Top Attractions of Los Cabos
Travelers love Los Cabos for, among other things, the terrific weather and a geography in which the desert gives way to two coastlines. These two charms mean lots of opportunities to surf, dive, ride horses or mountain bikes, deep-sea fish, and more.
Isla del Espiritu Santo, Baja California Sur, Mexico
This archipelago off the coast of La Paz (which takes the name of the main island) is a protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. While the islands are uninhabited by humans save for a small fishing camp made of temporary structures, they’re home to a great variety of flora and fauna. In addition to dolphins, frigate birds, and ring-tailed cats, you’ll find the only known black jackrabbit population in the world. Celebrated eco-friendly activities company Cabo Expeditions leads daylong archipelago tours that include exploring the mesmerizing volcanic landscape, a ceviche lunch, and an opportunity to swim on Ensenada Grande Beach—often cited as one of the world’s most beautiful—plus guided snorkeling with the incredibly playful pups at the Los Islotes sea lion colony.
Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
Cañón de la Zorra (Fox Canyon) and its 40-foot waterfall are just north of Santiago, a sleepy yet charming colonial-style town 35 miles north of San José del Cabo, across the Tropic of Cancer. The hike to the waterfall takes you through oases with endemic plants and gives you glimpses into a Baja outback that existed before the region became a popular tourism destination. There’s a great area for swimming as you admire the waterfall and multicolored granite cliffs. Tip: On your trip back to Los Cabos, stop by the Agua Caliente, Santa Rita, and El Chorro hot springs about five miles south of Santiago.
Calle Benito Juárez S/N, Centro, 23300 Todos Santos, B.C.S., Mexico
A celebrated artists’ colony an hour north of Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos was named a Pueblo Mágico by the Mexican government in 2006 because of its natural beauty, historical relevance, and cultural riches. These riches are on display in artisan shops and artist-operated galleries that dot the former sugar town. Among the artists with studios or galleries in Todos Santos: Tori Sepulveda, Arturo Mendoza Elfeo, Jill Mollenhauer, and Michael Cope. There are several arts and music events throughout the year, including the annual Todos Santos Open Studio Tour each February, at which you can meet the artists in their studios and purchase their work. It’s also easy to do a one- or two-hour self-guided art walk through Todos Santos, including a stop in the charming if misleading Hotel California; the property is not the one featured in The Eagles’ hit song.
Bahia Santa Maria, Mexico
There are nearly as many snorkeling options in Los Cabos as there are fish in the Sea of Cortés, and that’s saying a lot. If you’re somebody who prefers going it alone, pick up a snorkeling mask and fins and head to Chileno Bay for some undisturbed fish-seeing. But if you need a little more hands-on guidance, the outfit to dial is Pez Gato. Their twice-daily, four-hour tour includes everything you’ll need—snorkeling gear, drinks, fresh fruit, and sandwiches—plus a friendly and knowledgeable crew who will keep you entertained with facts about the region as you navigate the waters to Santa Maria, a horseshoe-shaped bay that’s home to a marine sanctuary and some of the clearest waters around.
Leona Vicario, El Medano Ejidal, Marina, 23479 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
Downtown Cabo San Lucas is home to not one but two high-end shopping centers. The multilevel Puerto Paraíso Entertainment Plaza is located on the Cabo San Lucas Marina. It features a plethora of swimwear boutiques; brand names like Nautica, Kenneth Cole, and Tommy Bahama (as well as the local favorite, Pineda Covalin); and restaurants like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Señor Sweets. There’s also a movie theater, an international food court, and a dedicated play area for children. The latest attention-grabbing additions include a MacStore complete with a service center, and a Forever 21 department store. The other mall, Luxury Avenue, adjacent to Puerto Paraíso, houses some of the poshest labels in the world: Bvlgari, Cartier, Tous, Chopard, and more.
There’s a lot to recommend the tourist-corridor beach known as Chileno Bay, or Playa el Chileno. It’s consistently ranked as one of the cleanest beaches in all of Mexico and has earned coveted Blue Flag status multiple times (the award goes to sand stretches that boast excellent water quality, safety, and services). Here you’ll find ample parking, handicap access, restrooms with showers, and nice palapas for free shade. It’s easy to understand why it’s one of the most popular weekend escapes for locals. The swimming and snorkeling conditions are great, especially the farther out you go. During the winter, take a moment to hold your head underwater. You might hear gray whales’ melodic songs in the distance.
La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Baja California Sur’s capital deserves more than a day trip. The cosmopolitan city is home to some of the peninsula’s finest restaurants, and its beaches rival any in the world. Ensenada Grande, on Isla Partida, is part of the Espíritu Santo Archipelago and is, in a word, stunning. Golden sands give way to clear waters that are framed by volcanic formations (ask your guide to point out “La Máscara”). On the mainland, visit Balandra, a lovely white-sand beach whose waters shimmer a vibrant turquoise. It’s famous not only for its splendor but for the unusual mushroom-shaped rock known as El Hongo, as well. El Tecolote doesn’t quite have Balandra’s beauty, but it offers much more in the way of activities. Camp, grab a bite, and start here before heading on to an Espíritu Santo adventure.
Plaza Central, Miguel Hidalgo 1, Centro, 23400 San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico
There’s nothing cookie-cutter about the breathtaking collection of jewelry on display at Indira Gems in San José del Cabo’s historic arts district. Master jeweler Isidro Sánchez creates unique pieces inspired by pre-Columbian cultures and Mexico’s rich, textured history. His bold items often incorporate natural elements such as wood, bone, and shells; designs feature gemstones of every color plus bronze, copper, brass, and silver. And, as has become their signature, Sánchez and his wife, Indira López—a designer in her own right—add elements of 24-karat gold to Mexico’s silver-working tradition. Each piece includes an artist-signed certificate of authenticity.
La Paz, Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur is less saturated than other Mexican seasides, but some of the beaches, like Balandra, attract a crowd. For a bit of Baha California Sur quiet, take a boat ride or a thirty-minute hike (no flip-flops, please) to Playa La Escondida. The beach is blanketed with white sand, surrounded by mountains, and bumps up against clear blue waters. Remember to bring all food, clothing, and other goodies you might need for your day as there are no shops or services.