Sea It to Believe It
The best beaches for underwater adventures
By Beto Haro
Every day is a new opportunity to choose your own adventure in Southern Baja. I grew up here, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than getting into the water. In fact, as a tour guide for the better part of a decade, I got to know the peninsula’s entire coastline: where to go for adventures (snorkeling, diving, fishing), the best beaches for casual swimming or hanging with family, surf spots, camping grounds, casual whale watching, kayaking, even romantic dates at midnight. While it’s easy to get distracted by all that Los Cabos has to offer—golf courses, beach clubs, spas, restaurants, and clubs—you owe it to yourself to set aside time and get acquainted with the waters down here.
Whether you’re a novice or advanced, in great shape or only so-so, with or without vehicle, there’s an option for you! Here I highlight some of my favorite beaches—and companies—for underwater adventures. Bonus tip: Don’t forget to pack your waterproof camera.
You can’t get any closer than Pelican’s Rock, a granite formation located right off of Lover’s Beach (Playa del Amor) and near the edge of Cannery Beach. The sensational snorkel spot is only a five-minute ride from the Cabo San Lucas Marina via water taxi. The Sea of Cortés is known for its calm waters, and that makes the swimming and snorkeling conditions here ideal. The kids will approve. You’ll see a variety of sea life here, including manta rays and other large species. Once I was lucky enough to even see a humpback whale here. Not sure you want to brave the water? Cabo Expeditions (www.caboexpeditions.com.mx) operates a family-friendly tour aboard its bright yellow Cabo Submarine. The 60-foot semi-submersible vessel offers beautiful views of Land’s End and the beach from its top deck, then guests can go down below to peer through windows and out at the lively sea below.
Have a little more time on your hands? Several tour companies offer kayaking and snorkeling tours to Chileno Bay (Playa el Chileno) and Santa María (Playa Santa María). Both offer protected swimming conditions, clear water, and up-close views of tropical fishes, starfish, octopus, and rays. During whale watching season, it’s even possible to sometimes hear the songs of the humpback whales underwater. Tour providers like Cabo Escape (www.wildcabotours.com), Big Mike Sea Adventure (www.bigmikeseadventures.com), Buccaneer Queen (www.buccaneerloscabos.com), Caborey (www.caborey.com), Cabo Sailing (www.cabosailing.com), Eco Cat (www.ecocatcabo.com), Pez Gato (www.pezgato.com), Sun Rider Tours (www.sunridertours.com), and Cabo Expeditions (www.caboexpeditions.com.mx) provide all the snorkeling gear you’ll need. Most also offer an open bar and food, not to mention onboard entertainment.
Ready to venture out on your own? Rent a car from 10 Car Rental (www.tencarrental.com), which has a large fleet of Jeep and SUV options—not to mention its “No Worries Protection Program”—then hit the road for a sometimes-bumpy ride to Cabo Pulmo in the East Cape. The beach is beautiful, and the water is nice and comfortable all year round. But the main attraction at this national marine park is the famous El Pulmo coral reef. Don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel or scuba dive in one of the best spots in the world. Don’t worry if you don’t have the necessary equipment; there are certified companies in Cabo Pulmo that can take you scuba diving or rent out the equipment. When you’re underwater here, you feel like you’re inside of an aquarium—in the very best way. And it’s easy to understand how the region earned its moniker as the aquarium of the world. Sea turtles also nest in the area, so bring your camera and be careful where you set up camp.
The Baja Peninsula is dotted with islands, but the jewel of the Sea of Cortés is Espíritu Santo, an island archipelago off of La Paz (the capital of Baja California Sur). La Paz is located about two hours north of Cabo San Lucas, and it’s home to many of the region’s most beautiful beaches. It’s also the jumping-off point for expeditions to Espíritu Santo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cabo Expeditions (www.caboexpeditions.com.mx) and Sun Rider Tours (www.sunridertours.com) offer tours departing from Cabo San Lucas. The six-to-eight-hour tours are your chance to circumnavigate the entire archipelago. Stop at a sea lion colony to snorkel with the playful sea lions (pups are born each spring) and snorkel. You’ll likely see brightly colored fish as well as the sea lions that like to get between you and the rocks; don’t be alarmed if they nibble on your fins. After the swim, enjoy a relaxing lunch on what is hand’s down one of the most beautiful beaches in México, if not the world: Ensenada Grande.
Have time for a little weekend away? Loreto is located only about six hours north of Los Cabos, but its beaches are well worth the drive. The constellation of five islands that make up this national marine park are worth an exploration, especially the famous Danzante Island, home to three different beaches. The waters here are carefully protected, which means activities and access are regulated. But that also means the vibrancy of the sea and sea life are maintained. Kayak. Snorkel. And grab lots of photos!
But Wait, There’s More
Of course, this is in no way an exhaustive list of Los Cabos or Southern Baja beaches. To learn more about the stretches of sand that make this a world-class travel destination, visit www.cabosanlucasbeaches.com. (You can also read archives of past articles at www.loscabosmagazine.com.) At both sites, you’ll learn more about favorite spots like Playa Palmilla (Palmilla Beach), Playa Los Cerritos (Cerritos Beach), and Playa el Médano (Medano Beach). Y