Although the area of Los Cabos in the very southern-most tip of the Baja is generally reserved for the rich, uncultured mass of all-inclusive resort junkies, there are a few prized, public oases that offer much more beauty than any 5-star wasteland. From stunning underwater scenery to easily surfable waves, the true jewels of Los Cabos are outside of the pool deck!
Each beach has its own unique characteristics, of which I rate each on a 1-5 star scale (1 being low, 5 being high): size of crowd, swimability, opportunity for snorkeling, and opportunity for fishing. On weekdays, there are very few people at any of these beaches, so I will rate the crowd factor for a Saturday or Sunday visit. All beaches require either a rental car or bus to get to. If you take the bus (on the gulf coast), the cost is roughly 35 pesos and a short walk from the highway to each beach. Stand anywhere along the Los Cabos Transpeninsular Highway and flag one down.
Aside from my personal photos, I’ve also included a Google map screenshot to put the appropriate location into perspective.
Crowd: X X X X
Snorkeling: X X X X X
Fishing: X X X
Las Viudas is the smallest of the 6 beaches. With that being said, on any Saturday or Sunday it’s pretty crowded. Dogs are also allowed at this beach, so be prepared for a bit of noise and the possible candid canine visit! However, if you plan on getting out into the surf, you will discover some of the best snorkeling in Los Cabos.
Unlike Santa Maria and Chileno (which are the next 2 beaches on the list), tour boats don’t stop at Las Viudas. As a result, most days the water is pretty clear, and the fish completely untamed.
To the left of the shore is a pretty vast bed of rocks that stretches a good 200 meters further left, though ends only about 30 meters in the deeper water. Swimming around the boundary will yield you some pretty great views of rock reef and abundant fish. To the right of the shore is at least 500 meters of rock reefs close to shore, home to never-ending schools of fish and coral. Average depth for reefs both to the left and to the right is about 10 meters, so it stays pretty shallow. On a clear day with good visibility, this is my favorite snorkeling spot, due to the lack of snorkeling crowd and abundance of reefs.
At the moment, fishing is allowed here. Las Viudas was very recently opened to the public, and as this is a resort-owned beach, I predict that fishing will soon be banned. I often see several folks fishing off the rocks to the right, though the majority of what they pull in is very small; more or less the same smaller fish you will see snorkeling. I would highly advise using lures only, as any bottom fishing will likely lose your entire rig. Fishing only in the mornings or evenings would be wise as well, as during the day there are a good amount of people swimming in the water.
Looking at the map, Las Viudas is the first public beach you will reach after leaving Cabo San Lucas. If you are driving, take the off ramp after the blue “Las Viudas” sign, and veer right at the fork and take a right at the stop sign. Follow the dirt road to the beach. If you are taking the bus, it is a good 20 minute walk.
Size: X X X
Crowd: X X X
Snorkeling: X X X X
Santa Maria is the next beach you will come to on the highway after Las Viudas. Santa Maria is bigger and as a result the crowd is a little more spread out. However, tour boats are allowed here and by the middle of the day, the water can get quite crowded. Dogs are not allowed here, nor is fishing. This is a great beach to relax, read a book, bring a cooler of beer and hang, or snorkel. It is my favorite beach in the Los Cabos area!
Even with the amount of tour boat traffic, the snorkeling here remains incredible. The bay is a big horseshoe-shape, with large, abundant rock reefs on either side. Depths vary here from as little as 5 meters near the walls of the bay, to as deep as 30 meters just past the edge of the bay before hitting open ocean. On a clear day, however, even the deepest parts can be crystal clear, with some truly amazing scenery. Giant rock reefs, tons of colorful fish, and the occasional eel and manta-ray can be spotted. Free-diving enthusiasts and the casual snorkeler alike would really appreciate what Santa Maria has to offer.
Fish near the walls of the bay are very tame (too tame, really) as they are all too used to being fed by the numerous tour boats coming in and out every day. I would highly advise against feeding as it really isn’t ideal for the fish’s ecosystem.
If you are driving, take the off ramp at the “Santa Maria” sign, and make a left when you come to the bridge. Follow the dirt road all the way to the beach. If you are taking the bus, it is a good 10-15 minute walk.
Size: X X
Crowd: X X X X
Snorkeling: X X X
Chileno is the next beach after Santa Maria and is right in between Las Viudas and Santa Maria in size, though quite a bit more crowded than Santa Maria. Dogs nor fishing are allowed here either. The beach break at Chileno is not as strong as Santa Maria’s, and as a result, many more people swim at this beach.
The snorkeling here is certainly decent, though in my opinion not as plentiful as Santa Maria or Las Viudas. Swimming to the far left will yield you some nice shallow water views, and to the right, if you go deeper, are some larger rock reefs. I have found Chileno to be consistently cloudier than its 2 neighbors, probably due to the larger swimming crowd, plus the entourage of tour boats that also stop here. However, due to its unique beauty as a tropical desert-style beach, Chileno is certainly a beach to visit for the day.
If you are driving, take the off ramp at the “Chileno” sign, and make a right when you come to the first intersection. Follow the dirt road and signs that read “A La Playa” all the way to the beach. There is a lot of construction going on around the area, as the land is being primed for future resorts, so the route to the beach often changes. There are usually traffic guards that will direct you the right way. If you are taking the bus, it is a good 15 minute walk.
Size: X X X X
Crowd: X X X
Fishing: X X X
El Tule is the next beach after Chileno and is much bigger than its prior 3 neighbors; the biggest in the Los Cabos area, for that matter! It has recently become more crowded due to a beachfront restaurant that recently opened up. Even due to its size, it is likely that most tourists don’t come to Tule because they miss the off-ramp to this beach altogether. After passing Chileno, eventually you will see a bridge in the distance. The off-ramp is very short and it’s right at the beginning of the bridge. The off ramp leads to a wide plain of dirt and sand, which opens up right onto the beach.
Tule is best simply for hanging out, fishing, or surfing! Decent swells pass through this beach and it is very common to see locals catching waves on a daily basis. It is not, however, good for casual swimming as there are tons of shallow rocks that line the ocean floor. Although there are tons of rocks, there aren’t really any reefs here, which makes it pretty poor for snorkeling when compared to its neighbors.
As fishing is allowed here, this is a great spot to cast lures and drink a beer. To the far left of the beach are tons of huge rocks and boulders to throw a line from. Even at high tide, the majority of the rocks are safe as they are up high; though it is very likely to catch the occasional spray! Of the few times I’ve fished here I haven’t been able to pull much of anything in, though for those that have come to Cabos to fish out every spot possible, this is not a beach to miss.
Rancho Curisuva (not exactly in Los Cabos, but worth the trip!)
Size: X X X X X
Fishing: X X X X X
Rancho Curisuva is on the Pacific coast, about 20 kilometers northwest of Cabo San Lucas and technically outside of the Los Cabos area. Though it is hard to believe, this beach is the first truly public beach I found on the Pacific coast outside of San Lucas. There is nothing but resorts and private property in between!
Rancho Curisuva is actually the name of the ranch that connects to the coastline. At one and a half to two kilometers long, the beach here is huge; several times larger than all the beaches previously listed. Due to its proximity outside of town and immense size, this beach is normally completely empty. The only other “visitors” are from the tour agency near the highway that rents out 4-wheelers, though they are not supposed to drive directly on the beach; only around the perimeter near the bush. As loud as they are, they are barely audible near the shore as they are still so far away!
The current at this beach in particular is extremely strong as it is fed by the open Pacific ocean. With that being said, swimming is definitely not recommended, and there are no reefs whatsoever so snorkeling is not possible. This beach is for those trying to escape the chaos and crowds of San Lucas, or for the avid fisherman with the whole day to kill. The entire Pacific coast in this area is known for pulling in big fish. With a few poles to split between bottom fishing and lure casting, and a day’s worth of bait, this is the perfect spot to try your shot at some day-long angling.
To travel to Rancho Curisuva, take highway 19 north towards La Paz. You will eventually pass the Los Cabos Toll Road that goes to the airport. Do not take that road. Continue on straight another 12-13 kilometers, and begin slowing down when you see a sign on the left of the highway that says “Cabo Adventures.” When you see a sign that reads “Migrino Mini-Super,” turn left off the highway and onto the dirt road. It is likely that you might miss it! Take the dirt road, past the actual Mini-Super (which is nothing more than a road-side stall), and go all the way to the end of the road before it turns to the right. If you are in a basic rental sedan or coupe, this is where you get out! You can park on either side of the road; just make sure there is room for other cars to pass if need be. From here it is a good 250-300 meter journey through the sand. Follow the sand trail to the left and walk straight out to the beach. In a 4×4, simply drive the same way and pick your own spot on the edge of the beach, or follow the dirt road right around the perimeter of the beach to the shore next to the small cliff.
To sum up, Los Cabos truly has more to offer than the typical weekend resort getaway. Have an adventure out of the city and experience the real charm of Los Cabos!
P.S. If you need a good hotel room, I stayed at City Express Plus and can recommend it. It’s by far the cheapest given the nearly brand-new quality of the place. All other hotels in the Los Cabos area can also be checked out here.
Keep pondering; keep wandering.