Wondering what the best day trips from Cabo San Lucas Mexico are? If you are planning a trip to Cabo San Lucas, you won’t want to miss out on exploring more of the greater area of Baja California Sur.
I’ve been living in Los Cabos for a few months now (read about how much this part of Mexico surprised me!). I have hopped in the car (and on the bus) to explore tons of places in the area.
If you are looking for what to do while you’re in Cabo San Lucas, be sure to check out this guide to the best things to do.
Where is Cabo San Lucas?
Cabo San Lucas is located at the very southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula in the state of Baja California Sur.
To get to Cabo San Lucas, you can fly into the Los Cabos Airport (code SJD). It is about 30-45 minutes from the airport to Cabo San Lucas depending on whether you take the toll road or the free road.
How to Get Around Baja California Sur
Getting to Cabo San Lucas without a car is easy. You can take the local bus, grab an airport taxi, or organize a driver to pick you up and bring you to your hotel. If you are staying at an all-inclusive, it’s likely that they will pick you up as part of your package.
Once you are in Cabo San Lucas, getting around the town is very easy. There are taxis everywhere. You can use Uber here as well. Most of the downtown area is very walkable.
However, if you are going to explore the area outside of Baja California Sur, you will definitely want to rent a car.
Renting a Car in Mexico can be a bit of a pain since insurance tends to be added on after and not in the most honest of way. I always recommend renting with small locally owned car rental companies rather than the big international chains.
My personal favorite car rental company in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo is Cactus Rent a car.
You can see a video of my experience renting with them here.
With a car, you can drive to all of the smaller towns that are usually inaccessible by bus or other public transportation. Which, in Baja, is most places.
Tips for Driving in Baja for Day Trips from Cabo San Lucas
I have a huge article all about driving in Mexico which you can read here.
However, there should be some special attention given to driving in Baja.
Baja is unlike pretty much anywhere else in Mexico. Most of the state, but Los Cabos in particular, has been designed especially for tourism.
This means you will have zero problems driving around to any of these destinations. There won’t be rogue police that will pull you over and charge you a “fine” (bribe) like in other parts of the country.
There is only one toll road. That is the road from the airport to Cabo San Lucas. Other than that (and there is a safe and free alternative to that toll road available), you will not see any other toll roads on your travels around Baja California Sur.
The two main things you need to know about driving in Baja are that the roads aren’t great and there are cows everywhere.
The highways and main roads around Baja are excellent. The ones that will get you between major destinations like Todos Santos, San Jose del Cabo, La Paz and the towns in between are in excellent condition and well sign-posted.
However, when you turn off of these roads to go to the towns, most of them are not properly paved. However, you don’t necessarily need a four-wheel drive unless you plan to head away from the beaten path.
All of the places listed below can be accessed with a normal compact-sized rental car. In all the time I have traveled around Baja, I have never used a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
As for the cows. Well, Baja California Sur has open grazing laws. This means that farmers can take their cattle anywhere to graze. Usually, that’s to large fields if there are any at the time of year. However, often, that means along the highway.
Never drive at night in Baja. There are no lights on most of the highways. You will never see the cows in time.
The Best Day Trips from Cabo San Lucas
These are the absolute best Cabo San Lucas day trips. Some of them are less than 30 minutes away, others take up to two hours each way.
For me, if I can get up early and get somewhere before my morning coffee wears off (about 2.5 hours), spend a good day there and then get home before dark, then I class it as a day trip.
Beneath the list of the best day trips from Cabo San Lucas, I’ve added a few more spots that are slightly further away. If you are planning to spend more than a week in Cabo San Lucas, I highly recommend expanding your horizons and spending time in some other parts of the state.
You can grab a copy of my Baja California Sur Guidebook to learn more about all of the best travel options available in Baja California Sur.
1. San Jose del Cabo
The first and closest option for day trips from Cabo San Lucas is over to San Jose del Cabo.
The two cities are about 30 minutes away from each other. The airport for Los Cabos is actually in San Jose del Cabo, so you will go through it to get to Cabo San Lucas.
San Jose del Cabo is one of my favorite places in Mexico. I spent three months living here I loved it so much (I was only planning to stay for one!).
I have written extensively about San Jose del Cabo on this blog. You can read all about the best restaurants in San Jose here and find out all of the best things to do in town here.
If you are still trying to decide about your trip to Cabo San Lucas, you may want to have a read of this article which compares the two towns for those that aren’t sure which to choose.
If you don’t rent a car, you can still easily get to this gorgeous little town and explore by taking the Ruta del Desierto bus from downtown Cabo San Lucas. It costs 38 Pesos each way (just under $2 USD).
Alternatively, you can take a taxi which can cost up to $35 USD.
2. Cabo Este
Just past San Jose del Cabo is Cabo Este or the East Cape.
Cabo Este is like Cabo San Lucas was about 30 years ago. The road isn’t properly paved but is still easy enough to navigate.
These are popular spots to visit along the east cape that are an easy day trip from Cabo San Lucas.
- East Cape Beach (and Buzzards Bar & Grill)
- Playa Zacatitos (and Zac’s Bar & Grill for live music)
- Shipwrecks Beach
- La Fortuna
Just be warned: do not use Google maps to navigate to the East Cape. Use the app Waze. This is far more accurate in Mexico than Google Maps. It will take you the best route.
3. Cabo Pulmo
Cabo Pulmo is one of the most magical underwater words in Mexico.
If you enjoy diving or snorkeling, you cannot miss this day trip from Cabo San Lucas.
It takes just over two hours to get to Cabo Pulmo from Cabo San Lucas. You’ll want to drive through San Jose del Cabo and then up like you are going to La Paz. About an hour after you go through San Jose del Cabo, you’ll turn off onto the East Cape Highway towards La Ribera. From here, follow signs to Cabo Pulmo.
This route is much faster than following the East Cape Road from the south because from La Ribera the road is paved almost all the way to Cabo Pulmo.
If you have the time, I highly recommend spending the night in Cabo Pulmo so that you can wake up early and get onto a boat out onto the water first thing in the morning. This is when the water is calmest. However, if you only have one day, just be sure to book your tour for the early afternoon.
I have a video all about my experience in Cabo Pulmo and the amazing boat tour company we used. You can watch that video here.
The snorkeling company I used in Cabo Pulmo was Cabo Pulmo Adventures (they also go by the name East Cape Adventures). Contact them through their website, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact them via WhatsApp at +52 624117 4257
If you do not want to drive to Cabo Pulmo, you can take a tour instead. Book this one for snorkeling and book this one if you want to go diving.
4. Fox Canyon
Cañon de la Zorra or Fox Canyon is the best outdoor adventure you can have in the area. It’s probably my favorite easy day trip from Cabo San Lucas.
It’s only about an hour away from Cabo San Lucas (even closer to San Jose del Cabo). You will need a car to get here if you want to go it alone. There are no buses to Fox Canyon.
Alternatively, you can book a tour like this one. The tour will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. It includes lunch along the way in a local historical town. This is a great option for hiking and enjoying a swim in the waterfall at the canyon, too. Book the fox canyon tour here.
However, you don’t need to take a tour if you have your own vehicle. Again, I recommend using Waze to navigate your way here. There are signs that will point you to Rancho Ecologico Sol de Mayo.
I have made a whole video about our experience visiting Fox Canyon that you can watch here.
First, you may want to stop in the town that you pass through on the way to the canyon, Santiago. If you are at all interested in the mission churches, this town was one of the first towns in the area to have a mission church.
On your way back, be sure to stop in Miraflores for these insanely delicious lobster tacos.
5. Todos Santos
Todos Santos isn’t a secret anymore.
This little town along the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur has quickly become one of the chicest places to vacation (and move to).
You’ll find boutique hotels, high-end restaurants, and artisan shops selling homemade soaps and handmade clothing.
The funny thing is, you would never guess it when you arrive. Besides Highway 19 that winds its way from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz, most of the other roads in town aren’t even paved.
The town has some of the best local seafood restaurants in all of Baja California Sur and they also happen to be some of the most affordable.
I have written a complete guide to Todos Santos here. It includes the best hotels, all the best things to do while you’re there, my favorite hikes, and most importantly, the best restaurants to enjoy while you’re there.
6. Los Barriles
The Todos Santos of the east side of Baja. Los Barriles is perhaps less chic, but equally desirable. This is one of the most popular towns in Baja for expats to move to.
It is a fantastic place for kitesurfers and windsurfers. It is still relatively affordable when compared to other towns in Baja California Sur. When it’s not the windy season (the winter months), it has one of the most beautiful beaches to swim in thanks to the turquoise waters of the Gulf of California.
Personally, I love Los Barriles for all of the restaurants. This tiny town has 80 eateries! You’ll get everything from delicious fish tacos (and shrimp and clam tacos, too!) to excellent pizza and a seriously good burger.
I give extensive details about where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in Los Barriles in my Baja California Sur Guidebook.
7. El Triunfo
Made famous (again) by a bakery.
El Triunfo made the map back in the 18th century as the biggest mining town in this region of the state. In fact, it was the first place in Baja to get electricity.
During its peak in the late 19th century, El Triunfo was the biggest town in Baja California Sur with over 10,000 residents. It now has fewer than 500.
However, things are picking back up for this little historical town. You can now explore the mining history here at the Ruta de Plata Museum and wander into one of the mines (with helmets and a guide of course).
The thing that brings most people here? Cafe el Triunfo.
This little cafe is making some of the best bread in the entire country. Chef Marcus Spahr opened up Cafe el Triunfo in 2008 after selling his successful Todos Santos Cafe.
He wanted a place where he had the space to build a wood-fired oven. Here he bakes his homemade sourdough, his sourdough pizzas, and his perfect pastries.
I highly recommend buying some of the sourdoughs. I tried the sandwiches, which were delicious, but a mighty steep $15 each. Watch the video of my experience in El Triunfo and at the cafe here.
8. La Ventana
La Ventana is just over two hours away from Cabo San Lucas. This makes it just on the edge of a day trip from Los Cabos, but doable if you want to check it out.
That being said, if you want to make a road trip of this trip, Todos Santos and El Triunfo are also on the way to La Ventana.
You could stop into Todos Santos, spend the day there, and then spend the night in Todos Santos. From there, you could explore El Triunfo, which really only needs about half a day. Then you’ll be in La Ventana in less than an hour.
You could spend the night at this amazing B&B where we stayed in La Ventana. Then you could spend the following morning and early afternoon exploring La Ventana. This allows you to get to either La Paz or back to Cabo San Lucas before it gets dark.
Check out this video to see what to do in La Ventana.
If you are a kitesurfer or a windsurfer, you will be in paradise here. If you are simply looking for a great beach town, you can skip it. Los Barriles is a better beach to explore than La Ventana.
Multiple Day Trips from Cabo San Lucas Not to Miss
Want to know some other places to explore on a road trip around Baja California Sur?
For some reason, La Paz doesn’t get nearly as much attention as Los Cabos or Todos Santos. I personally think it has some of the best beaches in the state.
In fact, Balandra Beach is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in Mexico.
Check out this article for all of the things to do in La Paz.
If you love great food, add these amazing La Paz restaurants to your list. In addition to having amazing seafood, La Paz also has some of the best overall tacos in all of Baja (in my humble opinion).
For an aquatic animal encounter that you won’t soon forget, get yourself to Magdalena Bay. Just be sure to visit between December and March while these gentle giants are here.
Magdalena Bay is basically a nursery for grey whales. The females head here to give birth to their calves and remain her for a few months until they are strong enough to make the swim elsewhere.
The baby whales are incredibly curious and love to come up to the small boats that you take out into the protected bay. Some of them rub up against the side of the boat, others check you out from a distance. This is about as close as you can get to these incredible animals.
The best thing to do is to take a tour to Magdalena Bay. That way, you ensure you are going with a reputable guide that respects the animals.
This is one of the most highly rated companies in the area.
I have also used this company for other tours and believe that they have the best interest of the animals and locals in mind.
Most tours tend to leave from La Paz since it is the closest city to the bay. It’s a long day, but well worth it.
Loreto is in the northern area of Baja California Sur and is a wonderful place to explore. It has so much natural beauty.
One of the best things to do is to head out to see the different islands. There are white-sand beaches. You can go snorkeling right off of the beach. There are tons of dolphins that come to check out the visitors. The dolphins are here year-round.
Check out this video of my experience visiting one of the islands (it’s so beautiful!).
It’s also a popular spot to go fishing. There are both blue and grey whales here at different times of year.
The town itself has great restaurants, bars, and tons of things to do while you’re on land.
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