Family Travel to Los Cabos
When Americans take family vacations in Mexico, Easterners tend to go to the Yucatan Peninsula whereas Westerners trek to the Baja Peninsula. A key reason for the distinction is proximity, affording travelers the chance to maximize time relaxing in a beach chair vs. wasting time cramming into an airplane seat. As a frequent traveler from the Eastern U.S., I’ve visited Mexico’s Atlantic side several times — enjoying Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and the ancient ruins in Tulum. Recently, I was invited to vacation in Mexico’s Pacific coast, unchartered territory for me. Worrying that it couldn’t be all that different from my prior exposure to Mexico, I hesitantly agreed (with a slightly twisted arm) to venture to Mexico’s Los Cabos (or Cabo, for short).
A Coastal Paradise!
Much to my surprise, the Cabo experience was exhilarating and dramatically different. While the Yucatan Peninsula area is flat with inland jungles, the Los Cabos region is a substantially different topographical treat, consisting of desert landscapes, scenic mountains, dramatic rock formations and, of course, the melding of the azure Sea of Cortez with the mighty Pacific Ocean.
Vacationers enjoy a large playground, with opportunities to relax pool- and beach-side, venture out to enjoy the aquatic activities or go inland to explore the desert. Visitmexico.com, the country’s tourism website, defines Cabo’s layout quite well. Here, one can enjoy “…two dramatically distinct personas. Tranquil San Jose del Cabo retains the look and vibe of an authentic Mexican town. Cobblestone streets, intimate restaurants and boutiques radiate from the central main square and mission church. Rambunctious Cabo San Lucas, on the other end of the highway (called the Corridor), is party central with funky bars and the slick Luxury Avenue Mall centered around the marina.”
Beaches and More Beaches
A significant draw to Cabo is its 20+ mile stretch of beaches where the sand meets the surf. Sun-seekers and beachcombers simply laze about and stroll along the seashore, creamy white sand at their feet. Beaches are public property, even those in front of hotels and resorts, so you can beach hop. Medano Beach is by far the safest for swimming while other beaches are only accessible by boat. Regardless, the views are always spectacular.
Many folks make the trip to see the famous rock formation, El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, at Land’s End on the southernmost tip of the peninsula. It is the only thing standing between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. The water is crystal clear here and known as an ideal spot for snorkeling.
One word of extreme caution is that waves and water currents can be very strong, so swimming is prohibited at most Pacific ocean-side beaches.
Jacques Cousteau referred to the Sea of Cortez as “the aquarium of the world.” So, one can only imagine the tropical fish and marine life encountered while snorkeling or scuba diving here.
Cabo also offers some of the world’s best whale watching. The joining of the Sea of Cortez with the Pacific Ocean creates an “oceanic highway super junction,” resulting in a dense concentration of whales. Eight of the 11 species swim here in abundance. Humpbacks are very expressive with tail slapping, fin slapping and breaching. The chance of witnessing whales’ behaviors is super high. For example, whales were spotted on 100 percent of the area’s tours last season, which runs between December 15 and April 15.
During this timeframe, hundreds of whale sharks—-the largest fish on the planet, weighing around 20,000 pounds—-also call Cabo home. Swimming alongside these gentle giants is both blissful and safe. Furthermore, aquatic adventurers can typically expect to encounter pods of dolphins and even sea lions.
Tours through the desert are available for those who want to learn about the Baja Outback. ATV tours are popular, and some tour operators offer the chance to ride a camel along a private stretch of beach followed by a Mexican ranch-style lunch. Families may also choose to ride in an open-air Mercedes-Benz Unimog 4×4 truck through the desert to soak in the sights of cacti and desert flora cropping up along sandy pathways. A variety of indigenous wildlife such as cara caras, ring-tailed cats and desert falcons are often spotted.
Los Cabos has numerous beachside resorts and all-inclusives that cater to families— equipped with kids’ clubs and magnificent pools. There are a growing number of condominiums and villas for rent, too. Many of these options are almost brand new. The region had to rebuild after 2014’s Hurricane Odile. As a result, many properties have made multi-million dollar improvements to the rooms, the pools and the grounds.
Choosing where to stay is a personal decision. For instance, you’ll need to determine if you want to stay bayside or oceanside or at a spot with lots of organized activities or in a more private setting. Given the wide array of options, ask your trusted travel agent for help or do some upfront research yourself. To get started, check out www.visitmexico.com, www.cabosbest.com/best-beaches-in-cabo, www.whalewatchcabo.com, and www.gocabo.travel.
High season is from mid-December through April when daytime temperatures are typically in the 80s. Shoulder season is May through June, a time when prices are more attractive and crowds are fewer. Rainy season is during the mid-summer through fall months when hurricanes are possible, too.