Headed to Mexico and looking to spend a few days in Cabo?! You’re in the right place, my taco-loving, mezcal-dreaming amigos. I’m sharing all my favorite things to do in San Jose del Cabo, along with everything else you need to know — like what to eat, where to stay, how to get around, and more!
We’ve been to Cabo quite a few times, and it’s always such a fun few days. I mean, not much is better than stunning resort pools, remarkable biodiversity, delicious gastronomy, and spectacular sandy beaches. Doesn’t hurt that there’s literally perfect weather 99% of the time and there’s a whole slew of fun things to do in San Jose del Cabo. Los Cabos is one of the most popular Mexican vacation destinations for good reason!
I’ve been to Cabo for a romantic weekend away with my husband, a girls trip to celebrate a friend’s birthday, an escape from chilly SF winters, and as a stopover en route to Todos Santos and La Paz. So after heading to Cabo a whole handful of times, I figured it was finally time to share all my favorites here!
From the turquoise Sea of Cortez to all the tacos and chilaquiles you can eat (ooooh the chilaquiles), it’s never a bad idea to visit this little slice of paradise. So pack your pasaporte (passport), traje de baño (swimsuit), and sandalias (sandals) — we’re off to Mexico!
So let’s get to it — here’s my complete Los Cabos guide, full of what to do in San Jose del Cabo, where to stay, and of course, where (and what) to eat! But first, a pre-travel guide to Cabo to learn a bit about the area and what to expect when you’re there.
Overview of Los Cabos
With it’s crystal-clear waters, world-class night clubs, high-end resorts, and amazing sea-life, it’s easy to see why Los Cabos is a hot spot all year round. The pina coladas are flowing and the tacos are filled with al pastor. The locals are friendly and the accommodations range from luxury to sophisticated to somewhat cultural. The tours are adventurous and there’s a sun-drenched chic desert vibe. We just love it all!
And there’s just so many things to do in San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, the two main towns, which I’ll be going into more detail below!
San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas
Los Cabos. San Jose del Cabo. Cabo San Lucas. What’s with all the names?! Most visitors simply call the whole area “Cabo”, so I get why people get confused! Let’s set the record straight once and for all!
Los Cabos is the collective name for the whole area, including San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, and the strip of hotels/beaches in between the two little cities, commonly known as the “hotel corridor”.
Not many people realize this, but there’s actually two very different sides to Los Cabos (or simply Cabo) — and they’ve got very different vibes. There’s San Jose del Cabo (the quieter of the two and way more cultural with its historic colonial buildings and art galleries), and Cabo San Lucas (known for its wild spring break nightclubs and water/beach activities).
If you couldn’t already tell, these two towns couldn’t feel more different from each other despite being only 30 minutes apart! But since they’re not far, you can easily experience both on your trip to Cabo! Regardless of what’s more your scene, both areas are definitely worth checking out. You kinda get two trips in one!
Many people think only Cabo San Lucas has a lot going on, but I promise you, there’s still lots of exciting things to do in San Jose del Cabo (keep reading and you’ll see). We prefer to stay in San Jose del Cabo, and take an Uber over to Cabo San Lucas for a day (or two) depending on the activities we wanna do.
Health and Safety in Baja California Sur
Safety: First of all, is Los Cabos safe? Everyone hears Mexico and instantly freaks out; the country’s definitely got a wildly bad rep. I honestly don’t know why, considering it’s got the same level of safety precautions as France does (according to The US Department of State).
And while there are some parts of the country I’d definitely steer clear of, San Jose del Cabo is not one of them. I’ve never once felt unsafe in Cabo after visiting a handful of times, whether that be with a group of girlfriends or with my husband. We felt welcomed everywhere we went in Cabo (as well as during our time in Todos Santos and La Paz). However, petty theft is unfortunately pretty common in Baja California (think purse snatching/pick pocketing), so be aware of your surroundings (and possessions) at all times.
Before traveling anywhere, I always check safety warnings on travel.state.gov. A few tips to help ensure safety, which make sense no matter where you’re traveling:
- Let friends/family back home know where you’re traveling
- If you’re taking a taxi/Uber alone, send the taxi # and/or license plate to a friend/family member.
- Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night.
- Be extra cautious when visiting local bars and nightclubs. Know your alcohol limit.
- Keep expensive jewelry/watches at home, and keep those electronics hidden.
- Be extra careful and observant at banks and ATMs.
Health: You’ll need to stick to bottled water as you cannot drink the tap water in Cabo (you can brush your teeth with it, but that’s about it). Thankfully, most resorts provide unlimited (or at least some) potable water to guests. When ordering food from street vendors, ensure it’s fully cooked and hasn’t been sitting out for too long (if foods not selling this is a good indication it’s been there a while). We had no problems with any drinks or food in Cabo, and felt everything was of great quality.
Where is San Jose del Cabo (and Los Cabos in general)
Los Cabos is located in Mexico at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula (in the state of Baja California Sur), not terribly far from Todos Santos, La Paz, and the beautiful La Balandra Beach. And no, it’s not in California like some people think, despite being on the Baja California Peninsula! So don’t forget your passport — you’ll be denied entry without it (you’ll likely need it to buy your plane ticket).
And because Cabo is at the tippy top of the peninsula, the area has easy access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.
Psst → Cabo is on the opposite side of the country as other popular Mexican tourist destinations (like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum). If you only have a few days, it’s best to stick to one side and do the others another time!
Across the Gulf of California you’ll find Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, and Punta Mia to the east, which are becoming more and more popular these days! I’ve been dying to check them out!
Los Cabos Trip Planning Logistics
How to Get to Los Cabos
From California (and the rest of the United States in general), getting to Los Cabos couldn’t be easier. Being only a quick ~3 hour flight south from San Francisco, it makes for such an easy long weekend away from the West Coast.
You fly right into the new, state-of-the-art terminal in Los Cabos International Airport (SJD). Depending on where you’re coming from, you may need to connect (we’ve had layovers in Dallas and Phoenix), but there’s over 30 direct flight options from the US and Canada (with more to come). From the airport, San Jose del Cabo is a quick 20 minute drive south (or roughly 45 minutes to Cabo San Lucas).
Flight times vary by departure, but here’s a few:
- From Los Angeles (LAX): 2 ½ hours non stop
- From Mexico City (MEX): 2 ½ hours non stop
- From San Francisco (SFO): 3 hours non stop
- From Dallas (DFW): 3 hours non stop
- From New York City (JFK): 6 hours non stop
- From Miami (MIA): 6 ½ hours
If you’re coming from other cities on the Baja California Sur peninsula (like Todos Santos or La Paz), you can choose to rent a car or use public transport (both are pretty simple and easy).
Quick note: When you’re leaving the airport, you’ll walk through a lobby filled with timeshare sellers. They’ll try to entice you with free activities if you agree to sign up for their timeshare presentation. If you don’t want to be stopped (we sure don’t), just walk straight through. You’ll meet your pre-arranged shuttle van outside, or you can buy your shuttle ticket to your resort in the next room.
How to get to/from the airport:
Getting to Your Hotel from the Airport:
You’ve got a few choices once you land at Los Cabos International Airport. But whatever you do, don’t make our mistake and assume you can take Uber to get to your resort from the airport!
Uber is banned from the airport and you won’t be able to get any rides (it’s apparently not even set up at the airport). Desperately want to take an Uber? Remember that Ubers are only able to pick up passengers outside airport grounds near the main highway, so if you’ve got any luggage with you, this won’t be a feasible option.
So, with that being said, don’t expect to use Uber to get from the airport to your hotel, no matter how close it is.
Thankfully, there’s other ways!
Buying a ticket for the Shared shuttle at the airport: If you’re looking to save some pesos, you can stroll right off the plane and buy a ticket right then and there for the shared shuttle! There’s a set price of $14 per person, so you know you won’t be getting ripped off. Do note you may need to wait a little while until the shuttle gets filled, and depending on where your hotel is, it may be a rather long ride if you’re one of the last to get dropped off.
Pre-booking a shared or semi-private shuttle: You can pre-book a shared or semi-private shuttle from the airport to your hotel in advance if that makes you more comfortable (a few of my friends did that and one essentially got a private ride for only a few more bucks than we paid for our shared shuttle). Most shuttle companies ensure you won’t make more than 3 stops, getting you to your resort pool quicker! Pre-book your shuttle from the airport to your hotel here or make it easy and book roundtrip transport to/from the airport here!
Private transfer: Don’t feel like waiting or have a bunch of people in your party? It may be worth it to book yourself a private transfer to your hotel. A private shuttle from the airport to your hotel in San Jose del Cabo will cost you $50, but it actually works out to be cheaper per person as long as there’s 4 of you. Perfect for a family of 4 or a group of friends!
Getting to the Airport from Los Cabos
Uber: While Uber isn’t possible from the airport, you can easily call an Uber from Cabo to get to the airport. Depending on the time of day and where exactly you’re coming from in San Jose del Cabo, expect to pay around 150-200ish pesos/$15-20USD (you’ll pay a decent amount more if you’re coming from Cabo San Lucas — it’s further away). This is my preferred way to get back to the airport and what we do every time we visit.
Airport Shuttle: You’ll need to arrange this at least 48 hours in advance (simply ask your hotel receptionist) or easily book yourself ahead of time (just like booking the semi-private shuttle to your hotel). Book your airport shuttle in advance here, or again, make it easy and book roundtrip from/to the airport here!
Public Transport: If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can take the public bus, the Ruta del Desierto. It’s by far the least expensive option at only 80 pesos (about $4 USD), but definitely takes the longest.
How to Get Around Los Cabos
Uber: While you cannot use Uber to get from the airport to your hotel, you can use it elsewhere in the area! It’s actually very cheap and efficient, and the only mode of transport we now use once we get to Cabo!
Uber is relatively new to Los Cabos (started in late 2018), but the situation with Uber is very complicated. Understandably, the taxi drivers in Cabo are super unhappy about this development since they’re losing tons of business. We’ll see if Uber stays around for a while. Regardless of what happens in the future, it’s here now!
Do note that Uber drivers are typically not allowed to pick you up directly at the entrance of your resort, and you’ll need to meet out on the street instead.
Taxi: Taxis are plentiful in Los Cabos, although they’re relatively pricey (expect to pay roughly $50-60USD to get from San Jose del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas, while an Uber will cost about half for the same route). Honestly, I’d just stick to Uber as it’s pretty cheap and there’ll be no language barrier when it comes to getting to your intended destination.
Driving: While we had a car in Cabos one time (when we were off on a road trip to Todos Santos and La Paz), I honestly think Uber is just plain easier. Parking can be kind of difficult, and there’s no real benefit to having a car at all times. If you do decide to rent a car, understand there’s minimal traffic lights and stop signs in Cabo; traffic circles and speed bumps are used to control traffic instead.
Public Transport: As mentioned above, Los Cabos is served by the Ruta del Desierto, the purple and yellow public bus. The bus is an affordable transportation option for going up and down the corridor and some claim it’s the best way to travel along the highway in Baja, as long as you’ve got the time. Honestly, I’d just stick to Uber as it’s pretty cheap and you’ll get to where you need to be in half the time.
When to Visit Los Cabos
With an average of 350 days of sunshine each year (yes, really!), there’s never really a terrible time to visit Cabo. The weather doesn’t vary wildly from season to season, and the climate’s relatively dry year round (it is a desert after all, opposed to the jungles of other parts of Mexico). BUT there is a rainy season (gotta get those plants some rain!), months with way more crowds, and intense heat some parts of the year. So… keep on reading! 🙂
If I had to pick the absolute best time to visit Cabo I’d say January to April, but there’s honestly no terrible time to come. With that being said, we’ve visited Cabo in January, June, September, and December and had great weather in all seasons! I will say September was a bit too hot and humid for our liking, so skip the summer months of July, August, and September. And since I’m exceptionally comprehensive, here’s a quick breakdown of the seasons for you:
High Season (+ Spring Break): December – April
Expect mild, comfortable temps of 60-70°F and very little rainfall this time of year — hey, it’s high season for a reason! Perfect weather and high crowds mean prices will undoubtedly be higher, so make sure you book hotels and restaurants well in advance. Especially from mid-March to early-April, as this is when Cabo is at it’s all-time busiest — it’s a popular spring break spot! You’ll have a hard time finding a great deal these few weeks, so plan to save up!
The water temperature is the “chilliest” of the year at a balmy average of 72 to 75 degrees, so while you won’t need a wetsuit, you probably won’t wanna stay in all day.
High Season is also when you’ll find the most spectacular whale-watching in Baja, so definitely plan to take a whale watching cruise in winter! It’s also the best time of year to swim with whale sharks, so if that’s been on your bucket list, check that off now! There’s also some fun festivals highlighting traditional Mexican culture this time of year, like the Festival of San Jose (March) and Semana Santa (April).
Shoulder Seasons: May – June and October – November
If you wanna fill your itinerary with all the things to do in San Jose del Cabo, I’d choose to visit in shoulder season. Many claim visiting Cabo in May, June, October, or November are the best months to visit. May and June are well-enough after Spring Break and before the rainy season starts, whereas by October, the temperatures begin to become more comfortable again. During these shoulder seasons, you’ll find smaller crowds, mild temps (that still offer sunshine and warmth), and usually some great deals. Do note that some popular fishing tournaments are held in October, so you may want to double check those dates before booking.
Low Season (Summer): July – September
Summer brings intense heat (temps blazing into the high 90s), which is sometimes too much for some people to handle. Like us — we couldn’t down enough water and were constantly dreaming of getting back into the pool. If you do visit during the heat of the summer, make sure to properly hydrate, hang in the AC from time to time, and don’t cram in too much each day — you’ll wanna spend time cooling off in the pool or the ocean, I promise you that! Most of the things to do in San Jose del Cabo (and Cabo San Lucas) are primarily outside, so take that into account.
Besides the high temps, it’s also super humid here in the Baja Peninsula, with muggy weather and the possibility of frequent rain. Summertime storms do happen in the off-season, and can be pretty intense. Add on an extra day or two in Cabo just in case it does rain for a bit.
I will say there wasn’t a drop of rain when we visited in late September, but there was a hurricane in the area just two weeks earlier. It’s kinda a gamble — you just don’t know what you’re gonna get. Take out travel insurance for sure!
Hurricane Season in Cabo
Yes — hurricanes unfortunately do happen here in the Baja Peninsula. Hurricane season officially spans between mid-May and late-November, although it’s the most active in August and September.
Thankfully, Cabo is fortunate to rarely be affected by hurricanes, and most never actually hit land. But that doesn’t mean they never do — always be prepared for rain if you’re visiting during hurricane season, and always comply with what local officials are asking. This could mean evacuating to areas of higher elevation.
Tropical storms happen more frequently, and they’re actually kinda important, believe it or not! If the storms pass by without hitting land, the area can go without rain for more than a year — not good for all the vegetation.
There was actually a hurricane just two weeks before we headed to Cabo in September… and we weren’t sure what would happen! Thankfully the storm only lasted a day and by the next morning, the sun was shining again, and visitors were able to check out all the things to do in San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. Thankfully, we had zero rain on our September trip to Cabo!
A Note on Swimming at the Beaches
Hanging at the beach is one of the best things to do in San Jose del Cabo, but you may need to stay on the sand. Just FYI — and not to be a debbie downer, but not all the beaches in Cabo are safe for swimming. The waves are crazy high and there’s a powerful (hidden) undercurrent in some spots. To be safe, if there’s no one else in the water, don’t attempt a swim here.
With that being said, of course there’s some safe beaches in Cabo! A few include: Medano Beach, Lover’s Beach, Chileno Beach, and Palmilla Beach (the closest to San Jose del Cabo). I’ll go into way more detail about my favorite below!
But just for the record, whenever you see a blue flag flying on the beach, that means the beach is clean and accessible, has great water quality, meets high safety standards, and is helping protect the shoreline and ecosystem. NEVER get into the water if you see a red flag — it’s super unsafe!
Additional Tips when Visiting Los Cabos:
- Is English spoken? Yes — and almost everywhere! Los Cabos is one of the most popular resort destinations in Mexico, so hotel staff, shop owners, and restaurant workers all speak English to some degree (and most very well). If someone’s working in tourism you can almost expect them to speak fluent English. It’s still fun to practice your Spanish over here (and appreciated by the locals) — so download Duolingo and practice the basics before you go!
- Local Currency: In Baja California (like the rest of Mexico), they use the Mexican Peso. I highly advise you to take out some pesos at an ATM at the airport upon landing (you’ll get the best conversion rate using an ATM). While most restaurants and shops take credit cards, you’ll want some cash for tips (see below), at small handicraft shops, and road-side taco stands. American dollars are usually accepted, but you’ll typically get a better conversion rate if you pay in pesos. At the time of writing (October 2021), the peso is equivalent to 5 cents USD (or 1 USD = ~ $18 Mexican pesos). I found it easy-ish to convert in my head by thinking of 100 pesos = roughly $5 (or 200 pesos = ~$10USD).
- Tipping in Cabo: On that note, you’ll want your pesos for tipping! Tipping is customary in this part of Mexico, and we typically weren’t able to add tips onto a credit card when paying our bill at a restaurant. We also tipped the bellman who helped us with our bags, our boat captains, and tour guides. Tourism is such a big part of Los Cabos, so be generous if you can!
- How Long to Stay: Coming from the West Coast, we typically head to Cabo for a long weekend! But if you’re not as close and have no clue when you’ll be back, I highly recommend visiting for at least 5 days. In a little less than a week, you can explore both sides of Los Cabos — San Jose del Cabo as well as Cabo San Lucas, and even go on a day (or overnight) trip to Todos Santos!
What to Pack for Cabo:
In terms of clothing, you’ll wanna wear loose-fitting, flowy clothes, as it gets ridiculously hot here and you don’t want your shirts sticking to you (ugh, how uncomfortable!). Plan to bring along a cute bathing suit coverup or two, as well as some comfy sandals for the pool, beach, and walking around town!
Other miscellaneous items you’ll wanna bring along:
- Polarized sunglasses (better for blocking out the harsh UV rays)
- Beach bag and/or backpack: make sure it’s large enough to fit a beach towel or two!
- Hat/s: The sun is strong here! I love taking a wide-brimmed sun hat for the beach and a fun trucker hat when hiking.
- A waterproof kindle or other e-reader for reading at the beach and resort pool (I’d be worried a physical book may accidentally get wet!)
- Your hotel may give you towels, but we love traveling with a sand-free beach mat
- Reusable water bottle: better for the environment and a must at the beach!
- Reef Safe sunscreen (always apply when you’ll be in the ocean water, as other sunscreen is harmful to marine life): We love ThinkSport (make sure the bottles are less than 3.4 ounces if you’re bringing them in your carryon)! Don’t forget about SPF lip balm as well!
- Aloe Vera Gel: always have some handy in case you get a sunburn; aloe will give the burn some much-needed relief
- Dramamine: This will help with motion sickness if you’re planning to do a snorkeling or boat tour (the waves can get rough by El Arco depending on the day!).
- Bug spray will come in handy during Cabo’s humid months (June to September), and calamine lotion/hydrocortisone cream is good to have on hand for when you undoubtedly get bitten
- Underwater camera: All my underwater photography tips and gear here. I’d check out an underwater phone case, too.
- Portable battery charger: Charge your phone on the go and never run out of a charge
- Noise-cancelling headphones: Great for both the plane and the beach! I’m obsessed with my AirPods and Noah loves his Bose Quiet Comforts.
- Tote bag: If you’re planning on doing some shopping in San Jose del Cabo, bring your own fold-up tote bag! I love this collapsible reusable tote bag (hardly takes up any room in your suitcase and it’s so lightweight)
- Some meds for an upset stomach/antidiarrheal medicine (just in case you accidentally drink the water or something)
Where to Stay in Cabo
When visiting Los Cabos, you’ve essentially got 3 options:
- San Jose del Cabo
- Cabo San Lucas
- Between the two towns in the “hotel corridor”
Since this travel guide is specifically about all the things to do in San Jose del Cabo, I’ll give you my favorites in this area! Psst → if you wanna stay in Cabo San Lucas (the other side of town close to tours and tons of nightlife), check out this post (coming soon!) with some hotel options!
Tip #1: When booking, take careful note if the hotel/resort you choose is all-inclusive or not. All-inclusives are typically more expensive, but they include all the food AND drink (including alcohol) you could want. If you’ve got a lot of restaurants in mind you wanna leave the resort for, I recommend going for a non-all-inclusive hotel option. But if you don’t wanna be bothered with a food/drink bill at the end of your stay, choose all-inclusive and go all out! We’ve stayed at both and each have their positives and negatives.
Tip #2: Unfortunately, most hotels/resorts in San Jose del Cabo don’t have swimmable beaches. Many do have lounge chairs and cabanas for lounging by the ocean, but you can’t actually go into the water. It’s just not safe.
While I obviously haven’t stayed at all the hotels and resorts in San Jose del Cabo, here’s my favorites (so far!):
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos (all-inclusive): Looking to lounge by the pool all day sipping pina coladas and indulging in tacos smothered with guac? You can’t go wrong with Hyatt Ziva — it’s a luxurious all-inclusive oasis for all-ages, with an adults-only pool (which we most definitely took advantage of)! Although there are FIVE pools in total, so you can essentially hang out a different one each day, haha.
Acre (adults-only): We came to Acre for dinner and drinks one trip, and instantly knew we had to stay here the next time we visited Cabo. Why? Each hotel room is quite literally a treehouse! A real-life treehouse in the palm-tree jungle tucked in the foothills of San Jose del Cabo, complete with outdoor shower and king-size bed (with mosquito net). Definitely the most unique accommodation option in San Jose del Cabo, that’s for sure.
Oh, and there’s puppies you can play with at the in-house rescue and even a resident donkey named Burrito! There’s only 12 treehouses so book early! We spent two nights here (and then two at an all-inclusive) and it was absolutely perfect. It is a little farther from all the things to do in San Jose del Cabo, but we didn’t mind since we splurged on the treehouse and wanted to take full advantage of the property!
Cabo Azul Resort: This is where my friends and I went for our recent girls trip, and it was oh so much fun! We hung out sipping pina coladas at the swim-up bar every night, swam in one of the many pools most mornings, and then spent time on the swings at the beach club.
Not only is the entire resort absolutely stunning, but all the staff made our trip extra fun. Since Cabo Azul isn’t all-inclusive, we didn’t feel bad leaving the resort to try some nearby restaurants!
Hotel El Ganzo (adults only): Looking for a sophisticated and classy hotel with eclectic dining and ocean views? Check out Hotel El Ganzo. It’s got a funky and creative aesthetic, with a cool, laid-back vibe. OH — and it’s adults-only and there’s a private beach club and marina.
My friends recently stayed here for a night, and although the iconic rooftop glass pool was closed for repairs due to the recent hurricane, they still had a good time. Double check your bill though — my friend booked through a third party and the hotel couldn’t find her advance payment.
Best Things to do in San Jose del Cabo (and around!)
ATV Tour on the beach
Strap on your helmet, fasten your googles, and put on a bandana — we’re going ATVing! If you’ve never ridden an ATV before, Cabo’s the place to do it (if you aren’t going to Santorini anytime soon!). You’ll be driving through a wide variety of terrain: trailed and slightly mountainous, arid desert landscapes dotted with cacti, sandy beaches with ocean views….the works!!
You can choose a single or double ATV depending on who in your party wants to drive (I always let my husband drive as I don’t trust myself, haha). Definitely one of the most adventurous things to do in San Jose del Cabo, and a great way to see some local beaches! Read reviews and book your own ATV tour here!
Relax at the Pool
This one’s kinda obvious, but save some room on your Cabo itinerary for chillin’ at the pool — hey, this is Cabo after all! You deserve some time to sit back and relax, preferably with a frozen cocktail in hand (my favorite’s a pina colada through and through).
All the major resorts in San Jose del Cabo have pools — many with multiple, some even with 5 or more! There’s water slides, infinity pools, adults-only oases, and hot tub whirlpools with jets. And trust me, if you’re visiting in the heat of the summer, you’ll feel the need to take as many dips in the pool as humanly possible to cool off!
Stay at an all-inclusive
No Cabo experience is complete without staying at an all-inclusive for at least a night or two. Wash all your worries away and go all out with all the food and drink you could ever want. Poolside guac, breakfast chilaquiles, and too many tacos. Plus pina coladas, strawberry margaritas, and mango mojitos. Mmmmm. There’s so many all-inclusives to stay at, picking one will probably be the hardest decision you make all week.
Explore the town of San Jose del Cabo
On my first few trips to Cabo, I honestly didn’t even realize there was a small town to explore! It’s recently gotten pretty trendy, with bohemian shops, artistic restaurants, a serious cocktail scene, and lots of colorful cafes and galleries. Wandering the streets is most definitely one of the most colorful things to do in San Jose del Cabo. You’ll easily find lots of traditional Mexican charm over here, I promise! A few favorites in town not to miss:
Cool off with a paleta: It’ll most likely be pretty hot (and humid), so stop by and grab a quick paleta, a Mexican popsicle! There’s tons and tons of flavors, like pina (pineapple), coco (coconut), tamarind, fresa y crema (strawberries and cream), and aguacate (avocado).
There’s a few paleterias in town, but I’ve gone to Neveria La Michoacana both times I visited the area, and at 25pesos each (~$1.25USD), you really can’t go wrong. Just make sure to eat it quickly — it’s easy to drip and make a mess!
Check out Plaza Mijares: Here you’ll find the Main Square of town, along with the town’s mission church (Mision San Jose del Cabo) and town hall.
Shop for Handicrafts in Town: Every single block is filled to the brim with handicrafts. I literally wanted to buy everything — I had to put my wallet down! A few things you’ll see and want to buy: decorative pom pom garlands, hand-woven straw bags, flowy beach cover ups, Mexican-made textiles, cute stuffed animals, wide-brimmed beach hats, and brightly colored alebrijes (wooden folk art sculptures from Oaxaca).
Some boutique-y stores have recently been popping up, like Shima Shima with Mexican-made finds. If you plan to do some shopping, save some room in your suitcase for your souvenirs! Out of all the things to do in San Jose del Cabo, this is definitely one of my favorites.
Art District Art Walk: From November to June in downtown San Jose del Cabo, galleries and shops stay open late on Thursday nights for Art Walk — it’s essentially a big block party with live music! But you can do your own art walk around town if you’re not around then; just wander around and stroll the picturesque streets. My favorite street’s the one with all the fluttering flags! So fun and colorful!
Be amazed at El Arco
One of my favorite things to do in San Jose del Cabo isn’t even in the town of San Jose itself, but over by Cabo San Lucas! El Arco, or “The Arch” is easily the most iconic (and distinctive) landmark in all of Los Cabos — I’m sure you’ve seen it on postcards and all over IG. The arch has been formed over millions and millions of years, and sits three stories high! Naturally it’s one of the most popular things to do in Cabo San Lucas. It’s so gorgeous it’s even considered to be a natural wonder of Mexico!
This spot is also known as “Land’s End”, since it’s located right at the end of the peninsula where the two seas collide (the wild Pacific Ocean and the mellow Sea of Cortez). Boat tours will not only bring you to the iconic arch and other stunning monoliths, but you’ll also pass by Pelican Rock, with, you guessed it — lots of pelicans!
And thankfully, there’s plenty and plenty of tour options. I’ve been on a stunning sunset tour to El Arco with my husband and a glass boat tour in the morning with friends, and both were absolutely spectacular! Here’s a few tours I recommend:
Clear Boat Trip to El Arco: Looking for a bucket list worthy experience?! Choose to go on a completely clear boat to the arch! Trust me, from the clear boat you’ll see all shades of blue from navy to turquoise to everything in between. While the arch was definitely the main attraction, we also made quick stops at other points of interest (Pelican Rock, sea lions, etc) and our captain pointed out all the beaches we were passing (including the famous Lover’s Beach).
There’s other boats with glass-bottoms, but this one’s the only one that’s fully transparent — meaning no other materials at all. Meaning you can see schools of hundreds of tropical fish swimming directly under and around the boat! We even saw some coral reefs and a few pufferfish! I swear you’ve never seen anything like it (I sure haven’t)!
This was easily one of the highlights out of all my trips to Cabo, and I’d 1000% do it again. This is the exact boat we went on, and as you can see from the photos, there’s nothing quite like it in the world! The company even has a 10-year patent on the construction and materials!
Sunset Cruise to The Arch: If sunsets are more your jam (or you wanna spend the day relaxing at the pool), book yourself on a cruise that visits the arch at sunset! There’s no better way to end the day. This sunset dinner cruise to El Arco is on a double deck catamaran complete with Mexican buffet and open bar! Sounds like a hell of a good time to me!
Boat from the Marina: Looking to save some pesos? You can walk right on up to the marina and ask any of the guys over there for a boat tour to the Arch! Expect to pay roughly $20 per person round trip, although feel free to haggle a bit if you’ve got a larger group as they’re more willing to give you a discount. Remember if you’re staying in San Jose del Cabo (where I recommend), you’ll need to first get yourself over to Cabo San Lucas if you wanna hire a boat directly from the marina yourself.
Swim at Playa del Amor
Stunning, soft white sands. Amazing rock formations. Beautiful clear water. It is Baja’s most famous beach afterall. Playa del Amor, or Lover’s Beach, is easily one of Cabo’s most famous stretches of shoreline — and definitely one of the most stunning. And yes, this is one of the beaches you can actually safely swim in, although the current was still kinda strong (Playa del Amor, NOT Divorce Beach — more on that later).
But do note it can get kinda crowded, so don’t expect a romantic rendezvous with your significant other (despite the beach’s name). Plus, the sand was incredibly hot when we visited, so we had to literally run back and forth from our towels/bags and the ocean.
Psst — Playa del Amor is over by El Arco, so you’ll wanna do these two activities on the same day, if not the same boat tour! Since Lovers Beach is only accessible by boat, you’ll need to arrange for transportation (on the spot or in advance).
We took a water taxi over from the marina in Cabo San Lucas, and it was oh so much fun — lots of loud music and dancing on our way to the beach. Just make sure to arrange pickup in advance as there’s not many boats that hang around waiting for tourists to come back. We spent a little over an hour here and felt that was enough time to enjoy the water and admire the scenery.
There’s zero amenities here (no bathrooms or beach bars), so you’ll wanna bring everything you need. But not too much stuff — the water taxis (and other boats) can’t sail right up to shore, so you’ll need to wade through the water (sometimes waist deep) with your stuff. As you get off your water taxi, expect local guys to help you with your stuff — they’re harmless and actually very helpful, they’re just looking for tips (and are kinda pushy about it). Keep a few pesos on hand!
Walk Along Divorce Beach
Right on the other side of Playa del Amor you’ll find Divorce Beach. You can walk between the two beaches, but note that you can only swim on the Cabo San Lucas/Sea of Cortez side at Lover’s Beach, NOT over here at Divorce Beach. It’s just way too dangerous to swim in — the water is turbulent and there’s powerful rip currents.
Kind of interesting how they named these two beaches (that are connected!) Love Beach (the calm side) and Divorce Beach (the powerful side). We didn’t even make it over to Divorce Beach due to the extremely hot sand, but I’ve heard that most people just walk over, take a few photos, then head back to the other side to Lover’s Beach.
If you’re already over by Cabo San Lucas and love to snorkel, book yourself on a snorkeling tour. Cabo has one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world afterall! On this tour, you’ll swim in the azure waters of Santa Maria Bay (near the arch!) with tons of colorful tropical fish and such a fun crew. They even serve icy margaritas and cold cervezas afterwards! Read reviews and book your snorkeling tour here!
Stay in a treehouse
Okay, okay, while not technically one of the best things to do in San Jose del Cabo, I couldn’t leave it off this list! Because what a bucket list experience it is! I mean, doesn’t spending the night in a treehouse just sound super fun?!
Imagine waking up to the birds chirping outside your bed, stepping outside to the lush palm tree forest views, and taking a shower outdoors in nature. Because showering outside next to a treehouse just feels different. And if you’re not staying here, at least come visit and play with the rescued puppies for a bit (they’re oh so cute!). Check out the treehouses here and book a night or two!
Check out the resorts in the Hotel Zone
I absolutely LOVE wandering around other resorts when I travel (especially those I can’t afford) — I just find it so fun to explore (and scout out potential accommodations for next time). While you can’t exactly use all the amenities of other resorts if you’re not a guest, most will still let you go for a short walk around and have a drink at the bar. My absolute favorite spot we visited (but sadly didn’t stay) is the Viceroy Los Cabos — the architecture is just a dream!
Go on a DIY taco tour in El Centro
Hola — you’re in Mexico! What’s better than spending an afternoon stuffing your face with some of the best tacos in the area?! There’s tons to choose from, but we loved (and indulged in) Taqueria El Fogon, Tacos Gardenias, Mariscos El Toro Guero — try a marlin taco or two!, and La Lupita Taco & Mezcal (which we sadly missed because they were closed on Mondays).
Don’t forget to cool off with some frozen margaritas and authentic Mexican coca colas — so much sugar but oh so worth it! Coke in Mexico just hits differently, and hits the spot every. single. time.
Lunch and Farm Tour at Flora Farms
Flora Farms is one of San Jose del Cabo’s newest farm-to-table restaurants — and the whole property is on a 25-acre organic working farm, which you can tour! I will say it was exceptionally hot when we walked around (we chose the 2pm afternoon tour), so I recommend signing up for the morning farm tour, then making a reservation for lunch afterwards!
The (free!) tour was roughly 30 minutes, so you’ll have some time to grab cocktails at The Farm Bar and do some shopping between the farm tour and food! The first time we went to Flora Farms I had no idea a farm tour even existed! They also offer cooking classes and even movie nights on the farm which I definitely wanna do next time! The dishes are made with their farm fresh ingredients, straight from the farm you walk around!
Coming to Los Cabos from December through April?! You’re in for a real treat! This is when whales frequent the area! Humpbacks migrate from the cold waters of Alaska all the way down to the warmer water of Cabo. To have the absolute best chance of seeing whales, visit between January and March (this is when there’s the most whales and the greatest activity).
Wanna see baby whales? Visit from late-January to March, as this is when females start calving. Worried about getting seasick? Choose a morning cruise; the water’s usually calmer and it’s less windy! But the whales are usually most active in the afternoon and late evening, so you decide based on what you think you can handle. You can even experience the unique sound of their underwater song with a hydrophone if you book this whale watching tour!
Day trip to Todos Santos
Being only an hour north of Los Cabos, a day trip to Todos Santos is pretty easy, although I highly encourage you to stay the night if you’ve got time! Imagine cobblestone streets lined with tiny artisan shops, nearby surf breaks on golden sandy beaches, delicious mezcal margaritas, and probably the chicest hotel imaginable (the San Cristobal). That’s Todos Santos for ya!
It’s been designated as a “Pueblo Magico” (aka a Magical Town) by the Mexican government for its authentic history and artistic charm, so you know it’s worthy of your time. On this full-day tour of Todos Santos, you’ll visit factories, galleries, and artisan shops, as well as savor a buffet lunch at the infamous Hotel California.
Suggested Los Cabos Itinerary
If you’ve got 5 full days or so in Los Cabos, here’s how I suggest you spend your time! Of course you can’t see and do it all in less than a week, but you can get a really good feel for San Jose del Cabo, and even spend a day in Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos! Don’t miss out on these things to do in San Jose del Cabo (and Cabo San Lucas!).
- Day 1: morning farm tour then lunch at Flora Farms, relax at resort/sip margaritas at the swim-up bar/hang at the beach club
- Day 2: spend the day in Cabo San Lucas — definitely take a boat tour to El Arco (day or sunset), beach time at Playa Amor, snorkeling, and finally drinks/dinner at the marina
- Day 3: spend the day in downtown San Jose del Cabo, going on a DIY taco tour, shopping for handicrafts, and having cocktails/drinks at SHOREbar
- Day 4: take a day Trip to Todos Santos, one of my favorite little surf towns in Mexico!
- Day 5: It’s your last day, you pick — be as active or chill as you like! Or a good mix! Some ideas: ATV tour, relaxing at resort pool, riding horses on the beach, golfing, whale-watching (in winter) you decide!
Where to Eat and Drink in San Jose del Cabo
In between checking out all the things to do in San Jose del Cabo, you’ve gotta eat of course! There’s a whole bunch of amazing places to eat (and drink!) in San Jose del Cabo, so of course we have a hard time picking whenever we visit! Here’s a whole bunch we’ve loved over the years and some I’m dying to try (I’ll update this list once we visit again and try more!).
- Acre: Remember those treehouses I was gushing about earlier? Well one of my favorite restaurants in San Jose del Cabo is over here, too! Expect creative global cuisine (inspired by local ingredients) with a sustainable farm-to-table focus, along with innovative cocktails all in a trendy, garden setting. It’s one of the freshest meals I’ve ever had! If you can’t get a reservation, at least come for the ambiance and drinks/dessert (order the Peacock Pineapple Juice and Gin Basil Smash), and look out for the peacocks waltzing around!
- Flora Farms: If you’ve gotta pick one restaurant to eat outside your resort, choose Flora Farms. Both times I’ve been there the food was super fresh — try one of their signature wood-fired pizzas and burrata caprese salads — the menu is seasonal and based on what’s grown. And the produce is all grown and picked from their 25-acre farm (on-property!). Literally the closest there is to farm-to-table! They’ve also got a super cute pom pom wall which I absolutely love, as well as tons of bougainvillea!
- Huerta Los Tamarindos: The third farm-to-table restaurant in the area, and the next one I wanna try for a romantic dinner with my husband! The grilled octopus looks amazing, as does the caprese salad, organic veggies, and Oaxacan memelas.
- La Lupita Taco & Mezcal: Authentic Mexican fare, but make it modern with a side of live music. Even Chef Thomas Keller loves this place! La Lupita’s best known for their made-from-scratch tortillas and fillings range from al pastor, lobster, and tender short ribs with goat cheese and even grasshoppers, so make sure to order a few! And pair your taco with a mezcal cocktail — I’m dying to go!
- Casa Calavera: OMG I’m obsessed with this place. Not only is the decor to die for (just look at that bar setup), but you can literally eat dinner with your toes in the sand on the beach. Don’t miss the esquina corn, taco trio, and the chicken tortilla soup. Go right before sunset for the best vibes — and make sure you ask for a table on the sand!
- Hacienda Cocina y Cantina: If you’re in Cabo San Lucas for the day, Hacienda Cocina y Cantina is a great option for a sunset dinner. We pulled up without a reservation so we couldn’t eat outside on the oceanview terrace, but the interior (and view!) was hard to beat! And they even drive you to the restaurant in a golf cart — making the whole experience so fun! Make sure to order the guacamole, chicken mole, queso fundido, and churros (for dessert) — we loved our meal and it was all absolutely delicious!
- Coffee LAB: Come for your morning cup of caffeine, stay for the wifi and spectacular service. Kinda off-the-beaten path but still very walkable from downtown. Some say it’s the best coffee in Baja — you be the judge!
- Cielomar Rooftop: This lounge on the roof of the Viceroy Hotel has some of the best views of the area! And it’s such a vibe — with glass walls and avant-garde architecture, and a price tag to match (it is pretty pricey, but hey, it’s at the Viceroy — what do you expect?). We haven’t been here yet, but I’ve heard it’s worth every penny! We’ll be making a reservation for sunset well in advance for our next trip.
- SHOREbar Los Cabos: We stopped by SHOREbar on our Christmas trip to Cabo and it looked like such a fun little spot! It’s exceptionally trendy, with tons of pendant lights hanging from the thatched roof ceiling, comfy chairs, and even some pool tables. Looks like a super fun bar to hang out at for a bit!
- Taqueria El Fogon: Whatever you do in Cabo, don’t miss the al pastor tacos from El Fogon — this place is insanely good with a super chill vibe. Some even claim they’ve got the best tacos in all of San Jose del Cabo, and I kinda agree (way more authentic than the typical tourist restaurants and cheap!). I had two tacos and it filled me up — the gringas de pastor and vampiros del pastor, both utterly amazing.
- Mariscos El Toro Guero: In the mood for some seafood? Come check out El Toro Guero! The portions are large so don’t order too much. We got a few marlin tacos (different but delicious!), a pescado tostada, and a few main dishes. A lot of locals eat here — I think we were actually some of the only tourists here!
Hope this helps you plan your trip to Los Cabos! Which of these things to do in San Jose del Cabo are you most excited about?!