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Insider Guide to Snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas (+ Best Snorkel Tours)

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!

You'll have fun snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas!
You’ll have fun snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas!

Los Cabos, Mexico, snorkeling guide:

Best places to snorkel in Cabo San Lucas

Nearby Cabo Pulmo – One of the best places to snorkel in Mexico!

5 Best tours – Snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas reviews

Best time of year to go snorkeling in Cabo?

Bottom line

What’s snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas like?

snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas
There are lots of fish to see underwater!

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!

snorkeling in cabo san lucas
Come on in! There’s a whole fishy world to see underwater

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.

snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas with a manta ray
A snorkeler views a 7- to 9-foot manta ray (Credit: Eagle Divers)

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

Snorkeling in Los Cabos at Santa Maria Bay
Santa Maria Bay is one of our favorite places to snorkel in Cabo

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.

Snorkeling Los Cabos
At Land’s End, you might see a sea lion underwater!

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

Take a day trip from Cabo and you can have a blast snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo National Park.

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.

Couples paddling green and yellow kayaks in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico
Who’s happy to be kayaking and snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo? (Credit: 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!

Schools of snapper and grunt fish are seen when snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez.
Schools of snapper and grunt fish are seen when snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez

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

Two women sit on a boat, ready to go snorkeling in Los Cabos.
Get ready for some great snorkeling!

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

Couple kayaking in Los Cabos with Cabo Outfitters
Cabo Outfitters combines kayaking with snorkeling on their Three Bay tours (Credit: 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!

Three young woman have fun putting on their snorkeling gear while sitting at the water's edge.
It’s tough sometimes to put your snorkeling gear on! (Credit: Cabo Outfitters)

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

snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas
How about a day sailing trip that includes snorkeling? (Credit: 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.

Two playful sea lions in Cabo San Lucas
These sea lions are feeling playful today – are you? (Credit: Cabo Adventures)

Snorkeling trips include:

Cabo Adventures: See their website for more information

3) Cabo Sailing

Smiling woman lounging on the deck of a Cabo Sailing yacht near Land's End
Sailing and snorkeling go hand-in-hand like tacos and tequila (Credit: 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.

Snorkelers in red life jackets at Pelican Rock, Cabo San Lucas
Snorkeling at Pelican Rock (Credit: Cabo Sailing)

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.

You’re in good hands when you sign up for any of their Cabo snorkeling trips:

Cabo Expeditions: See their website to book a tour

5) EcoCat (Cabo Eco Tours)

snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas
The EcoCat is a a large and comfortable boat for snorkeling in Los Cabos

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?

A woman snorkels in Cabo San Lucas.
We love October for snorkeling in Cabo! The water is really warm then (Credit: Cabo Outfitters)

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!

Experience more of Los Cabos!

Whale watching | Thousands of humpback and other whales migrate to the waters around Cabo between December and April each year. This is the time for whale watching in Cabo!

What about whale sharks? | Yes, you can swim with whale sharks in La Paz (on a day trip).

Airport transfers | Check out the best Cabo airport transfers. We’ve reviewed the top companies, so you can pick the best shared or private shuttle service for you.

Planning your next trip?

See the following helpful services:

Our Travel Resources Guide | Get airline booking tips. Discover great travel, tour and car rental companies. And find crazy useful trip planning info!

Booking.com | Score a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one.

GetYourGuide | Check out the best local guided tours and book skip-the-line tickets to attractions.

World Nomads | Never travel without insurance! World Nomads offers coverage for adventurous travelers under 70 (including for surfing, scuba diving and bungee jumping).

Our Travel Shop | Find the best travel gear. We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.

CDC | We follow CDC travel guidelines to see what medications and vaccines are needed for trips. You can get vaccines at your pharmacy, travel medical clinic or doctor’s office.

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Snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas

Photo credits: 2, 3, 5, 9 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


About the authors:

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Lisa

Thursday 30th of January 2020

Please don't ever take bread - or anything else - to feed the fish!

I suspect from the pics (using floating devices to snorkel) that you might not be very experienced in the water so I assume there was no ill intent. But please know feeding the fish is NEVER the right move. You're messing with the eco system and ultimately, killing them and the coral.

Also, let's not now discuss the likelihood that the bread would be in a plastic bag that would likely end up in the ocean....

Other that that.. great resources, here. Thank you!

Janice and George

Thursday 30th of January 2020

Thank you for the information. Never really knew feeding bread to fish isn't good for them or the eco-system!

Oh, and that's not us wearing the floaties :-).