Cabo San Lucas Beaches Video Source: CaboViVO
Baja California Sur is the second smallest state in México by population size, yet has by far the most coastline; a whopping 22% of the country’s total, or over 2230 kilometers of waterfront land bordering either the Pacific Ocean or Sea of Cortés.
What does that mean in real terms? Beaches, and plenty of them: surf beaches, party beaches, family beaches, hidden beaches…basically, every kind of beach under the sun in a tropical state where the sun shines some 330 days a year, and daytime temperatures hover in the 70s Fahrenheit during the dead of winter.
Cabo San Lucas is the state’s signature beach destination, but pristine stretches of golden sand abound throughout Los Cabos and beyond. In fact, in a recent USA Today Readers’ Poll, six of the top 10 beaches in México were judged to be in Baja California Sur: Playas Balandra (the top choice) and El Tecolote in La Paz, El Médano and Lover’s Beach in Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Pulmo on the state’s gorgeous East Cape, and Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante.
Cabo San Lucas
At two miles in length, Playa El Médano (note the accent mark for proper pronunciation) is by far the biggest beach in Cabo San Lucas. It’s also the most popular, reaching its zenith during Spring Break, when collegians from the U.S. and Canada flood its many seaside restaurants and cantinas. Médano Beach is lined by luxury resorts and looks out over a serene bay that is often used for anchorage by visiting cruise ships and luxury yachts. The beach offers safe swimming and is ground zero for extreme water activities like parasailing and flyboarding.
Lover’s Beach and its larger twin, Divorce Beach, are located near the end of the Land’s End promontory, and are only reachable via water-based transportation. Water taxis (called pangas in México) are available from Médano Beach or the Marina, and will happily return later for those who have been dropped off. Lover’s Beach (Playa del Amor in Spanish) has a rather interesting history, and was long known to locals as Doña Chepa or Doña Chepita, after a woman who appropriated the area for business purposes during the 1920s. Nowadays, the beach is a haven for snorkelers, sun-seekers, resting kayakers and romantic picnickers; although the latter will need to pack their own supplies as there are no vendors here. Neighboring Divorce Beach, as locals humorously point out, is five times as large.
Playa Solmar is open to the public by law, as are all Mexican beaches, but is primarily accessible through resorts like Grand Solmar, Terrasol and Playa Grande. Although extremely beautiful, swimming is not recommended on any Pacific Ocean beaches in San Lucas due to strong rip currents and occasional rogue waves.
San José del Cabo
Although less heralded than those in San Lucas, San José has its own treasure trove of seashore sunbathing spots, starting with the Playa Hotelera, or Hotel Beach, the long golden strip bounded by many of the colonial style city’s finest resorts. Sun, cocktail service and safe swimming are the big draws here, with dining and nightlife available across the street at Plaza del Pescador.
Acapulquito Beach is a favored destination of surf tourists, although the real pros head to nearby Costa Azul, whose Zippers surf break is the site of the annual WSL (World Surf League) Los Cabos Open of Surf. Costa Azul’s top cantina, similarly known as Zipper’s, serves up some of the region’s best burgers and bbq ribs.
The Foundation for Environmental Education has set the standard by which modern beaches are judged, certifying “Blue Flag” beaches around the world since the 1980s based on factors like cleanliness, services and sustainability. Currently there are 26 Blue Flag beaches in México, four of which are in Baja California Sur: El Coromuel in La Paz, and El Chileno, Santa María and Palmilla in the coastal “tourist corridor” that connects cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.
The protected fish-rich bays at Chileno and Santa María have long made them popular destinations for the snorkel tours that leave from the Cabo San Lucas marina. Chileno is one of the most popular corridor beaches among local residents, although its privacy and that of Santa María are now somewhat lessened by the construction of new resort and real estate developments.
Palmilla too has a nearby resort although One&Only Palmilla is considered one of the finest hotels in all of Latin America, and its bars and restaurants are a refreshing option after an afternoon swim. Palmilla’s cove is favored by swimmers, so much so that it now hosts the swim portion of the annual Ironman Los Cabos triathlon.
Playa Las Viudas, meanwhile, is known for its volcanic rock formations, and thus is a perennial lure for amateur photographers. Monuments, or Playa Monumentos, is another top spot for visiting surfers, although its left-hand break is not for beginners. It is the only surf break in the area, however, with views of El Arco and the granite rock formations at Land’s End.
From Migriño, just north of Cabo San Lucas, all the way to the pueblo mágico of Todos Santos are a multitude of breathtakingly beautiful beaches, many so scarcely visited they are in essence private. The most popular stop for day trippers is Playa Los Cerritos, whose namesake cantina has an excellent food and drink menu and features all kind of music from Jazz to Pop to Latin and Reggae each Sunday from local chanteuse Daline Jones and Diego Ramirez. Los Cerritos, along with nearby beaches San Pedrito and La Pastora, are also famed for their fabulous year-round surf conditions.
The East Cape describes a belly-shaped coastal arc that stretches some 70-miles from San José del Cabo to the Bay of Palms, a region notable mainly for its pristine beaches and off-the-grid communities. Several local activities companies offer “surfaris” to East Cape beaches like Shipwrecks and Nine Palms during the summer months, but Cabo Pulmo is the premier East Cape beach destination. Its expansive playa is the gateway to an offshore marine sanctuary that hosts one of the hemisphere’s oldest and most spectacular living coral reefs. The snorkeling and diving there is world-class, as the protected waters are now home to the highest concentration of marine life in the Sea of Cortés.
When it comes to beaches in Baja Sur, Balandra is king. The breathtaking white sand beach opens onto the sort of electric turquoise waters seldom seen outside of Quintana Roo. The waters in the protected cove are very shallow, thus one can wade around to see the beach’s famous rock formation, called El Hongo because it resembles a giant mushroom.
Nearby Playa El Tecolote is very nearly as beautiful as Balandra, but makes up for its slight eclipse with lovely views of the uninhabited Isla Espíritu Santo, and the superb seafood at beachfront cantinas like Palapa Azul, a restaurant built within the shell of a hollowed-out boat.
Playa Pichilingue, near the ferry which crosses regularly from La Paz to Mazatlán and Topolobampo, is also worth a visit.