Highly recommended! El Arco (the arch) is Cabo’s most iconic landmark, a striking rock formation rising from the southernmost point of the Baja Peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean becomes the Sea of Cortez. The best way to visit El Arco is by kayak; this is the only way to access the cove and get up close to the arch, as larger boats are unable to maneuver the tight space there. Tours last about 3.5 hours, with the price inclusive of hotel transfer, life vests, snorkel gear, and refreshments and snacks. Kid-friendly for swimmers ages 7 and up. The Cabo Half-Day Luxury Sailing Adventure with Snorkeling is also highly recommended.
Snorkel the Sea of Cortez
Called “The Aquarium of the World” by Jacques Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez is one of the world’s richest marine environments. Thousands of unique species are found here, from sea lions to sea turtles, from colorful reef fish to mobula rays – a type of manta ray that leaps out of the water. The dazzling blue waters in this gulf are gentle for most of the year, though temperatures vary; the warmest months for snorkeling are June through December. Explorers can snorkel on their own, swimming off the coast at Santa Maria, Chileno Bay, or day tripping up to Cabo Pulmo. For guided tours, try Cabo Trek for the best private trip or Esperanza’s Tours for a fantastic, affordable tour for couples or smaller groups.
• Reviews: Cabo Trek, Esperanza’s Tours
A hands-on cooking class is an amazing way to connect with Baja culture. Most classes begin with a trip to the local market or farm, where students will learn about indigenous ingredients and how to choose them. Authentic recipes for ceviche, salsas, mole, tamales, and more are taught in restaurants or home kitchens in classes that usually last around four or five hours, including time to eat your creations. Casa de Colores and Cookin’ Cabo offer home-cooking, family-friendly classes in Cabo San Lucas, while Huerta Los Tamarindos is on a charming organic farm, slightly more upscale, and has amazingly delicious food.
• Reviews: Casa de Colores, Cookin’ Cabo, Huerta los Tamarindos
Explore an Oasis at Sierra de la Laguna
Sierra de la Laguna offers a striking contrast to the deserts of Los Cabos: a lush oasis with waterfalls, cold granite pools, natural waterslides, hot springs, and leafy green trees. To find the best spots in this pristine UNESCO biosphere reserve, travelers will definitely need a guide. Baja Sierra Adventures is the single best tour operator for Sierra de la Laguna. Owner Edgardo Cortes takes guests on multi-sport treks – hiking, biking, and swimming all of the area’s hidden wonders. Day trips, overnights, or multi-day excursions all include intimate dining at working ranches, mingling with the locals, and sometimes tortilla-making lessons over an open fire. Tours are adaptable for each group and can be easy to strenuous, great for families or couples. Available year-round, except for August and September. Travelers will need to rent a car to get to Santiago, the tour’s home base.
Cabo San Lucas is known for its wild nightlife scene, and the best way to learn the hotspots is on a pub crawl. Drink and dash through 4 or 5 bars in about three or four hours, solving puzzles and completing challenges along the way (though every tour can be quite different depending on your guide).
San Jose Art Walk
Spend an evening walking through the art galleries in historic downtown San Jose, when the town’s quaint, Spanish colonial streets fill with colorful street performers, food stalls, musicians, and dancers. Superb local artwork here ranges from painting to sculpture to jewelry and beyond, each gallery with its own unique flair. Travelers can sample wine and tequila in the galleries or stop by the local cantinas for tacos, margaritas, and ceviche. The Art Walk is a free, all-ages event that takes place every Thursday evening between 5 and 9 from November through June. The main galleries are located on Obregon, Morelos, Guerrero, and Comonfort streets. Maps are available at any storefront and are helpful for finding the smaller galleries on the side streets. Tours are available but totally unnecessary.
Enjoy Rancho Carisuva’s sunset or morning hike with a trusty little donkey (burrito) as companion. In this unique hike, guests will explore the Baja desert landscape, learn about local plants and wildlife, and take a break at a seaside clifftop lookout, where your friendly burro will offer beer and snacks. The hike back to the ranch follows a pristine beach. This is part of a rescue program that helps donkeys who have been abused or abandoned by local farmers and miners due to technological advances. The Burrito Safari is family-friendly and can be combined with ATV tours or horseback riding. Tours last about two hours, and rates include beer, water, and snacks, plus round-trip transportation. Guests may choose to provide their own transportation and get 30% off the tour price.
Swim with Sharks
Cabo Shark Dive’s exhilarating tour offers a rare chance to safely swim, snorkel, or dive in the open water (no cages) with these apex predators. The Sea of Cortez is home to a variety of sharks that can be seen year-round, but this area is especially great for spotting silkies, blues, makos (the world’s fastest), and hammerheads that begin to gather here every March. Though sharks are the main attraction, guests may also get the opportunity to swim with other marine life, such as dolphins, sea lions, whales, and manta rays. Tours last roughly 5 hours, depending on how fast the sharks find the chum; guests will need to wait patiently. Very occasionally, no sharks will come. It’s rare that this happens, but in this case, guests will be offered a second tour at 50% off. Ages 13 and up only; minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach
These twin beaches jut out into the Sea of Cortez near El Arco, with Lovers Beach facing the calm gulf side and Divorce Beach facing the choppy Pacific. The water on the Lovers side is popular for snorkeling and swimming; the Divorce side is best for lounging, but the water is too rough to swim. Travelers will need to bring their own towels and umbrellas, but there usually are locals selling beer and refreshments. Lovers and Divorce less crowded than the main Medano Beach, because they are harder to get to. Most people take a water taxi to get there. Be advised that there is no dock on the beach side; the captain will pull up as close to shore as they can, and guests will then need to jump out and negotiate their way to the beach. There are locals who will help people ashore and handle their gear, usually for another 80 pesos ($5 USD). Another option is to hike to the beaches from the Grand Solmar, a moderate hike but not for novices. It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to scrabble over the rocks. Stick to the inside, and don’t try to get by on the beach side.
• Reviews: Lovers Beach, Divorce Beach
San Jose Estuary
A marshy, freshwater lagoon and bird sanctuary, the San Jose Estuary is fed by an underwater river and covers about 2000 acres, including a thin strip of beach. Several hundred local and migrating bird species are found here, including Great Blue Herons, White-faced Ibis, and endangered Belding’s Yellowthroats. A little trail cuts through the area for hiking or biking, while kayaking is popular in the lagoon. Be sure to stop by the Wirikuta Cactus Garden just to the west of the Estuary, which houses about 1800 varieties of cacti as well as a sculpture garden. The Estuary is about 10 minutes’ walk from Downtown San Jose or 15 minutes bicycling from the Hotel Zone.
• Reviews: Estuary, Cactus Garden