San José del Cabo
Sightseeing in and around the colonial town of San Jose del Cabo is not just about browsing markets or delving into the pueblo’s historical past. San Jose offers travelers the unique opportunity to come face-to-face with local flora and fauna, and get acquainted with some of Los Cabos’ best known desert and ocean specimens.
This cactus museum and botanical garden on the outskirts of San Jose del Cabo features oodles of varieties of the spiky plant which have become emblematic landmarks for Los Cabos as a destination. Cacti from around the globe – not just local Mexican varieties – are displayed in pleasing patterns under a huge awning of white canvas and in an open-air garden featuring more than 5,000 plants.
Cacti Mundo preserves, conserves and reproduces some typical Mexican desert cacti, including some which in their natural habitat could become extinct. Onsite biologists give visitors some insider information on the prickly plant.
Driving 40 minutes north of San Jose del Cabo brings SCUBA dive and snorkel enthusiasts to East Cape and the amazing reef at Cabo Pulmo, which was so impressive to underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau that he called it the “Aquarium of the World.”
Along the way, visitors see the sights of the surrounding desert and rugged mountainside on one side of the well-paved highway, and the spectacular blue horizon of ocean on the other.
Cabo Pulmo reef lies submerged in 60 feet of water and is the only hard coral reef in the Sea of Cortez, and one of only three living reefs in North America. The incredible biodiversity that so impressed Cousteau is evident here in more than 350 species of sea life, including whale sharks, a myriad of fish, manta rays, and even a playful colony of sea lions that often take to the water to cavort with divers and snorkelers.
Estero de San Jose (San Jose Estuary)
The San Jose estuary is home to more than 200 species of wetland and ocean birds, and is a protected reserve with the freshwater Rio San José that flows into the sea. A narrow walking path skirts around the lagoon but visitors may also rent kayaks to try their luck at seeing wildlife up close and personal. The beachfront is open to pedestrian traffic but stick close to shore -- the surf is too powerful for safe swimming.
Palacio Municipal (Municipal Palace (City Hall))
Take a trip into the region’s colonial past with a visit to City Hall, one of San Jose del Cabo’s recognizable landmarks right on the main plaza in a sunny yellow building that was built at the turn of the century.
Cabo San Lucas
Even though bar-hopping might seem like the most popular sport of choice in Cabo San Lucas, visitors should not miss out on the action and wildlife outside of the nightclubs and in Cabo’s spectacular natural surroundings.
Some of the best Cabo San Lucas sightseeing revolves around the ocean. Take a sunset cruise and spot whales during the winter months, swim, snorkel and dive in the warm waters and encounter beautiful underwater life, venture out on a deep sea fishing expedition, or get an adrenaline rush with a Jetski ride across the open water.
On land, there are equally interesting and exciting sights to see and experience. Visit the numerous and varied beaches, including Lover’s Beach near the famous Arch where the Sea of Cortez unites with the Pacific Ocean. Tee off at one of the many championship golf courses. Or take an action-packed adventure tour aboard a Jeep or ATV through the arid Baja California desert.
The more adventurous explorers can leave the bustle of Cabo San Lucas and head to Todos Santos, a quaint artists’ colony just an hour north along the Pacific Coast. Or head to the interior of the peninsula along the dusty dirt roads that cut through the Cabo desert towards East Cape on the Sea of Cortez, where tiny towns like Buena Vista and Los Barriles offer many hidden beach spots and craggy coves waiting to be discovered.
El Arco Land's End, Cabo San Lucas
Perhaps one of the most recognized landmarks which has become synonymous with Los Cabos is the incredible 200-foot natural rock formation known as The Arch of Poseidon, or simply "El Arco." Found at the tip of the Baja Peninsula where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean collide, the Arch is only accessible by boat. However there is never a shortage of water taxis or glass-bottomed boats departing from busy Medano Beach, the most direct point of departure for a trip to see the Arch. Many other boat tours will include a pass by El Arco where visitors can glimpse the impressive monument from the sea. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for colonies of sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks, diving into surf, and barking up a storm at passersby.
Lover's Beach at Land's End - Cabo San Lucas Playa del Amor (Love Beach) or Playa del Amante (Lover's Beach)
An unforgettable Cabo San Lucas sightseeing must is a boat trip to Lover’s Beach or Playa del Amor, known to locals as Playa de Doña Chepa, which is accessed only by boat. Most tours depart from the Cabo San Lucas marina or you can always negotiate a water taxi directly from Medano Beach and head for El Arco. Boat captains like to go around the tip of Land’s End to view where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, and then drop visitors off at Lover’s Beach for a few hours of sunning and swimming. Don’t forget to bring along towels, snacks and water, as there are no kiosks selling refreshments or umbrellas for shade. A word of caution: although enticing, the Pacific side of the beach is dangerous due to currents and pounding waves. Stick to swimming and snorkeling on the calm Sea of Cortez side.
El Faro de Cabo Falso (Lighthouse of the False Cape)
Hwy 19, Km 2, Cabo San Lucas
Built in 1890, the remains of the Lighthouse of the False Cape perch on a cliff top 500 feet over the water and offer a picturesque backdrop to horseback riding, ATV and 4-wheel driving tours.
Iglesia de San Lucas (Church of St Luke)
Avenida Cabo San Lucas and Zapata Street, Cabo San Lucas
Visitors looking to attend Catholic mass in the area should drop by the Sunday service at Iglesia de San Lucas, which was built in the 1703s during the time when Spanish missionaries were prevalent along the Baja Peninsula. The church still looks very much the same as it did in the 18th century, and draws the most widely attended service each Sunday.
Museo de las Californias
Hidalgo and Av Cabo San Lucas, Plaza San Lucas, Cabo San Lucas
History buffs should stop off at the Museo de las Californias to delve into the colonial, cultural and historical past of the founding of San Jose del Cabo and other interesting facts about the Baja Peninsula. Jump back into time with the help of restored photographs, artifacts, maps and tools – some date back to Hernan Cortez’s 16th century conquistador expeditions. There’s enough interesting information to keep visitors intrigued for at least half a day.
Todos Santos - Highway 19, Todos Santos, 23305, Mexico, MX
Tucked along the Pacific Coast just 40 miles of Cabo San Lucas (but worlds away in atmosphere) is the bohemian town, Todos Santos. Known as a getaway for surfers and artists alike, the village of 4,000 people has a laidback attitude while retaining many classic tourism draws without the hustle and bustle of Cabo. Its burgeoning flea markets, stylish clothing boutiques, eclectic art galleries and top-notch dining establishments create an entertaining destination that is a pleasure to explore whether it’s a day trip from San Lucas or an overnighter at the infamous Todos Santos landmark, Hotel California, which was incorrectly rumored to have inspired classic rock group, the Eagles, song of the same name. Visit the pretty town church, Mision de Nuestra Senora de Pilar, which dates back to 1733. Take to the beach at Los Cerritos and watch the surfers ply the waves. Or explore the historic mills in the area, including Molino de los Santana and Molino El Progreso.