12/31/2013 01:41 pm ET Updated Mar 02, 2014

Savor the Unexpected Pleasures of La Paz, Mexico

When most people think of a Mexican vacation, destinations like Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, Cancun and Acapulco often spring to mind. But there is one special place that has all the amenities and appeal of its larger brethren without any of the commercial and touristy downsides. For sheer relaxation and beauty, La Paz is the ultimate vacation destination.

Nestled by a placid bay on the Sea of Cortez, La Paz Mexico earns its sobriquet of "peace." With pristine beaches and a placid climate, La Paz is a tranquil, easy-to-enjoy tourist attraction. The port city is an ideal destination for all kinds of visitors. Its natural landscapes, mountains, deserts and waters are the dream of every adventurer who enjoys camping, diving, sport fishing and extreme sports. La Paz is definitely a location that offers first-class services without losing the charm of a small city.

Still largely undiscovered, the area's superb beaches and pristine bays can be enjoyed in blissful solitude. Scuba diving and snorkeling are a must in crystal-blue waters that famed oceanographer Jacque Cousteau once dubbed, "the aquarium of the world." Fun Baja offers the ultimate sea or land excursions with snorkeling and scuba diving trips, excursions to the islands of the Sea of Cortez, whale watching, camping, kayaking and land tours of the highest quality. Take the opportunity to swim with sea lions, whale sharks and the wide variety of marine life that inhabits the sea. Fun Baja also offers combination scuba camping trips and scuba certification programs for every level of diver from beginner through advanced.

La Paz has something to suit everyone's idea of adventure. Sailors can enjoy sailing, yachting or sport fishing, with the possible added attraction of spotting some of the majestic blue whales or humpback whales which migrate here each year for the abundant feeding grounds. Land-lovers might head out for a day of hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding in the nearby deserts or Sierra de La Laguna Mountains. Soak in the wonder of the area's natural landscape on a cactus tour, or revel in the area's long history on a cultural tour. If shopping has more appeal, check out the waterfront boardwalk to search for traditional Mexican folk art, black pottery from Oaxaca, and woven wall hangings.

Visitors can surround themselves in the lap of luxury while staying at CostaBaja, La Paz's five-star resort community. Situated on 550 acres of environmentally protected coastal lands overlooking the Sea of Cortez, CostaBaja is a residential, master-planned community that features state-of-the-art amenities such as a Gary Player Signature Golf Course, hotel, beach club, marina and luxury treatments at the Espiritu Spa.

Four gourmet restaurants offer dining delicacies to please every palate. Try Steinbeck's, a unique open-air restaurant named after Pulitzer Prize-winning author, John Steinbeck who was inspired by La Paz and the Sea of Cortez, for fresh fish, smoked chicken, and steak. Azul Marino boasts fresh world-class seafood served indoors or outdoors in a serene waterfront setting. Odayaka offers both traditional sushi and tasty culinary creations, while La Barcaccia is the choice for fine Italian food.

La Paz has only 220,000 residents, but feels like a well-preserved small town with a provincial atmosphere. The favorite stroll of tourists and locals alike is the Malecón. In addition to providing an extraordinary view of the bay and the spectacular sunsets, there are hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants, stores, and ice cream parlors galore. A sculpture tour embellishes and completes the setting. From awe-inspiring sunsets to the starry skies in the mountains, from adventure to luxury, La Paz is the destination of dreams.

PHOTO CREDIT:La Paz Tourism Board