The road to Playa El Saltito is windy and hilly, yet extremely well-maintained, featuring multiple roundabouts, clay-colored stamped concrete, and landscaped medians — it appears to have been built for a hotel that was never built. We’re following the Peters, a cool family from Montana living in La Paz for the school year (their daughter, Ozel, is next to Paheli in the picture above). After pulling off the road, we drive a few kilometers down a dirt/sand driveway to a gate. The guard jots down our license plate number, instructs us to pay the hombre up the path, and then opens the gate. The hombre requires fifty pesos for “dinero por mi cerveza” to pass and then warns us not to park too close to the beach. We park just behind a pair of tracks that appears to have not headed the hombre’s advice. One other family is on the beach.
The beach is on a bight, a slight inward curve on the coast. Boulders, which Everett and Paheli quickly climb to dangerous heights, plummet into the ocean on the right. An abandoned house is on the left. Isla Cerralvo is in front. The golden-hued beach is coarse in parts— microscopic pebbles intermix with the sand — and steep in parts — it drops precipitously just after the turquoise strip of water that highlights the beach. The waves are gentle, and after setting up our spot for the day, and failing for the second day in a row to fully inflate the wind lounger we bought on Amazon on a whim, I hop on my paddle board and proceed to scout snorkeling locations.
Playa El Saltito gets the nod over Playa de Balandra, where we’d visited the day before, for snorkeling. Needlefish and sardines are seen from the shore. King angelfish, sergeant majors, Cortez rainbow fish, and various triggerfish and pufferfish are seen within seconds of diving. And while the coral is sporadic and achromatic, the rock formations are intriguing. It’s in one of those rocks, a hole within the rock actually, that I saw an octopus, for the first ever while snorkeling. I believe it was a just reef octopus, based on the maroon color of its head, but I can’t be certain. It could’ve been a hubbs’ or veligero, according to Google images I checked later that day.
Playa El Saltito is excellent for snorkeling and solitude. We visited on a Sunday and the day before a Mexican holiday, and only a few other families joined us throughout the day. I’m guessing you’d have this beach to yourself most days of the week. However, since we have kids, and since I found Saltito less scenic than Balandra, I’d choose Balandra those other days of the week.