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El Arco in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
El Arco in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

6 Reasons to Go Ashore in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

El Arco in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
El Arco in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Executive Editor, U.S.
Chris Gray Faust
Senior SEO Editor
Kyle Valenta

Last updated
May 14, 2024

Read time
4 min read

Cabo! The shortened form of Cabo San Lucas, on the west coast of Mexico (also known as the Mexican Riviera) can conjure up a few images: spring break for California college kids; sleek resorts and spas frequented by Jennifer Aniston and friends; sport fishing, whale watching and all kinds of things to do by the water.

Cruisers visit Cabo on Mexican Riviera itineraries that leave from San Diego or Long Beach, or on Panama Canal cruises. The time spent at this port can vary greatly, from an entire long day to a few short hours. It’s not uncommon to arrive at 7 a.m. and leave by 2:30 p.m., meaning that long day trips will likely be off limits. Check your itinerary schedule before you book any excursions.

Tender in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Tender in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Another Cabo idiosyncrasy: The port is accessible only by tender, which means you’ll need to take a small water taxi provided by the cruise line to get to shore. Tender ports can be more challenging for those with mobility issues. They can also lead to long lines at the end of the port stop when everyone wants to go back to the ship at once. Plan your shore time accordingly.

Despite those factors, we absolutely think that there are plenty of ways to have fun in Cabo; it’s far more than Los Angeles South. Here are our top six reasons why you should get off the ship in Cabo San Lucas.

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Get Out on the Water

Sailboat excursion in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Sailboat excursion in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The waters around Cabo San Lucas are clear, gorgeous and there are many different excursions to choose from. You won't go wrong if you decide to go out on the water.

El Arco -- the arch -- is the iconic view of Cabo, and most of your water excursions will take you nearby. We've kayaked near the arch, taken a catamaran sailboat excursion and also parasailed high above for a birds eye view. All were pretty great ways to spend the day.

Whale watching  Cabo blowhole
Whale watching in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Katherine Alex Beaven)

From early December through mid-April, whale watching excursions into the Sea of Cortez bring you within sight of migrating species.

Fish statue in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Fish statue in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Sport fishing is also popular in Cabo. If you're spending a longer time in port, you can arrange a fishing excursion either through your cruise line or from a boat operator in the marina.

Party Like a Rock Star

Cruisers walking the marina in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Cruisers walking the marina in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

The Cabo marina and downtown are chock a block with restaurants and bars; there's a Senor Frog's as soon as you get off the tender. If you're looking to day drink, you won't have to go far.

Cabo Wabo bar in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Cabo Wabo bar in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

One of the most well-known drinking establishments is Cabo Wabo, a bar owned by the unofficial mayor of Cabo San Lucas, rock star Sammy Hagar. While it's on the pricey side for Cabo, the bar does have some rock memorabilia from Hagar's time with Van Halen and as a soloist.

If you're in Cabo during the afternoon or evening, Cabo Wabo gets going with concerts and live bands. Sometimes Hagar even drops in to play.

Learn to Surf in Los Cerritos

Surfboard art in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Surfboard art in Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Drop into tiny Los Cerritos, on the Pacific Ocean and less than an hour up the coast from Cabo San Lucas’ cruise port. The town sits on one of the few swimmable beaches in the area, though the breaks are famous with surfers, who come here from all over the world. There are numerous schools in town, including well-liked Mario Surf School.

If you're planning on an excursion that takes you out of town, make sure that you book reliable transportation and leave yourself plenty of time to get back to your ship.

Visit the Hotel California and More in Todos Santos

The quiet streets of Todos Santos, Mexico (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The quiet streets of Todos Santos, Mexico (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

If the booze-and-shop vibes of central San Lucas feel the opposite of the Mexico you thought you’d see, opt for a trip to charming Todos Santos. This small town is packed with artisan boutiques, breezy cafes, and open-air Mexican restaurants that also happens to be home to the Hotel California of Eagles song fame. It’s a well-preserved and tranquil slice of classic Baja style that feels light-years away from central San Lucas. It’s about an hour north of the port, and the cruise ships do run excursions here, especially on longer port stops.

Shop for Art in San Jose del Cabo

Cabo is often referred to with one moniker, but it has two distinct poles: San Lucas and San Jose. San Jose is the artsier cousin of San Lucas, where the frat parties at Cabo Wabo and Squid Roe, are replaced by tons of cool galleries and boutiques, artisan craft stores, charming coffee shops and a vibrant foodie scene (check out Flora Farms, which is just one buzzing spot). If you happen to be in port during the evenings, be on the lookout for Art Walk, which takes place on Thursday evenings.

Enjoy a Beach Day

Discovery Princess at anchor off Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Discovery Princess at anchor off Cabo San Lucas (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

On the opposite side of the marina from the tender port -- you can take a water taxi if you don't want to make the 20 minute walk -- the long beach is lined with hotels, restaurants and beach clubs where you can rent loungers and umbrellas for the day.

Depending on your comfort level, you can get a cheap massage from some of the vendors on the beach. Or simply soak up the sun and enjoy your margaritas and fish tacos. Cabo is definitely a day to relax.

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