Cabo activity options—from whale watching and deep sea fishing, to horseback riding and desert treks and more—are sure to fit any family itinerary.
Los Cabos, Mexico, with Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, offers dazzling outdoor adventures for young and old. Parasailing, surfing, snorkeling, desert trekking, whale watching, horseback riding, scuba diving and sport fishing are among the affordable, family-friendly adventure options in Cabo.
It used to be that you had to arrange these adventures on street corners and through hotel activity desks. Now you can conveniently research your options online through reputable brokers like Blue Adventures, Baja Wild, Cabo Xtreme Sports, Cabo Adventures and Cabo San Lucas Tours.
Children as young as 4 years old can join the fun of whale watching and snorkeling with Blue Adventures. Gray whales show up in Cabo early in the winter and stay through spring. You’ll bounce in a big Zodiac raft or a larger power boat to visit the sea lions at Playa del Amante (Lover’s Beach), then spin around the picturesque natural stone arch to the Pacific where the whales breach, spyhop and blow.
I’ve also taken my kids whale watching from shore at Costa Azul in San José del Cabo and from the Pacific side beaches like Finisterra. Beachcombing is a bonus, especially on the more turbulent Pacific shores.
For snorkeling, head to Chileno Beach, Playa Santa Maria (Santa Maria Beach) or the Twin Dolphin Beach, all accessible by road along the Tourist Corridor. If you don’t have your own gear, sign on with a half-day tour by boat. You’ll have lots of company bobbing around in the bays, but the coral reefs and fish below are nothing short of spectacular.
All ages and skill levels are invited to surf with Cabo Xtreme Sports. Its experienced instructors know all the best places to rip the waves.
Swimming with dolphins at the Cabo Dolphin Center is a sure-fire kid-pleaser. Its Dolphin Kids and Dolphin Encounter programs teach children about these playful creatures and then turn them loose under the watchful eye of a trainer to cavort with their new friends. Older children and adults can join a one-hour swim with the dolphins or a six-hour Trainer for a Day program.
The perennial favorites of wave running and parasailing are great spur-of-the-moment water activities that can be booked from the beach.
For teens over 12, Blue Adventures recommends the junior scuba program. “It is very safe for kids,” according to their staff. “They usually do better than adults.”
The convergence of a massive marine canyon in Cabo San Lucas Bay and the fertile feeding grounds of Gordo Banks north of San José makes Cabo one of the best places in the world for fishing. Each morning at dawn, fleets of boats stream from the San Lucas marina, the One and Only Palmilla Resort, and La Playita Resort to vie for marlin, yellowfin tuna, dorado and a variety of tasty bottomfish.
Because a fun day of fishing can be long and hot, match your choice of boat with your family’s budget and enthusiasm. Two- or three-person pangas are the most affordable, but bathroom facilities consist of a five-gallon bucket or a dip in the ocean.
Panga crews know the waters but not the language. My crew’s only English was “reel, reel, reel,” which admittedly are great words to hear when you’ve come to fish.
Larger charter boats offer a more plush experience and the chance to go farther into the ocean chasing the big prize. Most fishing is catch and release, but if you want to savor some of the tasty smaller fry, your crew will clean them for a fee, and most restaurants will cook your fish a number of ways.
Horseback riding is a great option for the whole family. You’ll find sunset beach rides, ranch rides and Baja Trail rides. Christina at Cabo San Lucas Tours says children as young as 10 can ride alone.
Youngsters can also join the fun on ATV tours. Bypass the outfits that have you navigating city streets and join Cabo Adventures’ Migrino Beach Tour, where you’ll enjoy two and a half hours of blasting along sandy stretches north of San José.
Kids as young as 7 can soar high on canopy zip line tours that are all the rage in Cabo. Cabo San Lucas Tours offer several tour options.
Families that love to hike will enjoy Baja Wild’s waterfall and canyon expeditions, where you can explore canyons and swim in natural spring pools bounded by striking rock formations. Half-day rappelling and jeep adventures are other fun options to get the family outdoors.
Must visit Lover's Beach You can take a water taxi from the marina and they'll drop you (literally) off at Lover's Beach. You hop into the water at the shore break (not recommended for the super young or anyone who isn't completely mobile). To really get the blood pumping they'll take you to the other side of the arch where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet. You literally feel like a toy boat in a churning bath tub. It's pretty wild. Our 5 year old and 3 year old were pretty happy when we finally high tailed it out of there. Anyway, as the author suggests, make sure you visit El Arco and Lover's Beach at its base.