Medano Beach is one of the busiest swimmable beaches in Los Cabos. // © 2017 Flickr
Feature image (above): Santa Maria Beach is one of Los Cabos’ best destinations for snorkeling. // © iStock
While Los Cabos’ breathless coast might be its most valued lure, many first-time travelers to this Baja California escape do not realize that many of the beaches here are not suitable for swimming.
Most of Cabo’s beaches are off-limits to swimmers because the Sea of Cortez boasts strong waves and some powerful undercurrent.
Don’t let that ruin your hopes for some quality time in the water, however. Tucked into its tempestuous coastline and rocky bluffs are little pockets of seashore with water mild enough for even the smallest of swimmers. You might not be able to get in the water right in front of your favorite resort, but you can spend a day cavorting at one of these five swimmable beaches located just a quick drive away.
Medano Beach is considered the main swimming beach in San Lucas. Full of beach restaurants, vendors and beach lounger rentals, it often gets overcrowded with tourists. However, if you don’t mind all the commerce, you’ll definitely satisfy that need for time in the water. For added perks such as water sports equipment rentals, head to one of the area’s beach clubs.
While Medano Beach is touristy, Chileno Beach along the hotel zone is a favorite among locals. This low-key spot may not have all the luxuries of Medano, but it offers some useful amenities such as palapas, portable restrooms and a nearby restaurant. More importantly, it features a calm bay that is as good for snorkeling as it is for swimming. In fact, it’s one of Cabo’s best snorkeling spots, easily accessible by bus or cab. Take a nice, refreshing dip first, and then go snorkeling for an hour. You might be able to spot lobsters, sea urchins and even stingrays.
If you want a quiet spot with few vendors, Palmilla Beach in San Jose del Cabo might just be the ticket. Playa Palmilla may be a tad tricky to get to — you’ll need a car — and it might not have much as far as beach amenities, but its crescent-shaped shore is certainly worth the hassle. In fact, it is San Jose’s most cherished beach, with plenty of snorkeling and swimming opportunities. There are a few beach palapas for shade too, but rental umbrellas are also on hand. Pack a picnic and some beach blankets as there are no restaurants nearby, and do remember to bring your snorkeling gear.
Some claim that the beaches of Coral Negro and Balconcito, also known collectively as Cannery Beaches, might just be the best in all of Los Cabos. And in many ways, they would be right.
These beaches set just outside the marina before you reach Land’s End have fewer vendors than their counterparts and therefore aren’t as crowded. Best of all, they feature massive boulders to sit on or take refuge from the sun, and the water is fantastic for swimming. Some visitors snorkel here, but they’re not the best spots for that. Better save that for Chileno or Santa Maria, and simply enjoy a day of splashing in the water.
Santa Maria Beach
Speaking of Santa Maria Beach, it is arguably Los Cabo’s most famed snorkeling spot, thanks to the abundance of coral reefs in its bay. Due to its popularity, consider going elsewhere if you’re interested in just swimming. Because of its reputation, this beach might be a little crowded with tour companies that dock their boats here for snorkeling excursions.
The good news is there aren’t a lot of vendors touting their wares, which means that the beach isn’t as busy. Onsite amenities include restrooms, showers and a parking lot. During whale-watching season (particularly in January and February), keep an eye out for occasional spouts and breaching.