Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, earned a reputation as a college spring break destination decades ago. But the greater Los Cabos area (which translates to “the Capes”) — including up-and-coming Todos Santos and posh San Jose del Cabo — offers family-friendly cultural experiences and water activities galore. Spot humpback whale mothers and their calves breaching on a whale-watching tour. Take surf lessons at legendary Cerritos Beach near Todos Santos, followed by a private cooking class. Ride ATVs on the dunes at East Cape Beach. Access waterfall hikes from the new Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas.
A short flight from most West Coast cities, Los Cabos sits at the tip of Baja California Sur, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. It’s home to a 20,000-year-old living coral reef at the UNESCO-protected Cabo Pulmo National Park. The crystal-clear waters here, teeming with colorful reef fish, whale sharks, dolphins, sea lions and manta rays, were once called “the Aquarium of the World” by famed oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
With such stunning natural beauty and marine life, as well as abundant cultural experiences, the Los Cabos region continues to hold strong as a travel destination for families, friends and couples. “Los Cabos went from being a fishing village 20 years ago to the highest tourism-focused destination in all of Mexico,” says Los Cabos-based CB Family Travel Advisor Natalie Ethridge.
The ages of your kids will dictate your Los Cabos experience. The younger they are, the less active the vacation — think hanging out by the pool and taking naps in the sunshine. The older the kids get, the more options become available. Hotel kids’ clubs abound for school-age children, offering fun activities like arts and crafts and Spanish lessons. Tweens and teens can enjoy more intensive adventures; have your CB Advisor arrange a private off-road ATV tour into the Baja desert with a picnic lunch waiting, or a guided hike into the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve. Some families also choose to book a photography session with Los Cabos’ pristine beaches and dramatic rock arches as the backdrop.
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You can’t truly explore Los Cabos without getting wet. With a beautiful marina that leads straight out to the Sea of Cortez, there are so many possibilities that deciding what to do can be difficult. Parasailing, scuba diving and even snuba are all popular activities for visitors, but if you’re looking for something a little more mellow, consider a kayak tour that allows time for snorkeling. Your Advisor also can arrange private boat charters to nearby islands, sunset sails and more.
While bohemian and sleepy Todos Santos, designated as a Puebla Magico by the Mexican government for its well-preserved cultural heritage, lacks in bigger resort properties for families, your Advisor can easily arrange a day trip to the region for surf lessons, private tamale cooking classes or salsa workshops with a chef from a local farm-to-table restaurant. A private watercolor class or mosaic workshop with a local artist are additional cultural experiences in the Todos Santos area.
TIP: Los Cabos has beautiful beaches, but they also can be incredibly dangerous. Swimming on the Pacific side is not allowed due to swift currents and powerful waves. Most beaches border seas with severe undertows, riptides and deep dropoffs close to shore, and there are no lifeguards. Pay attention to warning signs and when in doubt, do not enter the water. Booking a resort with a swimmable beach can be your best bet; see our hand-selected list of options for families below.
“The growth of five-star-quality properties has exploded in the last five years,” Natalie says. Her favorite family-friendly accommodations include One&Only Palmilla; the Montage Los Cabos; Chileno Bay Resort from Auberge Resorts; and newcomer Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas, which is banking on the seclusion and nature access of the Costa Palmas area. Others in the Los Cabos area that offer family-friendly stays, she adds, include Esperanza, Auberge Resorts’ older property; the Rosewood Las Ventanas al Paraiso; and the Ritz-Carlton Zadun Reserve.
TIP: CB Advisors often can secure perks like resort credits, upgrades, early check-in/late check-out and specialized children’s amenities when you book your stay through our team.
One of the first luxury resorts to open in the region, One&Only Palmilla has 174 rooms, suites and villas, all featuring ocean views and butler service. From a steakhouse by Jean-Georges Vongerichten to sushi and ceviche, there are five onsite restaurants, not to mention a juicery and several bars. A swimmable beach area, golf course, yoga pavilion, spa with outdoor massage palapas, and two oceanfront pools round out the offerings. And for families in particular, the nanny service and kids’ programming are standouts, Natalie notes.
Montage Los Cabos
On the shores of Santa Maria Bay, the 122-room Montage Los Cabos is a great choice for families with young kids, thanks to calmer waters that allow for swimming and snorkeling right near the property. Several three- to five-bedroom casas with their own private pools make the hotel ideal for multigenerational groups. Along with golf, yoga and tennis, there’s also Montage’s renowned kids’ club, Paintbox.
Auberge Chileno Bay
Nestled along its own cove with a swimmable beach, the Auberge Chileno Bay is a stunner. Rooms (99 in total) start at 760 square feet, with many boasting unobstructed views of the water. And the 60 villas, with multi-bedroom layouts, private pools or Jacuzzis and kitchens, allow for longer family stays too. The Pescaditos Kids’ Club and Teens’ Club allow parents to sneak away to the spa for a massage and hydrotherapy.
Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas
The new kid on the block, the Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas sits on a pristine beach north of San Jose del Cabo, in the area of Costa Palmas. The three-year-old property’s 141 rooms all offer private terraces with views of the Sea of Cortez. Five restaurants, a golf course and a spa are just the start. The hotel’s secluded location and private marina lend easy access to sunset sails, waterfall hikes, desert ATV adventures, horseback riding and more. “It’s the next ‘it’ spot,” Natalie says. “They have specific kids’ programming, too, like beach movie nights and swimming with whale sharks.” From July to mid-November, guests can participate in a turtle release experience — sure to be a highlight for wildlife enthusiasts.
According to Natalie, November through May are the best time of year to visit, with January and February in particular being great months for spotting whales and avoiding the holiday rush.
Although Spanish is the official language, English is widely spoken. If you’re in town for more than a few days, you can head to a large assortment of ATMs to get Mexican pesos, but many places will accept U.S. dollars as well.
Editor’s Note: Dana Rebmann contributed to this article.
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