Cabo San Lucas Travel Guide

Write a Review
Popular Travel Destinations

Recently Reviewed Hotels Around Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas Travel Guide

Cabo San Lucas Local History

The original Cape locals were the Guaycura, who roamed the region as nomadic hunter-gatherers and seem to have survived contact with European diseases until the 17th century. Few records of their civilization survive, though evidence suggests they practiced polygamy because tribal warfare had created a shortage of men. The myth of an all-female society of warriors is derived from the exaggerated stories of visitors to this and other regions in South America. One such early visitor was the buccaneer and sometime explorer Thomas Cavendish, who often weighed anchor at the site of present-day Cabo San Lucas and used the area as a base for his operations.

When Cavendish attacked the Spanish galleon Santa Ana, which was loaded with gold and silk, off Cabo San Lucas in 1587, the Spanish decided they had enough of the area being a playground for pirates. They established a small fortress at the end of the Cape, and hoped this would frighten all the pirates away. The fortress did not frighten all the pirates away, but it did give the Spanish a base from which to explore around Baja. Pearls were soon discovered in the Sea of Cortez, and more settlements were established along the coast. Without a stable water source, sleepy Cabo San Lucas remained relatively undeveloped throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, a time in which large Catholic missions were established throughout the Baja.

By the 1930s the town's population was only 400, though it was fairly successful as a fishing village and ran its own cannery. In the postwar period the area was the destination for sport fishers, who came for the billfish and dubbed the waters 'Marlin Alley' for their prodigious supply. The town's popularity with anglers and luxury boaters swelled the population to about 1500, and meant it was included in the route of the Carretera Transpeninsular, which rolled into the area in 1973. The next big boost to accessibility was the construction of an international airport in nearby Cabo Jose del Cabo, which brought even more tourists. Today, Cabo San Lucas is in the throes of development, with a gaggle of developers and hustlers offering time shares and condos. Seasonal visitors see the population soar to more than 50,000, though the permanent population is around half this. Recent luxury developments have been controversial, particularly the gated community on the hill, Pedregal, which caters to the uber-rich.

Cabo San Lucas Attractions

Top Attractions

Downtown Cabo - This is the throbbing heart of the party town that draws college kids and high-rollers alike. Just check out a few of the bars in this area and you will souvenir yourself an unforgettable hangover. With a standout name, El Squid Roe throws on live music for throwing down tequila. If you are serious about sampling the spirit distilled from the blue agave plant, make a beeline for Pancho's - it boasts around 400 varieties of the stuff. If music is more your poison, there is the perennial Hard Rock Cafe, or try Cabo Wabo Cantina, which sees occasional performances by its owner Sammy Hagar, the less-famous front man of 1980s guitar gods Van Halen. Cabo's lone gay and lesbian venue, Rainbow Bar, is on the waterfront with a small dance floor.

Historic Cabo San Lucas - Sports and partying are Cabo's main attractions, but there are also a few cultural and historical points of interest. The Spanish missionary Nicolas Tamaral established the stone Iglesia de San Lucas (Church of San Lucas) on Calle Cabo San Lucas, close to the main plaza, in 1730. A large bell in a stone archway commemorates the completion of the church in 1746. The Pericue Indians, who resisted Tamaral's demands that they practice monogamy, eventually killed him. Buildings on the streets facing the main plaza are gradually being renovated to house restaurants and shops, and the picturesque neighbourhood has the most Mexican ambience in town.

Harbour Cabo San Lucas - For fisher folk this is the gateway to the celebrated 'Marlin Alley', but historically this old port was only really a passing-through destination for sailors because of the lack of fresh water. To get a bleary-eyed glimpse of the fishing boats heading out, get up at the very un-holiday hour of four. Do not expect boatloads of marlin because these fish are protected, only one can be caught a day by each boat and any extras must be released. On their way back in most boats fly flags that boast to everyone on the docks about the size of their catch. To throw a line in at the 'Marlin Capital of the World' you can join a tour or take your own boat. All you need to fish by yourself is a license from the Oficina de Pesca, where you might also be able to catch some tips on how the fish are biting. If you are not into big-game fishing, there are cruises that can drop you at Playa del Amor or Land's End.

Arch and Anchor Bar Cool place....owner from Vancouver
submitted by Bob Skelly, 28/10/08

The Rainbow Bar and Lounge Serving the Alternative community and tourist for over 10 years! Excellent location on the marina with seperate Lounge and Disco.
submitted by Ronald, 21/08/06

Royal Jewellers Excellent designs and loads of variety. Very friendly staff and competitively priced. My wife just loved it!!
submitted by Bill Singh, 01/12/05

Cabo San Lucas Shopping

Cuca's Blanket Factory - This open-air stand sells the usual Mexican cotton and wool blankets, with an added attraction, you can design your own and have it ready the next day. It is open daily from 9am to 9pm. Credit cards are not accepted. Located on Lazaro Cardenas at Matamoros.

El Callejon - The most eclectic shop in Los Cabos features antiques, unique gifts, paintings, and home furnishings. The one-of-a-kind items are mostly the work of local artists. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 8pm. Located Vicente Guerrero s/n, between Lazaro Cardenas and Madero. Tel: 624/143-1139.

Golden Cactus Studio-Gallery - The area's longest-standing art gallery shows original art by regional artists, including Chris Macclure, as well as reproductions and posters of popular Mexican works. Open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 4 to 7pm. Located on the corner of Vicente Guerrero and Madero, upstairs. Tel: 624/143-6399.

Rostros de Mexico - Walls of wooden masks and carved religious statues are the draw at this gallery, whose name means "Faces of Mexico." It is open Monday through Saturday, from 10am to 7pm, Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Credit cards are not accepted. Located on Lazaro Cardenas at Matamoros. Tel: 624/143-0558.

Cabo San Lucas Activities

Bicycles, boogie boards, snorkels, surfboards, and golf clubs are available for rent at Cabo Sports Center in the Plaza Nautica on Bulevar Marina (tel. 624/143-4272). The center is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 9pm, Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

You can rent horses through Rancho Colin (tel. 624/143-3652) for around $20 per hour. Guided beach rides and sunset tours to El Faro Viejo (the Old Lighthouse) cost $60 per person; tours to the Pacific for sunset riding on the beach cost $30 per person per hour. It is open daily from 8am to 6pm.

Also recommendable is Cuadra San Francisco Equestrian Center, Km 19.5 along the Corridor (tel. 624/144-0160), which offers rides with your choice of English or Western saddles. A 2-hour canyon ride in and around Arroyo San Carlos or Venado Blanco costs $65; a 1-hour ride to the beach or desert is $35.

Cabo San Lucas Parks & Gardens

Although superb sport fishing put Cabo San Lucas on the map, there is more to do than dropping your line and waiting for the Big One. For most cruises and excursions, try to make fishing reservations at least a day in advance. Keep in mind that some trips require a minimum number of people. Most sports and outings can be arranged through a travel agency; fishing can also be arranged directly at one of the fishing-fleet offices at the far south end of the marina.

Besides fishing, there's kayaking ($60 for a sunset trip around the Arch rock formation; $40 for morning trips) and boat trips to Los Arcos or uninhabited beaches. All-inclusive daytime or sunset cruises are available on a variety of boats, including a restored pirate ship. Many of these trips include snorkeling; serious divers have great underwater venues to explore.

All along the curving sweep of sand known as Medano Beach, on the east side of the bay, you can rent snorkeling gear, boats, Wave Runners, kayaks, and windsurf boards. You can also take windsurfing lessons. This is the town's main beach and is a great place for safe swimming, as well as people-watching from one of the many outdoor restaurants along its shore.

Beach aficionados may want to rent a car and explore the five more remote beaches and coves between the two Cabos: Playa Palmilla, Chileno, Santa MarĂ­a, Barco Varado, and Vista del Arco. Beaches other than Medano are not considered safe for swimming, though many people do not heed the warning. Experienced snorkelers may wish to check them out, but other visitors should go for the view only.

Always check at a hotel or travel agency for directions and swimming conditions. Although a few travel agencies run snorkeling tours to some of these beaches, there is no public transportation. Your only option for beach exploring is to rent a car. Several companies offer snorkeling;

Cabo San Lucas Beaches

Playa del Amor (Lover's Beach) - Flanked by towering rocks, quiet Playa del Amor (Lover's Beach) is Cabo's most scenic beach. Swimming near the arches should be avoided, but snorkeling on the bay side is excellent. Exhausting all superlatives, this mind-blowing beach is flanked by towering rocks and has access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Bahia de Cabos San Lucas. Above the water, the natural rock outcrops and arches at Land's End are one of Baja California's trademark landscapes.

Under the waves there is some great snorkeling to be had. Scuba divers can choose between exploring an old shipwreck, coasting over rocky reefs or just hanging out with the playful sea lions that have been known to visit. If you are curious about the underwater world but want to stay dry, there are glass-bottomed boats that leisurely cruise the area.

On the Pacific side of the landmass, Playa Solmar has a reputation for unpredictable, dangerous waves that can get unsuspecting tourists into trouble. As a result this stretch of coast has been nicknamed 'Divorce Beach' by some locals.

Playa Medano (Dune Beach) - The most popular of the town's beaches is definitely Medano, its calm waters are perfect for swimming, though you might have to dodge the odd jet ski. The souvenir vendors have worked out that this is the best beach to hawk Day of the Dead dolls, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants in which to give them the slip. This area is definitely the party place in town, so if you are after peace and tranquility make for the quieter stretch of sand beyond the Club Cascadas.

If you are looking for adventure sports action this should be your first stop. Visitors can carve up the coast on a windsurfer, jump into a sea kayak, strap yourself into a parasail for an adrenalin-racing eyeful of the coastline or try the heart-stopping, but picturesque, beachside bungee jumping. And of course there is always terrorizing swimmers with a jet ski. All the water sports toys are available for hire at various places along the beach.

Cabo San Lucas Restaurants and Bars

Everything's fresh and homemade, including the corn tortillas and the numerous and varied salsas. Fish tacos made with fresh dorado are superb, as are any of the shrimp dishes, the coconut mango version, served with homemade mango chutney, is especially tasty.

Do not leave without sampling the original Mexican bouillabaisse, a rich stew of shrimp, crab, sea bass, scallops, Italian sausage, and savoury seasonings. Mexican specialties include carne asada (grilled beef) with chile verde sauce, and chimichangas.

Cabo San Lucas Restaurants

Casa Rafael's - Though overpriced, this is among the most romantic places in Cabo. Dine in one of the large house's candlelit rooms and alcoves (which are air-conditioned), or outside beside the small swimming pool. Piano music plays in the background while you enjoy a leisurely meal. To start, try sublime smoked dorado pate, or perhaps hearts of palm with raspberry vinaigrette. House specialties, a tasty combination of selections from the meat, seafood, and pasta menus, include Cornish game hen in champagne sauce. Black Angus steaks are imported from the United States; the lamb comes from New Zealand. Reservations are strongly recommended, and main courses are $20-$58. Rafael's is located on Calle Medano and Camino el Pescador, Around Town. Tel: 624/143-0739.

Felix's - This colourful, friendly family-run place has grown up since opening in 1958, going from just serving tacos to offering a full array of tasty Mexican and seafood dishes. Everything's fresh and homemade, including the corn tortillas and the numerous and varied salsas. Fish tacos made with fresh dorado are superb, as are any of the shrimp dishes, the coconut mango version, served with homemade mango chutney, is especially tasty. Do not leave without sampling the original Mexican bouillabaisse, a rich stew of shrimp, crab, sea bass, scallops, Italian sausage, and savoury seasonings. Mexican specialties include carne asada (grilled beef) with chile verde sauce, and chimichangas. There is full bar service, the specialties are fresh fruit margaritas and daiquiris. At breakfast time, this is Mama's Royale Cafe. Main courses are $8-$15. This spot is located on Hidalgo and Zapata s/n, Around Town. Tel: 624/143-4290.

Mi Casa - The building's vivid cobalt-blue facade is your first clue that this place celebrates Mexico, and the menu confirms that impression. This is one of Cabo's most renowned gourmet Mexican restaurants. Traditional specialties such as manchamanteles (literally, "tablecloth stainers"), cochinita pibil, and chiles en nogada are menu staples. Fresh fish is prepared with delicious seasonings from throughout Mexico. Especially pleasant at night, the restaurant's tables, scattered around a large patio, are set with colorful cloths, traditional pottery, and glassware. Main courses are $11-$23, and reservation are recommended. The restaurant is located across from the main plaza. Calle Cabo San Lucas at Madero. Tel: 624/143-1933.

Mocambo's - The location of this longstanding Cabo favourite is not inspiring, it is basically a large cement building, but the food obviously is. The place is always packed, generally with locals tired of high prices and small portions. Ocean-fresh seafood is the order of the day, and the specialty platter can easily serve four people. Main courses available at $5-$23. The restaurant is 1 1/2 blocks inland from Lazaro Cardenas. Av. Leona Vicario and 20 de Noviembre. Tel: 624/143-6070.

Cabo San Lucas Bars & Clubs

El Squid Roe - El Squid Roe is one of the late Carlos Anderson's inspirations, and it still attracts wild, fun-loving crowds of all ages with its two stories of nostalgic decor. The eclectic food is far better than you'd expect from such a party place. As fashionable as blue jeans, this is a place to see, women's tops are known to be discarded with regularity, as the dancing on tables moves into high gear. There is also a patio out back for dancing when the tables, chairs, and bar spots are taken. Open daily from noon to 2am, and there is no cover charge. Located on Blvd. Marina, opposite Plaza Bonita. Tel: 624/143-0655.

Latitude 22+ - This raffish restaurant and bar never closes. License plates, signs, sports caps, and a 959-pound blue marlin are the backdrop for U.S. sports events that play on six TVs scattered among pool tables, dart boards, and assorted games. You can order dishes from hamburgers to chicken-fried steak, or breakfast anytime. Happy hour is from 4 to 6pm. There is no cover charge . The bar is located on Lazaro Cardenas s/n, 1 block north of the town's only traffic light. Tel: 624/143-1516.

Sancho Panza Wine Bar and Bistro - Finally, an alternative to beer bars. Sancho Panza combines a gourmet food market with a wine bar that features live jazz music plus an intriguing menu of Nuevo Latino cuisine (Mediterranean food with Latin flair). The place has a cozy neighbourhood feeling, with tourists and locals sampling the selection of more than 150 wines, plus espresso drinks. During high season, make reservations. It is open Monday through Saturday from 3pm to midnight, and there is no cover charge. Located on Plaza Las Glorias boardwalk, next to the Lighthouse. Tel: 624/143-3212.

Cabo San Lucas children's activities

Bicycles, boogie boards, snorkels, surfboards, and golf clubs are available for rent at Cabo Sports Center in the Plaza Nautica on Bulevar Marina (tel. 624/143-4272). The center is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 9pm, Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

You can rent horses through Rancho Colin (tel. 624/143-3652) for around $20 per hour. Guided beach rides and sunset tours to El Faro Viejo (the Old Lighthouse) cost $60 per person; tours to the Pacific for sunset riding on the beach cost $30 per person per hour. It is open daily from 8am to 6pm.

Also recommendable is Cuadra San Francisco Equestrian Center, Km 19.5 along the Corridor (tel. 624/144-0160), which offers rides with your choice of English or Western saddles. A 2-hour canyon ride in and around Arroyo San Carlos or Venado Blanco costs $65; a 1-hour ride to the beach or desert is $35.

Cabo San Lucas Tours

Looking for organised tours in Cabo San Lucas?

Useful Cabo San Lucas Links

Cabo San Lucas Tourist Information and Tourism
guide to what to expect in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Featured Hotels in Cabo San Lucas

Know a thing or two about Cabo San Lucas ?

Please share your experiences and tips with your fellow travellers.
Your personal details and email address won't be published.

Fields with an * are required. Errors will be indicated in red