So, you’re wondering where to go snorkeling in Los Cabos? You’ve come to the right place. This guide will run through seven of the most enticing locations in the party town to dive under with the goggles on. It runs the gamut from rock reefs to sandy beaches, offering places that have high visibility and a good mix of marine life.
Don’t expect all the locations to be within easy reach of Cabo San Lucas’s downtown. You might need to venture up the so-called Tourist Corridor to get to some, or even hop across to the far side of the Baja in search of the animal-filled Sea of Cortez. That said, there are one or two spots that are a quick boat taxi from the marina, which means you could be snorkeling in no time at all after a breakfast of huevos rancheros in the downtown (best leave it to settle a while though, eh?).
The best time to go snorkeling in Los Cabos is probably around the early fall months of September and October. That’s when the SW swells turn off, calming the waters on the beaches of the coastline to the east of the town. It’s also when you get pleasantly warm waters in the low 80s F, so you can usually get by without a wetsuit or too much gear.
Pelican Rock & Lover’s Beach
The shimmering yellow sands of Lover’s Beach join with the rugged stone stacks of Pelican Rock on the northern side of El Arco, the main peninsula that juts out to divide the Sea of Cortez from the vast Pacific Ocean just south of Cabo San Lucas proper. The result is two spots that are close enough to the rich ocean currents to entertain all manner of marine life but also tucked into the rocks to maintain decent visibility throughout much of the year.
The other thing that catapults both of these places to the top of our list of the best locations to go snorkeling in Los Cabos is just how accessible they are. It’s a quick water taxi ride from the main marina to get here, and there are always oodles of boats ready and waiting to take you out, costing about 60 MXN ($3) per person.
Since these are two of the easiest snorkeling spots to get to in Cabo San Lucas, you can either plan the snorkeling trip yourself or go for an organized tour. The latter will often include extra stops at Divorce Beach and even Land’s End. Either way, you can expect to see oodles of small fish species (including angelfish) surrounding the rock underneath the surface and large pelicans hanging out on the boulders by the beach itself.
Playa Empacadora is another beach that’s pretty darn easy to get to from the downtown of Cabo San Lucas. Also known as Cannery Beach, it’s the stretch of sand that lines the headland immediately south of the entrance to the Marina Del Rey. That means it’s less than 15 minutes’ walking from the tequila-soaked bar tops of Cabo Wabo, folks!
There’s often a crowd here, so don’t expect to be snorkeling alone. However, you do get access to the rocks that run along the side of Mount Solmar and the Land’s End peninsula, which play host to sea horses, sea turtles, pelicans, and myriad small fish.
Sadly, the high frequency of both small water taxis and larger cruise ships coming in and out of the docks isn’t the best thing for snorkelers on the hunt for clearer water. That’s why we’d recommend planning a session on Empacadora very early on in the day, before the transports have picked up in earnest and the sunbathers all arrived.
Playa Santa Maria
Playa Santa Maria isn’t just a fantastic place to get snorkeling in Los Cabos. It’s also one of the prettiest beaches on the whole south coast of the Baja. Get ready for a sweep of shimmering white sand and waters of impossibly turquoise blues, all hemmed in by headlands of rust-tinged stone and a few uber-lux hotels.
The best snorkeling areas of Playa Santa Maria cluster around the south end of the bay. There’s a big stone hill jutting straight out of the Sea of Cortez there. It’s enveloped by pockets of reef where everything from vivid yellow porkfish to delicate damselfish can be spotted hiding in the nooks and crannies.
One more bonus: Playa Santa Maria is regularly visited by pods of blue whales and fin whales that pass up and down the coast to the east of Los Cabos. They’re most common in the winter months between November and March and draw in the big crowds.
Playa Boca del Tule
Playa Boca del Tule is actually known as one of the top surf spots in Cabo. It gets a good hit of southern swell throughout the summer months, so you’ll probably need to wait until that subsides and come snorkeling here in the winter to make the most of the visibility.
Do that and you’ll get access to a series of little rock pools when the tide is high. They’re often filled with anemones, urchins, whitebait, and strange seaweed species, offering great viewing for the little ones who aren’t quite ready to pull on the snorkels and start swimming in the Sea of Cortez or Pacific Ocean itself.
For something a little more adventurous, be sure to check out the string of coves on the south end of Playa Boca del Tule. They eventually open up into wider Chileno Bay (more on that below) but have good protection from the dominant swells, ergo better visibility.
The main public beach at Chileno Bay is unquestionably up there with the best snorkeling in Los Cabos. It’s got a prime location on the Tourist Corridor roughly midway between El Tule and Casa Fortuna. That puts it about 15-20 minutes’ drive from Cabo San Lucas itself. There are regular buses that run the route, too, along with a whole host of organized snorkel and dive trips.
What sets Chileno Bay apart from the crowd is just how sheltered it is. It’s enclosed to the north and south by high and long fingers of rock. Meanwhile, the beach itself looks plum eastwards into the Sea of Cortez, which cuts down the southern summer swells and the western winter swells, helping to keep the H2O pretty still from December to December.
You’ll be looking to dive under at the Chileno Reef. It’s a stretch of pristine coral gardens and rock reef that starts pretty close to the shore here, so not too much swimming is required. There’s oodles to see – think big-eyed groupers, ember parrotfish, rainbow wrasse native to the sea of Cortez, and a whole load more besides!
Cabo Pulmo National Park
Of all the places to go snorkeling in Los Cabos, it’s the Cabo Pulmo National Park that often tops the bucket lists. We have to say, it’s more of a diver’s mecca. You’re looking at a whopping 17,500 acres of protected space here, shared between the coastal coves of the eastern Baja California Sur and the underwater reefs that spread into the Sea of Cortez around Boca del Salado and Villa los Frailes.
Since its establishment in 1995, the protected areas within have seen something like a 500% increase in native fish stock. If that sounds like it’s a cracking place to come in search of the multicolored small fish and all manner of other animals, then that’s because it is – snorkelers at Cabo Pulmo regularly see sea turtles, mobula rays, dolphins, and even sharks!
An organized diving or snorkeling trip is probably the best way to see this part of the Los Cabos region. They can last a whole day or more and include a private transfer and all the gear. The trip to the starting point on the Camino Cabo Este usually takes about 2.5 hours in the morning.
Isla del Espiritu Santo
You’ll almost certainly need a set of wheels or have to book onto an organized snorkeling tour to get up to the Isla del Espiritu Santo. That’s because it’s hardly even in Los Cabos at all, but sits two hours’ drive up the Baja California Sur just off the coast from the little village of Pichilinque, near to La Paz.
The reason you’d make the effort to get all the way there? This is unquestionably a top-notch diving destination. It boasts extremely good underwater visibility that can be up to 30 meters or more. On top of that, it’s home to the rare sealions of the Sea of Cortez. They can be spotted both sunbathing on the rocks and playing in the shore swells.
Trips to the Isla del Espiritu Santo usually go via the port in La Paz and take a whole day, or even several days. Itineraries often involve several snorkeling opportunities at different points on the island, along with pitstops for lunch and rest on some of the local beaches – just check out stunning Playa Candelero, one of our favs!
The top spots for snorkeling in Los Cabos
There are stacks and stacks of top-quality locations for snorkeling in Los Cabos. You can go for the easy-to-access coves of Lover’s Beach, which sits a mere 30 minutes’ water taxi from the main marina. Or you can venture far further, out to the protected reefs of the Cabo Pulmo National Park, a vast expanse of marine habitat filled with corals and intriguing fish species to the east of the city. Wherever you choose, remember that the best months for snorkeling here are in the fall, when the sea temperatures are at their highest and the visibility in the water is generally very good.