This may come as a surprise to many, but there are places in Mexico that are safer than being in most locations in the United States. That seems like a bold statement, but the coastal city of La Paz, Mexico is making such a claim.
I was there last fall when they opened the new Gary Player-designed course at the Costa Baja Golf Club and Resort. And except for a slightly harrowing two-and-a-half-hour cab ride from the Los Cabos area up the coast to La Paz on the Sea of Cortez, it all seemed pretty safe. (You can get direct flights to La Paz from Southern California, by the way, which I highly recommend.) In fact, the local tourism board has data that shows La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, is one of the safest cities in all of North America as it develops its tourism industry.
Already, plenty of Americans and Canadians are choosing La Paz for the second or retirement homes as the city announces $1 billion in developments over the next five years. La Paz also launched an awareness campaign, "La Paz: City of Peace and Abundance on the Sea of Cortez," from the Costa Baja Resort in La Paz and La Paz's sister city of Redondo Beach, Calif., in the United States recently, hoping to send the message that while other parts of Mexico are having their problems with violence, the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula isn't one of them.
They point to a study done by the Irvine, Calif.-based research group, Competitive Analytics, which found, according to crime statistics, La Paz (population, 220,000) had the third lowest murder and manslaughter rate among cities between 100,000 and 500,000 in population in 2009, the latest year available for an accurately averaged comparison.
"Those who have had the good fortune of discovering La Paz on their own have found that it offers a rare combination of overwhelming beauty, sense of community and balanced infrastructure," said Agustin Olachea, President of La Paz Tourism Board, and spokesperson for the La Paz Developers Tourism Council. "The awareness campaign ensures that La Paz -- whose name is literally 'Peace' in Spanish -- is recognized as one of the world’s most safe and secure cities."
Safe is great, but even better are the recreational opportunities in La Paz. The area is ripe with boating, fishing and whale watching, and the golf scene is emerging as well. Besides the very playable and scenic Costa Baja Golf Club, which has more than a dozen holes with ocean views, there's also the Arthur Hills-designed Paraiso del Mar in La Paz as well as a dozen or so more excellent golf courses in the Los Cabos area.
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