Written by: Jaii Fredregill
Destination: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Visited: November 2019
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is an excellent scuba diving destination largely due to its location at the southern-most point of Mexico’s Baja peninsula where the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean meet. As they combine the water becomes rich in nutrients, attracting fish and other sealife who collectively make up the thriving ecosystem just off Cabo’s shores.
Sport fishing and scuba diving have been popular activities in this tourist-friendly city for some time now. Travel here is easy and comfortable, and though Baja is not the least expensive part of Mexico, there are deals to be found and the city can accommodate a wide range of budgets.
Schooling jackfish at Pelican Rock
One thing every experienced diver knows is that we cannot control the weather. We arrived in Cabo San Lucas with an unseasonal storm close on our heels and just had to roll with it. Fortunately, even though we were rained out a couple of times, we were able to get three solid days of diving in, thanks to SeeCreatures diving.
This is a great company that gained an excellent reputation under their original name Amigos del Mar even before their recent merge. Their standards remain at an exceptionally high level. These are smart people who understand that unhappy customers are bad for business. Their shop, equipment and boats are all well maintained, and as soon as the Harbor Master reopened the harbor, they were in touch to let us know we could dive.
Neptune's finger (center)
The SeeCreatures boat is just a short walk from their shop. Along the way, friendly touters sell everything from snorkelling trips to timeshares. This is not nearly all that Cabo has to offer, but the economy here depends greatly on tourism, and a walk along the harbor really helps you to appreciate this.
We were excited to be on the boat but knew the visibility had been affected by the rain in the area. So, we had two choices, complain and mope or explore these waters with a positive outlook and choose our own adventure. We settled on the latter, and though we may not have had perfect visibility, it was better than expected and we encountered a lot of life.
Our boat ride was not long as we dove around Land’s End and El Arco all three days. Each day and each dive was different. Boat traffic increases in the afternoon, so we always left early; still I was surprised at how tranquil many of our dives were considering there were other boats around.
These dive sites are sandy bottom sites, and we dove up to 20-28 meters (65-92 feet) most dives. There are literally hundreds of porcupinefish and pufferfish of all sizes in the area, so many that I was startled on more than one dive when I turned my head and discovered one of the little cuties hovering next to me.
Land’s End is where the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean officially come together. There can be some decent currents rushing around here, so listen to your guides direction to avoid it. The current does help to attract a good amount of life.
Whale sharks are occasionally spotted passing through and the California sea lions who like to bask in the sun on a flat rock at the surface are known to frequent this site. There were several sea lions around, chasing fishing boats for bait and hunting a large school of sardines that had recently arrived, and we were lucky enough to see a large male swimming by during one of our dives.
At 12-meters (40 feet) a small shipwreck called the Nürnberg was filled with loads of fish. It was a fun stop on our way to shallow water for our safety stop.
A stingray buried in the sandy floor at Pelican Rock
Pelican Rock slopes from 3-21-meters (10-70 feet) so we started dives here deeper and gradually made our way to shallower waters where we could have a look around at all the fish, eels and invertebrates in order to take advantage of this calmer site that is protected on either side by two additional dive sites named simply North Wall and Middle Wall.
Midway through our first dive here we spotted a school of bullnose rays out in the blue. Visibility did not allow for an amazing photo, but it was good enough that we were able to spot them 6 meters (20 feet) away. Not bad for a low visibility day.
Bullnose rays, a welcome sight in any visibility
Other nearby sites include Middle Wall, North Wall and Neptune’s finger. As I mentioned above, Pelican Rock is sandwiched between North Wall and Middle Wall. The terrain of each site differs a bit, but many of the same species can be seen at all three.
Middle Wall is a vertical drop off. We were told it is around 150 meter deep but I believe our best diving here was at 25-30 meters.
North Wall is a rocky slope that starts at 5 meters and dips down to around 21 meters. Here you might see moray eels, scorpionfish, flutefish, lobsters and many others.
Baby white tip
Neptune’s Finger is a 150-meter drop off. Obviously, you will not be diving to the bottom, but there is plenty to see between 18-30 meters, and the reef which is covered in soft and hard corals at 5-meters is a nice place to wait out your safety stop and complete your dive.
We enjoyed our time in Cabo San Lucas, diving, relaxing and chatting with the tauters. People are friendly here and we had a great time on land and below the surface.
Blue spiny lobster
Cabo San Lucas can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. If money is not a concern, then there are plenty of places you can spend USD 15 for tacos and USD 10 for a cocktail. However, if you are watching your budget you will do much better farther away from the water.
There are Airbnb all over this city where you can cook your own food. There are also a lot of large supermarkets. If you don’t have a car, you can take Uber or a taxi for just a few dollars if you would like to shop. If you would rather eat out, there are a lot of local places where the food is cheap and delicious.
If you need to save money, eat where the locals eat. Honestly, the food will be a lot better and more authentic too. There are a few places near Cabo Vista Hotel, but my favorite was Tacos Marissa. It is a 2-minute walk from the hotel. Be sure to try the bean soup for MXN 30 / USD 1.50.
Should you find yourself hungry after a day of diving and want to eat cheap at the harbor try Cilantros. It’s difficult to explain exactly where it’s at, but when you’re there it’s easy to find. This is a clean, no frills lunch counter inside the building next to the Tesoro Resort.
The staff at SeeCreatures will know exactly where to point you, or if you ask somewhere else tell people it’s the place with the homemade tortillas and cheap quesadillas. You can eat well and leave full for USD 5. We spent USD 10 for food and beer for two people.
On the walk from the harbor to Cabo Vista Hotel we discovered a great torta (Mexican sandwich) place called Rico Suave at 100 Lázaro Cárdenas. One torta cubana and one fresh lemonade is enough to feed two people. This is often the case with local torta places, so if you can’t find this place, just go to another one.
A pelican waiting for fish
You will come across a lot of these when planning your trip, including hostels. As I said above, staying away from the water will typically save you money. When you stay away from the water you will often be nearer more affordable shops, bars and restaurants too.
We stayed at the Cabo Vista Hotel which is about a 10-minute walk to the harbor. We stayed in a double bed suite with a private bathroom and small kitchen. It was basically a nice studio apartment with breakfast and snacks included for less than USD 50 per night. Here is the website https://www.cabovistahotel.com
A California sea lion near the harbor
If you look online at car rentals in Mexico, they are listed at some insanely inexpensive price like USD 2 per day. The catch is, they are going to squeeze about another USD 20-60 per day in fees and insurance when you show up to get the car.
I find it a lot easier to take buses and taxis in Mexico, plus I like to walk so I can look around. This saves me a lot of money. Local taxis are easy to find in Cabo San Lucas, and there are also apps like Uber and Cabify that work here.
There are also public buses that go all around town, and to and from nearby San Jose del Cabo and the Los Cabos International Airport (SJD). Here’s my post on How to take the bus from Los Cabos International Airport to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
The Cabo San Lucas harbor
We traveled from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas with a bus company called Aguila. These buses are safe, comfortable and airconditioned. There’s even a movie shown on board during the ride. The trip took less than 3 hours and cost MXN 215 / USD 11. Buses run frequently throughout the day but pay attention to the duration of the trip. Some take over 4 hours due to their route, so choose wisely.
You can find everything you need to know on the website, which is also available in English by selecting the U.S. flag icon https://autobusesaguila.com/home