Things to Do in Baja California Sur
A signature landmark of Los Cabos, El Arco de Cabo San Lucas—known locally as simply “El Arco” or “the Arch”—is a limestone arch carved by time, tide, and wind. The natural attraction runs runs down to the water’s edge at Land’s End, the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas (which itself is at the southern end of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula) and into the Sea of Cortez. From a distance, the rock formation looks like a dragon; up close, the arch frames sky, sea, and sand for prime photos.
With white sand and jade-colored water, it’s no surprise that this postcard-ready beach has a reputation for inspiring romance. Rock formations frame the beautiful scene, and, since Mexico’s Playa del Amor faces the relatively calm waters of the Sea of Cortez, it’s ideal for snorkeling right off the shore.
Stretching roughly 3 miles (5 kilometers) along the La Paz coastline, the Malecón is a wide boardwalk that’s frequented by travelers, locals, joggers, families, rollerbladers, and cyclists alike. Lined with restaurants, bars, and shops and dotted with sculptures and benches, it’s the ideal spot for a stroll at any time of day and offers sweeping views over the ocean.
The untouched shores of Balandra Beach are some of La Paz’s most beautiful. With calm waters sheltered from the Gulf of California and a shallow sandbar stretching from one side of the bay to the other, it’s the perfect beach for swimming and wading. It’s also part of the national marine park and one of La Paz’s last undeveloped beaches.
Located in the heart of the old town, San Jose del Cabo Church (Parroquia San José) was founded by Jesuits in 1730. This iconic Catholic church, with brilliant white bell towers and a striking interior, pays homage to Jesuit priest Nicolas Tamaral, who was martyred on the site where the building now stands.
Stretching around a secluded cove, Santa Maria Beach (Playa Santa María) is a protected marine sanctuary and an excellent spot for snorkeling or sunbathing. Santa Maria’s serene setting offers a nice alternative to the noise and excitement of Cabo San Lucas’ beaches, and snorkeling with a variety of colorful fish is just a short swim from shore.
The waters of Cabo San Lucas may be wild elsewhere, but at Medano Beach (Playa el Medano there are miles of safe, calm swimming, along with beach fun for the whole family. Los Cabos’ most popular beach becomes a long stretch of sand filled with towels, sun umbrellas, volleyball, pleasure boats, and bars, while resorts and high-rise apartment buildings line its coast.
Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park (Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo) contains the oldest living reef on North America’s Pacific coast, home to corals, colorful fish, and larger species such as whale sharks, dolphins, manta rays, and sea turtles. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this marine park is a rich destination for reef snorkeling and scuba diving.
Located between San Jose del Cabo and Los Cabos Marina, the San Jose Estuary (Estero San José) is home to hundreds of species of birds and colorful wildlife and is a prime destination for bird-watchers. Nature lovers also flock to this sanctuary for sunrise kayak journeys and relaxing sunset hikes.
Protected by the Chileno Bay, the waters at Chileno Beach (Playa Chileno) are calm, warm, and clear, while the reefs just offshore act as a home to an abundance of sea life. The beach, considered one of Los Cabos’ best-kept secrets, mimics the feel of Caribbean shores. Sun-seekers will enjoy the seclusion and the top-notch snorkeling opportunities.
More Things to Do in Baja California Sur
Isla Espiritu Santo, off the coast of La Paz in the Gulf of California, is part of the national marine park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. This long narrow island is abundant in wildlife, both above and below the ocean’s surface, and a popular destination for travelers looking to experience some of the best of Mexico’s outdoors.
Set against the sweeping backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the 18th-century Our Lady of Pilar Church (Misión de Nuestra Señora del Pilar) is the town’s most notable religious edifice. Originally built by Spanish missionaries and characterized by a yellow facade, an altar surrounded by stained glass, and sweeping views over the ocean, Our Lady of Pilar Church is a Todos Santos must-see.
The Sea of Cortez (or Gulf of California) lies between the Baja California Peninsula and mainland Mexico. This stretch of the Pacific, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most diverse seas in the world and home to more than 3,000 marine species, including hammerhead sharks, sea lions, and sea turtles.
Cabo San Lucas may be known for its beaches, but the seaside town also offers adventure options that involve more land than sea. The Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, with its abundant oak and pine forests, is a rugged escape for those looking to explore the great outdoors. The Tropic of Cancer dissects the range; in other words, the area is tropical, but its elevation helps keep it relatively cool.
Calm water, roped-off swimming areas, and soft sand make Palmilla Beach one of the most family-friendly beaches in Los Cabos. Snorkelers, swimmers, and anglers will all find something to love here, but not everyone is quite so active. Score a free-standing palapa, and you’ll have a shady place to lounge with picture-perfect views.
Located off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Pelican Rock features dramatic rock formations and a small, gravelly beach that's often crowded with snorkelers, swimmers, scuba divers, and cliff jumpers. This protected spot at Land’s End is famous for its abundant wildlife, both above and below the ocean’s surface, and popular with Los Cabos snorkeling tours.
Pedregal de Cabo San Lucas, the first luxury community of Cabo San Lucas, is still one of the city’s most exclusive neighborhoods. It’s home to numerous 5-star resorts, restaurants, shops, and a thriving nightlife scene—but the area’s best feature is arguably its expansive views of the marina and ocean, which you’ll see at every turn.
The Bahia de Cabo San Lucas (Bay of Cabo San Lucas is the cape’s hub for water sports and beach activities like jet skiing, kayaking, waterskiing, parasailing, and more. Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California, the bay is lined with scenic stretches of sand and swimmable beaches, with Medano Beach being the safest and most popular one in Cabo San Lucas.
Rugged arches both define Cabo San Lucas’ coastline and create some of the area’s best scuba diving. One of those dive spots is known as Sand Falls, located by the arch that stands at the head of the harbor. Discovered by legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, this natural phenomenon is a cascade of—as the name suggests—sand.
The most popular cruise port on the so-called Mexican Riviera, Cabo San Lucas Cruise Port welcomes liners from around the world. Known for its natural beauty, nightlife, and endless beaches, Cabo San Lucas marks the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and acts as a gateway to the region.
Located at the southern end of Cabo San Lucas, Land’s End features dramatic rock formations jutting out into the sea, hidden beaches, and a rich variety of sea life. Here you can seek out the remote stretch of sand known as Lover’s Beach, admire sunbathing sea lions, and see the picturesque El Arco, or archway.
Tucked away in the sandy scrubland of Baja California is Los Cabos’ only professional equestrian center, Cuadra San Francisco. Giddy up and explore the Baja countryside with the popular ranch and stable’s range of horseback riding options. Cuadra San Francisco is also known for its “dancing horses,” which pop up at local weddings and parties.
With views of the Sea of Cortez, Palmilla Golf Club is widely regarded as one of Mexico’s best golf courses, as well as one of the top golfing destinations in the world. A diverse course with a unique design—including many levels of elevation and directional shifts which keep the game varied—it was the first Jack Nicklaus Signature course built in Latin America.
Hotel California is a boutique hotel in Todos Santos, a town near Los Cabos, Mexico. Ideal for those looking to escape into the Baja California countryside, the hotel is decorated in a colonial Mexican style, while its 11 luxurious suites contains furnishings from around the world.