Are you ready to venture beyond Los Cabos and discover the hidden gems of the Baja California Peninsula?
Then look no further than these fun Cabo day trips!
You’ll see some amazing secluded beaches and delightful towns – and thrill to once-in-a-lifetime experiences very different from sipping margaritas at your luxury Cabo resort! (Snorkeling with sea lions or whale sharks, anyone?)
As frequent Cabo visitors, we’ve rented a car on many occasions for getting around and to search out some of the other wonderful places in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur beyond Cabo San Lucas.
We’ve also gone on organized tours to explore places where special activities (like whale shark snorkeling) can only be done on a guided tour.
When planning your vacation to Cabo, be sure to build in time for one or more of these day trips from Cabo San Lucas!
10 Amazing Cabo day trips
Before we get started, you might want to read our post on Cabo San Lucas (the town) and Los Cabos, where we explain the main town and the whole Los Cabos region.
There’s lots to see and do just in Cabo alone – and you don’t want to miss out on activities that are close by.
And in case you’re wondering, it’s quite safe in Los Cabos (and beyond) to drive during the day.
We would, however, recommend that you stay off the highways and rural roads at night. Wandering cows pose a potential risk of collision after dark.
You should plan any day trips so you’re back at your resort or home-away-from-home before the sun sets.
Okay, let’s check out the 10 best day trips from Cabo!
1) Swim with whale sharks in La Paz
How do we describe swimming with whale sharks at La Paz?
Well, imagine yourself snorkeling alongside a gentle endangered creature that’s nearly as big as a bus. It’s mind-blowing.
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. They can grow up to 60 feet long!
And they may pass so close to you that you can almost reach out and touch them! (But you don’t want to, because you could damage the mucous layer that protects whale sharks from bacteria and parasites.)
Between mid-October to March, whale sharks congregate in the La Paz Bay to feed in the nutrient-rich waters.
And on a guided boat tour, you can snorkel with them. They pretty much ignore snorkelers while focused on harvesting and eating tiny plankton and krill.
It’s one of the most unique activities you can do on your Cabo vacation!
The whale shark experience is highly regulated for the protection of the creatures. For example, only five people from a boat can get in the water at the same time.
You’re usually out on the boat for about three to four hours. When a whale shark is spotted, you jump into the water to swim with it. You usually jump in about three separate times.
This is one day trip from Cabo you won’t want to miss if you’re visiting in late autumn or winter!
2) Snorkel or scuba dive in Cabo Pulmo
It takes about two hours from Cabo to drive to Cabo Pulmo. But it’s sooo worth it!
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is home to one of North America’s largest coral reefs.
Part of the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California), the waters of Cabo Pulmo teem with countless species of sea turtles, sharks, manta rays, eels, octopi, sea lions, tropical fish and other marine life.
Jacques Cousteau dubbed the area the “aquarium of the world.”
This is the absolute best place to snorkel, scuba dive and kayak on your Cabo vacation!
(But it’s not so great if you’re visiting Cabo in January or any of the winter months – as the water is cold then and strong winds often blow.)
3) Enjoy a Todos Santos day trip
You’ve no doubt heard about Todos Santos.
About a one-hour drive north of Cabo on the Pacific Coast, this picturesque artsy town is a Pueblo Magico (magical town). And it’s one of the most popular Cabo San Lucas day trips (you won’t regret adding this to your itinerary).
Back in the day, Todos Santos was all about sugar cane.
Now it’s about browsing, shopping, eating and soaking up the small town Baja vibe.
Stroll along cobblestone streets and browse art galleries, boho clothing boutiques and silver shops with gorgeous silver jewelry. You can pick up an exquisite silver necklace or pair of earrings as a special souvenir from Cabo.
Of course, you’ll want to pop into the Emporia gallery and gift shop at the Hotel California.
Rumor has it that the Eagles’ iconic song was inspired by this hotel. It’s not true, but the rumor still persists. And the shop sells all sorts of knick-knacks and curiosities from around the world.
When it’s time for lunch, there are lots of great restaurants to choose from.
To sit beachfront with your feet in the sand, head to The Green Room on La Pastora Beach, one of our favorite Todos Santos beaches. Tuck into organic salads, fish-and-chips and creative seafood tacos.
Make sure you have a designated driver because their mezcal margaritas and other artisanal cocktails are addictive!
We were in Baja heaven, savoring our sips and bites, and watching the Pacific Ocean waves crash on the beach.
Just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time, as the secret is out about this restaurant!
4) Explore Los Barriles
Famous for its sport fishing, kitesurfing and adventure sports, Los Barriles is a chill little beach town on the East Cape. It’s about a 90-minute drive northeast of Cabo San Lucas.
What’s cool about the place is how eclectic it is.
All the roads around the town are sandy (and locals drive ATVs and quads). And the homes are a mix of million-dollar mansions and beach shacks.
Los Barriles is an adventure lover’s paradise. It offers ATV rentals, boat rentals for fishing, horseback riding and watersports such as kiteboarding and windsurfing.
For windsurfing and kiteboarding lessons or rentals, try Vela Baja.
5) Hike the Canyon of the Fox
If you like hiking – and want to swim by a beautiful waterfall in the mountains – one of the best day trips from Cabo San Lucas is a visit to the Canyon of the Fox in the Sierra de la Laguna mountains.
A UNESCO biosphere reserve, this unspoiled mountain range is one of the most pristine parts of the Baja California Peninsula.
Soaring to heights of 7,000 feet, the mountain peaks are covered with pine forests and carved by canyons with cascading waterfalls. Giant cacti and towering palms line riverbeds and streams in the canyons.
It’s a very different landscape than the ocean and desert scenery in Los Cabos!
The biosphere sustains a rich variety of wildlife. Hummingbirds, majestic eagles, elusive pinyon mice and iguanas all live here.
You can hike in the Canyon of the Fox to the Sol de Mayo waterfall, and swim in the freshwater pool at the base. You can also swim at several other pools sprinkled along the canyon.
And, yes, you’ll want to go for a dip after getting hot and sweaty hiking!
There are different trails you can take, but the “normal” route to the waterfall is a five-mile return hike (if you do a guided hike).
Wear running shoes or hiking boots (no open-toed sandals) as the paths are rocky and you’ll be trekking over and around boulders.
The waterfall itself is located within the Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo, at the end of a bumpy sandy road from the small town of Santiago.
The drive time to get there from Cabo San Lucas is about 90 minutes.
6) Surf at Los Cerritos
Drive about 40 miles from Cabo San Lucas on the same road that goes to Todos Santos (#3), and you’ll hit Cerritos Beach.
This laid-back beach town is one of the top surfing spots in Mexico and suits both beginners and experienced surfers.
It’s also a fun place for non-surfers to hang out on the beach – and watch the surfers. Vendors rent umbrellas and beach chairs, so you don’t have to sit on your towel on the sand (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
For lunch, hit Barracuda Cantina.
It’s a food truck with an attached resto. Chow down on delicious tacos and burritos with your toes in the sand – washed down with frosty margaritas, of course!
If you plan on surfing (or learning to surf) at Playa Los Cerritos, the best time is during the winter, when you can expect consistent clean waves.
7) Snorkel with sea lions at Espiritu Santo Island
Hands up if you want to snorkel with sea lions!
One of the best Cabo San Lucas tours you can do in the hotter spring, summer and fall months is a day trip to Espiritu Santo Island (Isla Espiritu Santo).
This deserted island in the Sea of Cortez is about a one-hour boat ride from La Paz.
It’s among 240 islands safeguarded by UNESCO within the Islas del Golfo de California Biosphere Reserve, a recognized biosphere reserve.
Apart from the galaxies of sea life, the island supports a huge sea lion colony.
And it’s enormously fun to snorkel with the sea lions there.
They’re very curious, especially the pups, which zipped right up close to our snorkel masks, before doing U-turns and swimming away.
Isla Partida sits across a narrow channel from Isla Espiritu Santo. The white sand beach there is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Mexico.
8) Visit Miraflores
Founded in the early 1700s, Miraflores is located about a 45-minute drive north of San Jose del Cabo.
It’s a quiet little village, known for its traditional leather workshops and opportunities to shop for leather products like wallets, belts, purses and so on.
There’s not enough in the town to make it worth a dedicated day trip. But you could pop in here on your way to Los Barriles (#4), Canyon of the Fox (#5) or the hot springs (#10).
9) Do a San Jose del Cabo day trip
A must-do day trip from Cabo San Lucas is visiting San Jose del Cabo (just 20 miles away).
With its Spanish colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, the historic center of San Jose del Cabo is more charming than the town of Cabo San Lucas.
Every time we’re in Cabo, we make a point of enjoying a Thursday evening in San Jose del Cabo – strolling the narrow streets of the art district, sipping wine offered by galleries and admiring the fine art.
10) Soak in the Santa Rita Hot Springs
Another one of the most unique Cabo day trips is to soak in the Santa Rita Hot Springs.
Like the Sol de Mayo Waterfall (#5), these thermal hot springs are also located in the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere (near the hamlet of San Jorge).
They’re natural hot springs, created by underground hot mineral springs that bubble up in a necklace of rock pools in a river canyon.
It’s wonderful to relax in these tranquil pools, surrounded by palm trees – far away from the hubbub of Cabo San Lucas.
Now you know the best Cabo day tours and day trips!
From epic snorkeling to getting happily lost in charming Baja towns, these Los Cabos day trips are perfect when you want to explore.
Yes, we know it’s hard to tear yourself away from your beach chair.
But we promise that these day trips and tours are well worth it. They’ll leave you with Insta-worthy memories that will last long after your Cabo vacation is over!
Photos: 1, 6, 9 to 13, 15 to 18, 24 © Janice and George Mucalov, Cabo Visitor