Cabo San Lucas
We just got back from a week of sunshine and adventure in Cabo, Mexico! Located at the very tip of Baja California, Cabo is a popular resort destination known for its A list celebrities and epic spring break parties.
The city is packed with beautiful beach-side resorts, Mexican restaurants and kitschy souvenir shops and a mecca for adventure travelers who like to snorkel, swim and sail.
In today's travel guide, we're sharing all the best things to do in Cabo!
Where is Cabo Mexico?
One of the things we found confusing was what exactly Cabo referred to. It turns out there are many Cabos:
- There's Cabo San Lucas, where visitors come to enjoy luxury hotels, all night parties or play a round of golf.
- There's San José del Cabo, a charming locals town with little shops, art galleries and pottery studios.
- Finally, there's Los Cabos, the collective name for the entire area which encompasses both of these towns.
Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are just 30 minutes apart but they're almost two completely different places.
If you want to try adventure activities by day and party by night, opt for beachy Cabo San Lucas with its world-famous resorts and vibrant downtown. If you're looking for something more authentically Mexican, choose artsy and quieter San José del Cabo.
If you can't decide, there's an entire strip of resorts in between in ‘The Corridor', so you can hole up at a beautiful hotel and have the flexibility to visit both!
The Best Things to Do in Cabo San Lucas
With its pristine beaches, excellent Baja cuisine and endless activities, it's easy to see why Los Cabo is the fastest growing resort destination in Mexico.
But what can you expect? Well, when Will Smith and Jennifer Aniston rent villas here, they're coming for 100% privacy and pristine infinity pools so think of Cabo as the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation.
You know, the kind you need at the end of a long year when all you want to do is laze by the pool and sip mojitos. Picture checking into all-inclusive luxury resort with a fully stocked in-room minibar, long lunches that bleed into cocktail hour and massages each morning.
Cabo is also the perfect place for adventure and nightlife. With tons of water activities, extreme sports, and bars that seem to never shut down, Cabo can be as active or secluded as you wish.
The one thing Cabo doesn't have? Authentic Mexican culture. But chances are you're not really looking for that if you're coming to Cabo ;)
Here's our complete list of fun things to do in Cabo, Mexico!
1. Arch of Cabo San Lucas
You absolutely can't say you've been to Cabo San Lucas if you forget to visit the Arch!
The famous natural rock formation El Arco marks the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula. Here, the Three Friars land formation divides the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other.
The only way to see the Arch is by boat. You can book anything from a water taxi to a sailboat, but we love the glass bottom boats to see underwater marine life! They're inexpensive and a really unique way to see both above and below the sea! It's also common for sea lions to swim around the area so keep your cameras at the ready.Check rates & availability here.
2. Sail the Baja Peninsula at Sunset
The Baja Peninsula has some of the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets that we've ever seen. The best way to view them is by sailing around the Baja coast at sunset.
We chartered a private sailboat tour that included an open bar, hors d'oeuvres and great music! It was a good 2 hours or so and we got some incredible photos of the sunset!
Sailing is so relaxing and one of the best ways to unwind after a long day.Check rates & availability here.
3. Swim at Chileno Beach
While Los Cabos has beautiful beaches, the unfortunate fact is that most of them are not swimmable. The strong current can render even experienced swimmers helpless.
But luckily, there are a couple of swimmable beaches that also double as great snorkeling. Chileno Beach has shallow, calm waters. Visiting Chileno Beach is easy if you're renting a car as there's plenty of parking.
If you don't have a car, this half day tour is a great alternative. It includes round trip transportation (Cabo taxis are notoriously expensive) and takes you to two beaches: Santa Maria and Chileno Bay!
The tour also includes not only snorkeling equipment but also pretty glass bottom kayaks so you can experience the beauty of both!Check rates & availability here.
4. Sunbathe on Lover's Beach
Right by the Land's End rock formation are two famous beaches. Lover's Beach (Playa del Amor) is on the calmer Sea of Cortez side. It's pristine sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing and people watching.
Divorce Beach (Playa del Divorcio) is on the other side by the Pacific Ocean. It's a great place to watch the sun set but forget about swimming. Strong currents from the Pacific can easily pull you under.
Most boat tours will cruise around the area. If you want to actually get up close, book a snorkeling tour! Our guide led us through a fun snorkeling adventure to see the famous Arch, Lover's Beach and local sea lion colony! If you don't know how to swim, clear bottom kayaks are also available.
Note: There isn't any infrastructure on the beaches and arch. If you book one of the boat tours, typically there's a bathroom on the boat and most tours include lunch.
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5. Go Scuba Diving
Jacques Cousteau once called Los Cabos and the Sea of Cortez as the “aquarium of the world”.
Take a day trip to Cabo Pulmo, a Mexcian National Marine Park, to see its beautiful coral reefs and colorful sea life. There's so much biodiversity here that with just one dive trip, you can see everything from giant manta rays to flying mobula rays to sea lions and humpback whales. Of course, there's plenty of colorful reef fish to see too!
If you're an experienced diver, book a dive package to see it all! Typically it's a half day trip, starting early in the morning. They'll include 2 guided dives as well as a 30 minute scuba refresher if you need it (we always do).
The best part is, you can bring a USB stick and the guide will happily take photos of the group while you dive! It's a nice way to get memories of the experience. Most tours in Cabo have a photographer snapping photos of the group but then they try to upsell you on the photos afterwards. This option is so much better!Check rates & availability here.
6. Ride a Camel through the Baja Desert
The Baja Peninsula has truly beautiful scenery: 30 feet high desert cacti right near crashing ocean waves… and there's no better way to see it all than atop a camel! It's unexpected, but makes for great memories!
We took a day trip to learn about these adorable camels, who have been rescued from circuses all over Mexico. After a short camel ride from the desert to the beach, they included a Mexican lunch of chicken mole, fresh quesadillas and we even learned how to make traditional corn tortillas!
We capped off our day with a fun tequila tasting of 4 different local tequilas! Note: this tour includes lots of fun activities, but personal camera aren't allowed near the camels. If you want photos + drone footage of the camel ride, you'll have to buy their USB.Check rates & availability here.
7. Go Whale Watching
Did you know the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Baja Coast is one of the best places in the world to see whales?
From late December to early April each year, whales migrate to the warm coastal waters to give birth in the shallow lagoons around the Baja Peninsula.
Grey whales are most common, but you can also spot humpback, sperm, blue whales and my favorite – whale sharks!
Whale watching tours are the perfect way to see these magnificent creatures! If you're lucky, one might breach right near your boat. The tour takes you as close as possible through zodiac boats. Guides teach you all about the whales and their habits on the cruise tour, and even let you hear the whales communicating underwater with their hydrophone listening technology!Check rates & availability here.
8. Taste Local Mexican Wines
Before our visit, we had no idea Mexican wines tasted so good!
We opted for a wine tasting experience on the beach at Grand Fiesta Americana. The hotel's on-site spa, SOMMA WineSPA, is one of the few in Mexico to offer wine spa treatments so this is the perfect place to try out local vintages and get a fantastic massage!
When we arrived around 6pm, a semi-circle of chaise chairs had been set facing the ocean, with a giant bonfire lit in the middle. Trained masseuses led us into a grape stomping experience – so fun! We had never done something like that before.
After the grapes had fully detoxed our feet, the masseuse staff gave us incredible foot, calf and head massages that left us utterly relaxed. We toasted to the experience with 3 incredible wine tastings, 2 reds and a white!
9. Sip Mezcal & Tequila
There are tons of Tequila brands in the US but the best, finest tequila isn't the fancy name brand bottles.
Local Mexican families have been perfecting tequila here for ages so there's no better place than Mexico to sip authentic, traditional mezcal!
Pancho's is a popular tequila tasting spot in Cabo San Lucas, but the high end resorts will also offer it as well. We did a phenomenal tasting at Garza Blanca Resort.
Their in-house tequila expert created a tasting of smooth sipping tequilas and also prepared fresh smoothie cocktails as shooters. The fresh fruit and veggie shooters complimented the tequilas and also cleansed our palate between each tasting.
In addition, they explained the manufacturing process and plant origin of each tequila while guiding us through the subtle but complex flavors!
10. Fill Up on Street Tacos
Cabo San Lucas has some great taco spots. After all, it's the original birthplace of the Baja fish taco!
You can't skip out on trying these: fresh tortillas, locally caught fish, lots of crunchy cabbage and cilantro plus a healthy dousing of mayo, chipotle sauce and fresh squeezed lime.
The best taco spots are right on the street, from local vendors. Locals recommend Mariscos Torito and Mariscos Las Tres Islas.
Alternatively, you can sit cliff side at El Farallon, the fancy restaurant inside the Resort at Pedregal, for beautiful views. And well… if you really need it, there's a Taco Bell in downtown too :)
11. Have Dinner on the Beach
The best meal of our trip was right on the beach!
We had a fantastic 3 course meal at Grand Fiesta Americana featuring fresh Baja cuisine paired with locally sourced Mexican wines. The hotel created the most beautiful table setup right on the beach, with music, lighted torches and the sound of the crashing waves as we ate.
They even thoughtfully provided colorful ponchos to keep us warm (it gets slightly chilly at night in early December!) and Alebrijes, local Oaxacan handicrafted animals, to take home as souvenirs.
The dinner was hands down our best throughout our entire trip to Cabo. We had a crunchy, slightly spicy, fresh Michoacan salad with strawberry, amaranth and hibiscus along with a glass of Monte Xanic Sauvignon Blanc, from Vina Kristel, Mexico.
For our main, the chef prepared lobster with crunchy tortilla chips and black bean puree while the sommelier suggested a Casa Madero Chardonnay from Valle de Parras, Mexico.
The best was for last. A row of waiters came down the beach bearing dessert plates that glowed softly purple. They had made caramel soufflés encased in purple sugar floss domes! It was incredible and I say that as someone who doesn't even like caramel. To top everything off, we had a glass of port from Portugal’s Valle del Douro.
If you're looking for something unforgettable or romantic to do in Cabo, make sure to book this at Grand Fiesta Americana!
12. Pamper Yourself at the Spa
With so many 5 star resorts, Los Cabos has plenty of 5 star spas to offer every type of imaginable treatment.
With lots of competition, the spa treatments themselves are phenomenal.
You can literally try it all in Los Cabos! Here are just some of the spa experiences offered:
- wine treatment
- private treatment villas with outdoor showers
- treatments using local ingredients
- massages with semiprecious stones
- spiritual spas
13. Bar Hop Until the Sun Rises
Downtown Cabo San Lucas stays open until 4am each night.
It's one of the best places to party in Mexico with great people watching, dancing on tables, free flowing tequila shots and lots of fun. There's the legendary Cabo Wabo (owned by Sammy Hagar), Senor Frog, Squid Roe and lots more!
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14. Day Trip to Todos Santos
If you have about a week to spend in Cabo and want a change of scenery, check out the sleepy colonial town of Todos Santos.
This artsy, new age town is one of Mexico's best kept secrets and practically the polar opposite of Cabo. Whether you want to take a selfie outside Hotel California, chill at one of the excellent cafes in town, or try some surfing, it's a great place to recuperate!
For visitors without a car, this all day tour includes an English guide, round trip transportation, a guided city tour and free time to visit local blanket weaving factories and coffee bean roasteries.Check rates & availability here.
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15. Visit Charming San Jose del Cabo
San Jose del Cabo is where many of the local Mexicans choose to live.
They prefer this town for its cultural authenticity (which tends to be lacking from Cabo San Lucas' high end resort strip) and it's well known for its art scene!
Take a day trip to browse some local art galleries – Galeria Corsica and La Sacristia Art & History are two of the more famous ones. In the winter, Art Walks are held each night and you can pop into little galleries all evening until 9pm!Check rates & availability here.
16. Try Deep Sea Sport Fishing
Ernest Hemingway and John Wayne put Los Cabos' incredible sport fishing on the map.
Cabo is one of the best fishing destinations in the world, where you can catch massive marlin, sailfish, swordfish, tuna, el dorado… you name it!
In fall, anglers from far and away come to cast their lines at Cabo's fishing tournaments. For the rest of us, fishing charters offer day trips and a local guide for a fun day of serious fishing.Check rates & availability here.
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17. ATV Ride
For our most recent week long visit, some of us tried ATV riding in the desert! It's a half day tour on giant, semi-automatic ATVs and UTVs.
This adrenaline pumping day trip has you go deep into Baja California's various terrains so that you can zoom through every type of off road experience: canyon, rocky, hill, beach, stream! You also get to ride through the Los Cabos Canyon Bridge, the largest hanging wood bridge in the world.
The experience includes round trip transportation, a full face helmet and goggles, as well as a training introduction and test circuit ride. Everyone in our group loved the activity ha!Check rates & availability here.
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18. Go Golfing
Cabo San Lucas features 7 of the best golf courses in all of Mexico. With multiple layouts, different types of terrain and breathtaking scenery, it's hard to narrow down just one choice!
There's Palmilla Golf Club with three courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Club Campestre San Jose as well as Cabo Real… just to name a few. There are tons of options whether you're a professional or just a passionate golf enthusiast!
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19. Try Flyboarding Into the Air
Looking for a unique watersport?
Cabo San Lucas has some of the most thrilling adventure sports, including flyboarding! Essentially, water jets propel you into the air so you can ‘fly' above the water.
We haven't tried this yet but saw some travelers doing it in the marina and it looked SO fun! Tour packages include 30 minutes of lessons and then 30 minutes of fun on the flyboard.Check rates & availability here.
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20. Horseback Ride on the Beach
There's no better way to enjoy beautiful Cabo San Lucas than on a horse! Lots of hotels will have local vendors offering horseback riding along the beach strip.
Or, you can book a tour to horseback ride through Baja's outback to explore both the desert and the Pacific coast landscapes. From towering cacti, through barren desert and then along crashing waves, a horseback ride is a pretty picturesque way to experience Cabo.
Horses are available for all different ability levels too!Check rates & availability here.
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Surfing is great all year round in Cabo! From November to May, serious waves hit the Pacific coast while from May to November, the Sea of Cortez is peak surf season.
There are 3 main surfing areas in Cabo:
- East Cape
- Todos Santos
We've heard Todos Santos has challenging waves so serious surfers should love that area!
Planning a Trip to Cabo
The Baja Peninsula is just 3 hours from Los Angeles and 6 hours from New York, making it popular with Americans of all locations, ages and preferences.
We chose to explore Cabo San Lucas, but if you have more time, it's a good idea to rent a car and explore the entire Peninsula. There's Todos Santos on the Pacific Ocean, La Paz up north and the newly developing Costa Palmas on Baja's East Cape.
Note that transportation can be quite expensive in Cabo. One way fare from Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) to San Lucas costs at least $50-100. We booked ours in advance before arriving, to avoid the overzealous taxi vendors at the airport.
Where to Stay in Cabo
There are tons of fantastic hotel options in the Los Cabos region! Personally, we recommend staying in the Corridor, the stretch of Highway 1 that links Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
The Corridor is home to luxury resorts as well as the area's swimmable beaches (the rest of Cabo has quite strong currents so swimming isn't advised).
Here are 3 recommendations for great places to stay in Cabo:
1 | Paradisus Los Cabos – If you want an all inclusive hotel, this luxury option is fantastic. Beautiful decor, 7 restaurants, 2 bars and even a swimmable beach on site mean you really never have to leave.
We opted for the Royal Service rooms, which have ocean views, complimentary room service, fully stocked mini and snack bars, and even a personal butler to cater to your ever whim. Highly recommend!
2 | Garza Blanca Los Cabos – If you don't love all inclusives, this brand new hotel (opened December 2018) is perfect since it offers both all inclusive and European plans.
The 2 room suites are perfect for families, since they have 3 beds and 3 full bathrooms, plus a fully equipped kitchen, washer dryer and even self heating toilets! We ate dinner here as well and loved it.
3 | Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos – A great budget friendly option located right in downtown Cabo San Lucas. If you want to be in the center of the marina, nightlife and shopping, Fiesta Americana is a great choice. It's also all inclusive with lots of swimming pools and beautiful ocean views.
Best Time to Visit Cabo
Cabo San Lucas is perfect to visit all year round. The Pacific breeze means the peninsula rarely gets too hot so there's great flexibility.
We visited in early December and found cool temperatures, sunny days and barely any crowds. In fact, our flight in was nearly empty! We can't remember the last time we haven't been jammed like sardines on an airplane.
Some great times to visit Cabo (or times to avoid Cabo, depending on your preference), include:
- March – April: Cabo goes wild during Spring Break. Hotels are packed, night clubs are booming and everyone is in the mood for fun!
- May: Shoulder season! Winter crowds are long gone but the summer season hasn't kicked off year. This is a great time to visit for a bargain, as hotel and tours can offer better rates.
- June – September: Summer season is in full swing. Lots of domestic tourists visit in addition to families on summer holiday.
- October – November: If you like sport fishing, this is a great time to visit Baja California, as the fishing tournaments happen one after the other. A number of fun Mexican festivals will also occur in the fall, like Baja Sur Tequila and the Mariachi Festival
- December – February: Everyone heads down to Cabo to avoid the winter blues. Enjoy amazing sunshine but also expect higher rates.
And that's it! Our travel guide for Cabo, Mexico. What will you do first?
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Our trip to Cabo was hosted the Los Cabos tourism board, as part a campaign we worked on for Travelocity's website. Neither brand have asked us to write this article – we simply loved the destination and wanted to share some planning trips for anyone also considering a trip to visit Cabo.