Snorkeling in the Los Cabos region
Snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez is a magical experience. This is the place where the desert kisses the sea. On one side, you’ll see cactus, and on the other, a reef of beautiful fish.
While the snorkeling is fun and productive, the variety of fish is not the same as Hawaii or the Caribbean. Be prepared. Also, the water temperature starts to drop in January and continues to cool until June. Some people find it too cool for snorkeling and swimming.
Visibility varies with the season and the weather. Check with folks on the Cabo forum for current conditions.
Take a tour or do it yourself?
There are many snorkeling tours leaving from the Cabo San Lucas marina. Most tours go to SantaMaria, spend 45 -60 minutes in the bay, and return. Along the way you’ll get a coastal tour, snacks, and drinks. Snorkeling gear and flotation is provided. The size of the boat, quality of food & drinks, and length of tour varies. You can also join a kayaking tour, generally starting from a beach nearer to Santa Maria . Here is a Google Document link to many of the companies. Be sure to check with the company for current availability and pricing. You can also put the name of the company into the TripAdvisor Cabo San Lucas search bar to read the most current information from travelers.
Do-it-yourself folks can take a taxi, ride the SuburCabos bus, or rent a car. There are usually no rentals at the beaches, so bring your own gear, food, & water. In general, the ocean water is more calm in the morning. Spend the entire day, bring a picnic, and relax on the beach when another snorkeling tour arrives for their 45 minutes in the water. There are just a few shady spots on the beaches; bringing your own shade umbrella is advised.
Feed the fish? There are some folks who will bring old tortillas, bread, or peas to attract the fish. If your goal is to observe beautiful fish in their natural surroundings, please do not feed them any “people food”.
The Snorkeling Beaches
Each of the following beaches is linked to the wikimap. Zoom in and out or "fly around" for more viewing.
Lovers Beach & Pelican Rock MAP Lovers Beach Map Pelican Rock
- Busy area with water taxis. Update Nov 2012: the swimming and snorkeling area around Pelican Rock is off limits to boats.
- Easier and perhaps safer to see fish through a glass bottom boat or Cabo Submarines.
Playa Santa Maria TripAdvisor Reviews
- Three outhouses in the parking lot.
- Has pebbly sand, one cove, and good snorkeling to the southwest. There are usually vendors with snorkel, umbrella, & maybe kayak rentals.
- Santa Maria is between the 12 km & 13 km markers. If you take the bus, ask the driver to let you off at "Bahia Santa Maria." (It's really almost to the 13 km marker; the dirt road is just after the bus stop.) You’ll walk about ½ mile to the beach.
- Taxi is around $20 from Cabo
Playa Chileno TripAdvisor Reviews
- Chileno Bay is just abut the 15 km marker and is well signed from the highway. If you take the bus, ask the driver to let you off at "Bahia Chileno". You will walk about ½ mile down to the beach.
- On weekends, Chileno is popular with the locals and is less busy during the week. This beach offers three areas to sunbathe & snorkel and a small grove of palm trees for shade. There are tide pools at the east end of the beach.
- If you are driving, there is free parking and a wooden boardwalk to the main beach.
- There are several beaches, not visible from the main beach, but a sign near the entrance shows their location. The best snorkeling is at the far end of the beach farthest to the right as you face the water. There is coral there that is home to a wide variety of tropical fish.
- Occasionally there are equipment rentals. Public restrooms are usually open.
- Taxi is around $20 from Cabo
Hilton Cove Tequila Cove Beach, Playa Bledito
- Drive to the end of the road to the turnaround (to the northeast on the wiki map). Park your car there and follow a dirt path down to the beach. This is near the arroyo at km 19.5. You could also use the Hilton parking lot; be sure to patronize the Hilton resort and enjoy lunch there.
- The best snorkeling at Hilton Cove is to the left (north) over the submerged rocks (you can just make them out on the Wikimap). Do not snorkel to the right where the "hook" is; there are too many jet skis and too few fish.
- This is a premier SCUBA and snorkeling destination about two hours from Cabo. Check the Cabo Pulmo TA page for more information. You can read some information about the Cabo Pulmo Marine Preserve and see photos & videos of fish here
- Read more about the beaches in the Cabo Pulmo area here
- The best snorkeling from shore in Cabo Pulmo is Los Arbolitos, 2 miles south of town or the southern end of the bay. The tours normally take you to Mermaid Cove, the Sea Lion colony, and one or two reefs the scuba divers use. When it’s windy, the water is choppy. The tours divert to Las Frailes, the next bay south on the north (leeward) end.
Links to other descriptions of the beaches
Los Cabos Guide
Other sources of information: Many folks have added their photos and videos of these beaches to the TripAdvisor website. You can also search YouTube or Google Images. As always, folks on the local forums are happy to give advice about their experiences snorkeling in beautiful Los Cabos.