Go snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas with the right attitude, and you’ll have fun!
Over the countless visits we’ve made to Los Cabos, we’ve gone snorkeling many times and enjoyed many Cabo snorkeling tours.
Indeed, snorkeling is one of our favorite activities in Cabo San Lucas!
What’s snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas like?
When comparing the snorkeling to other tropical places we’ve explored around the world, we’d say the reefs around this popular Mexican beach destination are more rocky protrusions, rather than the colorful corals of the Caribbean, the Red Sea or Indonesia.
And depending on when and where you go, the fish sometimes aren’t as plentiful or diverse as in other popular vacation destinations like, say, Hawaii or Thailand.
But there are still lots of colorful critters to see underwater in Cabo.
And if you take a baggie of bread with you when you go snorkeling, the fish will be all over you!
Where to go snorkeling in Los Cabos?
By way of background, Los Cabos is the whole resort area at the tip of Mexico’s state of Baja California Sur (in the southern part of the Baja California Peninsula).
Technically, it encompasses the town of Cabo San Lucas (once nothing more than a small fishing village), the town of San Jose del Cabo and the 20-mile Tourist Corridor stretching between the two towns.
“Cabo” is the nick-name often given to both Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas.
It’s sandwiched between the beautiful waters of the Sea of Cortez on one side – which Jacques Cousteau once called “the world’s aquarium” because of its variety of sea life – and the deep blue Pacific Ocean on the other.
This guide is about the best snorkeling in Cabo, i.e., the whole area. When we refer to “Cabo San Lucas snorkeling,” we’re using the term loosely and are actually referring to the whole area.
Okay, the three best places to snorkel in Cabo San Lucas (and beyond) are:
- Santa Maria Cove
- Chileno Beach
- Land’s End
1) Santa Maria Bay
Protected from ocean swells, Santa Maria Beach (Playa Santa Maria) is one of the best snorkeling beaches in Cabo San Lucas, and the water is usually calm.
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 Los Cabos snorkeling tours.
But do-it-yourselfers who want to be independent and avoid the snorkeling crowds can also get to Santa Maria Bay by car or bus.
Read our post: Here’s all you need to know about snorkeling at Santa Maria Bay
2) Chileno Beach
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.
Chileno Bay is also on the snorkeling tour boat circuit, so it’s better to get there earlier in the morning than later, if visiting on your own.
Tip: Bring snacks and water, as there are no vendors on the beach.
Recommended reading: Discover the 12 best beaches in Cabo San Lucas
3) Land’s End
Land’s End is comprised of dramatic rock formations erupting from the sea at the very tip of Cabo.
It’s home to a sea lion colony – the barking blubber lumps bask out on the rocks in the sun. Pelicans also love to roost on Pelican Rock (and they have a tendency to poo all over it).
Under the water, there’s great snorkeling near the famous rock Arch (El Arco) and around Pelican Rock.
The pristine water is clear, and as well as lots of reef fish, you may spot sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sea stars, crabs and stingrays.
Another snorkeling site at Land’s End is the tall rocky pinnacle of Neptune’s Finger. It rises up out of the sea between the Arch and Lover’s Beach.
There are usually lots of colorful tropical fish here too.
Read next: There’s some great scuba diving in Los Cabos too!
Cabo Pulmo: Best snorkeling near Cabo San Lucas
It’s located about a 2-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas.
Established by the Mexican government as a protected marine park in 1995, Cabo Pulmo’s coral reef is home to not just some of the best snorkeling near Cabo, but also some of the absolute best scuba diving and snorkeling in Mexico!
We’re particularly partial to this kayak and snorkel adventure tour offered by Cabo Outfitters.
You paddle out to La Sirenita Beach and see a remote colony of sea lions before hopping into the water to snorkel.
Get up-close-and-personal with giant groupers, eels, schools of snapper and other sea life. Chances are good that you’ll spy sea turtles and rays too!
After several hours exploring the reef and different snorkeling spots, you’re taken to a local eatery for a delicious Mexican lunch (fresh shrimp tacos, anyone?), before being transported back to your Cabo resort.
Conditions in Cabo Pulmo are at their best from October to early December – with calm waters that are warm and balmy (especially in October).
5 Best Cabo snorkeling tours
The following five tour operators offer great snorkeling tours in Cabo San Lucas.
We’ve gone with all of them.
Most snorkel tours depart from the Cabo San Lucas Marina.
1) Cabo Outfitters
As well as their Cabo Pulmo kayaking and snorkeling tours, Cabo Outfitters offers fun nature-oriented tours in Cabo too.
Kayaking and snorkeling Santa Maria and Chileno:
In winter (December to March), their best tour for kayaking and snorkeling in Los Cabos is the “Three Bay Tour.”
It starts at Twin Dolphin Bay. You then paddle to Santa Maria Beach and haul out at Chileno Beach. Snorkeling is enjoyed at two of the bays – Santa Maria and Chileno.
Paddling along the craggy granite cliffs between these Corridor beaches gives you a different perspective of Cabo – it’s quiet!
It’s just you and the sun-kissed turquoise sea, with only the occasional seabird swirling and squawking above you.
(Okay, there’s your guide, and your paddling partner too if you’re in a double kayak, and the others on your tour, though you usually can’t hear them… But you get the point, right?)
The kayaking isn’t strenuous. In fact, the distance paddled is fairly short.
And at both Santa Maria Bay and Chileno, it’s easy to paddle into shore and hop out.
The hard part is donning snorkeling gear so you can find the fish that swim among the reef and rocks!
Your expert guides carry your snorkel gear with them in their kayaks, and at the beaches, they typically pull out umbrellas for shade, snacks and drinks.
After snorkeling at Chileno, you’re driven back to your hotel.
Cabo Outfitters: Book their Cabo kayaking and snorkeling tour (Santa Maria Bay and Chileno Bay)
Kayaking and snorkeling the Arch and Lover’s Beach:
Cabo Outfitters also offers a popular kayaking and snorkeling tour along Land’s End, where you get to paddle past the Arch and snorkel around Neptune’s Finger.
It includes roundtrip transportation from your hotel.
Cabo Outfitters: Book their Land’s End kayaking and snorkeling adventure
2) Cabo Adventures
Cabo Adventures is a leading adventure tour operator that runs many safe exciting tours in Cabo – often with an eco-learning bent.
It’s a good combination – gain an understanding of the Baja environment, and have fun too.
Snorkeling trips include:
- Zodiac-type tours to Land’s End, with snorkeling (using motorized sea scooters), stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking included in the mix
- Snorkeling with sea lions at Espiritu Santo Island near La Paz on a yacht cruise
- Snorkeling expeditions to Cabo Pulmo
- Sailing cruises with snorkeling (and lunch)
Cabo Adventures: See their website for more information
3) Cabo Sailing
You could choose one of the big boats which jam in up to 40 people or more.
But for a classy sailing and snorkeling experience, we like Cabo Sailing. They offer both private and shared snorkeling trips.
Their fleet has a number of different sailing vessels. Shared trips are booked on either a 38-foot sailing yacht (maximum 12 guests) or a 42-foot sailing vessel (maximum 14 guests).
Cruise past Lover’s Beach then anchor at Land’s End to snorkel around Pelican Rock.
After you’ve had your fill of snorkeling with clouds of yellow tang, butterfly fish and stately parrot fish, the sails are hoisted and your yacht catches the wind for sailing along the Cabo San Lucas coastline.
While this isn’t a booze cruise, the unlimited bar is open.
Kick back with a glass of chilled white wine, vodka cocktail or a freshly-made margarita as you soak up the scenery and feel the breeze in your hair. Perhaps spot humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins.
You’re also served a light lunch of chips and salsa, fresh baguette sandwiches, Mexican fruit and dessert on this deluxe Cabo San Lucas snorkeling tour.
Everything is included on their 3-hour tours, from snorkeling equipment and towels to lunch and premium alcohol (even free wetsuits in winter).
Cabo Sailing: Book this luxury sailing and snorkeling cruise
4) Cabo Expeditions
We found this adventure tour company to be highly professional and safety conscious.
Guides love what they do and respect the natural environment.
In business for more than 15 years, Cabo Expeditions wants you to have the time of your life – and feel that you’ve gotten one step closer to nature.
5) EcoCat (Cabo Eco Tours)
If you’re prone to seasickness, the 2-level EcoCat is a good choice.
Offering afternoon snorkeling tours to Santa Maria Bay, it’s the most stable boat – Cabo’s longest (at 100 feet) and widest (at 50 feet) catamaran.
Sit inside the huge air-conditioned salon with big windows or up on the bridge deck on lounge chairs. Or sun yourself on the giant trampoline up front.
There’s plenty of room for the 150 people she can carry.
Beer, sodas and margaritas are included in the open bar on this Cabo snorkeling cruise. A full BBQ meal can be purchased as an extra. Wetsuits and towels can be rented.
EcoCat: See their website for booking details
Best time of year to snorkel Cabo San Lucas?
October is a particularly terrific month for snorkeling Cabo San Lucas. November is also a great time for snorkelers and scuba divers.
The water temperature is the warmest between October and early December (and the visibility is better too).
Summer in Cabo is also a good time for snorkeling and other watersports.
From January to May, you may find the water a tad chilly for snorkeling unless you have a thin wetsuit.
A month-by-month look at the weather and activities: Check out our post on the best time to visit Los Cabos, depending on what you want to do
Cabo San Lucas snorkeling bottom line?
As you’ve probably deduced by now, you really can’t visit Cabo and not go snorkeling.
In summer, fall and right though to early December, you’ll bask in warm waters. In winter, you may get to view whales too on your snorkeling adventure.
So don your mask and snorkel, slip on your fins, slide into the sea – and check out all the fun sea creatures and marine life just waiting to entertain you underwater!
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Photo credits: 2, 3, 5, 9 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase