So you’re jetting off to Los Cabos for a beach holiday. Lucky you!
The weather is typically very reliable from October to May (warm and sunny), making this desert-meets-the-sea resort destination in Mexico ideal for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts.
Best things to do in Los Cabos on the beach and in the water
Here in this handy Los Cabos travel guide, we set out the best things to do in Los Cabos if you love the beach and water activities. (That’s us!)
We’ve enjoyed all of the following water-based adventures several times and can personally recommend them. (We joke that we’ve visited Los Cabos so many times over the years that it’s become almost like our second home. We even wrote the top-selling iPhone travel app on Cabo covering all these activities and more! That app isn’t supported anymore though.)
So what will you find right here below? Our insider information on the following, updated and waiting for you to take advantage of:
- Water taxi to Land’s End
- Whale watching
- Sunset cruises
- Scuba diving
- Swimming with whale sharks
This is an epic post, folks, so feel free to scroll down quickly to what you want to read in particular…
Okay, let’s dive in!
1. Hit the beach!
Aaaah! The beach. The reason why you’ve come to Cabo… (“Cabo” is the nickname used to refer to both Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas, the main town in the Los Cabos area.)
Los Cabos is blessed with superb beaches.
Many are red-flagged as non-swimmable, however, because of strong waves and undertows – so be sure you heed the warnings! (Each year, someone dies on these unsafe beaches.) In particular, beaches on the Pacific side of Cabo town are too dangerous for swimming – but the collision of blue ocean and long, wide stretches of white gold sand is scenically stunning!
This is THE beach in Cabo! A two-mile expanse of coarse golden sand stretching from the marina in Cabo San Lucas, Medano Beach is the best place to swim in Cabo. The tequila-clear water is usually calm, with very little surf.
Not surprisingly, this beach is also the most popular.
Several luxury hotel, timeshare and villa resorts have staked out prime real estate here (including two lovely Pueblo Bonito resorts), and restaurant-bars galore (known for their all-day happy hours) are squeezed in beside parasailing, jet ski, boogie boarding and kayak rental shacks.
Water taxi boats also pick up and drop off their bikini- and shorts-clad guests on Medano Beach.
For people-watching and good times, plunk yourself down at a table in the sand and order a 2-for-1 margarita or beer. Chairs at some bars are like short loungers, so you can even work on your tan at the same time.
And don’t forget to check what the beach vendors are selling! Silver jewelry, colorful Mexican blankets, hats, beach cover-ups… Have fun bargaining!
Tip: Most of the action happens closer to the Cabo San Lucas marina. To escape the blare of music and/or for fewer crowds, head further up along the beach towards Tabasco Beach Bar & Restaurant.
It’s not exactly an undiscovered secret cove. But for a couple of hours, it’s worth shaking out your towel on Lover’s Beach at the tip of Land’s End. Striking rock formations tower above on either side, and if you walk all the way out across the golden sand behind, you hit Divorce Beach.
Part of the fun is getting here – you need to take a water taxi boat (or kayak or SUP over from Medano Beach) to set foot on Lover’s Beach.
Tip: Wear your bathing suit. There are no change facilities or bathrooms. And don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen and water, as there is no shade.
No one really knows why it’s named Divorce Beach. The locals joke it’s the rough seas encountered here. Whatever, it contrasts nicely with the calmer waters of Lover’s Beach across the other side of the sand.
A world away from happening Medano Beach, secluded Divorce Beach is ideal for quiet sunbathing and relaxing. But don’t be foolish and try to swim. The strong rip tides and crashing waves make swimming extremely dangerous (rogue waves have been known to sweep people out).
Go snorkeling in Los Cabos with the right attitude, and you’ll have fun.
The reefs are more rocky protrusions, rather than the colorful corals of the Caribbean or the Red Sea. And the fish variety is not as diverse as in Hawaii or Thailand.
But take a baggie of bread with you when you go snorkeling, and the fish will be all over you.
Where to snorkel?
The three best places to snorkel in Los Cabos are:
- Santa Maria Bay
- Chileno Beach
- Land’s End
Santa Maria Bay:
Protected from ocean swells, the water is usually calm at Santa Maria Bay. We haven’t spied Captain Nemo here, but clouds of other candy-colored fish are plentiful at this lovely scallop-shaped bay. This spot is on most snorkeling tour boat circuits, but do-it-yourselfers who want to be independent and avoid the snorkeling crowds can also get to Santa Maria Beach by car or bus.
This clean, coarse, golden-sand beach is great for both beaching and snorkeling. The public beach offers clean toilets, showers and even a life guard. It’s also on the snorkeling tour boat circuit, so it’s better to get there earlier in the morning than later. Bring an umbrella, snacks and water, as there are no vendors on the beach.
Pelican Rock at Land’s End:
Pelicans love to roost on Pelican Rock (and they have a tendency to poo all over it). But there’s good snorkeling under the water here. The water is clear, and as well as lots of reef fish, you may spot sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sea stars, crabs and sting rays.
Snorkeling tour operators:
We’ve gone on great snorkeling tours with these operators:
- Day Sail Cabo – classy sailing and snorkeling experience (maximum 12 guests) with “Captain Bob” on a beautiful 52-foot sloop
- Cabo Outfitters – fun, nature-oriented, half-day snorkeling tours by kayak
- EcoCat – huge sailing catamaran that takes you to Land’s End and Santa Maria Bay
- EcoToo – action-packed tour by high-speed Zodiac to all three snorkeling spots (Land’s End, Santa Maria Bay and Chileno Beach)
- Cabo Expeditions – snorkeling at Land’s End in clear-bottom kayaks; also beach-hopper snorkeling tours via air-conditioned van
- Cabo Adventures – choose from a sailing or Zodiac-type tour to Land’s End, with snorkeling thrown in
Best time of year to snorkel?
The water temperature is the warmest between October and early December (and the visibility is better too). From January to May, you may find the water a tad chilly for snorkeling unless you have a thin wetsuit.
3. Take a water taxi to Land’s End
In Cabo, you can’t help but notice the magnificent natural rock formations jutting out into the sea. That’s Land’s End, at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula.
And one of the best ways to see Cabo’s signature landmark is by taking a water taxi.
These small wooden boats (some with glass-bottoms) shuttle back and forth between the marina, Lover’s Beach (and Land’s End) and Medano Beach.
BTW: We took the photo of the famous rock Arch at Land’s End, shown at the beginning of this post, a few years ago when shifting sands created a beach and you could walk through the Arch. There’s no beach there today, but you never know, with changing sea and weather conditions, a beach could form there again in future!
What you see:
As you pass Lover’s Beach, you get gob-smacking views of the Arch (“El Arco”) – the famous 200-foot rock arch that looks like a donkey drinking from the ocean. Steller sea lions bask in the sun on a cluster of large nearby rocks and play in the surge. You can smell their strong ammonia stench and hear them barking too. And you’re sure to see pelicans hovering about the lime-splattered Pelican Rock.
Have your camera ready!
What you get:
Typically, the boats take you on a 30- to 45-minute, mini-sightseeing cruise around Land’s End to Divorce Beach, then drop you off at Lover’s Beach. You agree on a pre-arranged time for the boat to pick you up from the beach and take you back to the marina (or Medano Beach).
The price is good – between $10 and $12 per person.
Note: There are no docks at Lover’s Beach or Medano Beach, so it can be tricky getting in and out of the boat. As the boat rides in on the crest of a wave, you have to jump into the water and wade ashore. A local is usually on hand to help you in exchange for a small tip. But you likely will get wet!
4. Whale watching
Whale watching is hugly popular between December and April, when gray and humpback whales migrate to the warm waters off Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
See them up close on a whale watching tour. For adrenalin thrills, go on a high-speed Zodiac. Or if you want something more stable, choose a tour aboard a big catamaran.
5. Sunset cruises
There’s no better way to take in Cabo’s stunning sunsets than out on the water on a sunset cruise.
You might have seen Land’s End by day, but it’s a whole other experience when the sun starts to drop below the horizon. The golden light shimmers on the water and a fiery glow outlines the stark rocky cliffs. Then when the night turns dusky black, the twinkling lights of Cabo are so romantic, you can’t help but hug the person beside you.
Most cruises are between two and three hours long and offer drinks and appies. Some offer dinner too.
We’ve been on the Rissalena a couple of times; Laura (the owner/manager) does an excellent job taking guests on a sunset dinner cruise on a custom-designed power catamaran.
The size is just right for an intimate experience (maximum 24 guests), and the Rissalena is always spotlessly clean, with white leather banquette seating and additional reclining leather seating areas for couples up front. The music is mellow, perhaps opera in the background as the sun sets. (This isn’t a party boat!) And dinner is surprisingly very good (considering you’re on a boat) – home-made finger lickin’ barbecued ribs or chicken, healthy fresh salad, guacamole, fresh fruit, etc.
This is a premium experience and one that consistently gets top reviews year after year, for good reason.
See the sun set from your own private sailboat (well, your own sailboat for a couple of hours at least). Cabo Sails offers private charters for two to 20 guests on a selection of sailboats ranging in length from 28 to 44 feet. On the 44-foot Espiritu Santi, we lolled about like Romans on plump big cushions scattered on the deck of the bow, as we sipped wine and nibbled on fresh veggies and chicken taquitos. Pretty decadent!
If you’re looking for a party cruise, pick Pez Gato (some of the cruise lines book their shore excursions with Pez Gato). It’s fun, reputable and you can’t beat the price. The tour operator has a few different boats, but their “Cabo Booze Cruise” is the one for dancing, drinking, games and high spirits.
Slip on your dancing shoes (blue suede?) for this sunset dinner-and-dancing cruise. It’s not a booze cruise, but a fun 2 ½ hour cruise suitable for couples and families. Bonus: You’re not likely to get seasick on the Cabo Mar – it’s a double-decker catamaran, 65 feet long and 36 feet wide.
6. Scuba diving
You can dive at Land’s End.
But for knock-your-socks-off diving, head to the national marine park of Cabo Pulmo – where the wild things really are (like sharks).
October is an awesome month to go.
(June to November are good for visibility and water temps, but August and September will be hot, humid and sticky above the water. October is just an all-round really good month, weather-wise, for visiting Cabo.)
Get amped on big barrels and pumping wave action! Los Cabos and beyond boasts some rocking surfing beaches.
On the Sea of Cortez side, the waves are largest in spring and summer (March to October). Check out Playa Acapulquito and Playa Costa Azul.
For winter waves, head to Los Cerritos and Pacific-side beaches near Todos Santos.
See free daily Baja Sur surf reports on Surforecast.com.
Outfitters offering surfing lessons and tours include:
- Costa Azul Surf Shop – excellent rental equipment and instructors; they also take small groups on surfing excursions
- High Tide Sea Expeditions – one of the best tour operators, with friendly professional guides who go the extra mile to get you standing up on your surf board
- Mike Doyle’s Surf School – good place to learn to surf; all instructors are certified by the National Surf Schools & Instructors Association (NSSIA)
- Cabo Surfer – a new surfing outfitter based in San Jose del Cabo
For more information on surfing in Los Cabos, check out the Surfers Guide to Cabo 2018 on WaveTribe.
8. Swimming with whale sharks
There are few places in the world where you can swim with endangered whale sharks – La Paz is one of them.
La Paz (which means “peace” in Spanish) is an authentic Mexican town on the east coast of the Baja Peninsula. The drive from Cabo San Lucas takes a little over two hours.
Basically, you go out by boat into the Bay of La Paz. When whale sharks are spotted, you slip into the water wearing snorkeling gear, and watch as the huge gentle fish swim by you.
It’s an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience – and highly recommended if you visit Los Cabos between October and February.
Enjoy Los Cabos!
Whew! You made it to the end of our post on the best things to do in Los Cabos for beach and watersports lovers!
Now all you have to do is pack your bags and go… Enjoy your trip!
Except where noted, most photos are ours and © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase
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