Updated: Jul 10, 2021
With coastline that stretches from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean, and 350 sunny days a year, Los Cabos is Mexico's ultimate seaside escape. It's endless summer at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, and surfers, golfers, divers, and hikers come here for year-round water sports and outdoor activities. The sister towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo offer distinct experiences that range from all-night bar crawls to Thursday night Art Walks. Between them the Corridor presents all-inclusive resorts with everything for the perfect honeymoon or family vacation
EXPLORE LOS CABOS
EXPLORE BAJA CALIFORNIA BEACH TOWNS
The beaches of the northern peninsula are like a dream: fine sand, water that’s refreshing but not too cold, excellent sunshine and, for the surfer, some of the west coast’s top waves. Part of that dream can evaporate, however, when you venture into the beach towns themselves.
More than a few of the stops along Highway 1 have been run down by years of American spring-breakers looking for a good time, and then leaving that good time’s remnants behind. Ensenada is an exception: a charming fisherman’s enclave, something-larger-than-a-village with a village’s sleepy feel, complete with beachside trinket stores and fish taco stands (the town’s beaches, conversely, are nothing special at all). Along this part of the peninsula, towns are close together, and the essentials (gas, food, lodging) are never far.
Click Here to Read about All the Beach Towns.
CABO SAN LUCAS
Cabo San Lucas is in—for its rowdy nightlife, its slew of trendy restaurants, and its lively beaches. The sportfishing fleet is headquartered here, cruise ships anchor off the marina, and there's a massive hotel on every available plot of waterfront turf. A pedestrian walkway lined with restaurants, bars, and shops anchored by the sleek Puerto Paraíso mall curves around Cabo San Lucas harbor, itself packed with yachts.
A five-story hotel complex at the edge of the harbor blocks the water view and sea breezes from the town's side streets, which are filled with a jarring jumble of structures. The most popular restaurants, clubs, and shops are along Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas (the extension of Highway 1 from the Corridor) and Boulevard Marina, paralleling the waterfront. The side streets closest to the marina are clogged with traffic, and their uneven, crumbling sidewalks front tourist traps jammed side by side. At Playa Médano, tanned bodies lie shoulder to shoulder on the sand, with every possible form of entertainment close at hand.
The short Pacific coast beach in downtown San Lucas is more peaceful, though huge hotels have gobbled up much of the sand. An entire new tourism area dubbed Cabo Pacifica by developers has blossomed on the Pacific, west of downtown. There's talk of a new international airport in San Lucas, along with golf courses and more resorts. San Lucas may soon be Mexico's gaudiest tourism capital.
POINTS OF INTEREST
PLAYA DEL AMOR
These days, lovers have little chance of finding much romantic solitude here. The azure cove on the Sea of Cortez at the very tip of the Land's End Peninsula may well be the area's most frequently photographed patch of sand. It's a must-see on every first-timer's list. Water taxis, glass-bottom boats, kayaks, and Jet Skis all make the short trip out from Playa Médano to this small beach, which is backed by cliffs. Snorkeling around the base of these rocks is fun when the water is calm; you may spot striped sergeant majors and iridescent green and blue parrot fish. Seals hang out on the rocks a bit farther out, at the base of "El Arco," Cabo's famed arched landmark. Swimming and snorkeling are best on the Sea of Cortez side of Lover's Beach, where the clear, green, almost luminescent water is unquestionably the nicest in Cabo San Lucas. The Pacific side is too turbulent for swimming but ideal for sunbathing. Vendors are usually present, but it's always best to bring your own snacks and plenty of water. The beach is crowded at times, but most people would agree that it's worth seeing, especially if you're a first-timer. To get here, take a five-minute panga water-taxi ride ($7–$10) or the half-hour glass-bottom boat tour. Opt for the latter if you wish to have some time to photograph the arch from the Pacific-side view. Both boats leave with relative frequency from the Cabo San Lucas marina or Playa Médano. Amenities: None. Best for: swimming; snorkeling; sunrise; sunset.
Pisces Water Sports. Contact Pisces Water Sports for Hobie Cats, parasail, Waverunners, stand up paddle boards, water jetpacks (the latest craze), and ocean kayaks. Playa Médano next to Pueblo Bonito Rosé Hotel, 23410. 624/143–1288. www.piscessportfishing.com.
Foamy plumes of water shoot from Jet Skis and dozens of water taxis buzz through the calm waters off Médano, a 3-km (2-mi) span of grainy tan sand that's always crowded. When cruise ships are in town, it's mobbed. Bars and restaurants line the sand, waiters deliver ice buckets filled with beer to sunbathers in lounge chairs, and vendors offer everything from silver jewelry to hats, T-shirts, and temporary henna tattoos. You can even have your hair braided into tiny cornrows or get a pedicure. Swimming areas are roped off to prevent accidents, and the water is usually calm enough for small children. But be aware: there are quick shoreline drop-offs, so life preservers are a good idea for the little paddlers in your group. Hotels line Médano, which is just north of downtown off Paseo del Pescador. Construction is constant on nearby streets, and parking is virtually impossible. The most popular spot on the beach is around the Baja Cantina Beach Club, where more than half a dozen bar-restaurants have set up beach chairs and tables. This is a hot spot for people-watching (and for singles). For something a bit more tranquil, grab a bite at Casa Dorada Resort's oceanfront restaurant Maydan, which is open to the public. Be prepared to deal with the many crafts vendors cruising the beach. They're generally not pushy, so a simple head shake and "no, gracias" will do. Amenities: Food concession. Best for: partiers; snorkeling; swimming.
Huge waves crash onto the sand on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas. This wide, beautiful beach stretches from Land's End north to the cliffs of El Pedregal, where mansions perch on steep cliffs. Swimming is impossible here because of the dangerous surf and undertow; stick to sunbathing and strolling. From December to March, you can spot gray whales spouting just offshore; dolphins leap above the waves year-round. The beach is at the end of Avenida Solmar off Boulevard Marina—an easy walk from downtown Cabo San Lucas. Five resorts—Solmar, Grand Solmar, Terrasol, Playa Grande, and Sandos Finisterra—are all on this beach, making it easy to stop for a meal if you get hungry. Crowds are minimal, as guests tend to stick to the hotel pools. Amenities: None. Best for: walking; solitude.
LOS CABOS SIDE TRIPS
At the risk of sounding glib, we might suggest that you skip Los Cabos altogether. The highlights of your visit to the far southern tip of the Baja peninsula may include two very un-Cabo-like destinations. One is objectively a small community; the other is actually the region’s largest city, but will always be an overgrown small town at heart.
Their tranquil, reverent names—Todos Santos ("all saints") and La Paz ("peace")—are the first hint that you have left the glitz of Los Cabos behind, and that it’s time to shift gears and enjoy the enchantment of Mexico. As an added bonus, both are positioned in such a way on the peninsula that you can enjoy beautiful sunsets over the sea. (Los Cabos gives you only ocean sunrises.)
The appeal of Todos Santos is becoming more well known, as a growing number of expats—American and European alike—move to the area. There's a lot to love here: the surf on the Pacific, just a couple of miles west of town, is good; weather is always a bit cooler than in Los Cabos; and the lush, leisurely feel of this artsy colonial town—think a smaller version of central Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende—is relatively undisturbed by the many tourists who venture up from Los Cabos for the day. Todos Santos has always been the quintessential Los Cabos day trip, especially for the myriad cruise passengers who call there. As the town’s tourism offerings grow, it's becoming a destination in its own right. Break the typical pattern of day-tripping to Todos Santos and spend at least one night here amid the palms, at one of the pleasant, small inns.
La Paz plants itself firmly on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja peninsula. A couple of hours north of Los Cabos, it remains slightly outside the Cabo orbit, and it has always attracted visitors (and an expanding expat population) who make La Paz their exclusive Baja destination. Of course, 200,000-plus Paceños view their city as being the center of the universe, thank you very much. (La Paz is the capital of the state of Baja California Sur and Los Cabos is in their orbit.) In addition to many urban trappings, La Paz offers a growing number of outdoor-travel options. This city on the water has become all about what’s in the water. Sportfishing and scuba diving are big here, and La Paz is now a major launching point for whale-watching excursions.
EXPLORE LOS CABOS SIDE TRIPS
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