The Best Things to Do in San José del Cabo, Mexico

Enjoy the coastal scenery with a visit to San José del Cabo, on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California
Enjoy the coastal scenery with a visit to San José del Cabo, on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California | © mauritius images GmbH / Alamy
Photo of Richard Collett
30 August 2021

Warm, windswept days on the beach and enchanting starlit evenings characterize San José del Cabo, Baja California’s southern seaside retreat.

The guidebooks often describe San José del Cabo as the laid-back, quiet alternative to Cabo San Lucas, but this is an up-and-coming destination with a heart and soul all of its own. Located by the white sand beaches of Baja California’s southerly tip, San José del Cabo offers travelers endless coastline, dolphin experiences and a bar and restaurant scene that serves up the best burgers in Cabo. To inspire your trip to Baja California Sur, here are the best things to do in San José del Cabo, Mexico.

Costa Azul

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Costa Azul near San Jose del Cabo Baja California Sur Mexico
© Mark A. Johnson / Alamy
Surfers, beach lovers, snorkelers and burger connoisseurs alike will spend much of their vacation at Costa Azul. Famed for its white sands and reef breaks, Costa Azul hosts an annual surf competition that attracts pros from across the globe. The most intense break is Zippers, at the far end of Costa Azul, but intermediates and beginners can find easier spots to surf, while snorkelers enjoy the reefs and marine life whenever the sea is calm. At the end of the day, head to Zippers Bar and Grill where you can gorge on half-pounder burgers loaded up with shrimp, avocado, bacon, cheese and any other toppings the chefs can get hold of.

Arroyo Seco

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Arroyo Seco is Spanish for “dry stream” and, given the dry, almost desert-like climate of Baja California Sur, it’s no surprise that this is the name of one of the area’s major rivers. The Arroyo Seco is a long, dry riverbed in the winter months and when there’s no water you can take a stroll along its length or hire an ATV for an off-road adventure. In the wet summer season, the Arroyo Seco very much becomes a river, bringing the desert to life as flash floods sweep through, so keep an eye on the forecast.

Playa Hotelera

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Royal Solaris Los Cabos & Spa_9107966f
Courtesy of Royal Solaris Los Cabos / Expedia
The Royal Solaris, Barceló Gran Faro and Hyatt Ziva are just a few of the fancy, high-end resorts that line the white sands of Playa Hotelera. This is San José del Cabo’s main beach area and whether you’re staying in five-star luxury with sea views or have checked into a homestay in the old town, Playa Hotelera is one strip of sand that you won’t want to miss out on. The waves here can be rough for swimming – though great for surfing – so the best thing to do is to rent a deck chair and order up Mexican-style mimosas at the Hyatt.

Fonatur

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Set amongst the slight hills that rise above Playa Hotelera, the Fonatur district is one of San José del Cabo’s most sought-after areas. Officially named Campo de Golf Fonatur, this is the place to stay if you’re in town for a round of golf. Check into a luxury apartment, then book a game at the 18-hole Club Campestre golf course. The course leads down to the beach, where you can relax post-game with a cold beer and sea views at the private beach club.

Playa Las Palmas

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If you’re searching for a secluded beach in Baja California Sur, then drive for an hour over to the west coast, where close to the town of Todos Santos you’ll find Playa Las Palmas. Also known as Playa San Pedro, this small stretch of sand is located at the end of a rough dirt track. The white sand is lined with palm trees – which is why it’s usually called Playa Las Palmas – and the rocky outcrops protect the water here from the worst of the Pacific waves. Playa Las Palmas is far removed from the beach resorts of Cabo, so enjoy the serenity, but don’t forget to take your own beers and tacos.

Playa Palmilla

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Scenic landscape with view of Playa Palmilla in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico.
© Eleni Mavrandoni / Alamy
Blissfully protected against the strong currents and breaks for which many of San José del Cabo’s beaches are infamous, Playa Palmilla is a great day out for anyone looking to swim. Located at the far western end of the San José del Cabo seafront, Playa Palmilla has great sand and plenty of space to prop up an umbrella for the day. Take a dip in the ocean or hire a kayak or paddle-board and take advantage of the calm waves at Playa Palmilla.

East Cape Beach

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east cape, baja california sur mexico
© Eugenio Perches / Alamy
Follow the coastline to the east of San José del Cabo, and the resorts, hotels and golf courses are quickly replaced by undeveloped seafront and an endless, empty stretch of white sand. This is East Cape Beach, a sandy wilderness that has yet to be caught in Baja California’s tourism boom. The roads leading to East Cape Beach are mostly unpaved, so hire an off-roader for the day, stock up on supplies and cruise along the coast in search of secret seclusion.

Cabo Dolphins

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Enjoy an aquatic experience like no other with a dolphin encounter at Cabo Dolphins in San José del Cabo. Get up close with Pacific bottlenose dolphins by signing up for a swim session in the water – there are “encounters” tailored for both kids and adults. Budding dolphin trainers can even spend the day learning how the trainers care for and look after the dolphins at the center. Cabo Dolphins isn’t just a tourist attraction either, as the center focuses on the rehabilitation of injured dolphins as well as training them up.

Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the best resorts in San José del Cabo, or opt for an unforgettable boutique hotel instead.

These recommendations were updated on August 30, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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