Things to Do in Baja California Sur
Nature has carved some amazing formations at Los Cabos, and El Arco is perhaps the most famous.
A signature icon of Los Cabos, the limestone arch carved by time, tide and wind runs down to the water’s edge and into the sea. From a distance the formation looks for all the world like a dragon, and up close the arch frames sky, sea and sand for picture-perfect photos.
Take a cruise by day or sunset for views of El Arco from the water, and look out for sea lions basking on the shore.
Playa del Amor - or Lover's Beach - is a true hidden gem, nestled amongst the craggy rocks of Land’s End. Reached only by boat, this perfect crescent of sand is surrounded by rocky outcrops, including views of El Arco.
The secluded location is a romantic destination for a day by the sea, the lovely stretch of sand extending across the Land’s End peninsula from the Sea of Cortes to the Pacific Ocean. The water here is dangerous, so take care if you go for a swim or snorkel, and only enter the water on the Sea of Cortes side of the beach.
The Bahia de Cabo San Lucas is the cape’s hub for water sports and beach activities. Rent jet skis and kayaks at Medano Beach, or hang out at the resorts lining the long stretch of sand overlooking the bay.
Take an underwater snorkel tour of the bay and nearby Sea of Cortez, or go diving off the Chileno reef or Cabo Pulmo Marine Park. There are charter boats for sports fishing in the world’s marlin capital, or more gentle cruising in a glass-bottom boat on the bay at sunset. For youngsters, what could be better than a cruise aboard a pirate buccaneer’s cruise, me hearties.
Love it, hate it—or can’t remember it—there’s no denying that Cabo San Lucas is a town that’s fueled by fun. Partygoers flock to the oceanfront beach bars and resorts all lining the strip, and carry the party deep into the night at the thumping downtown discotecs. Anglers spend the day slathering on sunscreen and listening for zinging reels, as they troll the waters for trophy fish that leap from the cobalt sea. On the outskirts of town, surfers race across peeling waves from Zippers to Todos Santos, and snorkelers explore the rocky reefs of Playa Santa Maria. At Land’s End—where the 1,100 long Baja Peninsula finally submits to the sea—stand on the sands of “Lover’s Beach,” where jagged rocks embrace a cove that’s completely hidden from view. Watch as sea lions splash on the rocks and tour boats cruise the “tip,” and head back towards town for an afternoon meal of seafood served on the sand.
Even though this spot is named for the pelicans that clumsily land on the rocks, it’s the animals and action beneath the water that warrant all the attention. Here, at this protected swimming spot by “Lover’s Beach” and the famous rocks of “El Arco,” snorkelers, swimmers, scuba divers, and cliff jumpers all play together in the tropical sun outside of Cabo San Lucas. The rock is popular with Los Cabos snorkeling tours, and snorkelers have the chance to see frogfish, goatfish, lobsters, nudibranchs and even some white tipped sharks. Strap on a tank and head 60 feet down to find schools of silvery jacks, or climb up 15 feet up the side of the rock before splashing in the waters below. A small, protected section of shoreline is exclusively reserved for swimming, and colonies of sea lions bark and lounge on the craggy rocks offshore.
The water may be wild elsewhere, but at Medano Beach - or Playa el Medano - there’s miles of safe, calm swimming and beach fun for all the family. Los Cabo’s most popular beach is a long, long stretch of beach towels, sun umbrellas, beach volleyball, pleasure boats and beach bars. Resorts and high-rise apartment buildings line the sands, offering beachfront restaurants and bars. Beach vendors stroll the sands selling everything from sombreros to jewelry, and when the sun goes down the beach turns into Los Cabo’s nightlife hub.
Secluded, sandy, sunny, and serene, Santa Maria Beach is one of the nicest beaches in all of Los Cabos. If beachfront bars with thumping music are the Cabo scene you’re hoping for, then it’s best to stay back in Cabo San Lucas within walking distance of the resorts. If, on the other hand, an isolated beach without any resorts is what you had in mind—where snorkeling with schools of colorful fish is just a short swim from the sand—then load up the car, pack some sunscreen, and make the short drive to Santa Maria Beach for a dose of Baja tranquility.
This horseshoe shaped bay is a darling of snorkel cruises that ply the Los Cabos coast, but it’s also accessible as a short drive via a well-marked stop off the road. The middle of the week has fewer crowds, and mornings offer better conditions and calmer waters for snorkeling. For what it boasts in beauty, however, it definitely lacks in shade, so consider packing a beach umbrella to provide an escape from the sun.
One of the premier beaches in the Cabo San Lucas area, Chileno Beach offers sun-seekers unrivaled beauty, deep seclusion, and some excellent snorkeling opportunities. Protected by the Chileno Bay, the waters here are calm, warm, and clear, and the reefs that lie just offshore act as home to an abundance of sea-life. It’s no wonder that Chileno beach is one of Cabo’s most celebrated treasures, as a visit to the beach here is close to what you get in the rich Caribbean.
Chileno beach is a popular stop for those looking to do a bit of underwater exploration or to laze on the sunny shores of this secluded escape. Still, there are few accommodations to be found here (bathrooms aside), so if you’re planning on making the trek to Chileno Beach yourself, it’s best to bring your food and snorkel gear yourself, unless you’ve planned to take a tour of the area.
More Things to Do in Baja California Sur
Cabo San Lucas finds itself on all cruise lines, making their way along the Mexican Rivera and Sea of Cortez. It has also garnered a reputation for being an American ex-pat party hot spot. This is THE place to do your duty-free shopping and pick up vacation trinkets and souvenirs. Outside of downtown’s party atmosphere, Los Cabos offers tranquil scenery and exotic adventure opportunities.
Downtown Cabo is a pleasant ten-minute beachside walk from the marina. The town itself is very walkable, however taxis are readily available by the terminal. Several international car rental agencies have offices in town, if you feel like getting out and exploring beyond the coast.
Los Cabos is known as a great locale to get your water sport on! Try the Sailing and snorkeling cruise through the famous rock formations and see some remote beaches. Or, get up close with the abundant and diverse tropical ocean ecosystem in a Two-tank scuba dive.
Cabo is known for its pristine beaches, but if you’ve come to this seaside town looking for an outdoor adventure, you won’t be disappointed. Poised on the cape of the Baja California at precisely 23.5 degrees latitude, the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range is the rugged escape for those visiting Cabo San Lucas and looking to explore the great outdoors. See the surrounding landscape and explore the area’s granite peaks and oak and pine forests; this Baja Californian mountain range offers a wealth of hiking, backpacking, canyoneering, climbing, and bouldering to satisfy even the most ardent outdoorsman. A variation from the quiet beaches of Cabo, the Tropic of Cancer literally dissects the Sierra de la Laguna range and so though tropical, the elevation keeps the climate relatively cool – and that makes for great for outdoor fun.
This iconic Catholic Church located in the heart of Cabo was founded in 1730. Its brilliant white bell towers and striking interior pay homage to the life and death of Jesuit priest, Nicolas Tamaral, who was martyred on the site where this building now stands. The church remains a destination for travelers seeking an escape from the festive city streets and sandy stretches of scenic beach. Those looking for a taste of history can learn about the destruction that took place during a major hurricane in the early 1900s and see what remains or the original walls, mosaics and façade on a tour of the church.
The two towns that make up “Los Cabos” are fraternal—not identical—twins. They both have long, sandy beaches with crystalline turquoise waters, and they both offer a luxurious escape on the Baja Peninsula’s tip. Whereas Cabo San Lucas is a wild, however, and teems with non-stop partying, San Jose del Cabo is more than happy to drift at a slower pace. Here, 20 miles east of Cabo San Lucas on the road heading towards Los Barrilles, colonial architecture and lazy afternoons replace the thump of beach clubs.
That said, San Jose del Cabo is anything but lazy; grab a snorkel and head north to Cabo Pulmo to explore Baja’s only coral reef, or wax up your surfboard to race along of the numerous world-class waves. The fishing here in San Jose del Cabo is as legendary as Cabo San Lucas, with the main difference being celebrating the catch in Colonial Plaza Mijares—rather than a crowded, oceanfront bar full of travelers all ready to party.
This stunning sanctuary located between San Jose del Cabo and the Marina is home to hundreds of species of indigenous birds and colorful wildlife. Nature lovers flock to this protected body of fresh water for sunrise kayak journeys and relaxing sunset hikes. It’s popular among birdwatchers, thanks to a peaceful habitat that attracts these wild winged creatures. Travelers say that although damage from the most recent hurricane is still apparent, the San Juan Estuary remains an impressive and worthy destination for visitors looking to escape back into nature and experience the beauty of Mexico. Lucky travelers may spot local fishermen returning with the day’s catch or giant turtles wandering along the shores where strong waves lap the sand.
For the best paddling and swimming beach north of Medano, head to Los Cabo San José and Playa Palmilla. Known for its family-friendly, calm swimming waters, Palmilla Beach - or Playa Palmilla - stretches in front of the exclusive One & Only resort. Thatched huts provide shade, and the long stretch of sand is ideal for strolling and beachcombing. Dive into the water to snorkel offshore, or find a secluded stretch of sand to call your own.
The Baja coast peters out at Land’s End - or Finisterra - in the most scenic way imaginable, with tranquil beaches nestled among the craggy white rocks that jut out to sea. Seek out the stretch of sand known as Lover’s Beach at Land’s End, only reached by boat. Look out for the amazing rock formation El Arco, running into the sea in spectacular fashion.
The best way to see Land’s End is from the water, so take a cruise from Cabo San Lucas for views of El Arco and sea lions basking on the shore. The water here is too dangerous for swimming, so bring your camera instead of your swimming costume.
The untouched shores of Balandra Beach are, without a doubt, some La Paz’s most beautiful. With warm waters sheltered from the Pacific Ocean and a sandbar that stretches from one side of the bay to the other, it’s the perfect beach for swimming and wading in calm, crystal clear waters.
Because locals have worked tirelessly to prevent commercial development from ruining the natural beauty of this protected area, travelers will find few amenities on Balandra Beach. There are no accommodations, restaurants or other services here. And while this may mean visitors have to carry enough food, water and supplies for a day at the beach, it also means travelers will get to experience the breathtaking white sand wonder of one of La Paz’s last untouched beaches.
Strap on your diving gear to enter the magical underwater world of Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. Dotted in the waters is a heady mix of wreck diving, reef snorkeling and scuba-diving on hard coral reefs. Hire a kayak to paddle from reef to reef, launch a boat to sail off into the sunset, or say hello to the sea lions living off the cape.
The long narrow island of Isla Espiritu Santo is a destination for travelers looking to experience some of the best of Mexico’s outdoors. This divers’ paradise is home to famous shipwrecks and underwater ruins like President Coolidge, the largest accessible wreck in the world. This popular underwater site is only for experienced divers, since its large size and complicated passages make it a challenge for novices to navigate. Nearby Million Dollar Point, filled with sunken ships and discarded military aircraft, is perfect for newbie divers who still want access to interesting wreckage.
Land-loving travelers will find plenty to do on Isla Espiritu Santo, too. Whether it’s exploring bat-filled Millennium Cave, spending a few days trekking from Luganville or relaxing on the shores of beautiful Champagne Beach, there are options for just about every kind of adventurer here.
Tucked away in the sandy scrubland of Baja California you’ll find Los Cabos’ only professional equestrian center, Cuadra San Francisco. A five-star horse ranch and stable yard, this is where visitors the world over come to live out their horse-filled fantasies of exploring the beautiful Baja countryside. This horseback riding ranch is sure to bring out your inner cowboy. Ride over the beach at low tide, or explore the desert sagebrush while learning about Los Cabos’ flora and fauna - all while having a quintessential Cabo moment. Known for their “dancing horses,” if you find time to visit Cuadra San Francisco, you won’t be disappointed - this is Cabo’s preeminent stable ranch.
Cabo San Lucas’ famous landscape is easily recognized by anyone who’s gotten a chance to visit this majestic beachfront. Rugged, windswept arches dot the coastline, but these beautiful testaments to what Mother Nature can do are more than just pretty rocks – they mark the spot for some of the best diving in Cabo. Just look to the arch that stands by the head of the harbor and you’re well on your way to some beautiful underwater exploration. This spot is known as Sand Falls.
Discovered by famed underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, Sand Falls is one of the beautiful phenomena of nature where forces conspire to make for a remarkable, one-of-a-kind spot. Where the steep rocky shoreline meets the continual runoff of sand, divers at Sand Falls enjoy a peaceful scene of time’s relentless ebb and flow. While literally floating in the warm water, you’ll watch the continual runoff of sand into the deep and bountiful sea.
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