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 and there are lots of things to do in Cabo with kids.
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Some of our favourite things to do on a family vacation in Cabo San Lucas include going to the beach, taking a boat ride to see El Arco, visiting the bohemian town of Todos Santos and learning to blow glass (yep, we were surprised to find a glass factory here too!). The following are some of our favourite family friendly activities to do.
Cabo for kids
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1. Watch whales breach
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. This was hands down the best thing we did in Cabo San Lucas with kids.
Tip! If you get seasick, make sure to bring medication with you, the waters can be choppy.
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’ (the road between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo) 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 on the other side of town.
There are not a lot of things to do in San José del Cabo but it’s a very peaceful town and is a great choice for families. 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 but a boat trip to see the arch up close is one of the most popular things to do in Cabo. Hail a water taxi from the Marina and either snap photos from the boat or ask the captain to drop you off on the sandy beach beneath the arch. Keep an eye out for sunbathing sea lions 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 a hamper 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 the pros catch waves.
Tip! Remember to bring a picnic.
7. Learn to blow glass
A fun activity in Cabo for kids is to visit the glass factory. The town is home to what was for many years the only glass factory on the Baja peninsula.
It was started in 1990 by a local entrepreneur in order to meet the demands of local hotels and shops for tableware and 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.
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. If you want to see the artisans at work make sure you visit before 2pm.
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 Cabo family activities was eating! We spent a lovely afternoon 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 one of the most surprising things to do with kids in Cabo is to visit the Estuary and Bird Sanctuary.
Located in San José del Cabo (Estero San José) it’s the only freshwater coastal lagoon in Baja California. It’s a designated Protected Natural Area 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 serve 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.
The best family hotels in Cabo San Lucas
There are lots of family friendly hotels in Los Cabos, including some amazing all-inclusive resorts that cater brilliantly to families. If resorts are not your thing, then there are plenty of holiday rentals to choose from. These accommodations usually offer more space than a hotel room and come with the advantage of having a kitchen, a washer and dryer, a living room and maybe even outside space.
I’m a big fan of renting apartments through sites like VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner and Airbnb. If you have never rented through AirBnB before, I can offer you a £34 Airbnb referral credit (this means you get £34 off your first booking).
Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort & Spa
The mid-range Casa Dorada in downtown Cabo San Lucas is a great resort for families. The big draw here is Medano Beach, one of the best places for swimming owing to its sheltered position. The rooms are all large with sea views; a one-bedroom suite can fit a family of four and a two-bedroom suite can sleep a family of six.
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos
The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos is an all-inclusive resort that boats four pools, a kids’ splash playground, a game room for teens, sixteen restaurants and bars and spacious, family-friendly rooms. Families love the kids’ club and rave about the service.
Sheraton Grand Los Cabos Hacienda del Mar
Family favourite the Sheraton Grand Los Cabos is popular for its five pools, five restaurants and incredible kids’ club where children from 4-11 years old can swim, play, learn Spanish and even go camping in a safe and fun environment.
Cabo Surf Hotel
Families love the Cabo Surf Hotel and not just because they can take surf lesson at the school next door! Located in the San Jose bay of Los Cabos, on one of the area’s best beaches, this family-friendly hotel has just 36 rooms making it a great option for families looking for something different to the typical all-inclusive resort.
Hilton Los Cabos
The luxury Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort is a wonderful hotel for families. Beautifully decorated, the rooms are spacious and the swimming pools definitely worth writing home about. There’s a brilliant kids club where children can watch movies, play video games and make piñatas when they want some time out of the sun.
The Hilton also offers lots of activities including kayaking, snorkelling, volleyball and more. Visit between September and November and watch baby turtles make their way to the ocean as part of the hotel’s turtle protection programme.
One & Only Palmilla
If you’re looking for somewhere truly special to stay then book a holiday at the luxury One & Only Palmilla. Guests rave about this five-star resort and its stellar service. Expect beautiful views, amazing accommodation and plenty of activities. There are two infinity pools – one for adults and another for kids – as well as a great kids club and a programme dedicated to teens.
When to visit Cabo San Lucas
The best times to visit Cabo for kids is between May to June and in October. Rainy season falls during the summer months making beach holidays a little damp.
For family travel, avoid Spring Break, which usually falls from March through early April. Visit during this time and expect lots of crowds and lots of noise late at night. August and September should also be avoided as they are hot and muggy and lots of places close.
If you fly into La Paz, like we did, then you can easily spend some time there exploring this lesser-known town; this post is a great guide to La Paz and this post has some good ideas on things to do in the seaside city.