Want to see whales in Los Cabos? Go snorkeling at Santa Maria Beach, Cabo San Lucas. Seriously!
But let’s start this fishy-sounding tale from the beginning…
Santa Maria Beach, Cabo
There’s not a ripple stirring the sea.
The water is so clear, we can spot tiny irridescent blue fish (damselfish?) at least 50 feet away, darting about the reef.
We love scuba diving in Cabo in October when the water is bathtub-warm. But even this December day (winter here, when daytime temps can sometimes be in the low 70s F.), the sea is warm enough for snorkeling.
So that’s what we’re doing – snorkeling in Santa Maria Bay in Cabo. Bumping fins with schools of colorful reef fish, and loving every moment!
Great snorkeling in Cabo
Santa Maria Beach, Cabo San Lucas, is one of the three top places to snorkel in Los Cabos.
The beach (“Playa Santa Maria” in local lingo) is also one of the best beaches in Los Cabos.
Having gone early (around 9:00 a.m.), we almost have the bay to ourselves. And good news, there are palapas that we can plop under for some welcome shade.
The only other souls are a group of Mexican workers raking the sand. The coarse golden beach is pristine – they’re not raking to collect any bits of garbage, but rather to make meticulous patterns of vertical and circular lines in the sand, presumably so snorkelers on the tour boats that will arrive later around 10:00 a.m. will gasp in wonder at this beautiful beach.
Look, there are whales!
Later, drying off in the sun after more than an hour in the water, we spot the whales. They’re about 100 feet away from us on the beach.
At first, we see only plumes of spray.
And then – we see the slick round humps of humpbacks as they swim on the water’s surface.
Admittedly, we’ve seen closer-up views of whales in Cabo on whale watching tours.
But these whales are totally unexpected. And they just keep spouting and finning and showing us a whale of a time. A nice way to finish off a glorious morning of snorkeling…
Snorkeling at Santa Maria Beach your own way
Here’s the key. We didn’t take a tour to go snorkeling at Santa Maria Beach. (If we had, we’d be sharing our views of Captain Nemo with up to 100 other eager snorkelers jumping off their catamaran or sailboat.)
No, if you want pristine conditions, the best way to go snorkeling here is to do it on your own.
Get to the beach early though.
There’s no stopping development, and a new Montage Los Cabos hotel has been built on the shores above the beach. It opened in November, 2018. Some of those hotel guests no doubt will be keen on snorkeling in the bay too.
Facilities on the beach
You can have drinks or lunch at the Montage Los Cabos. Marea, the hotel’s stylish open-air beachfront restaurant, serves fresh seafood, Mexican food and burgers. (You’ll want to wear suitable beach cover-ups for the restaurant.)
Snorkel tour of Santa Maria Bay
We understand, however, if you want to get to Santa Maria Bay by sea. You may not have a rented car, and you may not want to take a taxi or the bus.
We recommend this kayaking-and-snorkeling tour of both Santa Maria and Chileno Bays – we’ve done it and enjoyed it! (The kayaking makes the tour that much more fun.)
Santa Maria Beach, Cabo San Lucas: Map
See below for the location of Santa Maria Bay.
Other Cabo tours
Sometimes it’s nice to pre-book tours so you don’t have to worry about planning what to do when you get there. Here are some other good Cabo tours…
More Cabo water sports inspiration!
Check out these other posts of ours…
Photo credits: 1, 4, 5 and 6 Andrea Norrie, Janice’s sister-in-law