Cabo San Lucas is a hub for most tourists traveling to Baja California Sur, Mexico. Its proximity to the international airport along with the hundreds of different beachfront resorts and condos make Cabo San Lucas an easy spot to get away for a luxurious vacation.
There’s no shortage of awesome things to do in Cabo San Lucas. But if you want a break from your all-inclusive resort or simply want to see a different side of Baja, make sure to add these 7 unmissable day trips from Cabo San Lucas to your travel itinerary.
1. San Jose del Cabo
San Jose del Cabo is where the international airport is located in Baja California Sur. Most people hop in a cab or Uber and go straight to their resort when getting off their flight. But we highly encourage you to take a day trip to explore San Jose del Cabo.
San Jose del Cabo offers visitors a completely different experience than Cabo San Lucas and oozes charm.
This charming historic city is only a 40-minute drive from Cabo San Lucas and is accessible by bus, taxi, or Uber. It has great restaurants (we love Pez Gallo and Agave) and fun shops to explore. Most visitors stick to the main historic centro which is lined with colorful papel picado.
If you’re going to take a day trip to San Jose del Cabo try to visit on a Thursday. Thursday night during peak season (fall-spring) the city comes alive for an Art Walk. There were hundreds of people there to admire local artists’ work with tons of food vendors and music. It’s a super fun vibe!
2. La Paz
La Paz, Mexico is the capital of Baja California Sur. This bustling city is located about an hour and a half drive from Cabo San Lucas and is home to some of Mexico’s best beaches.
La Paz is definitely one of the most popular day trips from Cabo San Lucas because it’s one of the best places to interact with wildlife and is where the famous Balandra Beach is located.
You can take a boat ride to Espiritu Santo Island to swim or scuba dive with sea lions. Or get up close and personal with whale sharks during whale shark season. We share more about the sea lion experience, here.
Unfortunately during our time in La Paz, the whale sharks weren’t around. But if you are coming in winter, I highly recommend booking a tour to swim with these magnificent creatures. If swimming with animals in the wild isn’t your thing, don’t worry La Paz is still a worthwhile day trip from Cabo San Lucas.
The city has a fantastic Malecon (waterfront promenade) with shops, restaurants, and beautiful beaches. You can also visit the protected Balandra Beach. The beach is only open to visitors twice a day from 8 am – 12 pm or 1 pm to 5 pm. And they limit the number of people who can access the beach. To ensure you can get in we recommend going on a weekday or getting there before the time slot opens for entry.
If you don’t have your own transportation to get to La Paz, you can take a tour bus to go to Balandra Beach or swim with sea lions/whales directly from Cabo San Lucas.
3. Todos Santos
Todos Santos is one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico right now. This super small pueblo has made a name for itself as a colorful, artsy, town that is home to fantastic restaurants, breathtaking beaches, and great surfing.
Todos Santos is a straight shot north of Los Cabos on Highway 19. Since it’s only an hour’s drive from the city it’s a really easy day trip from Cabo San Lucas. We absolutely loved Todos Santos and think it’s a place that warrants more exploring than a day can offer. But if you are short on time, you can still pack a lot into a day trip.
Start by walking around the historic centro. There are so many fantastic shops and art galleries to visit. Also, eat as much food as possible. Todos Santos has everything from fine dining to casual laid-back eateries and taco stands on the side of the street.
There’s also great hiking in the area, including the Puerto Viejo or Punta Lobo hikes near the old abandoned sugar mill. Plus, incredible beaches. Our favorite is Playa Palmas, however, most people opt to visit the popular surf beach Cerritos Beach which is just a 15-minute drive from Todos Santos Centro.
If you’re interested in seeing what else there is to do in Todos Santos for a longer stay check out this blog post. We also share our favorite places to eat in the city here.
4. La Ventana
La Ventana is a super small beach town known for world-famous kite surfing. It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas making it one of the farther distances to drive for a day trip of this list. But depending on your interest it’s a spot we feel is worth visiting.
Kite surfing is obviously the big draw for coming here. There are tons of different schools and kite surf shops that will rent you equipment to get out on the water and enjoy epic surfing.
There are also free natural hot springs along the ocean shore about 20 minutes north of La Ventana in the town of El Sargento. Just make sure to time your visit to arrive around an hour before low tide. When the water comes in the pools are covered.
This was one of our favorite places we visited in Baja California Sur and think it’s 100% worth visiting!
About an hour and 30 minutes drive from Cabo San Lucas is the sleepy town of Santiago. At first glance, you might be wondering why this farming village is one of the best day trips from San Jose del Cabo. But the main draw of coming here is to relax in the hot springs or cool off in its waterfall oasis.
Both Cañon de la Zorra and Santa Rita Hot Springs require a 15-minute drive down a very sandy (but manageable) road. We drove on our motorcycles and had a hard time navigating the sometimes soft, deep sand (our friends crashed 😳). But most vehicles would be able to make it there without an issue.
It is a super refreshing way to cool off on a hot day in Baja. Learn all you need to know about visiting here in this blog post. 💦
You can walk around the waterfall or jump off a rock. We weren’t brave enough but we do know people who have jumped from the top of the waterfall! The oasis goes for miles and is absolutely breathtaking.
You can see more about the trek out to Santiago and shots of the amazing waterfall in the video below. It also features La Ventana and El Sargento (including the hot springs) if you want to learn more about the towns.
About 10 minutes from Cañon de La Zorra is Santa Rita Hot Springs. These natural hot springs are ideal to visit in the early mornings or evenings when the temperatures are a bit cooler. It’s also $150 MXP to enter Santa Rita Hot Springs.
6. Spend a day out at sea
Another fantastic day trip from Cabo San Lucas is a day spent on the ocean. Cabo San Lucas is on the tip of the Baja California Peninsula and is where the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez meet. This mixture of water is home to hundreds if not thousands of different marine and plant species. Including sea turtles, fish, sea lions, dolphins, and several different types of whales.
Spending a day on the water is definitely one of the top activities to do in Los Cabos. We explored the oceans near Cabo on a whale-watching tour with Cabo Trek. Which was absolutely incredible! We spent 4 hours on the water and got super close to humpback whales. We even got to hear the whales with a hydrophone underwater!
If you want to spend a day out at sea you have a few options. You can rent a private boat with a captain and crew (the most expensive option) or join a day cruise on a group tour. Try to find out what stops the boat makes before booking. There are several incredible beaches to visit including Divorce Beach, one of the prettiest beaches in all of Baja.
7. Cabo Pulmo National Park
The last day trip from Cabo San Lucas we recommend is Cabo Pulmo National Park. It’s last on the list for a reason. The National Park is close when traveling on water, but a bit challenging to get to on land. It’s about a 2 to 3-hour drive depending on the vehicle you are taking there.
The main path on Highway 1 is a breeze to La Ribera. From there you’ll drive about 45 minutes longer eventually ending up on a dirt road. The last 7 miles is a very rutted dirt road with potholes. In a truck or capable vehicle, it’s not too bad, but depending on what you are driving it could be a very long 7-mile drive that tests the limits of your car.
There are a few restaurants if you get hungry (we recommend Tacos and Beer), some surf shops, dive shops, and a few very small hotels or BnBs for overnight guests. But other than that it’s just you and the pristine blue waters of the National Marine Park.
The big draw for coming here is to snorkel and dive. The coral reef here is around 20,000 years and is teaming with life. As many as 200 species call this reef home. Expect to see loads of different fish, octopuses, sea turtles, sharks, and other marine treasures while swimming here.
The Marine National Park is a protected area. Please leave no trace when visiting. Pack out anything you bring in. We highly recommend avoiding sunscreen at all costs (even reef-safe sunscreen). Instead, wear sun shirts or rash guards and bring a hat or other umbrella to stay protected from the sun. Of course, don’t forget to bring snorkel gear with you.
You’ll want to spend as much time as possible underwater here!
Tips for taking day trips from Cabo San Lucas
Most of these trips can be offered in a formal guided tour which will include roundtrip transportation and possibly lunch (depending on the length of the trip or activity). However, we highly recommend renting a car to explore on your own.
We love the freedom of having our own vehicle and operating on our timeline. It also gives you the freedom to choose what you eat and where you visit (our favorite part of traveling). If you are nervous about driving in Mexico, don’t worry we got you covered in this complete guide to Mexico driving.
Renting a car is usually super affordable and the roads are really well-connected for these day trips. Aside from Cabo Pulmo National Park and Santiago, you are almost exclusively driving on paved highways for each day trip.
Also, don’t be afraid to extend a day trip into a night or two stay. Most of the places mentioned here warrant a day or more or can be combined with other stops nearby. Let us know which of these day trips from Can San Lucas looks most appealing to you!