Our choices for the Top Five Beaches throughout Los Cabos!
The beauty of Baja California Sur’s nearly 1400 miles of contiguous coastline – the most by far of any Mexican state – is expressed in beaches of nearly every size and complexion; all warmed by tropical year-round sunshine, and exquisitely polished by untold eons of gently lapping Sea of Cortés waters or crashing Pacific Ocean waves.
In Los Cabos, home to many of the state’s most famous playas, these sandy coastal stretches have, through time and varied usage by generations of locals and tourists, acquired their own unique personalities.
Playa del Amor
Lover’s Beach is the secluded movie star of Los Cabos beaches, the Greta Garbo like figure who enchants with her beauty but hides much of herself from public view. Set on the half-mile Land’s End headland that marks the terminus of the nearly 800-mile long Baja California peninsula, Playa del Amor is only accessible via water-based transportation, and only during daylight hours. Click this link for actual map of Lover’s Beach
When the great Garbo herself came by yacht to Cabo San Lucas in the 1920s, the beach had been appropriated for business purposes by a mysterious lady named Doña Chepa, or more informally, Doña Chepita. Nowadays, it is a locus of activity, thanks to its rocky sentinels, gorgeous vistas, and the superb snorkeling just off its graduated underwater shelf. This is the romantic picnicking spot non pareil, with sand soft as down feathers, and uninterrupted views of the coastline from Médano Beach to Punta Ballena.
Walk through a hole in the rocks and you have moved from Lover’s Beach to her alter ego, Divorce Beach (in Spanish, Playa del Divorcio). As the name suggests, Divorce is slightly more sinister than her sister. Certainly, one should never attempt to swim off this Pacific playa due to its strong rip currents and occasional rogue waves. Despite this limitation, the beach is spectacularly beautiful, with magnificently eroded rocks upon which one may recline while listening to a symphony of fiercely breaking waves.
Playa El Médano
Imagine a two-mile stretch of glorious golden sand, bounded on one side by the glittering blue waters of the Bay of San Lucas, and on the other by a dizzying succession of luxurious resorts and beachfront restaurants and cantinas. Now imagine this beach packed with bikini and board shorts clad sunbathers, its placid offshore waters a welter of activity – swimming, sailing, flyboarding, parasailing – the tabletops of its crowded cantinas ballasted with buckets of ice-cold cervezas as mustachioed men wearing sombreros pull tequila bottles from their holsters and shot glasses from their crisscrossed bandoliers. This is Médano.
Médano Beach is the Spring Break mecca in Cabo San Lucas, and Mango Deck its de facto headquarters, home to bawdy fun like banana eating and sex position contests. March marks the high water mark of the yearly collegiate madness, but Médano is busy on a year-round basis, and its charms are hardly limited to those seeking sun-soaked debauchery. Families will find plenty to do here, from building sand castles to renting kayaks, wave runners or stand up paddle boards. Romance too is in the Médano air, with barefoot fine dining at moonlit tables in the sand. The Office on The Beach throws the best weekly party, a Thursday evening Fiesta Mexicana featuring fireworks, mariachis, folkloric dancing, and piñatas and candy for the kids.
Please visit their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/medanobeachcabo/
Playa Costa Azul
If the Beach Boys (in Spanish, Los Chicos de la Playa) had conceived their Endless Summer in Los Cabos – where the sun really does shine almost every day – Playa Costa Azul would be “Surf City.” This enormous stretch of gently curving coastline boasts three distinctive offshore breaks, each geared to slightly different skill levels. The middle break, like that at nearby Playa Acapulquito, is beginner-friendly, and thus a frequent summer site for surf lessons. The right-hand reef breaks at Zippers and The Rock (La Roca), however, are best left to professionals… or at the very least advanced practitioners of the wave riding arts.
Zippers actually does serve as the setting for the region’s only professional surf tournament, the World Surf League sponsored Los Cabos Open of Surf, a Qualifying Series 6000 event for women and juniors of both sexes held each June at the San José del Cabo based beach. Those of a less active temperament will find Costa Azul’s long smooth shore and picturesque scenery perfect for romantic barefoot walks along the waterline; and the beach’s highly regarded cantina, also called Zipper’s, serves the best BBQ ribs in the state.
During the 1980s, the Copenhagen based Foundation for Environmental Education instituted a “Blue Flag” program designed to identify beaches around the world with the highest standards for safety, services and sustainability. To date, 26 Mexican beaches have qualified for this honor. Only four, however, are located on the Baja California peninsula: Playa El Coromuel in La Paz; and Playas Chileno, Palmilla and Santa María Beaches along the 20-mile tourist corridor that connects cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.
Chileno is by far the most popular of these beaches, both with locals and visitors, its golden sands fringing a fish-rich bay whose shimmering surface is offset by small eye-catching clusters of exposed rocks. There’s a very good reason nearly every tour boat in Los Cabos offers snorkeling trips to either Chileno or neighboring Santa María Bay. The snorkeling is superb, with colorful marine life teeming beneath the placid exteriors.
In recent years new hotel and residential developments have appeared near Playas Chileno and Santa María, but despite the loss of a certain amount of privacy, both retain their immaculate beauty and pristine grandeur.
Into the early 1960s – years after the son of a former Mexican president had built Los Cabos’ first modern resort there – Punta Palmilla was still being used as a staging ground for cattle shipment, with animals loaded aboard offshore transports the old-fashioned way: by being tied to the sides of pangas (small skiffs) and rowed out beyond the breakwater, where nooses were looped around their horns and they were hoisted from the briny blue.
Today, in the age of pampering spas and ultra-luxury resorts, the region’s ranching past seems as distant as bustles and buggy whips. Particularly since the property that was once Abelardo “Rod” Rodriguez’s Hotel Las Cruces Palmilla has long since been reimagined as One&Only Palmilla, a grande dame cynosure of tropical hospitality that is annually ranked as the finest resort in all of México.
The beach which this lodging overlooks remains open to the public, as all Mexican beaches must by law, and thus proffers her unblemished charms to both fishermen and financiers, housekeepers and Hollywood royalty. Her protected cove is so naturally suited to water-based pursuits that the swim leg of the annual Ironman Los Cabos triathlon is contested there.
Did your favorite beach in Los Cabos make our list? Please comment below with your questions and any suggestions related to the beautiful beaches of Cabo San Lucas!
Please be sure to visit our choices for the Top Five of Los Cabos...
Chris Sands and Michael L. Mattos