Jutting out between the Sea of Cortez and the mighty Pacific Ocean, the Los Cabos area lines the bottom edge of the starkly beautiful Baja Peninsula. Here, white beaches, tawny desert cliffs and clear, azure waters create an otherworldly palate and sun-lover’s paradise.
The sheltered bays all have their own personalities, from the fiesta vibe of Medano Beach fronting Cabo San Lucas proper, to the quieter Palmilla Beach lined with upscale resorts. The spectacular (and linked) Lover’s and Divorce Beaches are only accessed by sea and bring you to one of the most famous sights in the state: the Cabo San Lucas Arch at Land’s End.
Rest up from party nights under a palapa with a bottomless mimosa from the beach bar or start the day early with yoga and a stand-up paddleboard session. Most bays are swimmable, a mask and snorkel will reveal a vibrant underwater world of colorful fish, and surf breaks dot the coast. During whale season from December through April, you might be lucky enough to hear whales singing underwater. For more action, tons of tourist-oriented water activities are on offer from banana boat rides and jet ski rentals to parasailing and snorkeling tours. Here’s our pick of the five best beaches to park your beach towel on and become spellbound by Los Cabos.
Playa del Amor is perfect for romance and relaxation
Packing a picnic lunch, bottle of wine and a couple of beach towels for a day on the gloriously secluded sands at Land’s End is one of the most romantic ways to spend the day in Los Cabos. Playa del Amor (Lover's Beach) is small and often crowded with quick-stop tour groups, but it puts you directly by the Cabo San Lucas Arch, one of the most dramatic sights of Southern Baja.
The calm swimming and snorkeling on this Sea of Cortez-facing side are the stuff holiday dreams are made of. For more solitude, stroll between a gap in the rocky promontory to the much larger Divorce Beach (yes, everyone jokes about this being the bigger beach) on the Pacific Ocean side, to be serenaded by pounding waves and to snuggle up at the base of the dramatically eroded cliffs. Bear in mind that the Pacific side is unsafe for swimming.
Top tip: Hiring a water taxi with a scheduled pick up is the best way to get to these pristine, powdery-soft beaches.
If you came to party, Medano Beach is for you
If toasting your umpteenth margarita of the day to a fiery sunset on a white beach sounds dreamy, few places on the planet can top Medano Beach. Bars of every ilk, restaurants and glamorous hotels line this perfect arc of sparkling blue sea, all with a view of the iconic Cabo San Lucas Arch rock formation in the distance.
The beach becomes a swamp of inebriated 20-somethings during Spring Break, but at most other times expect fun folks from around the world splashing in the clear waters, exploring the bay on rented stand-up paddleboards, or drinking icy Pacificos on lounge chairs. As the sun sinks behind Land’s End, you’ll be within walking distance to bar hop along the beach or hit the clubs in town. Otherwise, find a beachfront fire pit to make new friends and exclaim “Salud!” to the stars.
Chileno Beach is the local choice for snorkeling
Chileno Beach is the most popular beach with locals for good reason. This laid-back stretch of white sand frames the lushest underwater life of the swimmable spots along the Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo corridor. Day tours stop here to enjoy the abundant fish life, underwater rock formations, corals and sea fans, but with your own gear, it’s easy to plunge in DIY-style from the beach. The north part of the bay has a boulder and sand habitat where you’ll likely see puffer and box fish. You’ll find more fish and corals towards the south beach where you’ll likely have schools of small fish flutter around you hoping for crumbs of your lunch. Don’t have a mask? The swimming here is top notch as well with calm sandy entry points perfect for all levels and the youngest kids. Intriguing tidepools around the cliffs are another draw. Rinse off in public freshwater showers then nap in the shade of a shaggy palapa.
Families with kids will love Palmilla Beach
One of the quietest, safest, and cleanest beaches in the area, this mile-long stretch of powdery golden bliss is backed by luxury hotels and the Jack Nicklaus Ocean Nine Golf Course. The swimming pool-like bay has a gradual sandy entry for gentle splashing around and local fishing boats pull up with the daily catch (buy some for dinner if you’re self-catering). If you tire of building sandcastles, swimming and strolling, there’s a tiny playground near the parking lot that’s fun for younger children. A well-kept, tiled and shady picnic area with sea views plus spotless toilets and freshwater showers seal the deal.
Top tip: There are no restaurants here so be sure to pack a picnic and arrive early on weekends if you want to snag one of the eight shady palapas.
Cerritos Beach is a surfer's paradise
Excellent surf abounds at this southern end of the Baja Peninsula but for consistency and fun for all levels, you can’t beat Cerritos, between Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos. There’s a young, bohemian backpacker vibe here that’s much different from the more resort-like atmosphere farther south. Surfboard rental tents greet you, then paddle out to the sometimes challenging point break or mellower beach breaks closer to shore. There are a few local surf schools that are easy to sign up with if you’ve come to learn. The lively beach scene is great for non-surfers too, with fun bars and restaurants and regular live music. It’s calm enough for swimming outside of large swells but check the currents before going too far from the beach. The beautiful, upscale Hacienda Cerritos (closed at this time) is a focal piece, gleaming marigold yellow atop the low rocky cliff that frames the beach.