Los Cabos is Mexico’s fastest growing tourist hub, with Cabo San Lucas its cherished crescendo. With near-perfect, year-round weather, chic accommodations and a plethora of activities, it’s easy to see why.
Whether you’ve just booked your trip and are planning your getaway or are still looking for a place to go, our guide to the top things to do in Cabo San Lucas should more than help.
1. Visit El Arco & Land’s End
There’s a reason why seeing the Cape’s iconic arch up close is atop everyone’s list of things to do in Cabo. From the moment you step onto the beach, you just want to get there. The very tip of the Baja Peninsula is punctuated by stunning rock formations like El Arco, Pelican Rock, The Window to the Pacific, and finally, Land’s End, separating the Sea of Cortez from the Pacific Ocean.
While a water-taxi (panga) offers the easiest way of getting out to these natural wonders, renting a sea kayak to paddle out is even better. You’ll know you’re near when you see the sea lion colony that call the rocks home. Paddle past the lounging beasts and pull your kayak up onto Lover’s Beach and enjoy.
2. Explore Lover’s Beach & Divorce Beach
A stroll between the two quickly explains why they are called so. Lover’s Beach is a quiet, picturesque cove, protected from the smashing surf by El Arco. It’s a great place for a relaxing dip or snorkel, a lounge in the sun and even a picnic, and is the opposite of the larger Divorce Beach just steps away.
There are no rocks to shelter Divorce Beach from the elements. Its windward position makes for treacherous currents and pounding surf, and like a rocky marriage, swimming off this delightful stretch of sand can easily lead to a break-up (of your body!), or worse. Still, it’s a lovely place to relax and to snap some great pictures!
3. Chill on Playa Chileno & Playa Medano
As beautiful as the beaches around Los Cabos are, many are unswimmable due to riptides and undertows and are marked accordingly, but a couple of nearby beaches are perfect for a safe splash or a leisurely snorkel, even for the little ones.
Playa Medano is the closest swimming beach to downtown Cabo San Lucas. Lined with beachfront hotels and resorts, bars and restaurants, it is always a busy spot offering parasailing, jet-skiing and water-taxis, no matter the season. It can get quite rowdy at times, too, mostly due to its perfect location.
Playa Chileno is a quick 15-minute drive east from Cabo, popular with families of both locals and tourists. It has been declared one of the cleanest beaches in all of Mexico and its calm waves make for perfect swimming and snorkelling, but bring your own gear!
4. Fish for Record Marlin & Sailfish
You are in angling heaven in Los Cabos, where marlin and sailfish grow to record size, and a day out on the water trolling for the sportiest of sportfish makes for an action-packed day whether the fish are biting or not.
The sportfishing industry opened up Los Cabos to tourism, holding the world’s richest saltwater fishing tournament, Bisbee’s Black & Blue, each October for the last 50 years. Try your luck for black and blue marlin, the beautiful dorado (mahi-mahi), stunning sailfish and even tuna from one of the many charter operations fishing from the marinas daily.
The current Los Cabos record for Blue Marlin is 1,213 pounds, caught in 2011 after a gruelling 28-hour fight.
5. Watch the Whales
If you’d rather watch the marine life than catch it, book a whale-watching tour. From January to April, thousands of Pacific gray whales feast and frolic, mingle and mate up and down the Baja Peninsula. Offshore, the protected El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve has been an important safe haven for the gentle giants as they seek out a mate, give birth and nurse their young.
In Cabo San Lucas, some whale-watching tour operators use glass bottom boats to give you a better scope of their size and offer intimate yet unintrusive encounters with these majestic creatures. Sightings are never guaranteed so on fruitless expeditions, guests receive a discount off another attempt.
6. Sample Local Tequila at Cabo Wabo Cantina
It would be wrong to leave without at least sampling the local tequila and mezcal at arguably the city’s most famous drinking establishment, The Cabo Wabo Cantina.
Opened and owned by Van Halen rocker Sammy Hagar in 1990, this fun resto-bar and live music venue put Cabo partying on the map and is still going strong. While Hagar has long sold the rights to the Cabo Wabo Tequila he also produced, the bar menu still carries it and a host of other local offerings too, available in flights (ouch), as stand-alone shots or as an integral part of your margarita.
And if you’re lucky, you can even catch the man himself get up on stage to jam with the house band, ex-Van Halen bandmates or other famous rockers like Slash or Tommy Lee.
7. Day Trip to San Jose del Cabo
For a slightly more authentic Mexican experience, make your way over to San Jose del Cabo, about a half-hour drive from San Lucas towards the Sea of Cortez.
San Jose offers a pleasant contrast to San Lucas. It’s older, more relaxed, and less crowded unless you come on a Thursday night in the winter. The weekly free Art Walk packs the historic district with artists and art vultures, street performers and musicians, tequila and taco stands. If you’re planning a day trip here, Thursdays are definitely best.
8. Day Trip to Todos Santos
Ready to experience a magical Mexican town? Designated as a ‘Pueblo Magico’ by the local tourist body for its historical relevance, natural beauty and cultural riches, Todos Santos has slowly become much more than the sleepy surf town it used to be just a few years ago.
While its legendary surf breaks still draw droves of wave riders, it’s the town’s burgeoning art scene that has been turning heads, creating a colony of expat artists from Arizona, New Mexico and California. If art isn’t your thing, the town’s down-home charm, artisan shops and cobblestone streets will surely impress, making the hour drive from Cabo well worth it.
Go now though. The New York Times and Vogue have already caught on to this gem of a destination and the crowds are sure to follow.
9. Hike the Trails of Sierra de la Laguna
Get off the beaten path for a side of Baja California Sur few get to see with an exhilarating hike into the mountain range just north of the cape. The Sierra de la Laguna is a rich ecosystem of almost 1,000 plant species, ranging from cacti to palm trees, many endemic to the region, as well as the highest peak in southern Baja. It was declared a biosphere reserve in the mid-90s by UNESCO and offers numerous scenic hiking trails throughout its almost 12,000 hectares.
With heavy rains in the summer, it’s best explored in the winter months but layer up, as nighttime temperatures can dip below freezing. Trails can be accessed from various points and some take up to three days to complete. Hiring a local guide or joining a tour is a must as trails are often hard to find and follow. If you are looking for an awesome and unique hiking experience, Sierra de la Laguna is it.
10. Learn to Cook Baja Cuisine
Those who have visited other parts of Mexico will agree that Baja rocks a flavour of its own. Sure, tacos, moles and ceviches are found throughout the country but tempura battered fish tacos were mastered, if not invented here (for fans, Tacos Gardenias in San Lucas is a must). Other endemic delicacies include spiced fresh fruit and a variety of clams, including large Pismo and exotic sounding Chocolate clams, named for the colour of their shell.
If you’re looking to truly connect with Baja culture, why not join a hands-on cooking class? Casa de Colores and Cookin’ Cabo both offer an authentic cooking experience that begins with a market run for ingredients before diving into authentic recipes for ceviches, salsas and tamales, leaving just enough time to sample your creations at the end.
And there you have it. Our 10 top things to do in Cabo San Lucas. Of course, there are many others and something for everyone. If you’ve yet to experience the magic of Cabo San Lucas and Los Cabos, now is your time!