Pichilingue (La Paz), Mexico
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The port of Pichilingue sits just over 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of La Paz, a city of 215,000 on the Baja California Peninsula. The name La Paz translates as "peace," but it is possible that the Spaniards chose that with some sense of irony. The first Spanish conquistadores landed here in 1535, yet it took them nearly 200 years to build the first settlement due to resistance from the indigenous people in the area. Modern La Paz, however, certainly lives up to its name. The capital of Baja California Sur is a friendly, vibrant city nestled into a calm bay along the Sea of Cortez. The palm-lined malecón stretches along the waterfront, perfect for a stroll or bike ride, and the bustling city center boasts broad boulevards where you can shop the wares of artisans at local markets. Whale-watching and fishing expeditions depart from the harbor, or you can choose to go sea kayaking around nearby islands. The Regional Museum of Anthropology and History provides an introduction to the Baja Peninsula, from the prehistoric indigenous cultures who lived here to the state’s role in the Mexican Revolution. The new Whale Museum, opened in 2016, explains the differences between the six whale species that migrate to Mexico’s Pacific Coast every winter.