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10 Best Cabo Day Trips to Explore Baja California Sur

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!

Pink restaurant in San Jose del Cabo
From swimming with sea lions and canyon hiking to exploring quaint Baja towns, you have lots of options for a day trip 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

Whale sharks have huge mouths to scoop up krill, plankton and tiny fish.
Whale sharks have huge mouths to scoop up krill, plankton and tiny fish

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!

Whale shark
A whale shark

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.

Whale shark tour boat in La Paz
Our whale shark tour boat heading out in the La Paz Bay

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!

Guided tour or DIY?

You have to take a guided tour with a licensed operator to swim with the whale sharks.

We’ve gone on two different whale shark day tours from Cabo to La Paz now – both excellent and highly recommended. One was with Cabo Expeditions and the other with Baja Charters.

They include transportation in a comfortable mini-van from your Cabo accommodation to La Paz (about a two-hour drive), along with lunch.

This whale shark tour with Cabo Adventures is also highly rated. (We’ve done other tours with them, and as one of the largest adventure companies, they know how to please visitors.)

If you want to do your own day trip to La Paz from Cabo (and have your own wheels), you can join this small group tour with a local marine biologist in La Paz (and save money).

2) Snorkel or scuba dive in Cabo Pulmo

Remote Cabo Pulmo is wild and wonderful!

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.”

Yellow porkfish at Cabo Pulmo
You’ll see lots of snapper and yellow porkfish when diving or snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo

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.)

Guided tour or DIY?

Make your life easy and go on a guided tour.

The last stretch of road to get to Cabo Pulmo is unpaved, pot-holed and very bumpy. You’d need the right vehicle, and then you’d have to organize your own tour to get out to the reef once you arrive.

Kayaking and snorkeling expedition

Cabo Outfitters offers an excellent snorkeling and kayaking tour in Cabo Pulmo. (We’ve gone kayaking with them to the Santa Maria and Chileno bays in Los Cabos.)

They’ll pick you up at your resort in Cabo and drive you to Cabo Pulmo in an air-conditioned van.

When you get there, you’ll gear up for about four hours of leisurely kayaking and snorkeling. At one spot, you’ll paddle by a colony of sea lions.

Lunch in Cabo Pulmo is included.

This tour is offered from June to the end of December.

Snorkeling tour

Cabo Adventures also offers a 5-star rated snorkeling trip to Cabo Pulmo from Los Cabos, with hotel pick-up and drop-off. The snorkeling is done from a small boat, and the full-day tour includes lunch.

Cabo Pulmo jeep tour

Or how about an adventurous private jeep tour for your family or group?

You’ll enjoy an off-road journey to Cabo Pulmo, with snorkeling when you get there. It’s also rated 5 stars.

3) Enjoy a Todos Santos day trip

Shopping lane in Todos Santos, Baja
Shopping lane in Todos Santos

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.

Boutique shop in Todos Santos
Oooh, what goodies do you like in this boutique shop!

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!

Tables in the sand at The Green Room, Todos Santos
Sip and savor with your feet in the sand at The Green Room

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!

Other Todos Santos restaurants we recommend include Oystera (a high-end oyster bar with attractive courtyard and outside garden seating) and Los Adobes de Todos Santos (for good Mexican dishes).

Guided tour or DIY?

We personally like to do our own Todos Santos day trip from Cabo (no tour). Then we have the freedom to do as we wish, when we want to.

The drive to get there is also easy. You can get a rental car for just a day to do this.

But if you’d rather leave the driving to someone else, you might like this small-group, 5-star rated tour to Todos Santos.

It includes transportation by air-conditioned mini-van, a stop at a small factory that makes Mexican blankets, visiting a coffee bean factory, a tequila tasting and free time to browse Todos Santos on your own.

Apart from not driving, another upside to going on this guided tour is that you’ll learn all about the history of the area from your guide.

4) Explore Los Barriles

ATVs on the beach in Los Barriles
Who wants to drive an ATV on the beach at Los Barriles? (Credit: QuadGirl)

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.

Check out Quadman and QuadGirl for ATV rentals and half-day guided tours.

For windsurfing and kiteboarding lessons or rentals, try Vela Baja.

To go horseback riding on the beach, see Baja’s Awesome Beach Rides and Horseback Rides by Betto.

Guided tour or DIY?

Los Barriles is one of the easiest day trips from Los Cabos. Just rent a car and go!

There’s no need to do a tour.

(In fact, we don’t think there are any organized Cabo day trips to Los Barriles, focused just on Los Barriles. There is one that combines it with Miraflores, though. See #8)

5) Hike the Canyon of the Fox

Sol de Maya Waterfall in Fox Canyon
Sol de Maya Waterfall in Fox Canyon

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!

Freshwater pools in Fox Canyon
You can take a dip in various freshwater pools

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!

Hiking in the Canyon of the Fox
The trail we hiked the last time we did a day trip to the Canyon of the Fox

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.

Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo sign
Sign at the Sol de Mayo Ecological Ranch

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.

Guided tour or DIY?

Do a guided tour.

One, if you were to do this yourself, you’d want a 4×4 to navigate the last stretch of bumpy, sandy, wheel-sliding road to get there.

And two, you risk getting lost if you go on your own.

Now, it’s easy enough to follow the trail from the parking lot at the Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo direct to the waterfall pool (about a ½-hour walk).

But you should go with a guide to explore other hiking trails and canyon paths (including ones that loop back to the top of the waterfall, where you can jump 45 down into the pool below).

The last time we went, a couple from Germany followed us on our small-group guided tour, as they had lost their way.

High Tide Los Cabos offers a guided, 7-hour Fox Canyon hiking adventure.

Their top-rated trips include hotel pick-up and drop-off, along with lunch at a local restaurant.

We’ve gone twice with Cabo Outfitters, and they also do a great job.

We personally love escaping to the Canyon of the Fox area – hiking here is one of our favorite Los Cabos excursions!

6) Surf at Los Cerritos

Surfing at Cerritos Beach
Surfing at Cerritos Beach (Credit: High Tide Los Cabos)

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.

Guided tour or DIY?

If you have a car, you can easily get to Los Cerritos on your own.

Mario Surf School, situated at the beach’s north end, rents surf boards and offers surfing lessons.

Alternatively, go on a surfing day trip to Los Cerritos, where the instructors will teach you how to surf.

The 7-hour tour includes round-trip transportation from your hotel in Cabo and lunch, and surfboards and wetsuits are provided.

7) Snorkel with sea lions at Espiritu Santo Island

Sea lions at Espiritu Santo Island
Hundreds of sea lions live around 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.

A tour to Espiritu Santo Island is one of the best Cabo day trips to book in the summer!
A tour to Espiritu Santo Island is one of the best Cabo day trips to book in the summer!

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.

Sailing from La Paz on a tour to Espiritu Santo Island
Sailing from La Paz on a tour to Espiritu Santo Island (Credit: Baja Charters)

Guided tour or DIY?

You’ll have to do a tour to get from La Paz to Espiritu Santo Island.

So for a Cabo day trip, we recommend going all in and taking a guided tour that includes transportation from Cabo to La Paz.

Luxury sailing trip

Between May and November, Baja Charters offers a wonderful all-inclusive day sailing trip to Isla Espiritu Santo aboard the Baja Cat.

You’ll be driven from Los Cabos to La Paz to board this luxury catamaran, which then sails for the island. Along the way, you’ll stop to snorkel with sea lions.

At the island, you can swim and snorkel in the crystal clear waters and hike short nature trails onshore. The boat carries kayaks and SUP boards (along with snorkeling gear), so you can have fun playing with these toys too.

And when you want to dry off for your lunch of grilled fish, chicken and steak? Take a proper hot shower on the boat (it has private bathrooms with showers). Of course, there’s also an open bar.

No doubt about it. Baja Charters offer some of the best excursions in Cabo if you’re looking for a premium experience!

Snorkeling trip

Another option is this snorkeling trip to Espiritu Santo Island with Cabo Adventures. It’s less expensive but also top-rated.

They offer their Espiritu Santo trips between June and November.

(But be aware that you can’t swim with the sea lions in June, July and August, as this is their breeding season.)

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).

Guided tour or DIY?

Here’s a cultural tour of four Baja towns that will show you off-the-beaten-track places most tourists don’t normally see.

You’ll go to Miraflores (to visit a horse saddler and a rustic furniture maker); the picturesque town of Santiago; Buena Vista (to see hot springs and an historic hacienda); and Los Barriles (#4).

Lunch at Los Barriles is included.

9) Do a San Jose del Cabo day trip

The 1730 San Jose del Cabo Church in the town square
The 1730 San Jose del Cabo Church in the town square

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.

It’s known for its numerous art galleries, and every Thursday evening from November to June, there’s a very popular and free Art Walk event.

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.

Guided tour or DIY?

It’s easy to visit San Jose del Cabo if you’re staying in Cabo San Lucas town or at a resort along the Tourist Corridor.

If you don’t have a rental car, take a taxi or Uber – or even ride the local bus (cheap and safe).

Maybe plan to go late in the afternoon on a Thursday.

Then you can take in the Art Walk and follow that up with dinner at a restaurant in San Jose del Cabo. (Be sure to make a reservation in advance, as the restos are very busy on Thursday nights.)

10) Soak in the Santa Rita Hot Springs

People soak in the natural Santa Rita Hot Springs on a day trip from Cabo.
A pretty Zen spot, eh?

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.

Guided tour or DIY?

You won’t want to drive a regular rental car on the really bumpy dirt road to get here. (If you have a 4×4, you could do it.)

Frankly, most day trippers don’t make their way to the hot springs.

We only ended up visiting the hot springs when our guide had to rethink our planned private tour to Cabo Pulmo – the weather at Cabo Pulmo was too blustery for us to go kayaking there, so we needed an alternative activity.

If you book a private hiking tour, ask in advance if you can combine hiking to the waterfall with soaking in the Santa Rita Hot Springs afterwards.

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!

Cabo day trips

Discover more of Los Cabos!

Planning your trip to Cabo?

Here are our favorite travel resources:

Resorts: Booking.com is great for scoring a “wow” hotel in Cabo – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local guided tours in Cabo, see Viator and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car in Los Cabos is one of the best ways to explore. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more.

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our ultimate Cabo travel guide! It’s packed with crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!

Photos: 1, 6, 9 to 13, 15 to 18, 24 © Janice and George Mucalov, Cabo Visitor

About the authors

Award-winning travel writers Janice and George Mucalov are frequent visitors to Los Cabos. Here on Cabo Visitor, they share their essential tips for discovering the best Cabo has to offer! See About.