A Big Picture Overview of Activities and Adventures
Blessed with year-round sunshine and an eclectic mix of diverse terrains – from mountains and desert to two major bodies of water – Los Cabos offers perfect conditions for virtually every outdoor activity imaginable.
Cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are famed for their gorgeous beaches, and the offshore waters of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortés promise world-class sport fishing, as well as superb diving, surfing and other water-based adventures.
In the municipality’s interior, cactus-sculpted desert and the rugged Sierra de la Laguna – the mountain range that forms the spine of the southern region between Los Cabos and La Paz – provide a picturesque backdrop for camping, hiking and climbing, plus adrenaline-pumping adventures like off-road racing and zip-lining.
Cultural events and city tours, too, are readily available, from weekly Art Walks in San José del Cabo’s historic Art District to guided looks at local attractions, with scheduled stops for tequila tasting or souvenir shopping.
Here’s a big-big picture overview of the major attractions, activities and adventures available to Los Cabos visitors in 2018.
The cape cities and their connecting 20-mile coastal corridor are home to dozens of beautiful beaches, from Blue Flag certified playas like Palmilla, Chileno and Santa María to surf meccas like Costa Azul, Acapulquito and Monumentos to party-friendly hotspots like Playa El Médano, the largest and most popular beach in Cabo San Lucas. The area’s signature beach, however, is Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach), a golden sand beauty at Land’s End that is only reachable via water-based transportation like pangas (water taxis).
Lover’s Beach offers spectacular views of the southern coastline, from Médano to Punta Ballena – an evocative promontory shaped like the front-half of a whale – and is connected to an even bigger Pacific facing beach dubbed, contrastingly, Playa del Divorcio (Divorce Beach). Locals like to joke that Divorce Beach is five times larger, but swimming there is no joking matter. Visitors should never swim at Divorce Beach due to extremely strong rip currents. The Sea of Cortés facing Lover’s, meanwhile, offers serene swimming and snorkeling conditions.
Tourism is Baja California Sur was built on big-game sportfishing, but the history of fishing in the region goes back well beyond the 1950s. Los Cabos’ original inhabitants, the Pericú, were expert fishermen, and the largest commercial company in Cabo San Lucas was its cannery prior to the tourist age was its cannery, which at its peak was the largest in Latin America.
Blue, black and marlin continue to be the most eagerly sought out prey among visiting anglers, although due to conservation concerns the local fleets promote catch and release policies with trophy billfish. Those desirous of the freshest of fresh local seafood can still get their hooks into delicious food fish like tuna, wahoo and dorado, however, and have it cooked to order by any local restaurant.
The fishing season is year-round, but the many tournaments for which the region is famed take place between June and early November. Bisbee’s is the most notable tournament promoter, hosting three in Los Cabos each year. The granddaddy of these, Bisbee’s Black & Blue marlin fishing tournament, is sometimes known as “The Super Bowl of Sportfishing” and “The World’s Richest Fishing Tournament”, monikers richly earned with over three decades of million dollar plus payouts.
Seeking to evolve beyond its early reputation as sportfishing capital, Los Cabos began, in the early 1990s, to redefine itself a beachfront luxury destination, complete with championship-level golf courses and world-class spas. Jack Nicklaus set the standard for the former with his early designs at Palmilla and Cabo del Sol, which he envisioned as “Palm Springs by the Sea” and the “Pebble Beach of Baja”, respectively. As of 2018, Nicklaus has designed six courses in the area, most recently a cliffside masterpiece at Quivira. Other legendary champions have since followed in his footsteps, including Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Davis Love III and Fred Couples.
There are currently 15 operational courses, with as many as six more slated to open by 2020. Publicly playable layouts include Palmilla, Cabo del Sol (Ocean and Desert Courses), Cabo San Lucas Country Club, Vidanta and Questro (Puerto Los Cabos, Campestre and Cabo Real). Quivira, Chileno Bay and Diamante (Dunes, El Cardonal and Oasis) are playable by guests at select resorts. Eldorado and Querencia are strictly private.
Since the 1990s every new beachfront resort has come complete with its own pampering spa, and the trend has proliferated to the point that privately-operated spas may be found on virtually every downtown block in Cabo San Lucas.
Los Cabos now dominates rankings of the best spas in Latin America, and many of its finest wellness centers showcase their own unique treatments, from wine-based vinotherapy at Grand Fiesta Americana’s SOMMA WineSpa to healing rituals based on phases of the moon at The Resort at Pedregal’s Luna y Mar.
The Spa at Esperanza remains the gold standard for resort-based spas, renowned for its expansive relaxation facilities and signature Pasaje de Agua experiences. Suzanne Morel Face & Body Care, meanwhile, boasts the top mobile spa, delivering soothing services directly to clients in their rooms, suites or rental villas.
Baja’s most famous event remains the Baja 1000, a bruising off-road endurance race that’s sponsored each November by SCORE. The race’s history stretches back over 50 years, during which time it has been run by everyone from Formula One drivers to Hollywood movie stars like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. Intrepid sorts with an itch to try off-road racing can do so with a variety of local companies, either in dune buggies or actual Baja 1000 style race cars.
Adrenaline-racing activities like bungee jumping, zip-lining and parasailing are also easily arranged in Los Cabos. Cabo Adventure offers the longest and fastest zip-line in Mexico in their mountainous course at Boca de Sierra, plus an array of rugged obstacle course style challenges. Wild Canyon, meanwhile, boasts an entire theme park at El Tule premised around bungee jumps, zip-lines and off-road thrills.
For a true once-in-a-lifetime adventure, however, visitors can dive one of the oldest and largest living coral reefs in North America at Cabo Pulmo on the municipality’s less-developed East Cape. Cabo Pulmo’s colorful reef is part of a protected marine sanctuary with the highest concentration of marine life in the Sea of Cortés. Offshore islands in the Revillagigedos chain offers even more amazing encounters with large pelagic creatures like great white sharks, but require week-long trips aboard boats like the Solmar V.
Whale watching is the most popular of Los Cabos’ many seasonal activities, as each year thousands of the world’s largest creatures migrate from their Arctic feeding grounds to breeding grounds in coves and inlets around Baja California Sur.
From mid-December to mid-March, whale watching cruises are offered by every major tour operator and cruising boat in Cabo San Lucas, with the water-based transportation options ranging from small and speedy Zodiac inflatables to enormous motorized catamarans.
One needn’t book a cruise to see some of the transiting cetaceans, however. They’re often visible from coastal resorts, golf courses and beaches. Humpbacks are the most commonly sighted in Los Cabos and exhibit the most spectacular breaching behaviors.
Souvenir shopping is touted to cruise ship passengers and other travelers as soon as they arrive, but more sophisticated shopping options are also available at local malls like Puerto Paraíso and Luxury Avenue on the Cabo San Lucas Marina, or at upscale plazas like The Shoppes at Palmilla.
Women’s wear boutiques like Pepita’s Magic of the Moon are among the many recommended stops for resort style clothing, and tropical necessities such as sunglasses and sandals are also commonly carried at local boutiques.
Art lovers will find a cluster of superb galleries in San José del Cabo’s historic Distrito del Arte, as well as in the artists’ colony of Todos Santos, a small coastal community and pueblo mágico – a place legally recognized for cultural richness – that’s one-hour by car from Cabo San Lucas. In addition to creative work from regional artists, outstanding examples of Mata Ortiz pottery and beadwork from peyote-inspired Huichol artists are also displayed at select galleries.
City Tours & Cultural Events
City tours are offered by several companies, including Cabo Expeditions and High Tide, but those seeking a more individualized look at the region’s many attractions may rent cars and explore the southernmost region of Baja California quite easily. The best road trip is a loop from Los Cabos to La Paz by way of Todos Santos, with the return trip detouring through traditional mining communities like El Triunfo and San Antonio, East Coast stops like Los Barriles, and organic farming areas like Miraflores.
Cultural events have also become increasingly popular. San Jose del Cabo’s weekly Art Walk – held each Thursday evening, November through June – is the cultural to-do, but yearly patron saint festivals in each of the cape cities, and harvest festivals celebrating local fruits like pitahayas and mangos also offer unique glimpses at local customs and culture. For a complete and up-to-date listing of these events, please visit the CaboViVO calendar page.
Saludos from Co-Founders...
Chris Sands - Writer and Michael Mattos