Cabo San Lucas is usually not first on people’s minds for a family vacation. Traditionally known as a party town, Cabo is popular for bachelor/bachelorette parties, honeymoons and weddings. But things are changing in this desertscape beachside paradise. With plenty of hotels and activities between both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, there’s something for everyone. Here are a few family tips for Cabo San Lucas to make it a perfect holiday…
The Skinny on Hotels:
- Location of the hotel is important. Is the hotel closer to Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo? Cabo San Lucas is the “party” town where people like to go out drinking late and party in the open air bars. I used to love those days, but my days of staying up until 2am in fun Mexican bars are over and I relish the quiet at night. It’s much more important to our family to hang out playing a game of Uno. San Jose del Cabo is a sleepier town with quaint streets and art galleries. Really perfect for a family. Many hotels are somewhere in between the two towns so decide what is more important to you before booking. Know that it will cost about $40 – $60 to get between the two towns by taxi.
- Really investigate the kid’s club. Is it big? Does it cost extra money? Are there activities for the kids or is it basically just a big space where they play with some toys for a few hours? Are meals included during their time there? Decide what is important to you and whether the kid’s club is an important factor for you because there are many different options out there.
- Make sure there is plenty of variety regarding meals. There’s nothing worse than eating at the same restaurant night after night for a week or, worse yet, eating every meal at a buffet. In addition, if you aren’t staying at an all-inclusive, check into whether breakfast is included. This is super important to us because there’s nothing worse than hungry kids and breakfast can make or break our day!
- Are you an all-inclusive or a la carte type? There’s a lot to be said about an all-inclusive for the sake of relaxing and not having to worry about a final bill that causes your jaw to drop. Especially with picky eaters like ours (who seem to love ordering a huge meal and eating about 3 bites before declaring they’re “full”). But there’s no denying that food and drink are usually better at a la carte resorts. In addition, the service is usually a little better, as the staff are really working for their tips.
Location, Location, Location:
- Cabo is well-known for its beautiful rocky landscape and desert-like topography. With that, however, come beaches that aren’t necessarily swimmable. Many, many hotels in the Cabo area do not have beaches that are safe to swim in. Especially with children. If beach swimming is important to you, do plenty of research on whether the hotel beach is safe for kids.
- It goes without saying that you’ll want a hotel on a beach. There are some hotels in the area that advertise “beach views” but aren’t necessarily on a beach. Some are closer into town or on the marina in Cabo San Lucas, so if you want a beach, do your homework.
- As already mentioned, don’t stay in the town of Cabo San Lucas if quiet is important to you. Find a place a little bit outside of town.
- Make sure you secure your transportation before you arrive. As soon as you come out of the baggage area, you will be approached by people trying to sell you transportation, activities and so forth. It’s so much easier to have everything arranged beforehand and oftentimes, a transportation company will be less expensive for a family than a taxi. If you do not have something arranged, the people in the airport will hound you like nobody’s business. If you say you already have something arranged, they will usually leave you alone.
- Getting around the area is possible with either a taxi or a bus. The bus system is surprisingly easy and low-cost, but a taxi is undoubtably easier for a family. The costs add up, however. Renting a car is a smooth process, as well, but be forewarned you may have to pay for valet and parking at your hotel.
Activities and Outings:
- As I’ve mentioned, some of the beaches work for swimming and some don’t. Playa Medano is your safest bet for calm waters and it’s two miles long. Playa Palmilla is also relatively calm, but the undertow can sometimes be quite strong. Be careful, even around these beaches and get busy building sand castles.
- Whale watching is famous in Cabo. Between January and March, Pacific gray whales can be seen quite often off the coast. There are plenty of options to see the whales up close and it is completely family friendly. It’s best to book this through your activities desk at your hotel or book ahead of time with Viator.
- Horseback riding is also a very popular family activity in Cabo. The company will take you on the beach for a once in a lifetime experience. Horseback riding is best for kids seven and up. Book with Cuadra San Francisco.
- Glass bottom boat tours to see El Arco is a must. The Arch in Cabo San Lucas is instantly recognizable and pictures don’t do it justice. It’s jaw dropping in reality. An hour long boat ride allows you to see plenty of fish and gorgeous beaches, along with the arch. If you simply want a boat ride out to the arch, book on the spot when you get to the marina, but…..
- If you want to add a snorkel tour onto your arch tour, there are plenty of companies that offer them. Everything from “Party Boat” to “Family snorkeling Tours” are offered in Cabo San Lucas. Book one of the many options through your hotel or Viator.
If I had to rate, in order, my top family tips for Cabo San Lucas, I would order them 1) type of hotel 2) location 3) kid’s Club/pool and 4) proximity to outside activities. To make your vacation as smooth as posssible, I’ve listed some favorites, along with their contact information.
- Our Favorite Hotels for families:
Grand Fiesta Americana – Aside from the stellar kid’s club, this hotel is one of the few in the Cabo area that truly has a swimming beach. Located in a cove area, the water is safe for the whole family. Grand Fiesta is part of the Hotelera Posadas group of vacation resorts and world renowned. There is also a wide variety of restaurants.
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos – We stayed here recently. To read about our experience, go here.
The Hilton Los Cabos – A great beach with tons of water activities, like paddleboarding, make this resort a great place for families. There is also a great kid’s club and five different restaurants. The gorgeous pools are also a hit with kids.
- Our favorite activities for families:
Whale watching – Everyone dreams of seeing a whale up close and it’s a reality in Cabo. A well respected company is Whale Watch Cabo.
The Pirate Ship – The Buccaneer Queen has a variety of tours, including snorkeling, whale watching and sunset tours. You can reach them here.
The Cabo Dolphins – Just like whales, all kids would love to get up close with a dolphin. You can do just that with Cabo Dolphins, located in either Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo.
Olympus Tours – This tour company can get you to and from your hotel, take you on various tours and they have baby seats and boosters upon request.
Suber Cabo – The bus system is modern, clean and can get you in between the two towns for only $2. A great option if you are just trying to get from point A to point B. There are several stops along the way. This website will give you great information.
Up next on our list for a family friendly destination is San Miguel de Allende for sure!
Are my family tips for Cabos making you think family vacation? Call me for my travel advising services. I’m a travel advisor located in Denver and can help with locations worldwide.
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What glass bottom boat tour would you recommend?
Hi Brittney! We went to the marina and just asked around. Are you staying at a hotel? The concierge can also set one up for you.
Thank you so much for your article. Spur of the moment we booked grand Fiesta golf and I was so worried about it for my kids but you eased my mind!