Los Cabos is a multi-faceted destination with beautiful beaches, fantastic dining, boisterous nightlife, and an abundance of shopping opportunities. But when you’re ready to explore the area beyond the two Cabos and the Tourist Corridor, you'll find many fun and interesting day trip options. You can visit an art-filled magical town, soak in a natural hot spring, swim with sea lions, discover bohemian beaches, or bask in lovely natural scenery. Whether you take a planned tour or rent a car to explore on your own, these are a few of the many delights you can discover on a day trip from Los Cabos.
Todos Santos: Magical Arts Town
A charming small town located on the Pacific Coast, Todos Santos has a vibrant arts scene. With a number of local artisan workshops, art galleries, restaurants, and shops, the laid-back town has a welcoming and authentic atmosphere that gives a taste of life in one of Mexico’s “Magic Towns." Stop in to see the Nuestra Señora del Pilar church (also known as Misión Santa Rosa) which dates to 1733. Visit Todos Santos Brewing for a refreshing craft beer, or have a look at their menu of cocktails and craft sodas. The iconic Hotel California located in Todos Santos may or may not have been the inspiration for the Eagles' song, but their restaurant makes great margaritas and guacamole.
Getting There: Located 47 miles (76 kilometers) north of Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos is the midway point to La Paz. It’s an easy and scenic one hour drive. Many tour companies offer day trips, or you can rent a car to set your own schedule.
Travel Tip: Stop at Cerritos Beach on the way there or back for swimming or a surfing lesson.
Santiago: Waterfalls, Hot Spring, and Hiking
Make your way to the quiet town of Santiago, a small community located in a fertile valley at the base of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains. Santiago is home to a mission that dates to 1723, as well as a small zoo and botanical garden. The real reason for your visit lies beyond the town, however. Continue into the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve, where you can visit the Sol de Mayo waterfall located within the Cañon de la Zorra (“Fox Canyon”). This 30-foot tall cascade falls into a freshwater pool where you can take a refreshing dip. After your visit to the falls, head to Aguas Termales Santa Rita, which has natural springs, with one cool and one hot pool where you can soak and enjoy the surrounding beauty.
Getting There: Santiago is located on Federal Highway 1 of Mexico, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of San José del Cabo. Take a day trip with Baja Wild, or rent a car and venture there on your own. From Santiago, follow signs to Rancho Ecológico Sol de Mayo; the last 5 miles (8 kilometers) are on a dirt road. The falls are about a 10-minute hike from the parking area, the last section is a steep descent.
Travel Tip: There aren't many tourist services at the waterfall or hot springs, so bring water and snacks. Before heading back to Los Cabos, make a stop at Restaurant El Palomar in Santiago to try their pescado al mojo de ajo (fresh fish in garlic butter).
Los Barriles: Sportfishing and Kitesurfing on the Sea of Cortez
Los Barriles is a small fishing town on the Sea of Cortez popular among snowbirds and expats whose preferred mode of transportation is ATV. The area offers a number of diversions on the water including diving, fishing, kiteboarding, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, whale watching, and windsurfing. There are also land-based activities such as bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and off-road racing. Los Barriles offers the best fishing in the Sea of Cortez and just south of town there are some lovely beaches that are great for snorkeling or swimming. Take a kiteboarding class with Kiteboarding Baja and then head to Hotel Los Pescadores for lunch and some snorkeling
Getting There: Los Barriles is 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of San José del Cabo on Highway 1. Autobuses Aguila offers bus service several times a day, or rent a car to maximize your time. It’s a little over an hour’s drive from San José del Cabo.
Travel Tip: Take the Los Barriles Sunset hiking tour with Teresa’s Tours to enjoy the best views of the nearby landscape and a stunning sunset.
Cabo Pulmo: Rugged Beaches and Underwater Wonders
Legally protected since 1995, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park covers over 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) and is considered a model in successful marine conservation efforts. Home to the oldest surviving coral reef on the west coast of North America, this is a dream destination for divers and snorkelers. Here you can swim alongside sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, exotic fish, and even sea lions. You can rent a kayak and paddle out to the sea lion colony, or just relax on the beautiful beach known as Los Arbolitos.
Getting There: Sixty-two miles (100 kilometers) north of Cabo San Lucas on the east coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, Cabo Pulmo is a little over two hours away from Cabo San Lucas, so it makes for a long but worthwhile day trip. Visit Cabo Pulmo with Tours Cabo, or rent a car and go on your own. Take Highway 1 to the turnoff at La Ribera, then follow signs to Cabo Pulmo. The last 6 miles are on an unpaved road.
Travel Tip: Follow official recommendations to help conservation efforts such as wearing only reef-safe sunscreen, or better yet, wear a rashguard and forego sunscreen altogether as the oils and residues it leaves behind are damaging to sea life.
La Paz: Tranquil Town and Pristine Beaches
The capital city of Baja California Sur state, La Paz gets its name (which means “The Peace”) from the tranquil waters of the Sea of Cortez. If your goal is to relax, you’ve come to the right place, but there are also many fun and interesting things to do in La Paz. Stroll along the seaside promenade, the Malecón, which passes small beaches and lovely resting spots to look out over the sea. Take a boat trip to visit the pristine Espiritu Santo Island, or just meander around town and enjoy the city’s architecture and lively cultural scene. Don’t miss the lovely beaches such as Balandra, El Tesoro, and Pichilingue.
Getting There: Located 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Cabo San Lucas, the drive to La Paz is a bit over two hours from Los Cabos. Take an organized day trip with Amstar DMC, catch an Autobuses Aguila bus, or rent a car for maximum flexibility.
Travel Tip: If you visit between October and February, you can go on an excursion to swim with whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez.
El Triunfo: Picturesque Mining Town
A small and picturesque former mining town set at an elevation of 1,500 feet (457 meters) above sea level, in its heyday this town had a population of over 10,000 inhabitants but is now just a fraction of its former size. Walk through the old mining grounds and wonder at the 154-foot-high (47-meter) smokestack constructed in 1890 known as “La Romana.” It's rumored to have been designed by Gustav Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame). Follow a rock-lined path to the lookout point for a panoramic view of the small town and surrounding mountains.
Getting There: Located about 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of Los Cabos International Airport, you can include a stop in El Triunfo on a trip to Todos Santos or Los Barriles (it’s about a 50-minute drive from either of those spots).
Travel Tip: Make a stop at the Cactus Sanctuary just north of town. This ecological reserve is home to endemic cacti and plants found only in this part of the world.