Cabo San Lucas
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 $75 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.
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 $100 for a single or $130 for a double (two people sharing an ATV) and includes boxed lunches and drinks. Trips to La Candelaria include lunch and cost about $120 for a single and $150 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.
Greens fee prices quoted include off- and high-season rates and are subject to frequent change.
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 $50 per person; two-hour trips about $80.
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 $50 for a half hour and $90 for a full hour, but prices are negotiable, especially if booking for a group.
In Cabo San Lucas, Playa Médano is the beach for kayaking. A number of companies located along El Médano near the Baja Cantina Beachside, at the bottom of Cabo Villas, offer kayak rentals, and there are guided tours that go out to Lover's Beach to view El Arco, and around the Land's End Rocks. Rates are pretty uniform from one operator to the other; you don't need to waste precious time by trying to comparison shop.
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.
Generally, diving costs about $70 for one tank and $95 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 (underwater cascades that drop into a 1,200 foot canyon) 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.
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 $70; 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.
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.
The gray-whale migration doesn't end at Baja's Pacific lagoons. Plenty of whales of all sizes make it down to the warmer waters off Los Cabos and into the Mar de Cortés. To watch whales from shore, go to the beach at the Solmar Suites, The Grand Solmar, Sandos Finisterra, or any Corridor hotel, or the lookout points along the Corridor highway.