Safe Places to Swim in Los Cabos
Can you swim in the ocean at Los Cabos? Generally speaking… no. In fact , it is a bit challenging to find safe places to swim in Los Cabos. First of all , I encourage you to take the warnings you hear seriously. When the Pacific Ocean hits the tip of the Baja Peninsula, there are some wicked currents, undertows and riptides created. I am a strong swimmer but I opted to find the bays where the swimming is not life threatening.
But wait, maybe you're not sure what exactly Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are or where they are. Check out our blog post on where is Los Cabos for the answer to all of these questions?
If you don't have your heart set on the ocean, you can enjoy the fabulous pools at the Grand Mayan Los Cabos. The resort is right on the ocean, so you will still have the view.
But if you have your heart set on ocean swimming, don't despair! There are two great spots along the Los Cabos corridor with fantastic swimming.
Playa Santa Maria
The road is greatly improved since our last trip and there are clearly marked exits instead of having to keep your eyes peeled for kilometer markers. As mentioned, most of the tip of the Baja peninsula is not safe for swimming due the currents created by the collision of the Pacific with the Sea of Cortes (also called the gulf of California). But the bays are protected. The first beach coming back into San Jose is Playa Santa Maria. There is a brand new parking lot and a short but very hot walk brings you to a perfect small half moon bay maybe three hundred yards across. The bay is ringed by a beautiful beach with new thatch roof palapas dotting the landscape. It is a public beach and they don’t even charge for the palapas if you are lucky enough to grab one. Don’t be fooled by the beautiful white sand. It isn’t sand at all, but ground up coral and a little tough on the feet. Despite the protection of the bay, there are some pretty good waves. The water is very clear and I had my prescription mask and my snorkel with me, so I snorkeled out and was soon surprised to find a similar number of fish varieties to the Cabo Pulmo marine reserve ! The water drops off quickly and has a good 20 feet of visibility. I tried to dive down to retrieve someone’s beer can , but did not have fins with me. I could just touch it, but couldn’t grab it before I had to make a panicked swim for the surface. As I spit and sputtered trying to clear my snorkel, I decided there was a really good reason that fins are a normal part of your snorkel equipment.
Here are some more photos of Santa Maria:
Another great option another mile or so west of Playa Santa Maria is Playa Chileno. This is another protected swimming beach. It is not so curved and picturesque and there are no palapas, so you will probably want to find an umbrella to rent near the exit. There are some cool rocks to climb on, and the advantage of a few concessions. If you don't want to bother taking things with you, it is a better choice. Personally, I would probably opt for Playa Santa Maria and take a picnic lunch and or a cooler.
Both of these beaches have developments encroaching on them, with construction everywhere, but it looks like the public access to the beach will be maintained. There is a private road sign at Chilenos, but don’t be fooled, there is also a public access road with parking.
One additional fantastic beach is the Cerritos beach. It has a lot of current, but is fun to wade and enjoy the water. That one is not in the Los Cabos corridor, it is several miles north of Cabo San Lucas towards Todos Santos.
Kayak Instead of Swim
A few years back, we were in Los Cabos with our adult daughter in September. We took a kayak / snorkel tour through Baja Wild. The website is BajaWild.com , not to be confused with CaboWild.com which is a worthless affiliate site. They call the tour we took the 3 Bay Crusade. We were fortunate that it was the off season , so we had personal service from Casey, one of the managers of Baja Wild at the time. My wife and I had a double kayak and my daughter was in a double with Casey. My wife and I were used to canoeing, but were a little out of shape. We had to work a bit to keep up in the swells off the tip of Los Cabos. Ok, we had to work a lot just to keep them in sight.
Flying Sea Rays?
After a few minutes of paddling, Casey shouts out that he had seen rays jumping (and acting like flying fish). We had almost decided he was making it up or hallucinating, when we saw 4 or 5 rays leap from the water flapping their wings like seagulls. This act was repeated a few times. As naturalists explain most behaviors, Casey said this apparently has to do with mating.
One of the highlights of the trip was “surfing” the waves into shore in each of the bays. Waves were fairly calm that day we went, so I would guess this could be quite a rush on days with higher seas.
We snorkeled in a couple of the bays. The water was still a bit murky from a rare Cabo storm that had gone through. Not really much in the way of coral, but a fairly good assortment of fish. As I always say, a bad day snorkeling is better than a bad day doing almost anything else.
Baja Wild seems to be growing steadily. They now offer a growing variety of tours. I hope to use their services to complete one of the top items on my bucket list. That is swimming with the mammoth whale sharks that swim into the Sea of Cortes every summer. My wife Linda is not yet convinced to join me. The tour to Cabo Pulmo National Park is another of their tours that was not an option after the storm when we were there. It is supposed to be the best reef on the Baja.
There you have your options for ocean swimming in Los Cabos. For access to all of these check out availability at the Grand Mayan Vidanta resort right on the beach in San Jose del Cabo.
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