Easy to reach by air yet a long drive to the very bottom of Baja California peninsula are two of Mexico's most visited destinations: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
These two medium sized cities probably ring a bell, and rightfully so. Cabo San Lucas beaches are sought yearly by almost two million visitors, and with no shortage of activities for any kind of traveler the number is only increasing.
With warm Cabo San Lucas weather, friendly locals and some of the most fresh seafood anywhere in North America, Cabo San Lucas beaches and the surrounding areas a great destination for everyone.
In this post I break down for you what every Cabo San Lucas beach is like, where to swim or not, facilities you may find, and provide a comprehensive guide of the area you can use to plan your Los Cabos vacation.
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What to Expect When Visiting Los Cabos
You may be wondering where is Cabo San Lucas. Los Cabos is the name of a municipality that encompasses much of the extreme southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Sur peninsula.
Once a backwater of fishing villages and surf hamlets, the Mexican government first began to develop the region as a tourism hub in the late 20th Century.
Today, Los Cabos is easily one of northern Mexico’s most popular international tourist destinations. Its close proximity to the US and competitive accommodation prices means Los Cabos has garnered a bit of a reputation as a party hotspot.
Indeed, it can be; if you’re looking for a wild weekend of drinks and beaches, then a Los Cabos vacation passes with flying colors.
However, there’s more to this beautiful corner of Mexico than just binge drinking and wasted gringo college students, as you will have access to amazing Cabo adventures and excursions.
Los Cabos boasts some amazing wildlife and adventure tourism opportunities, not to mention plenty of family-friendly resorts that are perfect for a decadent vacation.
Is Cabo safe? Generally speaking, yes. Just take the typical precautions you'd take anywhere and you will be fine.
Further reading: interesting facts of Mexico
Guide of Cabo San Lucas Beaches
When you visit Cabo, you must visit its stunning beaches. Not only is there a plethora of top-quality hotels scattered along the beach, but there are also a variety of activities, from snorkeling to surfing.
The beaches of Cabo are some of Mexico’s most sought-after beaches, and you will not leave disappointed.
However, do note that Cabo San Lucas swimming safety is not the best as many of the beaches- if not most- have strong riptides and a dangerous shorebreak, making all these Cabo beaches unswimmable.
So, what are the best beaches in Cabo San Lucas?
The symbol of Cabo San Lucas, El Arco is, as its name suggests, an impressive rock arch formation just off the coast. Head down to the Playa del Amor, then walk towards the nearby Playa del Divorcio.
Just between these two beaches, you should see El Arco rising out of the water just off the coast. It’s a nice spot at sunset, though if you want a closer look day tours are available.
These tours take visitors right up to the rock formations via water taxi, where you can get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife. Sea lions are commonly seen lazing on the rocks, and the kids will love it.
Bear in mind, however, that the waters around El Arco and the stretch of shoreline between the Amor and Divorcio beaches are not suitable for safe swimming. In case you're doubting this statement just watch this video.
Playa del Amor
Playa del Amor ( Lovers Beach Cabo ) draws visitors by the dozens with its stunning views and smooth sands. During peak season, you’d better arrive early and stake your claim, as the shoreline fills up fast.
Some travelers have also reported issues with irritating flies, so be sure to pack insect repellent.
The beach is perfectly suitable for children, though be warned: despite it being one of the best beaches in Los Cabos only swim on the Bahia de Cabo San Lucas.
As previously mentioned, the stretch of San Lucas beaches in the direction of El Arco isn’t safe for swimming due to rough waters.
Easily the most popular beach in town, Playa Medano – or Medano Beach Cabo – fills up even faster than the nearby Playa del Amor. It’s certainly one of the most unmissable of Cabo San Lucas attractions, with its great vibe and plethora of beach-side activities.
Along with the ubiquitous cocktail bars that line the beach, there’s also volleyball, jet ski and kayaking facilities. It’s also possible to catch water taxis from here to El Arco.
Unlike Playa del Amor, Medano is completely safe and one of the best Cabo beaches to swim in, and tourists consistently report the waters to be surprisingly clean given the number of visitors.
The only one issue is that some travelers have complained of the occasional sticky vendor trying to sell souvenirs.
Playa Santa Maria
This expansive, horseshoe shaped beach, is a breathtaking spot to spread a beach towel and lather on sunscreen.
The best time for swimming and snorkeling at Santa Maria Beach Cabo is in the morning because boat cruises with large groups of divers and snorkelers usually populate the area in the afternoon.
You should also explore the bay, which overlooks a protected marine sanctuary teeming with colorful sea creatures and plants. If you plan to lounge in the sun, ensure you bring plenty of sunscreen as there are few shaded areas. You can also rent an umbrella, along with snorkeling gear, at the beach’s entrance.
Also plan to bring any food you may need because there are few vendors and restaurants along this Cabo beach.
Chileno Beach Cabo is another wonderful destination for swimming and snorkeling. Chileno Beach is the most popular beach along the coastal corridor because it is surrounded by Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
It is also one of the cleanest beaches in Cabo. In fact, this Los Cabos beach has a Blue Flag certification.
You can be sure to lounge under the shade-giving palapas and take a dip into the pacific ocean’s warm, blue water.
Divorce Beach is great for sunbathing and relaxing, but it is not considered one of Cabo’s swimmable beaches. There are often strong currents, huge crashing waves, and rip tides ,so visitors are cautioned not to swim in these dangerous conditions.
As no life guards oversee this area visitors are safer swimming on the bay side of Lover’s Beach.
Solmar Beach in Cabo San Lucas has expansive stretches of white sand beach. This is also not a swimmable beach as the currents and waves are very strong. The beach, however, is perfect for sunset watching, long walks along the smooth sand, and lovers of whale watching.
If you are looking for calm water and a family friendly beach, Palmilla Beach is the one from you. Here you will be surrounded by luxurious ocean front homes and the world-renowned Jack Nicklaus Ocean Nine golf course.
On weekends, I recommended you arrive early if you plan on snagging a palapa or bring your own umbrella for shade. There are also activities like kayaking, volleyball, and fishing.
When to Visit
Deciding when to visit depends somewhat on your priorities.
If you’re in town for whale watching, then mid-December to March is your safest bet.
Otherwise, May to June is usually considered the ideal time to plan your trip as Los Cabos’ weather can create some amazing bargains. These months fit nicely between the vacation peak season and the worst of summer, when the region usually gets pummeled by storms.
During these months, some all-inclusive resorts in Cabo offer steep discounts, so the savvy traveler can pick up some serious bargains.
Likewise, most tour operators become far more flexible during this period, and prices are always up for negotiation. Even if you do visit during the stormy season, there will still be many things to do in Cabo.
October and November aren’t too bad, though you’ll be well-advised to book ahead, as this period can still be quite busy.
Sports fishers should aim to arrive anytime just after the summer storms, or in early fall.
If you can, try to steer well clear of college vacation time, when spring breakers descend on Los Cabos in full force. Unless you’re a spring breaker yourself, this time of year is arguably the worst time to visit. So stick to off-season trips to Cabo when you can.
For what it's worth we decided to visit Los Cabos the second week of September and were there for 4 days. Plenty of sunshine, our hotel wasn't crowded at all, and generally speaking prices were better than during the winter months. We did get a pm shower one day though.
Cabo San Lucas vs San Jose del Cabo
Your first decision to make when planning a Los Cabos trip is where to stay. The Los Cabos municipality encompasses two main towns: San Lucas and San Jose. Between the two towns, a corridor of resorts runs along the coast.
Unless you’re staying in one of these resorts, odds are you’ll end up in either San Lucas or San Jose. Generally speaking, San Lucas is more geared towards party animals, while San Jose is more laid back.
Regardless of where you stay, however, make sure you visit Los Cabos' many points of interest.
Cabo San Lucas Activities for Families
The better known of the Cabos, San Lucas is a party town at heart. There is no shortage of things to do in San Lucas, and the area is extremely popular among spring breakers.
San Lucas is all about letting loose and having a few too many drinks. Having said that, the town isn’t completely off limits to families. Despite what you may hear, there are in fact plenty of great things to do in Cabos San Lucas with family members of all ages.
Downtown San Lucas area has a number of great beaches, and is an excellent base for adventure tourism in the surrounding area.
Iglesia de San Lucas
The Iglesia de San Lucas is one of Cabo San Lucas’ few historic sites. This 18th Century church has remained largely unchanged since it received a face-lift in the 1800s. Today, it’s the centerpiece of Cabo San Lucas’ main square, which is likewise a pleasant spot for a meal or margarita. Bilingual mass is held on Sunday.
So what other attractions does Cabo San Lucas offer aside from its glamorous beaches? From a vibrant nightlife to a wealth of water activities, you are sure to find something for every member of your party.
El Centro Nightlife
In downtown Cabo San Lucas, the party never ends – and that’s not an exaggeration. During peak season, Cabo San Lucas is a permanent party town, and El Centro is on fire 24 hours a day. Florescent shots of mystery booze flow freely from dusk to dawn, and back to dusk again.
Cabo San Lucas isn’t particularly child friendly once the sun goes down. If you’re visiting Los Cabos with kids you’ll want to get a babysitter for your night on the town. It can be worth the hassle though; nightlife here is, without doubt, one of the most fun things to do in Cabo.
Trying to pick out a few highlights here is no easy task.
Every bar and club packed into El Centro is an adventure in itself, with most offering solid entertainment.
The Cabo Wabo Cantina is arguably the most well known venue in town, and tends to offer some of the best live music in town. Meanwhile, down the street, Happy Ending Bar is a favorite among spring breakers for its dirt cheap drinks and generous servings of local fare. The nearby Giggling Marlin is another popular dive, while El Squid Roe is the place to be for out-of-control dancing. If you’d rather something more luxurious though, try the more relaxed Bar Esquina.
If you’re looking for something to do around Los Cabos with kids, then it’s hard to beat a whale watching tour.
From December to April, whales frequent the waters just off the peninsula, and tours are extremely popular. Be sure to book ahead to avoid missing out. If you can, try to get a tour in January, February or early March, when whale calves are occasionally sighted.
Whale watching is definitely one of the top things to do in Cabos, so do try to get a tour if you arrive in season.
Things to Do in San Jose del Cabo
The quieter of the Cabo siblings, San Jose is a little more refined than the more boisterous San Lucas. Instead of bars and booze, you’ll find more art galleries and hipster seafood restaurants. For families, there’s definitely more things to do in San Jose del Cabo that are child-friendly.
San Jose del Cabo Art Walk
During peak season from November to June, the San Jose del Cabo Art Walk presents some of the best local art each Thursday night. Galleries throughout the art district remain open late as throngs of visitors crawl from gallery to gallery. It’s a great opportunity to see some local talent, and is family friendly.
Frank Arnold Gallery
There’s a lot of great art in San Jose, but the Frank Arnold Gallery is perhaps among the most worthwhile. This house-turned-gallery is loaded with wonderful works by local painter Frank Arnold. His enthusiasm and passion makes visits particularly memorable. The best time to visit is during the San Jose del Cabo Art Walk.
Ivan Guaderrama Art Gallery
In terms of things to do in San Jose del Cabo with kids, this place should be top of the list. This small gallery is full to the brim, and takes a surprisingly long time to get through. It’s also one of the few interactive art galleries in town, and kids will love the hands-on approach.
San Lucas might have the loudest beaches on the peninsula, but that doesn’t mean San Jose doesn’t have its fare share of idyllic shoreline.
Officially known as Costa Azul but referred to by locals simply as the Zippers, San Jose’s best stretch of beach is the perfect spot for a surf. Zippers attracts surfing enthusiasts from all over the world, especially during the annual Los Cabos Open of Surf.
If you didn’t bring your board, then don’t despair: just across from the beach, the Costa Azul Surf Shop offers rentals. There’s likewise no shortage of tour operators offering surf classes throughout San Jose.
Baja Brewing Company
A decade ago, craft beer was virtually unknown in Mexico, but Baja Brewing changed that. Since 2007, this artisan brewing company has been pushing out some of Mexico’s best craft beers.
Along with offering tastings, they also serve great food in their outdoor beer garden.
Don’t miss the pizzas fresh from the wood-fired oven.
The Wirikuta Garden is a 12 acre botanic park loaded with over 1500 varieties of desert plants from all over the world. It’s also home to a collection of sculptures by local artists.
The owner, Juanito, is full of interesting factoids about his botanic collection, and is particularly passionate about cacti.
Come early to beat the sun, and don’t forget to bring along plenty of water.
Iglesia de San Jose del Cabo
San Jose’s main church dates back to the early 1800s, but was heavily damaged during the Mexican Revolution a century later. The current building is the result of a major restoration in the 1940s. It’s one of the more popular historic sites in downtown San Jose. Mass is held in Spanish on Sundays.
This artsy little square is surrounded on all sides by art galleries and souvenir shops. In fact, it’s probably the best place in town to stock up on souvenirs, not to mention a pleasant option for an afternoon stroll.
Around Los Cabos
The countryside around Los Cabos is bursting at the seams with adventure tourism options. With excellent weather and a well-established tourism infrastructure, it’s easy to get around and enjoy all that the peninsula has to offer.
Horse riding is a popular option for day trips into the countryside, while the whole region is renowned for its surf and golfing.
Probably the last thing your kids want to do on vacation, it’s nonetheless worthwhile to try to set aside half a day to take a peek at Cabos’ famed golf courses. T
he region is renowned for boasting some of the world’s best greens, not to mention perfect weather all year round.
Club Campestre San Jose is one of the best known names in town, while Palmilla Golf Club is popular among both pros and tourists alike. Most clubs offer beginner classes.
San Jose Estuary
Just outside San Jose, these wetlands make for some of the region’s best eco-tourism.
The San Jose Estuary is a 2,000 acre freshwater lagoon that draws a wide variety of wildlife, including migratory birds. It’s a bird watcher’s paradise, and a good spot to stretch your legs and enjoy nature.
Tours of the estuary are available from San Jose, though the estuary can be visited for free if you have private transport.
Horseback Riding in Los Cabos
With great weather and striking coastal views, Los Cabos is best explored on horseback. Los Cabos Horses offers tours with equestrian professionals who are both well-trained and very friendly.
English is available. It makes for a great day trip, and one of the best Cabo San Lucas activities for families. Our son Teo loves horses for some reason, and this was his first horse riding experience ever.
I wasn't sure he would last the hour long trip , but he enjoyed every single minute of it with a grin.
Sports fishing has to be one of the best top things to do in Cabo. In particular, this is the place to be if you’ve ever wanted to catch a marlin bigger than you are. There’s plenty of charter operators in both San Lucas and San Jose.
Barely an hour from Cabos San Lucas, a trip to Todos Santos is easily one of the best things to do around Los Cabos – and nobody really knows about it!
That’s right; despite the persistent popularity of Los Cabos, somehow this tiny surf town has managed to keep things surprisingly mellow. There’s a few museums around town, along with a smattering of art galleries and good restaurants around the center of town.
However, the real reason to come here is to escape the crowds and enjoy the picturesque beaches.
Expect to have the place to yourself in low season.
Accommodation in Los Cabos
As a major tourist destination, there’s never any shortage of stunning Cabo San Lucas resorts. From sand-strewn budget hostels to luxury beach side resorts, there is a great variety of Cabo San Lucas hotels for pretty much any budget, as there are in San Jose del Cabo.
Much of the beachline between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo is dotted with resorts. If you're looking for full indulgence, there are plenty of luxury all-inclusive resorts in Cabo, but if you're looking for something mellower, consider San Jose del Cabo or even head off to La Paz, where there are other attractions you shouldn't miss anyhow.
So, what's the best hotel in Cabo San Lucas? This is of course a matter of personal preference, and there is no single one.
In the end chose to stay in San Jose, which is generally cheaper than San Lucas overall. Our pick was Posada Real Los Cabos, a budget friendly beachfront resort with incredible food and a laid back Mexico themed atmosphere.
Posada Real Los Cabos was our Cabo all inclusive hotel during the trip. As you can see from the pictures it is definitely different, with an atypical desert look-a-like courtyard and the beachfront swimming pools.
The beach in front is not one of the swimmable beaches in Cabo, but it is great for walking, horse riding, playing and many other activities.
While the food at the pool snack bar was not very good, the meals served at the main restaurant were all delicious, definitely one of the highlights of the hotel.
Great staff and budget friendly prices make it a fantastic option, and while there are plenty of Cabo resorts you can stay at not many offer as much value for money.You can read my full review here or check prices of hotels here.
Los Cabos Mexico Map
Plan Your Los Cabos Trip
Accommodation in Los Cabos
Flights to Los Cabos
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Rental Cars in Los Cabos
RV Rentals Los Cabos:
Outdoorsy is the largest RV rental marketplace on the planet. They offer ease, flexibility and some unique and cool campervans for your Los Cabos road trip. Find your RV rentals for Los Cabos here.
Tours in Los Cabos
Get Your Guide offers small group tours and activities in Los Cabos including tickets to the popular Oahu attractions.
Los Cabos might be famous for it's wild nightlife and crazy parties, and while this may be true there are many family friendly activities to enjoy during the day.
Perhaps its biggest drawback is that the beach in front of most of the hotels is not open for swimming, but they all have pools to compensate.
Throw in good food and many outdoor activities and you've got a great family friendly vacation to enjoy with your kids in Los Cabos, Mexico.