Blame it on Van Halen. Actually, blame it on David Lee Roth. If he had never left Van Halen and Sammy Hagar hadn’t joined the group and sang about Cabo Wabo, would I have been so obsessed with Cabo? I’m not sure but that song definitely made an impression. Cheesy I know. My best friend and I spent much of our high school years planning our trip. When I finally did visit Cabo, I wanted to make sure I did all the right things. Ironically, I never even made it to Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo bar but here’s a few other favorite things to do in Cabo San Lucas.
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Visit el Arco
Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, the best way to see Cabo San Lucas and truly appreciate its beauty, is by getting out on the water. So, the first thing to do in Cabo San Lucas is visit the iconic “el Arco de Cabo” or the famous Arch you see in so many photos. You can do this by taking a boat tour.
There are several ways to do this tour. Take an organized tour or you can find a guide either right off the beach at Medano Beach or in the Cabo marina. On Medano beach you’ll find boats with guides just waiting to take people across the water to the Arch. If you don’t like winging it and are looking for something a little more formal, then you can arrange at tour through your hotel or at one of the many tourism kiosks throughout town You can also snag advance tours through companies like Viator.com. I’ve linked to some of best ones they offer below.
Since we’re not much for organized tours, we just asked one of the first guides we saw on Medano Beach. There are several different type of boats to choose from, however, you might want to pick one that has a cover for protection from the sun. For those feeling a bit more adventurous, you can also rent kayaks, tour in a glass boat or even snorkel around the Arch.
What to Expect on the Tour
Depending on what kind of tour you choose, most of the, take you to the Arch, the real Land’s End, which is the very last rock formation of Baja and Reserva de Lobos Marinos or the sea lion reserve.
The ride across the bay from the beach, or the marina, isn’t a long ride and it’s generally calm. Once you approach the Arch, the boat captain stops and gives everyone on board a chance to get a Instagramable Arch photo. There were only six of us in our boat so there was plenty of time to take photos. Most guides are locals so they are very accommodating and knowledgeable about the area.
- Double check your boat to make sure there are personal floatation devices on board. Even though it isn’t very far across the bay from Medano Beach, put safety first.
- Don’t forget to tip your tour guide.
Walk Lover’s Beach + Divorce Beach
An your Arch tour, you can also visit Lover’s Beach and Divorce Beach. These two beaches are the last beaches on the tip of the Baja peninsula. Lover’s Beach is on the north side of Land’s End, is a mix of water from the Pacific Ocean and the calmer Sea of Cortez. Because of Baja’s shape, Lover’s Beach faces the beaches of Cabo San Lucas and is somewhat protected from the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Divorce Beach on the south side of the peninsula, however, faces the open water of the Pacific and is very rough. The two names come from the fact that Lover’s Beach is very calm and peaceful and Divorce Beach is more turbulent and dangerous.
If you are staying in a hotel on the Pacific side of Land’s End, it’s possible to walk to the beaches from your resort. But if you are staying on Medano Beach or other areas of Cabo San Lucas, then the easiest way to get there is by boat. Most of the tours to Lover’s Beach are included in a tour to the Arch. After motoring around the Arch and other features, the boat drops you off at Lover’s Beach so you can spend some time exploring. The boat will return at a designated time and pick you up.
- If you swim then swim with caution on the Divorce Beach side or just don’t swim there at all. Save your swimming for Lover’s Beach.
- The Baja sun is strong. Take sunscreen. Sun Bum is my favorite.
- There are no chairs so take a towel or something to sit on. I like this packable one.
- There are also no vendors of any kind on Lover’s Beach so if you want drinks or snacks, you’ll have to take them with you. If you are worried about keeping your things dry, then consider a small drybag or phone pouch.
Listen to a Time Share Presentation
Spending your vacation listening to a time share presentation is probably the last thing you expect to see on my list of things to do in Cabo San Lucas but here it is. The reason it makes the list is because Cabo San Lucas may just be the time share capital of the world. I’ve never been approached by so many people wanting to sell me a timeshare anywhere on my travels. The advantage of that is there’s an opportunity of some pretty nice rewards for a couple of hours of your time. In the end, we decided to go and listen to the timeshare presentation because we couldn’t say no to deep sea fishing.
Deep sea fishing is hard to come by in northwest Georgia. Numerous trips to the Gulf Coast and lots of money spent for not a lot in return. So, as soon as the timeshare guy said they were offering deep sea fishing, my husband was hooked. No pun intended. In addition to the fishing package for four, they offered us a brunch buffet at the property with all you can drink. We didn’t have any firm plans that day, so we decided to take a chance and go to the presentation.
The timeshare presentation really wasn’t a sit down presentation. They took us on a tour or the property by golf cart. That was kind of fun. Plus, the location had some of the best views of the Pacific Ocean. I even saw a whale or two. We looked at the different types of units while they explained the rules and and benefits of time share. They also served us some of the best margaritas we had on the entire trip. No doubt to loosen the wallet. But we kept our wits about us long enough to say no to a long term timeshare deal. We did end up buying a couple of future stays at the resort. All in all, we spent a couple hours on the tour. It actually turned out to be a good experience and I’m glad I can say I did it once.
Listening to a time share presentation on your all too short vacation is not for everyone. But if you have the time, are someone that likes looking at real estate and are considering living in Mexico at some point, then give it a try. And who knows? You may walk away with something great like we did. Or a timeshare.
- When negotiating the timeshare offer, you’ll be dealing with multiple people before the presentation and during the presentation. Whatever they promise you in exchange, get it in writing. Write down names and even take a picture of the badge of the person you are dealing with. All of the timeshare people are
supposed to belicensed. So, if you don’t get what you were promised you know who to contact.
Go Deep Sea Fishing
I could list plenty of reasons why I’m not a fan of deep sea fishing but the main one is because it usually means getting up before the sun to get to your fishing spot. Not my idea of fun on a vacation. Honestly, even after the awesome timeshare offer of free deep sea fishing, I wasn’t planning on going. However, we had met a couple the very first day on our tour to the Arch. Since the fishing trip was for four, we invited them to go. I knew it would be more enjoyable with another girl along because then I’d have someone to talk to while the men fished.
Once again, to my surprise, this turned out to be one of the most amazing things we did in Cabo San Lucas. Even though it’s deep sea fishing, they only go out a few miles. As someone who doesn’t love being on a little boat in the middle of the ocean, there was always land in sight which was reassuring. There are probably tours that go further but I was grateful that ours didn’t. Fish weren’t the only thing we saw. We spotted whales, dolphins and manta rays. It was a good day.
The best part of the experience was the catch. Expecting only to reel in mahi mahi, since that’s what was in season, the men were surprised to catch not one, but two marlins. That’s a once in a lifetime experience. Throughout it all, the guides were very helpful and coached the guys on how to handle the marlin. If you are even slightly interested in deep sea fishing, then Baja is the place to do it and you should add it to your list of things to do in Cabo San Lucas.
- Make sure you have the correct permits and licenses. The tour company should handle that the morning you arrive at the marina.
- Our tour included ceviche for lunch, water and domestic beer. You can also take you own food. There are stores in the marina where you can buy supplies.
- If you aren’t shipping or taking your fish home to the states, you can have it prepared as a meal locally or you can donate the fish to organizations that feed the needy.
- The water on the Pacific side is definitely rougher. If you’re susceptible to getting seasick, plan accordingly. Don’t like taking pills or patches? Try wristbands that use the body’s pressure points for motion sickness relief.
Meet Pancho the Sea Lion
When you return to the marina from deep sea fishing, tell your captain you’d like to meet Pancho the sea lion. Pancho has become quite a celebrity in Cabo San Lucas. He likes to greet the boats as they return with their catches because he knows they are good for a quick easy meal. Pancho jumps on the back of the boat for his handout. I suspect there is more than one Pancho but it’s still a fun thing to do in Cabo San Lucas.
Learn to Stand Up Paddle
If a large boat isn’t your thing, then you hop in the water on a stand up paddle board. The calm clear water at Medano Beach is the perfect place to paddle or learn to stand up paddle. If this is your first time, you’ll feel extra safe in this protected area. Some of the water of in front of the resorts even have a marine rope that keeps you from straying too far and keeps the boats or jetskis away.
Once again, there are plenty of places to rent from right on the beach. Many of the resorts and hotels even have their own rentals. You can rent by the day or by the hour. If you have never tried it before, I suggest starting with an hour. If you like it, you can always extend your time or do it another day.
Take a Road Trip
Baja Sur and the Cabo San Lucas area is a great region for road tripping. If you have time you should explore some of the other areas. One of my favorite towns to visit is Todo Santos. I suggest spending more than a day there but if you can only spare a day for exploring, then “Todos” is the place to do it.
Another option is to divide your Baja Sur vacation between two cities. If this is something that sounds interesting, then I suggest adding La Paz, the capital of Baja Sur to your Cabo San Lucas vacation. La Paz has gorgeous beaches and you can swim with whale sharks in season. Visiting La Paz is a very different experience than visiting Cabo San Lucas.
Here are some other towns you could visit on a Baja Sur road trip or day trip:
- San Jose de Cabo – 20 miles
- El Pescadero – 39 miles
- Todos Santos – 47 miles
- Los Barriles – 70 miles
- La Paz – 98 miles
If you didn’t rent a car when you arrived in Cabo San Lucas, some resorts have agencies right onsite that can assist you. You can also taxi or Uber downtown to the rental agencies on Calle Lazaro Cardenas in front of the Puerto Paraiso Shopping Center. To secure a rental before you go, use RentalCars.com to compare prices from different vendors.
- Make sure you have the proper insurance required in Mexico.
- Don’t drive at night. The roads are dark and it’s common for animals, like cows, to be on the roads at night.
Relax on a Sunset Cruise
The sunsets in Baja Sur and Cabo San Lucas are some of the most vibrant I’ve ever seen. The only thing better than seeing them from land, is seeing them from a catamaran. A relaxing sunset cruise is an excellent way to end a day in Cabo San Lucas. It’s also the perfect thing to do in Cabo San Lucas to celebrate a special occasion.
For our sunset cruise, we chose Cabo Blue. Mainly because we wanted to experience sunset on a sailboat instead of a motorized boat. It’s a smaller group, more about the experience and less party boat. Our cruise wasn’t a dinner cruise but they still served appetizers, ceviche and a few other snacks. The tour also included plenty of cold Pacificos. It was such a memorable evening.
Explore the Desert on an ATV
If you are looking for something to do in Cabo San Lucas with a little more of an adrenaline rush then plan an ATV trip in the desert. Most tours include riding some desert trails and along the beach with time to stop and take a dip in the ocean. You can choose tours from 2 or 5 hours and the longer tours include lunch.
The first time I went to La Paz, BCS, I swam with whale sharks with Julio from Chilango Store Tours. Now, Julio has tours in Cabo San Lucas too. In addition to ATV tours, Chilango Stores offers biking, snorkeling, diving and glass boat tours to the Arch.
Hang Out at a Beach Club
If you came to Mexico to relax, there’s no better way to do that than by spending a day lounging by the ocean and having someone wait on you. Medano Beach is full of beach clubs where the only thing you have to do is pick out your chair and let someone else do the rest. Some resorts have their own clubs in private areas on the beach. There are also the stand alone beach clubs like Mango Deck.
Mango Deck is pretty well known for their shows and entertainment. So if you don’t want to be in the middle of the action, ask for a quieter area. Depending on the season, most beach clubs will give you a lounge chair for free as long as you eat and drink there. Understandably, they want to make sure it’s worth their while for you to take up space in their club, so there’s usually a minimum of two drinks. However, it is Mexico and many times things are negotiable. So, just ask. Extras, such as umbrellas and space for private or group areas, are an additional fee. Bottle service and buckets of beer are usually the way to go at a beach club. Especially with a group.
- For large groups, some beach club will require reservations.
- You can arrange special events like bachelor and bachelorette parties at many beach clubs.
- Don’t forget to tip your server.
How to Get to Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is serviced by the Los Cabos International Airport (SJD). It’s approximately 23 miles from Cabo San Lucas. Search for the best prices on airfare at Skyscanner.com or put together a package for your Mexico vacation at Expedia.com.
Where to Stay in Cabo
For more info about how to get around Cabo San Lucas, where to stay and where to eat, read my Travel Guide to Cabo San Lucas that answers many common questions. You’ll find recommendations about where to stay in that article or you can search hotels and resorts at Booking.com or look for a home stay through VRBO – Vacation Rental by Owner – through the interactive map below.
Useful Cabos San Lucas Tips
- Don’t forget travel insurance for your Cabo San Lucas trip.
- Since the currency is pesos it’s best to use them instead of dollars. Many places accept dollars but they will give you pesos in change and it won’t be a good exchange rate. To exchange dollars, the best rate is at an ATM. Keep small bills and coins handy for tips.
- Hold on to your half of the FMM – your tourist card- it’s the form that you fill out on the plane. You’ll be asked to turn it in when you leave the country.
- Use common sense and situational awareness. Cabo is safe but has it’s fair share of petty crime.
Even More Things To Do in Cabo San Lucas
There are so many amazing things to do in Cabo San Lucas, you could easily spend weeks there. Some other fun things include whale watching, tequila tasting, ziplining, camel rides, yes camel rides, snorkeling, diving, skydiving and much more. Did I miss anything?