Three massive, artistic manta rays decorated one wall. Vases and dishes sat haphazardly on tables; wicker balls and shells rested in them. Candles in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors adorned end tables and shelves. They weren’t yet lit—light still came through the large open windows, reflecting off the Sea of Cortez and into the lobby. Books by John Steinbeck in English and Spanish translations were lined up along the top of one of the tables. In one corner was a small, unobtrusive desk with a single hotel employee, checking guests in with a smile.
In my room, I passed by the oversized shower and made-up bed and stepped out onto the balcony, taking in the view of the pool and marina. I sidestepped the small table and two chairs, opting instead to stand so that I could get the widest peripheral view. A single employee skimmed the pool, which was fringed with palm trees. Beyond that were more buildings—condos, I later learned—and beyond those was a beach and then the water.
To the left were a few other buildings belonging to the CostaBaja community, then expanses of desert vegetation along a road that led around the bay to La Paz. To the right was a marina, a parking lot of sorts for a variety of different boats owned by expats and locals.
The sun was full and heavy, threatening to fall at any moment behind the horizon line. I grabbed my camera and left my bag unopened on my bed.
CostaBaja Resort and Spa is not intuitively laid out and making my way to the pool or fitness center or the beach was not a simple task. I found myself winding my way down unsuspecting hallways and between buildings with unmarked sidewalks. The property was void of people except for a middle-aged man throwing a ball for his two dogs. I walked and wandered, intrigued by this Frank Lloyd Wright-esque property, which was built strategically into the land in layers and pieces without emphasis on any one component. On many other properties, the beachfront, pools and restaurants are highlighted; here they were just a part of the landscape.
Sliding between two of the condos, I found the beach.
I had naively done an impressive lack of research prior to flying into La Paz, Mexico, and was woefully unaware of the area’s ecosystem. Standing on the coarse sand, I was forced to reevaluate my preconceived notions of what beachfront property in Mexico looks like. There were a few palapas but not a single beach chair or rainbow-colored umbrella. Seashells were replaced with clumps of seaweed washed ashore. Instead of seagulls there were pelicans and small wading birds. No heavy humidity sat on my shoulders. Baja California is arid with dust, cacti, palm trees and desert vegetation. No other person was on the beach.
The sky turned a dusty rose with burnt orange edges. A single fishing boat with three passengers pulled in the last lines of the day. A paddle boarder passed by silently, riding parallel to the shore. The pelicans took off—silhouettes in the waning sunlight—and dove back into the water.
I capped the lens of my camera and stood for a moment. CostaBaja Resort, tucked back from the beach, was a part of the scene but not intruding in it. This moment was about the birds and the boat, the sand and the sunset, the piece of Mexico that people pass by on their way to somewhere more fitting for clichés.
Located at Carretera A Pichilingue K.M 7.5, La Paz, Baja California Sur | Company website
My stay at CostaBaja Resort and Spa was paid for by the Mexico Tourism Board but all opinions are my own.