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The themes of Los Cabos boat tours vary, but all tours follow essentially the same route: through Bahía Cabo San Lucas, past El Arco and the sea-lion colony, around Land's End into the Pacific Ocean, and then eastward through the Sea of Cortez along the Corridor. Costs run about $40–$50 per person; all tours include an open bar and some offer lunch and snorkel tours. Many of these operators offer whale-watching trips as well.
Cabo Adventures. Cabo Adventures has a three-hour sailing trip on deluxe Beneteau sailboats, during which the crew will teach you some basic sailing maneuvers, or you can simply sit back and enjoy the scenery—the boats pass Lover's Arch. The four-hour trip includes food, drinks, snorkel gear, and stand-up paddleboards. Blvd. Paseo de la Marina, Lot 7, Marina, Cabos San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/173–9500 or 866/393–5255. www.cabo-adventures.com. $109.
Cabo Expeditions. Winter-season whale-watching (December–April) in the Sea of Cortez with Cabo Expeditions is done from small, customized, inflatable Zodiac boats that allow passengers to get close to gray and humpback whales. Oftentimes during the 2.5 hour trip, the whales even approach the boats with their babies. Fifteen passengers are allowed per tour; ages 5 and up. Near Wyndham Hotel, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–2700. www.caboexpeditions.com.mx. $89.
Cabo Rey. Enjoy incredible views of Los Cabos including the famous Arch, Lover's Beach, Santa Maria Bay, Chileno Bay, and the Old Lighthouse aboard the Caborey. Set sail from 6 to 8:30 pm for a lobster dinner and mariachi show or opt for the three-hour snorkeling tour including lunch. Blvd. Marina, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/105–1976; 866/460–4105 in U.S. www.caborey.com. From $62.
Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise is both a snorkeling tour boat as well as your typical afternoon booze cruise, complete with loud reggae and other party music. It attracts a twenty- to thirty-something crowd and heads out at 12 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Sunday. Main Dock, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 866/348–6286 or 624/143–7533. $45, including open bar.
Oceanus. The double-decker party boat Oceanus has four-hour snorkel cruises from 10:30 am to 3 pm and a sunset cruise with a live band that leaves at 5 pm (6 pm in summer) from the main dock in Cabo San Lucas. You can rent the Oceanus for birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions. Deep discounts can be found when booking online. Blvd. Marina, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–1059 or 624/143–3929. www.oceanusloscabos.com.mx. $65.
Aereo Calafia. One of the most spectacular ways to view Baja is from the air. Aereo Calafia is a private charter company that offers one very special small-plane flight to Magdalena Bay where gray whales calve during winter months. The tours include the flight, a boat tour among the whales, and lunch. Available January to March only. Calle Adolfo Lopez Mateos Manzana 02, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–4302 or 624/143–5280. www.tourballenas.com. $495 per person.
Cabo Sky Tours. Cabo Sky Tours offers exciting aerial tours over Los Cabos in gas-powered hang gliders. Camino viejo a San Jose, El Medano Ejidal, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur. 624/144–1294 office; 624/150–1000 cell. www.skytourscabo.com. $90 for an adult under 200 pounds for a 10-minute flight; $130 for one adult with child.
Riding an ATV across the desert is a thrill, but it is one of the more dangerous things you can do in this area. As fun as these tours may be, it is worth thinking about the destruction these vehicles cause to the fragile desert terrain. Additionally, many of the companies do not have insurance, and will make you sign explicit release-of-liability forms before going. They do issue helmets, goggles, and handkerchiefs to protect you from the sand and dust.
When ATV trips are properly conducted, they can be safe and fun. The most popular trip passes first through Cabo San Lucas, continues through desert cactus fields, and arrives at a big play area of large sand dunes with open expanses and specially carved trails, at the foot of El Faro Viejo, the old lighthouse. You can reach frighteningly high speeds as you descend the tall dunes. Navigating the narrow trails in the cactus fields is exciting but not for the fainthearted or steering-impaired. Another favorite trek travels past interesting rock formations, little creeks, and the beach on the way to a small mountain village called La Candelaria.
A three-hour trip costs about $80 for a single or $100 for a double (two people sharing an ATV) and includes boxed lunches and drinks. Six-hour trips to La Candelaria include lunch and cost about $105 for a single and $130 for a double. Wear tennis shoes, clothes you don't mind getting dirty, and a long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt for afternoon tours in winter.
Baja Buggy's. These eco-friendly, extreme buggy tours are a bit pricey, but nontheless a phenomenal thrill ride. Travel from desert to ocean through mountains and across canyons at Migrino Sandy River bed and then onto La Candelaria, a 300-year old aboriginal village. Aquiles Serdán #4, Centro, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23450. 624/105–9331 or 624/105–9318. www.bajabuggys.com. $220, transportation included.
Cactus ATV's. Tours are almost always full at Cactus ATVs, so reserve a day in advance. A Candelaria trip leaves at 9 am, 12 pm and 3 pm daily, as well as a host of desert and beach tours. Boxed lunch and drinks included. Hwy. 19, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/130–6864 or 915/288–8687. www.cactusatvtours.com. From $100 per rider.
Cabo's Moto Rent. Cabo's Moto Rent offers a desert tour and a beach tour at Playa Migriño on the Pacific, along with the lighthouse and Candelaria tours. Av. Cárdenas, in front of Puerto Paraíso, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–0808. ATV tours, $100 per person or $130 per couple.
Cabo Karting Center. High-performance outdoor go-carting has come to Cabo Karting Center. Here you can race high-speed go-carts on a professionally designed formula racecourse. Discounted prices for members and various combo packages are available. Hwy. 1 km 3.5, across from Los Patios Hotel, next to Cabo Cielo, Corridor, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23450. 624/144–7073. www.cabokarting.com. $29 for a 14-lap race. Closed Tues.
Greens fee prices quoted include off- and high-season rates and are subject to frequent change.
Los Cabos has become one of the world's top golf destinations, thanks to two factors. First came the support of Fonatur, Mexico's government tourism-development agency. In 1988 it expanded Los Cabos' appeal beyond sportfishing by opening a 9-hole course in San José. The second reason is that the Cabo area features some of the best winter weather in North America—Los Cabos doesn't experience even the occasional frigid winter possible in the southern United States. Green fairways dot the arid landscape like multiple oases in the desert. You will encounter many sublime views of the Sea of Cortez, and, on a few courses, play alongside it. Otherwise the motif is desert golf. The other strength of the area is that the overall quality of golf is quite high, with the likes of Tom Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones II, Tom Weiskopf, Roy Dye, and Greg Norman applying their design talents here.
Cabo Real Golf Course. This visually attractive layout features spectacular views of the mountains and sea, as well as a challenging test. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Cabo Real has straight and narrow fairways, difficult slopes, and strategically placed bunkers. The first six holes are in mountainous terrain, working their way up to 500 feet above sea level. The course then heads back to the water and eventually descends down to the Sea of Cortez by the 14th hole. Recovering from mistakes here can be quite difficult. In 2012, the back nine was redesigned by Jones with a new green on the 14th repositioned closer to the sea and the old 15th removed. Greens fee includes cart (walking is not permitted), water, practice balls, and towel. Taylormade clubs available to rent for $55. Hwy. 1, Km 19.5, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/173–9400 or 877/795–8727. www.questrogolf.com. $235; $165 after 1:30 p.m. 18 holes, 6848 yards, par 71. Facilities: Practice range, putting green, snack bar, restaurant, golf carts, Taylormade rental clubs, $55.
Camp Campestre San José Golf Course. Here you are greeted by panoramic views stretching to the Sea of Cortez, canyons, and mountains on a Jack Nicklaus-design. This semi-private course also features dramatic elevation changes and undulating tricky multi-level putting surfaces. Attractive bunkering requires well-placed tee shots and very accurate iron play. They have used paspalum grass throughout the course that sets Camp Campestre among the best manicured in the region. The only downfall is that there are no holes on the water. Km. 119, Libramiento Aeropuerto, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur. 877/795–8727 from U.S.; 624/173–9400. www.questrogolf.com. $140–$180. 18 holes, 7055 yards, par 71. Facilities: Carts, practice range, putting green, short-game area, restaurant, snack bar, rental clubs.
One&Only Palmilla Golf Course. Here you will encounter 27 holes of some of the best resort golf that Mexico has to offer. Crafted by Jack Nicklaus, it was his first work here. The Mountain and Arroyo Nines came first, with the Ocean Nine finished later. Generous target-style fairways wind their way through rugged mountainous desert terrain that is beautifully landscaped. The Ocean Nine drops 600 feet in elevation as you visit the edge of the Sea of Cortez, while the Mountain and Arroyo Nines are positioned higher and further back from the water. Many will remark that the stretch of 6 to 8 holes on the Arroyo Course is one of the best anywhere, while the 3rd through 5th holes really get your attention on the Mountain Course. No matter the combination of Nines, you won't feel cheated and the conditioning is usually excellent though expensive. Five sets of tees on every hole accommodate various skill levels. Hwy. 1, Km 7.5, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/144–5250. www.palmillagc.com. $135–$210. 27 holes. Mountain Nine, 3602 yards; Ocean Nine, 3527 yards; Arroyo Nine, 3337 yards. All nines are par 36. Facilities: Practice range, putting green, lessons, beverage cart, limited restaurant, Callaway rental clubs.
Puerto Los Cabos Golf Course. This course features an unusual combination of one Nine designed by Jack Nicklaus and the other by Greg Norman. Eventually each will build a second line to make this into two separate courses. This does not detract from its appeal as this is one of the area's most popular courses for visitors. Nicklaus's Nine features more expansive driving areas whereas the Norman Nine puts more of a premium on driving accuracy. Both Nines feature attractive bunkering and paspalum putting surfaces. Paseo de los Pescadores, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23403. 624/173–9400, or 877/795–8727. www.questrogolf.com. $175–$250. 18 holes, 7461 yards, par 73. Facilities: Practice range, putting green, short-game area, carts, restaurant, rental clubs.
Punta Sur Golf Course. Los Cabos's original course opened in 1987. Of all the golf courses in the area, this one would be the "starter" golf course. The layout has wide fairways and few obstacles or slopes. It's fairly flat and good for beginners or as a warm-up. The 9-hole course is lined with residential properties (broken windows are not unusual). Some holes (particularly the 7th) have nice ocean views. Beware, you will find the three par-3's to be long and testing. The conditioning is average and this heavily played course does not take reservations as it is played on a first-come, first-served basis. It was designed by Mario Schjtanan and Joe Finger. Greens fees include cart. There's a swimming pool, tennis, and gym onsite. Paseao Finisterra, No.1, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/142–0905. www.vidantagolf.com. $59 for 9 holes or $89 for 18. 9 holes, 3153 yards, par 35. 6 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Facilities: Putting green, short game area, hitting nets, carts, pull carts, men's and women's rental clubs ($30), shoe rentals, pro shop, golf lessons, bag storage, restaurant, bar, snack bar, swimming pool, tennis, gym.
Cabo del Sol Desert Course. The sister to the Ocean Course, the Desert Course designed by Tom Weiskopf sits on the other side of the Corridor away from the water and features an inland desert motif complete with artistic bunkering. Don't be fooled; the layout here is still very good. The Desert Course is very playable, yet from the back tees it may be even harder than the Ocean Course. The attractive layout includes one of the area's longest par-5 holes at 625 yards. Taylormade rental clubs are available for $65. Special rates are available if you play both this and the Cabo del Sol Ocean Course. Hwy. 1, Km 10.3, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/145–8200. www.cabodelsol.com. $220–$365. 18 holes, 7049 yards, par 72. Facilities: Practice range, putting green, short game area, golf carts, men's & women's lounge with showers, golf shop, beverage cart, snack bar, restaurant, lessons, club storage, rental clubs Taylormade $65.
Cabo del Sol Ocean Course. The Ocean Course has been named one of the top courses in the world by numerous publications as it combines the best of ocean and desert golf. Designer Jack Nicklaus brags that it has the best three finishing holes in the world. On the par-3 17th hole, you drive over an ocean inlet with waves crashing below. The par-4 18th hole is a mirror image of the 18th at Pebble Beach, California. Seven holes are seaside, with the 5th and 17th named as one of the "Top 500 Holes in the World" by Golf World. Taylormade clubs are available to rent for $65.The Ocean Course is easily the priciest public-access course in the region, but is generally considered to be the best. Hwy 1, Km 10.3, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/145–8200. www.cabodelsol.com.. $255–$365. 18 holes, 7091 yards, par 72. Facilities: practice range, putting green, short game area, golf carts, men's & women's lounge with showers, golf shop, beverage cart, snack bar, restaurant, lessons, club storage, rental clubs Taylormade $65.
Baja Outback. Baja Outback offers a variety of guided tours that range from four hours to several days long. The routes run through Baja backcountry, where you have the opportunity to explore the Cape's rarely seen back roads while learning desert lore from a knowledgeable guide-cum-biologist. One option takes you to a remote mountain ranch before lunching and snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo. Day trips may include anything from hiking and snorkeling to city tours and turtle release programs (August to November). Baja Outback also offers multiday tour packages especially designed for kids with boogie boarding and sand castle building. For adventure-driven vacationers, tours include kayaking, surfing, and stand-up paddle boarding. San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23450. 624/142–9215. www.bajaoutback.com. From $185 per person.
Baja Wild. Baja Wild has a number of adventure packages including the "Six Day Inn-to-Inn Hiking, Biking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Surfing, and Whale-Watching Adventure." You'll see the natural side of Cabo, with hikes to canyons, hot springs, fossil beds, and caves with rock paintings. They offer backcountry jeep tours, full-day kayak tours at Cabo Pulmo, and ATV tours in the desert. Private tours are available. Plaza Costa Azul, Hwy. 1, Km 28, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/172–6300. www.bajawild.com. Backcountry jeep tours from $420 per vehicle; full-day kayak tours at Cabo Pulmo, $140; half-day ATV tours, $80. Private tours are available for double price.
Cabo Adventures. With a wide variety of unusual activities Cabo Adventures is unique adventure operator. Along with its popular Cabo Dolphins program are the four-hour Desert Safaris, which take you into the Sierra Mountains by Swiss-made Unimog to commune with camels, of all things! They also offer ziplining, mountain biking, whale shark tours, and flyboards (like water jetpacks). Blvd. Paseo de la Marina, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/173–9500 or 888/526–2238. www.cabo-adventures.com. 109 per person.
Baja Wild. Trips with Baja Wild include hikes to canyons, small waterfalls, hot springs, a fossil-rich area, and caves with rock paintings. You can also take customized jeep expedition trips to La Sierra de la Laguna, a series of mountain peaks submerged in water millions of years ago. The highest peak, at 7,000 feet above sea level, is ringed by pure pine forests. Rock-climbing and rappelling trips are also available. An all-day group hiking trip includes lunch, guide, equipment, and transfer. Plaza Costa Azul, Hwy. 1, Km 28, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/172–6300. www.bajawild.com. $125 per person; private (2 person) trips are $350.
Cuadra San Francisco Equestrian Center. The Cuadra San Francisco Equestrian Center offers trail rides and lessons on 50 beautiful and extremely well-trained horses. Trail rides go into the hills overlooking the Cabo Real property or to the San Carlos arroyo; both focus on the flora as much as the riding. Trips are limited to 20 people, with one guide for every 6 or 7 people. Cuadra also specializes in private trail rides. Reserve at least a day in advance and request an English-speaking guide. Note that you must query them for rates, but expect to pay close to $50 per hour. Hwy. 1, Km 19.5, across from Casa del Mar and Las Ventanas al Paraíso hotels, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/144–0160. www.loscaboshorses.com.
Cantering down an isolated beach or up a desert trail is one of the great pleasures of Los Cabos (as long as the sun isn't beating down too heavily). The following company has well-fed and well-trained horses. One-hour trips generally cost about $35 per person, two-hour trips about $65.
Red Rose Riding Stables. The popular Red Rose Riding Stables has healthy horses for all levels of riders. The outfitter leads trips to the beach and the desert. Groups are sometimes too large to suit all riders' levels of expertise; consider this if you're an expert rider, or a newbie riding with a bunch of experts. Hwy. 1, Km 4, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/143–4826.
Competition among operators in Cabo San Lucas is pretty fair, so most offer comparable, if not identical, prices. Both jet skiing and waterskiing cost about $45 for a half hour and $70 for a full hour.
JT Water Sports. For every type of water- and land-sports equipment, including diving gear, WaveRunners, and parasails, head to JT Water Sports, where WaveRunners rent for about $90 an hour. Bigger parties can negotiate for better deals. Playa Médano, near The Office bar, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. www.jtwatersports.com.mx.
One of the most popular, practical, and eco-friendly ways to explore the pristine coves that dot Los Cabos' western shoreline is by kayak. Daylong package tours that combine kayaking with snorkeling cost anywhere from $70 to $125. Single or double kayaks can be rented by the hour for $15 to $20.
Baja Wild. For a combined kayak and snorkeling trip, try Baja Wild. Daylong outdoor trips include surfing; hiking; ATV; and whale-watching trips (November through April), as well as baby sea turtle release excursions (September through November). All trips include transportation, equipment, and lunch; you can substitute scuba diving for snorkeling. Plaza Costa Azul, Hwy. 1, Km 28, s/n Local 5, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/172–6300. www.bajawild.com. $140.
Most vendors are at the Marina Cabo San Lucas. Ships tend to depart from sportfishing docks at the south end of the marina, near the Puerto Paraíso Mall, or from the docks at the Wyndham Hotel. It's very important to get specific directions and departure times, since it's hard to find your spot at 6:30 in the morning.
Omega Sports. Omega Sports has good rates on single and double kayaks. They also offer jet-skis. Playa Médano, on beach in front of Hotel Casa Dorada, next to Mango Deck, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410.
Tio Sports. Tio Sports was one of the original water-sports companies on El Médano Beach about 20 years ago and it's still a major operator with a sports palapa located on the beach at the ME Cabo Resort, plus stands and offices throughout Los Cabos. It provides aquatic tours, kayak rentals, stand-up paddleboards, and packages that include scuba and snorkeling. Playa Médano, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–3399. www.tiosports.com.
If you have your own transportation, it is well worth driving out to Cabo Pulmo, where you can rent snorkel gear and a kayak or arrange a dive or fishing trip with one of the operators in this tiny, super-tranquilo village. In these incredible waters, you'll be able to check out everything from the smallest sea horse to a giant black sea bass.
Cabo Pulmo Sport Center. Cabo Pulmo Sport Center has the gregarious César at the ready. He is a wellspring of knowledge and will happily advise you on the best spot to paddle your kayak, depending on the conditions of the day. He's also an expert birder. The center has a couple of very clean, simple casitas for rent ($95 per night) should you decide to extend your stay. Hwy. 1 at La Ribera turnoff, at the end of the road in the waterside palapa, Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur, 23500. 624/130–0235. www.cabopulmosportcenter.com. $60.
Hop on a hog and live your own Easy Rider fantasy, Baja style. Do yourself and the bike a big favor and avoid the dirt roads, though.
Harley-Davidson Los Cabos. The Harley-Davidson Los Cabos, in the Puerto Paraíso Entertainment Plaza, rents Fatboys, Electric Glides, Road Kings, and Heritage Classics. Ask the shop employees for suggestions on scenic tour routes. Rental rates include two helmets and insurance. Puerto Paraiso Mall, Boulevard Lázaro Cárdenas, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23450. 624/143–3337. www.harleybmc.com. From $200 a day (9 am–8 pm rental).
Parasailing costs about $40 for an eight-minute flight. This is a high-risk sport, so proceed at your own risk. Sailboats and Windsurfers average about $30 per hour.
Many of the best dive spots are also good for snorkeling. Prime areas include the waters surrounding Playa del Amor, Bahía Santa María, Bahía Chileno, and Cabo Pulmo. Nearly all scuba operators also offer snorkel rentals and trips. Equipment rentals generally cost $10 per hour ($20 for the day). Two-hour guided trips to Playa del Amor are about $40; day trips to Cabo Pulmo cost about $150. Most of the snorkeling and excursion boats are based in the Cabo San Lucas harbor and the best place to make reservations is along the marina walkway, near the Wyndham Hotel or at the beach palapas along El Médano Beach.
If you're willing to plan ahead, booking online will often bring you significant discounts on these tours.
Buccaneer Queen. A tall ship, once used in TV commercials, the Buccaneer Queen Pirate Ship now carries passengers on snorkeling and sunset cruises as well as private charters. Snorkeling tours include lunch, open bar, and equipment rental. Dock 1, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/144–4217. www.buccaneerloscabos.com. From $63.
Cabo Snorkeling. Cabo Snorkeling runs a bunch of snorkeling adventures throughout Los Cabos. For a younger, party-oriented crowd, try the Jungle Party Snorkeling Tour or Cabo Fun Tour. Offering a slightly smaller, less luxurious boat than some of the others docked in Marina, these trips are less about luxury and more about fun. Four-hour trips include a light lunch, equipment, and, of course, booze. Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 888/557–3330 in U.S.; 800/681–1858 in Mexico. www.cabosnorkeling.com. $45 to $70.
La Princesa. The most upscale boat in Los Cabos is a beautiful 48-foot catamaran called La Princesa. Daily three-hour trips to Bahía Santa María or Bahía Chileno depart at noon. Price includes a mini-Cabo adventure, drinks, a light lunch, and equipment. If La Princesa isn't available, there are other yachts you can choose from for similar adventures. Marina Blvd., Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–7676. www.laprincesacharters.com. $59 per person.
Pez Gato. Pez Gato has several cruising options including a snorkeling trip to Bahía Santa María, which includes all snorkel gear, beverages, lunch of deli sandwiches, chips, and fresh fruit basket. They have two 42-foot catamarans, Pez Gato I and Pez Gato II and also offer a romantic sunset cruise, a rowdy booze cruise, and in-season whale watching. near Wyndham Hotel, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–3797. www.pezgatocabo.com. Snorkeling trip, $55 per person.
Expert divers head to the Gordo Banks (100–130 feet; also known as the Wahoo Banks), which are 13 km (8 miles) off the coast of San José. The currents here are too strong for less experienced divers. This is the spot for hammerhead sharks—which are not generally aggressive with divers—plus many species of tropical fish and rays, and, if you're lucky, dolphins. Fall is the best time to go.
The Corridor has several popular diving sites. Bahía Santa Maria (20–60 feet) has water clear enough to see hard and soft corals, octopuses, eels, and many tropical fish. Chileno Reef (10–80 feet) is a protected finger reef 1 km (½ mile) from Chileno Bay, with many invertebrates, including starfish, flower urchins, and hydroids. The Blowhole (60–100 feet) is known for diverse terrain—massive boulders, rugged tunnels, shallow caverns, and deep rock cuts—which house manta rays, sea turtles, and large schools of amberjacks and grouper.
Generally, diving costs about $60 for one tank and $85 for two, including transportation. Equipment rental, dives in the Corridor, and night dives typically cost extra. Full-day trips to Gordo Banks and Cabo Pulmo cost about $200, including transportation, food, equipment, and two tanks. Most operators offer two- to four-day package deals.
Most dive shops have courses for noncertified divers; some may be offered through your hotel. Newly certified divers may go on local dives no more than 30 to 40 feet deep. Divers must show their C-card (diver certification card) before going on dives with reputable shops. Many operators offer widely recognized Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certification courses, which usually take place in hotel pools for the first couple of lessons.
At sites in Bahía San Lucas near El Arco you're likely to see colorful tropical fish traveling confidently in large schools. Yellow angelfish, green and blue parrot fish, red snappers, perfectly camouflaged stonefish, and long, slender needlefish share these waters. Divers regularly see stingrays, manta rays, and moray eels. The only problem with this location is the amount of boat traffic. The sound of motors penetrates deep into the water and can slightly mar the experience. Neptune's Fingers (60–120 feet) is a long rock formation with abundant fish. About 150 feet off Playa del Amor, Pelican Rock (25–100 feet) is a calm, protected spot where you can look down on Sand Falls (discovered by none other than Jacques Cousteau). The Point (15–80 feet) is a good spot for beginners who aren't ready to get too deep. The Shipwreck (40–60 feet), an old Japanese fishing boat, is close to Cabo San Lucas, near the Misiones del Cabo Hotel.
Amigos del Mar. The oldest and most complete dive shop in Los Cabos area is Amigos del Mar. Its dive boats range from a 22-foot panga (a small, open-air skiff) to a 25-foot runabout and a 31-foot custom dive boat. The staff is courteous and knowledgeable, and all the guides speak English. Blvd. Marina, Plaza Galicota, across from Finisterra Hotel, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–0505; 513/898–0547 in U.S. www.amigosdelmar.com. Two-tank dives from $90; equipment rental, $35.
Manta Scuba. This centrally located PADI 5-star outfit makes trips locally in the Corridor, as well as to Cabo Pulmo, Gordo Banks, and East Cape. Plaza Gali, Blvd. Marina #7D Local 37 Int., Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23450. 877/287–1120 or 624/144–3871. www.caboscuba.com. Two-tank dives from $95; equipment rental, $30.
Solmar V. Find luxury on the über-comfortable live-aboard dive boat Solmar V, which takes nine-day remote diving trips to the islands of Socorro (November–June) and Guadalupe (August–October) for great-white shark cage diving. There are also five-day trips out of Ensenada, northern Baja. Twelve cabins with private baths serve a maximum of 24 passengers. This is one of Cabo's top diving experiences, so book well in advance. Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 866/591–4906 toll free; 310/455–3600 in U.S. www.solmar5.com. from $3,450 to $4,175.
Cabo Pulmo/Parque Marino Nacional Cabo Pulmo, a 25,000-year-old coral reef, has been legally protected since 1995 and is home to more than 2,000 different kinds of marine organisms—including more than 230 species of tropical fish and a dozen kinds of petrified coral. The area is renowned among diving aficionados, whose favorite months to visit are June and July, when visibility is highest. The park isn't difficult to access. Head southwest from La Ribera and it's just 8 km (5 miles) from the end of the paved road; it's bordered by Playa Las Barracas in the north and Bahía Los Frailes to the south. It can also be reached by the well-maintained dirt road running along the coast from San José del Cabo. It'll take you three hours or more this way, but the coast along this route is unmatched. (Though, if it's raining, stick to the paved route.) There are two main dive centers offering full gear rentals, kayaks, snorkel gear, and sportfishing tours.
Parque Nacional Marino Cabo Pulmo. This 25,000-year-old coral reef has been legally protected since 1995 and is home to more than 2,000 different kinds of marine organisms—including more than 230 species of tropical fish and a dozen kinds of petrified coral. The area is renowned among diving aficionados, whose favorite months to visit are June and July, when visibility is highest. The park isn't difficult to access. Head southwest from La Ribera and it's just 8 km (5 mi) from the end of the paved road; it's bordered by Playa Las Barracas in the north and Bahía Los Frailes to the south. It can also be reached by the well-maintained dirt road running along the coast from San José del Cabo. It'll take you three hours or more this way, but the coast along this route is unmatched. (Though, if it's raining, stick to the paved route.) There are two main dive centers, Cabo Pulmo Dive Center and Cabo Pulmo Divers, offering full gear rentals, kayaks, snorkel gear, and sportfishing tours. Hwy. 1, Km. 31, Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur, 23400. www.cabopulmopark.com. $5.
Cabo Pulmo Divers. Cabo Pulmo provides some of the more exceptional dives in the area, and Cabo Pulmo Divers has everything you need, including certification classes (multiday). This 5-star PADI certified outfit is a local family-run shop. It's right on the beach and offers full diving services, as well as cheap rooms from $79 to $129 dollars per night. Hwy. 1 at La Ribera turnoff, at the end of the road, in the palapa right by the water on the beach, Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur, 23500. 624/141–0726. www.cabopulmo.com.
The waters off Los Cabos are home to more than 800 species of fish—a good number of which bite all year round. It's easy to arrange charters online, through hotels, and directly with sportfishing companies along El Médano Beach and along the docks at Marina Cabo San Lucas. Indeed, to select a company yourself, consider hanging out at the marina between 1 pm and 4 pm when the boats come in, and asking the passengers about their experiences.
Prices range from $200 or $250 a day for a panga to $500 to $1,700 a day for a larger cruiser with a bathroom, a sunbathing deck, and possibly a few other amenities. The sky's the limit with the larger private yachts (think 80 feet); it's not unheard of for such vessels to cost $5,000 or $7,000 a day. All rates include a captain and crew, tackle, bait, fishing licenses, drinks, and—sometimes—lunch. Most hotels in San José will arrange fishing trips.
All of the Corridor hotels work with fishing fleets anchored at the Cabo San Lucas marina and a few with boats in Puerto Los Cabos, so any one of them can help you set up your fishing trips. The major drawback of arranging a fishing trip from one of the Corridor hotels is the travel time involved in getting down to the water. It takes up to half an hour or more to reach the docks from Corridor hotels, and most boats depart at 6:30 am.
La Leona Fleet. Long a favorite for its great selection of pangas (small fishing boats) and superpangas, La Leona Fleet has boats available at both Playa Palmilla in the Corridor and La Playita in the San José del Cabo area. It has seven comfortable and speedy little rides; it's solely represented by the Jig Stop in Dana Point, California, who also represents the Abaroa, Gaviota, and Ana Mar fleets and a total of about 30 boats. The Puerto Nuevo Marina, Marina, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur. 624/142–1152 or 800/521–2281. www.jigstop.com. From $220 per day, not including fishing licenses, food, or drinks; cruisers range up to $560 per day.
Gordo Banks Pangas. The pangas (small fishing boats) of Gordo Banks Pangas are near some of the hottest fishing spots in the Sea of Cortez: the Outer and Inner Gordo banks. The pangas accommodate up to three. Their cruisers accommodate up to five. La Playa near San José del Cabo, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/142–1147; 619/488–1859 in U.S. www.gordobanks.com. Pangas from $210; cruisers from $380 per day.
Santi Sport Fishing. Captain Victor at Santi Sport Fishing has a fleet of pangas (small fishing boats) near Cabo Adventures. Rates start at $175. Blvd Paseo de la Marina, Dock #2, near Cabo Adventures, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur. 624/1–157–1499 cell. www.santisportfishing.com.
Most vendors are at the Marina Cabo San Lucas. Ships tend to depart from sportfishing docks at the south end of the marina, near the Puerto Paraíso Mall, or from the docks at the Wyndham Hotel. It's very important to get specific directions and departure times, since it's hard to find your spot at 6:30 in the morning.
Gaviota Fleet. The Gaviota Fleet currently holds the record for the largest marlin caught in Cabo San Lucas's waters. The company has charter cruisers and super-pangas from 23 feet to 36 feet. Docked between Gates 2 and 3 across from the Marina Fiesta Hotel, office at Villa Serena RV Park, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 888/522–2442. www.gaviotasportfishing.com. Egg Harbor yachts from $480.
Jig Stop Tours. Jig Stop Tours is located in Southern California and books fishing trips for a number of Los Cabos fleets like Gaviota, Pisces, and La Leona Fleets. It is one of the best, and easiest, one-stop fishing shops in the United States. 34186 Coast Hwy., Dana Point, CA, 92629. 800/521–2281. www.jigstop.com.
Minerva's Baja Tackle. Renowned tackle store, Minerva's Baja Tackle and Sportfishing Charters, has been around for nearly 40 years and has its own fleet with four sportfishing charter boats from 31 feet to 33 feet. Madero between Blvd. Marina and Guerrero, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–1282. www.minervas.com. From $764, all-inclusive.
Picante Fleet. One of the top sportfishing fleets, Picante Fleet, offers a wide selection of 20 well-equipped, top-of-the-line, 31-foot to 68-foot Cabo sport fishers. If you prefer smaller boats, there's the Picantito fleet, with a trio of 24-foot Shamrock walk-around boats. These are primarily used for fishing close to shore. Picante offers trips and boats that vary in size and price. Puerto Paraíso Mall Local 39-A, near Harley-Davidson Store, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–2474; 714/442–0644 in U.S. www.picantesportfishing.com. from $325; up to $3,850 for 8 hours.
Pisces Sportfishing Fleet. Some of Cabo's top hotels use the extensive range of yachts from Pisces Sportfishing Fleet. The fleet includes the usual 31-foot Bertrams, but also has a sizable fleet of 50- to 70-foot Viking, Mikelson, Hatteras, and Ocean Alexander yachts with tuna towers, air-conditioning, and multiple staterooms. Pisces also has luxury yachts up to 156 feet in length. Chartering a 31-foot Bertram is all-inclusive for up to six people, and trips last for around seven or eight hours. Blvd. Marina, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–1288; 877/286–7938 toll free in U.S. www.piscessportfishing.com. From $445; Bertram charter, $695, all-inclusive.
Solmar Fleet. Once the largest fleet in Cabo San Lucas, the long-established Solmar Fleet has been subdivided into several parts and its fleet representatives are now located in both the Solmar Hotel and Playa Grande Hotel. Solmar offers 13 sportfishing boats, from super-pangas to 26- and 36-footers. Solmar boats and tackle are always in good shape, and its longtime regulars wouldn't fish with anyone else. Solmar Resort, Blvd. Marina, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/145–7575 or 800/344–3349. www.solmar.com. From $400.
Outside Parque Marino Nacional Cabo Pulmo (where you aren't allowed to fish), just north of Cabo Pulmo, there are a number of excellent spots to try your luck at hooking a marlin, tuna, giant sea bass, or snapper. It's best to stop by some of the local dive shops and make arrangements for them to take you out.
You can rent a board right at the beach at Costa Azul in San José del Cabo, or at the Cabo Surf Hotel, and paddle right into the gentle, feathering waves at the Old Man's surf spot. If you're at the intermediate level or above, walk a short distance eastward to La Roca (The Rock) break. Big waves are best left to the experts up north, in Todos Santos.
Costa Azul Surf Shop. For epic surfing tips, rentals, and lessons, head to Costa Azul Surf Shop. They have the best quiver in Los Cabos with over 150 hand-shaped boards from their popular Olea line. They also offer paddleboards, boogie boards, and snorkel gear. Lessons include transportation, the surfboard rental, a rash guard, and bottled water. All instructors are CPR certified and have 25 years of surfing experience. Hwy. 1, Km 28, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/142–2771 or 624/142–4454. www.costa-azul.com.mx. Rentals, $20 per day, $15 per day for four days or more; lessons, $85.
Mike Doyle Surf School. The Mike Doyle Surf School is the top "surfer-friendly" location in all of Los Cabos. If you stay at the Cabo Surf Hotel where Mike Doyle's is located, you can check the surf conditions from the restaurant, bar, pool, or even from your balcony. The school has over 100 rental boards, from foam boards and short boards to long boards and stand up paddleboards. There are five surf instructors available at the shop for lessons. Cabo Surf Hotel, on the beach at the bottom of the steps, just below the 7 Seas restaurant, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/172–6188; 858/964-5117 In U.S. www.cabosurfshop.com. From $30 for two hour rentals. $79 group rate lessons; $99 for private instruction.
Cabo Expeditions. Like many Cabo tour operators, Cabo Expeditions offers snorkeling and in-season whale-watching tours in hard-bottom inflatable boats. Near Wyndham Hotel, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143–2700. www.caboexpeditions.com.mx. Snorkeling $74, whale-watching $89.