreck and Whale sharks. The Seals were incredible! Basically you sit down in the water and they would come to you. Great for photography!!! shallow clear water made for long dive and fantastic interactions.
The Hammerhead dive was dice roll as to interaction but heck we rolled 7's right off the bat. nice if shy schools that were really great blue water dives (this was a better experience than the Molokai Hammerhead dives).
Reef/Wreck dive - I thought they were pretty average - not meaning bad but the other dives were almost all signature dives so it was really tough for them to compete.
The Whale sharks were a great change of pace. Its all shallow snorkeling with a little bit of kicking to keep up. We liked it so much that most of us requested a second day of whale shark diving which was also awesome!

Photo shops - What a great added value with enough oversight to provide a very strong personalized photography coaching environment. I know it certainly improved my skills.

Hints - I found the water a little be cool, so plan accordingly. These will be long dives due to the shallow depth but Wow what a great dive trip!
- I listened to music on the way out and back which made the trips more enjoyable.
- You may want to bring a surface camera the scenically is simply stunning ln these trips.
- I really didn't have much need for Peso's.
- Uber/Lyft are available.
- If you have any issues, let the staff know - they are miracle workers and the sooner they know of an issue the faster it will get resolved.

Visited on 10/2019 - Submitted on 02/13/2020


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