Los Cabos, on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico has two very distinct personalities. On one side you’ve got raucous Cabo San Lucas, all neon lights, slick shopping malls and late night bars popular with young gringos living it up during spring break. At the other end of the highway (known locally as the ‘corridor’) sits San José del Cabo, a quiet, authentic Mexican town. Separating the two are megaresorts, upscale hotels, luxury spas and championship golf courses, as well as the incredible scenery for which the area is famous.
Whichever side you choose, however, Los Cabos is a very easy place to visit with kids and there’s plenty to see and do. Here’s our top 10 pick.
1. Go Whale Watching
From late December to late March, the waters surrounding Los Cabos are one of the best places in the world to spot whales. Every year, hundreds of whales migrate from the frozen waters of the Arctic for some winter sun choosing the warm, calm waters surrounding the Baja Peninsula to birth and rear their young.
Of the 11 species of whale in the world, eight can be seen in the waters surrounding Los Cabos including minke, bryde, fin, humpback and gray whales.
There are a lot of companies offering whale-watching tours from the Marina in Cabo San Lucas. We went with Whale Watch Cabo, known for being a leader in non-invasive and sustainable whale eco-tourism, and found them to be excellent.
Tip! If you get seasick, make sure to bring medication with you.
2. Hit the Beach
Although the Pacific Ocean is not the best for swimming (in fact, a number of beaches are closed for swimming owing to strong currents) and the waters can be decidedly chilly, it’s still worth spending a day or two at the beach.
We visited Chileno Bay (Bahia Chileno), a popular local beach that is off the radar of most spring breakers. The beach is located along the ‘corridor’ and is a great one for families. Here you can actually swim or snorkel in the waters (lifeguards are on duty) , palapas provide shade and there are even bathrooms and showers. My kids loved playing in the tide pools and searching for hermit crabs. Look for signs to Chileno Bay around the 14km mark. There are no food stands so make sure to bring a picnic.
Tip! We were later told that if you visit during whale season, you should put your head under the water and just listen – you may hear a humpback whale singing!
3. Visit San José del Cabo
We stayed in a small hotel, The Bungalows Hotel, located in a quiet neighbourhood in Cabo San Lucas. However, if we were to visit Los Cabos again, we may well choose to stay in San José del Cabo. This calm town is like the quieter sibling to raucous Cabo San Lucas and is a great choice for families. But even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth visiting to get a feel for what Los Cabos used to be like. There’s a pretty plaza, a beautiful church, some interesting shops and plenty of good dining options.
Tip! Las Cazuelas de Don comes highly recommend for lunch and dinner.
4. Take a boat ride to El Arco
The distinctive Arch (‘El Arco’) of Cabo San Lucas is where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez and one of Los Cabos’ most iconic spots. You can see the unique rock formation from dry land in Cabo San Lucas but really, this sandy coloured arch is best seen by boat. Hail a water taxi from the Marina and either snap photos from the boat or ask the captain to drop you off. Keep an eye out for sea lions sunbathing along the way.
Tip! Playa del Amour (Lover’s Beach), at the base of El Arco, is a great spot for snorkelling and a picnic, bring supplies with you.
5. Gallery hop in Todos Santos
About an hour north of Cabo San Lucas is the pueblo magico (‘magical town’) of Todos Santos. Once a major source of sugar-cane production, today it’s a sleepy colonial town home to historic buildings, charming plazas and dozens of art galleries. Nearby is Playa los Carritos, a pretty strip of sand with a surfy vibe that’s good for paddling. Sadly, one end of the beach has fallen foul of some unattractive real estate development. Ignore this and head to Hacienda Cerritos instead, a 10-room boutique hotel with a wonderful terrace from where you can look for whales.
Tip! We stayed at Hotel Casa Tota, a fantastic hotel in the town centre that’s also home to one of the best restaurants in Todos Santos.
6. Surf the Break at Zippers
Surfing is a big draw for Baja and world-famous Zippers is one of the most popular breaks. Located just west of San Jose del Cabo, Zippers is for serious surfers only, not least because you’ll have to fight the crowds for position! But even if you’re not a surfer, it’s a fun place to come and watch from shore as folk master the waves.
Tip! Remember to bring a picnic.
7. Learn to blow glass
Cabo San Lucas is home to what was for many years the only glass factory on the Baja peninsula. The factory was started in 1990 by a local entrepreneur in order to meet the demands of local hotels and shops for tableware. These days the foundry produces a range of products from glassware to original artisanal pieces.
Browse the (dusty!) shelves for souvenirs to take home and watch the artisans at work (visit before 2pm). When we visited, we were allowed to try and blow glass ourselves – all I can say is that it’s harder than it looks!
Tip! The factory is not easy to find, if you don’t speak Spanish you’re probably best getting a taxi rather than driving yourself.
Address: The Glass Factory Vitrofusion y Arte La Fabrica de Vidrio Soplado (The Blown Glass Factory) Lazaro Cardenas S/N Edificio Posada Local 6-A Cabo San Lucas.
Tel: (624) 143-0120
8. Enjoy lunch at Huerta Los Tamarindos
One of our favourite afternoons was spent over a long, leisurely lunch at Huerta Los Tamarindos. This organic farm and restaurant is located just east of San José del Cabo and is a joyous escape from the development along the coast. The restaurant also runs cooking classes (adults only) but we chose to sit on the terrace and enjoy the chef’s creations instead. The Italian-inspired meal was easily the best we had on our holiday to Baja.
Tip! Remember to make a reservation.
9. Nature watch at San José Estuary
Perhaps our most surprising discovery was the Estuary and Bird Sanctuary in San José del Cabo (Estero San José). Designated a Protected Natural Area, it’s the only freshwater coastal lagoon in Baja California and is home to some 270 different species of birds. You’re most likely to spot frigate birds and brown pelicans but it’s also an important refuge for the critically endangered Belding’s Yellowthroat.
Tip! There’s little shade here so time your visit for late afternoon or sunset instead.
10. Eat Pizza at Jo’s Garden
We might have loved Los Tamarindos but the kids really loved Jo’s Garden. This is a simple, no-frills outdoor restaurant that just happens to served excellent pizza, made to order and cooked in their wood fire oven. Jo’s also serves sushi and sashmi but we stuck to pizza both times we visited.
Tip! It gets busy and you can’t book so either get there early or be prepared to wait for a table.
Where to Stay in Los Cabos with Kids
In addition to the hotels that we recommended above, Los Cabos is full of family-friendly resorts. Some of the most popular ones include Villa del Arco Beach Resort and Spa, The Resort at Pedregal and Casa Bella Boutique Hotel. For more ideas, take a look at TripAdvisor
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