Cabo San Lucas Snorkeling
The 11th most popular snorkel dive spot in Mexico.
Friday 1 March 2019 06:21 GMT
South of La Paz at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, the snorkeling around Cabo San Lucas is best known for sandy beaches and offshore rock formations. During Cabo San Lucas snorkeling, you may encounter sturgeon, moray eels, swordfish, manta rays and sharks.
In and around Cabo San Lucas itself, the best snorkeling is off the barren peninsula to the southwest. The waters of Bahia San Lucas are known to usually be calm with little current. The reef formations around Cabo San Lucas have been declared a national marine park called Cabo San Lucas Marine Park.
Just to the southwest of Cabo San Lucas is the start of a long rocky peninsula called Lands End. The first beach is Playa De La Empacadora, which is also called Cannery Beach or Playa Publico. There is a small parking area, so it may be best to walk or get a taxi to the beach. There’s also a water taxi servicing the beach. There are rocks on the north end of the beach which provide great habitat for angelfish, parrotfish, sergeant majors and octopus. To the south end of the beach, it is possible when the surf is calm to snorkel around the rocks to another small beach.
The North Wall snorkeling site is a boat-accessed dive in 15 to 65 foot deep waters. During North Wall snorkeling you may encounter porcupine fish, scorpion fish, pufferfish, flutefish and moray eels.
The Neptunes Fingers snorkeling site is a boat-accessed dive. There are two coral reefs with the large coral heads coming within 15 feet of the surface. During Neptunes Fingers snorkeling, you may encounter jacks, yellowtail, goatfish, grouper, turtles, devil rays, manta rays and sunfish.
Continuing down the Lands End peninsula, there is an offshore rock known as Pelican Rock. The Pelican Rock snorkeling site is a boat-accessed dive in 15 to 65 foot deep, protected waters. During Pelican Rock snorkeling, you may encounter scorpionfish, porcupine fish, snapper, pufferfish, moray eels and devil rays.
The last stop on the peninsula for snorkelers is Playa del Amor or Lovers Beach. This is a hugely popular water taxi destination and can be quite crowded. Many tourists come to see the famous arched rock formation offshore and the sea lion colony. Since it is very close to the end of the peninsula, the best Lovers Beach snorkeling is when the surf is super calm on a windless day. And also come out early on weekday mornings to avoid the crowds. Keep an eye out for resident moray eels in the rocks.
Heading northeast from Cabo San Lucas, the next snorkeling spot is off Playa Santa Maria in Bahia Santa Maria. The edges of this protected cove are lines with rocks just begging to be explored. They provide habitat for a variety of marine life and reef fishes. During Bahia Santa Maria snorkeling, you may encounter pufferfish, needlefish, parrotfish, cowfish and eagle rays. The Playa Santa Maria beach can be very crowded on the weekends with locals, so you may want to snorkel on a weekday to avoid the crowds. It’s best on windless, calm-surf days. There is a nice large parking area on the northern end of the beach if you have a rental car. There is also a public bus stop near the beach.
Just a little further northeast is Playa el Chileno where there are finger-like rocks and reefs heading offshore into Bahia Chileno. Since there are many snorkel tour boats frequenting these waters, it’s best to explore early and late in the day. It is also popular with locals, so weekday mornings are best for some peace and quiet. It is located about a five minute drive past Playa Santa Maria.
Continuing northeast just past San Jose del Cabo is East Cape Beach where there is a small rock formation jutting into the waters. It’s not well know for its snorkeling, but if the water is calm, it can be a lot of fun. It’s a good diverse (or excuse) for coming to Buzzards Bar And Grill adjacent to the parking area. There are also tidal pools teeming with marine life.
And, much further afield to the northeast is Playa Los Arbolitos and the Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve. Most people talk about these as two different destinations, but Playa Los Arbolitos is actually inside of the marine reserve. When heading northeast from Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, the first access point to the Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve is the dirt road leading to Playa Los Arbolitos. It is one of the best dives site in the region where you’ll find plenty of finger coral reefs to explore in water from 15 to 80 feet deep. There are corals to explore both to the left and right of the parking area at the beach. As you snorkel to the right heading east towards the point, you come to the rocky Playa Sirenas area. Around the point, the surf becomes rougher, but you may encounter some sea lions from the nearby colony. They are quite friendly and curious. Many snorkelers start at Mermaids Beach, which is accessible via a short hike from the southern shore of Pulmo Bay. Mermaids Beach has a picture-perfect lagoon complete with giant clams and parrotfish, and the best snorkeling is on the reef about 300 feet offshore. If you're up for seeing the sea lions, take a snorkeling boat tour to Frailes Rock Sea Lion Colony.
The main beach for Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve is further northeast from Playa Los Arbolitos in the village of Cabo Pulmo. There are a variety of watersports shops and dive shops at the beach parking area. The main cafe serving the beach is called La Palapa and is quite popular. The main snorkeling is southwest of Cabo Pulmo where there are angled reefs extending offshore. Typically, there is good water clarity. While there is great shore-accessed snorkeling, there are also a variety of dive boat charters right out of Cabo San Lucas running up to the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park. The snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo Bay is known for its sea lions, manta rays and grey whales. The Cabo Pulmo Bay is a protected marine park sanctuary known as Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve. From the Cabo San Lucas, it is a rough 90 minute drive to Cabo Pulmo. Start by heading north on Highway 1 past the Caduano, Mira Flores, and Santiago turnoffs. Once you approach a small village called Las Cuevas, you will find a right turn to La Ribera. Follow the road to La Ribera and turn right just prior to entering La Ribera. You will see the Cabo Pulmo turnoff. Follow the Cabo Pulmo road south until the pavement ends. Continue another 6 miles on the dirt road until you reach the village of Cabo Pulmo. Prior to Cabo Pulmo you will see some signs promoting Cabo Pulmo information, continue past this village, Cabo Pulmo is the next bay. It is very easy to get lost on the rugged roads when driving to Cabo Pulmo, so you may want to book a tour. If you use a tour, make sure the guides are actually registered with the marine reserve to avoid getting into trouble.
To reach the snorkeling at Cabo San Lucas by air, you will need to fly into San Jose del Cabo International Airport (SJD) which is located northeast of Cabo San Lucas and directly north of San Jose del Cabo.
Overall, Cabo San Lucas is the 11th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 37 snorkeling dives in Mexico.