From taquerías to turtles, this sun-drenched destination has something for everyone.
Few getaway destinations can match Los Cabos when it comes to year-round sunshine and magnificently picturesque scenery. Set between mountains, desert and two immense bodies of water—the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean—on the southernmost rim of the Baja California peninsula, Los Cabos is truly a place unlike any other. Once famed primarily for its big-game sport fishing and beautiful beaches, cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo have added to their allure in recent years with a bevy of new beachfront luxury resorts, as well as upscale attractions like pampering spas and world-class golf courses. Indeed, attractions and activities options now abound in this sun-kissed paradise.
With its sun-soaked beaches, Mexican hospitality, and unparalleled architecture, it’s easy to fall for Los Cabos. We’ve put together a list of the essentials, the 20 things to do in Los Cabos that every seasoned traveler should try at least once. Oh, and when it’s time to sleep we’ve got you covered with Los Cabos best hotels.
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Go Whale Watching and Witness the Biggest Show on Earth
U.S. and Canadian snowbirds aren’t the only ones who flock to sunny Los Cabos to avoid frigid winter temperatures. So to do an estimated five to ten thousand whales, who migrate from Arctic feeding grounds to warm weather breeding grounds in coves and inlets around Baja California Sur. Humpbacks and gray whales are the species most commonly seen around Los Cabos, but blue whales, sperm whales, and even orcas are occasionally sighted in local waters. Whale watching season stretches from mid-December to mid-March, and during those months virtually every adventure company and cruise boat operator in Cabo San Lucas offers daily whale watching excursions. Some companies also include hydrophones, so in addition to witnessing the “biggest show on earth,” visitors can listen to their hauntingly beautiful songs.
Party Like a Rock Star
Cabo San Lucas is famous for its party-hearty nightlife, a scene pioneered by rock star Sammy Hagar, who opened the landmark Cabo Wabo Cantina with his Van Halen bandmates back in 1990. It was a big deal at the time—MTV covered the grand opening, at which Van Halen performed—and Cabo Wabo has capitalized on its ongoing popularity by spinning off U.S. locations in Hollywood and Las Vegas. “The Red Rocker” still performs locally, drawing other big-name musicians for cameo appearances during his annual October “birthday bash” concerts at Cabo Wabo. Other head banging icons have since followed in his footsteps, including Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, who opened a Rock & Brews restaurant and nightclub in San José del Cabo in 2013.
Related: Los Cabos Travel Guide
Catch a Fish That’s Bigger Than You Are
The largest blue marlin ever caught in Cabo San Lucas was a 1,213 pounder reeled in by a vacationing Michigander in 2011, after a 28-hour battle. Most local catches are not quite so arduous, but the area has been acclaimed as one of the world’s sport fishing capitals for half a century, and indeed the initial popularity of Los Cabos as a tourist destination was based in large part on its reputation for spectacular black and blue marlin fishing. The world’s richest fishing tournament, Bisbee’s Black & Blue—aka “The Super Bowl of Sport Fishing” —takes place in October, but visiting anglers can get their hooks into serious game and billfish on a year-round basis, from black, blue, and striped marlin to tuna and sailfish.
Take a Trip to Land’s End
The 750-mile-long Baja California peninsula reaches its southernmost terminus at a half-mile headland at the tip of Cabo San Lucas. In addition to marking “Land’s End,” this promontory also serves as the symbolic demarcation point between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can enjoy remarkable views of Land’s End on nightly sunset cruises, but to get up-close-and-personal with iconic landmarks like El Arco—a spectacular arch-shaped granite monument—Pelican Rock, Neptune’s Finger, The Window to the Pacific, and gorgeous Lover’s and Divorce Beaches, take a water taxi (called a panga locally) or sign up for tandem kayak tours.
Play One of the World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses
Legendary champion Jack Nicklaus put Los Cabos on the golfing map in the early 1990s, designing remarkable coastal layouts at Palmilla and El Dorado, as well as an absolute masterpiece for Cabo del Sol. The Golden Bear has since returned to design three more gems, and he’s inspired competition from other famous champions—including Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Davis Love III, and Tom Weiskopf—who have crafted their own world-class layouts in Los Cabos. As of 2018, four of the 15 currently operating golf courses in Los Cabos are ranked among the World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses by Golf Digest (Diamante Dunes Course, Quivira, Cabo del Sol Ocean Course, and Querencia). Querencia is private, but Cabo del Sol is open to the public, and guests at certain area resorts have access to coveted tee times at Diamante and Quivira.
Related: Golf Courses in Los Cabos
Enjoy World-Class Food on a Working Farm
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine famously married Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo at Flora Farms in 2014, shining a spotlight on one of the most notable recent culinary trends in Los Cabos: the region’s growing number of outstanding farm-to-table restaurants. The Los Cabos municipality is home to a productive and picturesque organic farming community called Miraflores, but it’s a small community just outside of San José del Cabo, Ánimas Bajas, that claims three of the most acclaimed farm-to-fork eateries: Flora’s Field Kitchen, Acre, and Los Tamarindos. All offer intimate al fresco dining experiences in the midst of working farms, and all have proved extremely popular with visiting foodies.
Experience Baja 1000 Style Off-Road Adventures
The Baja California peninsula burst onto the world sporting stage in the 1960s thanks to an off-road event called the Baja 1000, a ruggedly difficult endurance race through challenging desert and mountain terrains. During its 50 plus year run, this now iconic race has attracted participants ranging from Hollywood movie stars like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman to NASCAR icons such as Jimmie Johnson and Robbie Gordon, and Indy 500 winners Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan, and Parnelli Jones. But you don’t have to be an A-list actor or professional race car driver to go fast in Baja. For those who’d like to experience the thrill of off-road racing without the 1000-mile commitment, Los Cabos offers several adventurous options, from high-speed dune buggy jaunts along secluded beaches to pulse-pounding excursions in authentic Baja 1000 style desert racers.
Discover Delicious Baja Style Fish Tacos
The origins of the fish taco date back to the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica, a history probably written about learnedly on some long-lost Mayan codex. The modern version of this popular comfort food, however, is much easier to trace. It started in Baja California in the 1950s, in communities like Ensenada and San Felipe, before eventually crossing the border to become a staple of SoCal beach life. For the real thing, though, you still have to come to Baja; to places where the fish is caught fresh daily and the traditional preparations are sacrosanct. Los Cabos boasts scores of terrific taquerías specializing in Baja style fish tacos, highlighted by Los Claros and La Lupita in San José del Cabo, and Tacos Gardenias in Cabo San Lucas.
Master the Art of Shopping in San José del Cabo
Cabo San Lucas may have the better nightlife, but serious shoppers know the best places to find regional arts and crafts, resort style clothing, and souvenir bargains are in San José del Cabo. The city’s historic, cobblestoned Distrito del Arte is lined with boutique galleries, spotlighting everything from Mata Ortiz pottery to contemporary paintings and sculptures; Plaza Artesanos beckons with stalls featuring Mexican handicrafts like blankets, hammocks, and curios; Plaza del Pescador attracts with Tommy Bahama and other resort style clothing; jewelry shops tout Taxco silver and Mexican fire opals; and the Mercado Municipal and weekly farmer’s market lure foodies and health-conscious visitors with fresh fish, locally ranched meats, organic produce, and artisanal cheeses.
Experience the Magic of Todos Santos
The goal of the pueblo mágico (literally, “magical town”) program, started by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism in 2001, is to promote places of great cultural or historical significance. Since few places in México evoke more magic than Todos Santos—it has been home to a thriving artists’ colony since the 198os, with painters in particular drawn by the mystical quality of its light—it was no surprise when it was the first place on the Baja California peninsula to receive the official designation. A wealthy sugar mill town during its heyday in the 19th century, Todos Santos today showcases an appealing blend of surfer chic, from charming B&Bs and boutique shops to eclectic eateries and the colorful galleries now housed in its historic brick buildings. Less than an hour’s drive from Cabo San Lucas, it’s a must-visit for day trippers and destination surfers.
Help Save Endangered Sea Turtles
Five of the world’s eight sea turtle species nest on Los Cabos area beaches each year, including both the smallest (Olive Ridleys, which average 100 pounds at maturity) and the largest (Leatherbacks, which can weigh as much as a ton). Tiny hatchlings are extremely vulnerable to predators like birds and crabs during their initial journey from beach to sea, so some local resorts and nature conservancies have developed volunteer programs that help to protect these endangered creatures. Several great programs are open to visitors, who can experience the joys of helping a baby sea turtle navigate his or her way to the sea for the very first time. Like whale watching, this is a seasonal activity, available only during the months between July and November.
Refine Your Palate with Tequila and Mezcal Tasting
Tequila isn’t just for margaritas. Brands such as Don Julio have long been known for their top-shelf sipping tequilas, and in recent years, México’s other national spirit—mezcal—has also emerged as a trendy standalone beverage, as well as a favored pairing option for traditional Mexican tasting menus. Ultra-luxe Los Cabos resort Las Ventanas al Paraíso gives both liquors the respect they deserve at its upscale Tequila and Ceviche Bar, which not only features over 200 brands of tequila and mezcal, but an onsite master tequilier who will help you determine your specific flavor profile. For cocktail aficionados, Osvaldo Vazquez of Comal—the signature onsite restaurant at the posh Chileno Bay Resort–is the region’s premier mixologist. His mezcal-based cocktails, in particular, are amazing, with new recipes unveiled on a regular basis.
Dive into an Undersea Fantasia at Cabo Pulmo
Cabo Pulmo, a small community on the East Cape of Los Cabos, is a conservation success story. Two decades ago its offshore waters suffered from overfishing, but once protected and designated as a national marine sanctuary, the area quickly recovered and now boasts the highest concentration of marine life in the entire Sea of Cortez. The highlight of the offshore sanctuary is its spectacular living coral reef, which is one of the oldest in North America. The combination of colorful living coral reef and a thriving habitat shared by dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, and many, many more species of marine life have turned this parque nacional into an undersea fantasia, and a bucket list destination for snorkelers and divers.
Get Pampered at Top Spas
Once upon a time, Los Cabos was best known for its beaches and big-game sport fishing. Those attractions are still flourishing, but nowadays just as many visitors seem drawn to the region’s superb collection of luxury amenities. Los Cabos dominates annual rankings of the best spas in Latin America, for example, and a sort of “pampering arms race” exists among top local resorts. It’s no coincidence that the decadent 35,000 square foot SE Spa at Grand Velas, which debuted in 2017, remained the largest in the area for less than a year, topped in 2018 by the 40,000 square foot Spa Montage at Montage Los Cabos. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, but there’s no longer any room for doubt: from soothing therapies and romantic couples’ treatments to beachfront massage cabanas, Los Cabos’ luxury resorts have mastered the destination spa experience.
Get Barreled Surfing Breaks on the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean
The World Surf League sponsored Los Cabos Open of Surf–held each June at Zippers surf break off Playa Costa Azul in San José del Cabo—may be the only professional tournament that takes place annually in Baja California Sur, but the Capes Region offers great surfing on a year-round basis. Summer surf-minded visitors will find conditions optimal on the Sea of Cortez side, from acclaimed breaks at Playa Monumentos and Costa Azul’s Zippers to less heralded spots like Nine Palms and Shipwrecks on the Los Cabos municipality’s picturesque East Cape. During the winter months, meanwhile, the scene shifts to rippable breaks off Pacific Coast beaches like Los Cerritos, San Pedrito, and La Pastora.
Set Sail and See El Arco and Lover’s Beach
Fishing charters are hardly the only options for visitors itching to test their sea legs at the confluence of the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean. Nightly sunset sails are also a popular activity, with guests given cocktails and a guided tour of all the Land’s End monuments, as well as a chance to witness the sun set in a fiery blaze over the southernmost point of the Baja California peninsula. The sunsets are indeed spectacular, and in addition to the traditional sailing cruises offered by companies like Cabo Adventures, dinner cruises are also available. Caborey offers the area’s premier sunset dinner excursion, with a multi-course meal and after-dinner entertainment aboard a luxurious, 144 foot, triple-decked catamaran.
Sink Your Toes in the Sand at Playa El Médano
The biggest and most popular beach in Cabo San Lucas stretches a full two miles, and is not only home to tons of glorious golden sand, but boisterous cantinas and a succession of beachfront luxury resorts. Playa El Médano beachgoers can sun, swim, rent wave runners or paddle boards, and eat and drink to their heart’s content. Mango Deck is the beach’s premier party spot, a Spring Break mecca that boasts flowing tequila shots and bawdy contests. Neighboring restaurant The Office on the Beach, meanwhile, is best known for its weekly Fiesta Mexicana, a Thursday night staple that features fireworks and folkloric singing and dancing.
Related: Tropicana Inn
Explore the Wonders of Wirikuta Cactus Gardens
Wirikuta is a sacred place in the cosmology of indigenous Huichol people, who still inhabit the highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental in mainland México, and use peyote as part of their traditional religious rituals. The sense of wonder associated with the Wirikuta name made it a natural choice for the Los Cabos area’s premier botanical garden. Located at the upscale Puerto Los Cabos development just outside San Jose del Cabo, Wirikuta boasts over 1,500 species of cacti, and over a million plants in total arrayed in precise geometric patterns. Guests are welcome to explore the peaceful and picturesque setting, and to enjoy the sculpture gardens, which showcase work from notable Mexican artists. A lively show featuring acrobatic ancestral dances draws visitors on Wednesday nights during the high season.
Admire Original Artwork in San Jose del Cabo’s Historic Gallery District
Every Thursday evening during high tourist season—November through June—San José del Cabo’s historic Distrito del Arte welcomes visitors to stroll its charming, cobblestone-studded streets in a tradition known as Art Walk. It’s the premier cultural event in Los Cabos, with the neighborhood’s many gallery owners staying open late (until 9 p.m.) to chat with visitors, and street artists and mariachis showcasing their talents amid the crowds that throng the downtown area. There’s no bad time to visit the Art District which, in addition to hosting many fine arts galleries, is also home to a wide array of excellent bars and restaurants. The state’s first microbrewery, Baja Brewing Company, is located in the heart of the Art District, as is popular gourmet taquería La Lupita Taco & Mezcal.
Stroll the Boardwalk Promenade Around the Cabo San Lucas Marina
San José del Cabo’s Art District isn’t the only prime Los Cabos strolling spot, promoting the leisurely vacation pursuits of sightseeing and shopping. Cabo San Lucas has its own pedestrian mecca, a long boardwalk promenade that parallels the Land’s End city’s marina, snaking from the cruise ship terminal on one end to the juncture with Playa El Médano on the other. Shopping malls like Puerto Paraíso and the upscale Luxury Avenue are set along this marina boardwalk, as are popular local restaurants like Solomon’s Landing and Baja Cantina. The favorite pastime, however, remains sightseeing; checking out the latest luxury yachts tied up at the docks, or watching freshly caught fish being weighed on dockside scales.