Things to do in Cabo San Lucas

The beckoning sea and the captivating desert beg exploration. There is never a shortage of fun things to do in Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

 

Things to do in Cabo San Lucas
Baja Natural - Outdoor Activities

Few places on earth make it easier to get natural. If your idea of heaven is outdoor sports and activities, this diverse and exciting playground will leave you literally breathless. At the tip of the Baja California peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is home to El Arco (the arch), a modern marina, and Playa El Medano—the bustling HQ of fun. The scenic Tourist Corridor is eighteen miles of jewel-toned bays, sun-swept shores, and fantastic snorkel and dive sites. Gateway to ranch country and the Sierra de La Laguna, colonial San Jose del Cabo provides miles of backcountry roads, trails and secret springs to explore. Further northeast along the Sea of Cortés, the East Cape calls with solitary sands and the only living coral reef on Mexico’s Northwestern Pacific coast at Cabo Pulmo. It may take several trips to discover all of the things to do in Cabo San Lucas and the Los Cabos area of Baja California Sur, Mexico.

 

On the Water - Kayaking
Ideally suited to the Sea of Cortés and simple to master, lightweight sit-on-top kayaks are efficient and streamlined. Easy to launch in the gentle onshore surf at Medano Beach, try kayaking over to Lover’s Beach across the bay. (If you’re not in shape be forewarned, it’s farther than it looks). For less traffic and terrific kayaking, try Chileno in the Tourist Corridor; or arrange a tailor-made excursion around the area—a Cabo Pulmo daytrip with snorkeling or diving and lunch on the beach is pure pleasure for all ages and activity levels. Depending on where you kayak, you may see spotted eagle and bat rays, multi-hued schools of fish, sea lions, pelicans, sea turtles, and pods of dolphins. There's a chance you will paddle near humpback and gray whales that hit town from January through March, getting more oohs and ahs from onlookers than celebs at El Squid Roe. Grays can alter their buoyancy, drifting upwards for a zoom-in shot—bringing you eye to eye with 40-odd feet of curiosity. Further afield and blissfully pristine, the tranquil waters off the capital city of La Paz are waiting for discovery. Kayaking further north along the Sea of Cortés from Loreto to Mulegé is outstanding; and for the highly adventurous, sea kayak expeditions ply the open, endless carpet of azure Pacific Ocean coast.

Making Waves at Medano Beach
Water sports were forever changed when Kawasaki invented the Jet Ski watercraft. Exciting and highly addictive for thrill seekers, rent Jet Skis, Sea Doos, and Yamaha Wave Runners all along Medano Beach (and at Cabo Real in the Tourist Corridor). For self-propelled waves, try boogie or paddle boarding. On windier days, Hobie Cats and small sailboats are easy to maneuver around the faster vessels in the busy bay. The best view of Land’s End? Wave at the crowds while parasailing from a 600-foot rope towed by a speedboat, attached to an enormous vividly-colored parachute of course. It's fun, easy, safe, and inexpensive, considering the memorable views. Arrange a ride from several operators on the beach.

Boat Cruises
For a sensory nautical treat, cruising the Sea of Cortés is not to be missed. This is truly what Cabo San Lucas is all about. If you’ve been a landlubber far too long, spend the day or early evening on a snorkel or sunset cruise. Los Cabos has an excellent selection and variety of boats. Two hour sunset tours cruise out to Land’s End, bringing you close in for a bird’s eye view of El Arco, captivating Lover’s Beach, and the sea lion colony. Depending on the cruise, you may head out into the open ocean for a panoramic look back on Cabo San Lucas Bay, or go up the Pacific side as far as El Faro Viejo, the old lighthouse. Tours leave an hour before sunset and vary in price depending on the boat and amenities. Generally, you will be offered a minimum of beer, sodas, bottled water, and margaritas.

Some companies offer both a party boat and a romantic alternative for sunset cruising. If you’re not into the “Girls Gone Wild” party scene, make sure to specify when you reserve. Check out the family-friendly 50-foot La Princesa catamaran fleet. The 42-footers of the Pez Gato catamarans are the best known and offer cruises suitable for singles and families. Cabo Discovery Cruises (Adventure Island) a triple deck trimaran is another fun option.

If you prefer a larger vessel or want dinner or snacks on board, there’s the Oceanus, a fun double decked yacht; and the Sunrider, an elegant option with full open bar and all-you-can-eat Mexican Buffet for not much more than the regular “booze cruises.” The 144-foot, 400 to 600 passenger CaboRey is a tri-level, climate-controlled catamaran dinner cruiser, the largest in North America. Sunset cruising on this impressive vessel includes fine dining, open bar, a torrid tango floorshow, and a Gaucho boleadora and malambo de bombos act that will have you yelling, “Encore!” Cabo Rey also has a snorkel tour. Built right here in Cabo San Lucas, the CaboRey is worth the ride.


From the late 1500s to the early 1800s, the waters around Los Cabos hid pirate ships waiting to plunder Spanish galleons traveling from Manila to Acapulco. Set sail on the thrilling Sunderland tall ship built in 1885, complete with working cannons like the pirate ships of old, or take the Buccaneer Queen replica—both feature day and sunset adventures for mates of all ages. All sunset cruises can be booked through hotel concierges, activity centers, or tour companies. Wear sturdy shoes, bring a jacket, and don’t forget your camera.

For day excursions, boats cruise from the marina up the coast to Bahia Santa Maria and Bahia Chileno. Almost all of the vessels offering sunset cruises feature three or four hour snorkel, and whale watching tours (January through March), with a minimum of gear and refreshments, most departing mid morning. Cabo Expeditions operates 24-foot Zodiacs, refitted for snorkeling, whale watching and dramatic rides through breakers on to sandy beaches. Zodiacs are stable, with powerful twin outboards, operated by captains trained at Sea World of California who deliver a fascinating commentary throughout the trip. You’ll learn about endangered sea turtle habitats and the complex and unique Sea of Cortés ecosystem. During whale season, a specially designed listening device is lowered overboard to hear whales communicating from the deep. For families and the less adventurous, The Fondo de Cristales (glass-bottom boats) take you on a leisurely trip from the marina out to and around Land's End.

Snorkeling and Diving

If you think Los Cabos scenery is stunning, wait until you see it from the bottom up. In Cabo San Lucas, underwater beauty is close by and experiencing it is easy to arrange. A protected marine sanctuary, Cabo San Lucas Bay shelters schools of tropical fish, sea lions, and exotic marine life. Spear fishing, collecting, or fishing is illegal but exploring has no limits. Try a two-hour guided snorkeling tour; or rent gear at dive shops around the marina and take a water-taxi to Lover’s Beach, near El Arco, to swim, snorkel, dive, and watch the sea lions. Snorkel tours also leave from Playa El Médano across the bay; or book through your hotel's activities desk. The bay side of the arch area is a prime location for SCUBA diving with visibility from 30 to 60 feet in winter and spring to over 80 to 90 feet from July to November. For the less experienced, try Pelican Rock, Neptune's Finger, and the Sea Lion Colony. Advanced divers shouldn’t miss the stunning and challenging Abyss (Middle Wall); or the Sandfalls, a 90-foot dive documented by the late Jacques Yves Cousteau, which begins at Pelican Rock then drops to an incredible 1,200 feet. Cabo Acuadeportes (no longer in operation), Land's End Divers, Ocean SCUBA Cabo, Underwater Diversions, Tio Sports, and Nomadas de Baja are a few reputable and experienced shops who can take you there, and to other dive sites.

Cabo Dolphins - Opening December 2005. Swim with the Dolphins in Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. If you've ever dreamed of swimming with dolphins, here's your chance to turn your dreams into reality.

Midway through the Tourist Corridor, Bahía Santa María and Bahía Chileno are standouts and rank as two of the most beautiful and popular locations for diving and snorkeling on Mexico’s west coast. There are no services at Santa Maria’s heavenly beach—best to take a snorkel cruise out of the San Lucas marina or book a dive excursion to nearby sites. Close by, Bahia Chileno is an easily accessed wide bay with an excellent beach, very good morning snorkeling, and dive sites offshore on the reef. An added bonus here is a dive shop with gear and non-motorized water sports rentals. Don’t miss the Blowhole, a 40 to 100-foot dive down the backside of a rock wall covered with gorgonians (sea fans). Guitarfish, small nurse sharks, eels, and rays (and if you’re lucky, sea turtles) are the stars on this dive, 10 minutes from Santa María or Chileno.

Northeast of San Jose del Cabo, a coastline famed for endless vistas leads to Punta Gorda and exciting diving for experts at Gordo Banks. Eight miles offshore the summit lies at 110 to 140 feet, with rays, game fish, whale sharks, and the occasional hammerhead the main attractions. Cabo Pulmo, near La Ribera, is a wide, open bay with an eight-fingered live coral reef system within a protected marine park. Unlike many others throughout the world, Pulmo is still in a relatively healthy state but threatened by onshore development. Depths range from 15 to 35 feet at Las Navajas and El Cantil, to 50 to 100 feet at Outer Pulmo Reef, La Esperanza, and El Bajo. With half a dozen reef sites, and the El Vencedor tuna boat wreck, Pulmo is a must for any avid diver. The variety of marine life is outstanding. Tio Sports and Nomadas de Baja specialize in Cabo Pulmo trips from Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

Whale Watching

From January through March, it’s easy to spot a gray or humpback whale around Los Cabos without even trying. Making the longest migration of any mammal, grays travel 6,000 miles from the Bering Sea to calve in the buoyant shallow lagoons of San Ignacio, Scammon’s, Ojo de Liebre, and Magdalena Bay, all north of Los Cabos. Some travel further south to the Sea of Cortés. Ranging from 40 to 50 feet long and weighing up to 73,000 pounds, grays are classified as Cetacea, marine mammals that include whales, porpoises and dolphins and belong to Mysticeti, one of the three families of great baleen whales. Shore loving grays are the only whale to bottom feed. With long snouts and double blowholes on top of their heads, grays have a hump with dorsal ridges running to their flukes (tail) in place of a dorsal fin. While the gray whale is not the only species you will see (humpback, blue, sperm, Bryde’s, sei, fin, and the occasional orca travel these waters), along with the playful humpback it is the most commonly sighted around Los Cabos. On a whale watching excursion, you’ll see spouting, breaching (leaping almost completely out of the water and falling back with a large splash), and sounding (showing their flukes), all spectacular sights. To watch mothers and calves up close, trips to Magdalena Bay, the closest lagoon, are best made with daytrip fly-in tours. Aéreo Calafia runs trips during the season, an experience no whale lover should miss.


Into the Desert

Back on land, ATVs are available almost everywhere ranging from professional, well-maintained fleets to operators on shoestring budgets. Stick with a reputable company that doesn’t depend on public roads. In Cabo San Lucas, guided tours to the Pacific Ocean coast and into the desert run mornings and late afternoons. (ATVs weaken our fragile ecosystem and are illegal on Los Cabos beaches, no matter what you are told.) In the Tourist Corridor, Desert Park ATV Tours at the Cabo Real Resort makes an amazing 25-mile journey through the resort's ecological reserve, a network of connecting trails along arroyos (dry riverbeds), rugged hillsides, and narrow canyons. Speeds are kept low with many stops to savor the Sea of Cortés views and gorgeous countryside. This is a fantastic way to experience the desert ecosystem and learn more about the local history and flora and fauna of Los Cabos. In San Jose del Cabo, ATV tours operate around San José and the East Cape with coast and desert excursions.

If doing something totally exhilarating is on your list, off-road enthusiasts can rip it up at Wide Open Baja, in an authentic Chenowth racecar. In a 1,500-acre private facility 25 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas, you too can white knuckle it on a 3.4-mile test drive. The $225 U.S. three-hour extreme adventure includes round trip air-conditioned transportation, safety orientation, two training laps with instructors trained by Ryan Thomas, a Baja 1000 champion, plus laps on your own. If you’ve ever dreamed of racing in the Baja 1000, test your mettle here. You’ll do five laps on a heart-pounding, adrenaline pumping course through twisting turns, heart-stopping jumps, and distracting ocean views. The thrill of off-road racing in a safe environment can be yours, just a few miles away from downtown. If you just can’t get enough off-road, take a four-day tour from Cabo San Lucas to Mulegé (with return air transportation) or a weeklong round trip adventure from Ensenada to San Felipe and back.

If you prefer to cruise on four legs not wheels, horses seem to materialize just when you need them. Gallop through the surf or take a backcountry trail ride. Rentals are at Rancho Collins by the Hotel Meliá San Lucas; at Cabo Real; and next to the Presidente Inter-Continental in San Jose del Cabo.

Jeep tours are a way to get into the bush without breaking a sweat. Small groups will find several tours around Los Cabos, into the mountains and through small ranch and farming communities still living off the land frontier-style. Larger groups can tailor excursions through destination management companies. Several outfitters offer hiking, climbing, and rappelling, at the smooth cliffs of Land’s End or to the Sierra de La Laguna, and other less-challenging areas. Mountain biking and natural history tours lead you over old ranch roads and mountain trails, and into the East Cape backcountry. See diverse desert flora, birds of prey, Xantus hummingbirds (indigenous to the peninsula), jackrabbits, roadrunners, coyotes, fox, burros, and the ubiquitous zopilote, otherwise known as the turkey vulture. Popular daytrips are to hot and cold springs near Santiago, a small historic village an hour north of San Jose del Cabo. These are fairly easy uphill hikes through massive boulders and rock formations. Your reward is pools of clear water perfect for a dip and sunbathing.

While the charms of a luxury hotel may keep you by the pool, should you decide to leave your resort you’ll find an amazing array of activities steps from your door. So go on, discover things to do in Cabo San Lucas and Los Cabos, and see how easy it is to “get natural.”

Los Cabos Magazine article by Sabrina Lear - Issue #9 - July 2004.


 
   

 

 

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