San Jose del Cabo is a naturally and culturally rich destination ready to please even the most discerning of travellers. From protected marine parks and beautiful beaches to a walkable town centre brimming with art and restaurants, it’s no wonder it’s one of Mexico’s fastest growing tourist destinations.
Wondering what it has for you? Wonder no more. Plan your Baja holiday with our look at the 10 best things to do in and around San Jose del Cabo.
1. Snorkel Cabo Pulmo National Park
The protected bioreserve of Cabo Pulmo is an enchanting underwater paradise. It offers some of the best diving and snorkelling in all of Mexico, with ample opportunities to witness the region’s rich aquatic flora and fauna.
Within the park, you’ll find three types of reef: barrier, fringing and atoll. Here, they are a part of North America’s oldest and only hard coral reef system, dating back 20,000 years. The park’s calm water conditions make for easy swimming and sea kayaking, too, with a nearby sea lion colony and colourful reef fish for entertainment, as well as manta rays, several sea turtle species, dolphins, and even whales visible offshore in the winter months.
Several nearby resorts offer the use of a guide, or you can hop on an escorted snorkel or sea kayak tour from San Jose del Cabo.
2. Chill on Beaches
Many of San Jose’s top hotels and resorts front the aptly named Playa Hotelera. Dotted with palapas, cabanas and loungers, it is the most popular beach in the region with all-inclusive vacationers and those that cater to them. The beach is not recommended for swimming due to steep drop-offs and strong currents but is a great place to bronze, unwind and get pampered.
Nearby Playa Costa Azul is an ideal spot to hang out, have a picnic and watch some serious surfing, especially around the famous surf breaks, Zippers and La Roca. Strong undertows make the beach unswimmable but that doesn’t lessen its appeal.
Playa Palmilla, on the other hand, is a quiet, hassle-free stretch of sand, void of the beach touts in the hotel zone, and offers a calm, marked swimming area popular with families. And if you’re lucky, you can sometimes watch whales directly from shore.
For the best swimming beach, however, head further west down the corridor to Playa Santa Maria, halfway to Cabo San Lucas. The gorgeous horseshoe bay gives the beach some shelter making it ideal for swimming and snorkelling, with schools of colourful fish. It is in a protected marine sanctuary and is a popular spot for local and visiting families.
3. Explore the Estuary
The San Jose Estuary can be reached from the beach extending inland past warm tidal pools and sloping sand dunes to boulders and rocks eventually covered with greenery, home to hundreds of species of birds, plants and other wildlife.
Its close proximity to town makes it a perfect place for beachcombing walks, birdwatching, horseback rides and kayaking in the pristine nature park’s tranquil freshwater lagoon.
4. Join the Art Walk
In the vibrant back streets behind the church of the Main Square, the Gallery District Association throws the town’s best weekly party, when the popular Art Walk takes art lovers and curious visitors on a dazzling tour of the city’s captivating art scene.
The free art crawl is a Thursday night must and can easily be paired with an evening out to sample the city’s fantastic downtown dining. Artists are often in attendance for exclusive exhibitions and openings and coupled with food stalls and margarita stands, frame a colourful, buzz-worthy night to remember.
5. Admire the Architecture
Whether it’s the 19th century City Hall and its mural-filled courtyard or the even older Mision de San Jose del Cabo Anuiti, colonial-era architecture is well preserved in San Jose del Cabo.
The downtown historic district and its cobblestone streets give the city a warmth eclipsed only by the friendly locals. Walk off a meal, capture it in photos, or just roam and browse its artisan shops, cafes and galleries.
6. Dine Around
If you’ve chosen a hotel with no meal plan, you’re in luck! San Jose del Cabo is the region’s premier culinary destination and sampling its many excellent restaurants and farms (yep) is an attraction on its own.
Acre Baja is part organic farm, part restaurant and part yoga retreat, offering honest and delicious dishes constructed from ingredients grown on its 25-acre land. There’s an eye for design under its modest palapa roof and furniture, art and even dishware are all supplied by local artists.
Los Tamarindos is another similarly creative outdoor eatery, all surely inspired by Flora Farms, which in 1996 brought fine dining to the farm in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, and is still dazzling diners today.
In the city, start your day at the French Riviera Bakery before hitting hip taco joints like La Lupita Taco & Mezcal and Las Guacamayas for the perfect Baja lunch. Get blown away at Mi Sushi (trust me) or at the sophisticated La Patrona or La Panga Antigua for dinner, if you really want to impress.
7. Swim with Whale Sharks
“Whale sharks migrate vast distances and make seasonal appearances but here in the Sea of Cortez, off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, they find it hard to leave.” - John Steinbeck
For one of the biggest shows on earth, head over to the waters off La Paz for a chance to swim with the biggest fish in the sea.
There is simply nothing like swimming alongside these majestic, docile giants as they cruise near the surface feeding on plankton, mouth agape. Measuring up to 40 feet in length and weighing over 20 tonnes, witnessing these non-man-eating marvels first-hand is an experience you’ll cherish forever.
8. Visit Isla Espiritu Santo
‘The world’s aquarium’ is a national treasure. Recognized by UNESCO, the Gulf of California Biosphere Reserve is a pristine marine sanctuary lush with underwater treasures, uninhabited islets and Isla Espiritu Santos, its crown jewel.
Protected from fishing of any kind, the area is rich with marine life, and day tours put you in the thick of it all, offering sea kayaking and snorkelling on North America’s oldest coral reef, whale sharks and whales in the winter months, dolphins, sea turtles and a playful sea lion colony for endless entertainment.
9. Shop It
From captivating local art to handmade crafts and jewelry, searching out the perfect souvenir in San Jose is a pleasure. Throughout the downtown historic district are designer-run boutiques, art galleries and shops perfect for an afternoon stroll.
Adjacent to this district is Plaza Artisanos and its almost 100 stalls selling locally-made ceramics, bags, blankets, and more. For a more upscale shopping experience, visit Las Tiendas de Palmilla in the city’s premier shopping district, where the area’s top designer clothing, jewelry, art and antiques can be found.
10. Get Pampered at a Spa
How does a papaya and pineapple pedicure sound? With luxury, all-inclusive resorts come even more luxurious spas and wellness centres, so if you’ve come to Mexico to relax and rejuvenate, you’ve come to the right place.
Between the house spas of top resorts like Secrets and Tropicana Inn’s Seven Zenses, there’s no shortage of soothing spots to spend an afternoon. Accompanied by treats like La Paz strawberries and cool mint tea, treatments range from his & hers massages to facials, manis & pedis, and everything you would need to return from your trip feeling new.
Sample the many riches of San Jose del Cabo by adding any of the above experiences to your Baja adventure. On top of booking your flights and resort stay, our Travel Experts can assist in booking day tours from your Cabo resort. Ask us how now!