Cabo San Lucas Overhead View

Cabo San Lucas vs Los Cabos Mexico: What’s the Difference?

Cabo San Lucas vs. Los Cabos: An In-Depth Comparison

When planning a trip to the sun-kissed shores of Mexico, a common question is Cabo San Lucas vs Los Cabos. These two destinations, nestled along the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula, offer unique experiences and attractions that cater to different travel styles.

This comprehensive guide compares the best of both worlds, helping you decide on your ideal Mexican getaway.

The Basics: Cabo San Lucas and Los Cabos

First, let’s get our bearings. The term “Los Cabos” often confuses because it refers to the entire Los Cabos municipality, including Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. This article will focus on these two towns and the picturesque tourist corridor that connects them.

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas is the livelier of the two towns, boasting a bustling downtown area, vibrant nightlife, and an array of water sports. It’s a popular tourist destination, especially for visitors from the United States, with direct flights to Los Cabos International Airport.

San José del Cabo

San José Del Cabo

San José del Cabo, on the other hand, offers a more laid-back vibe, with colonial architecture, art galleries, and a weekly art walk. It’s a quieter place for those seeking relaxation and cultural experiences.

The Tourist Corridor

The 20-mile tourist corridor that connects Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo features luxury hotels, golf courses, and breathtaking ocean views. It’s a great spot to stay if you want easy access to both towns and all they offer.

Comparing Attractions and Activities


Both destinations boast beautiful beaches, but they cater to different tastes:

  • Cabo San Lucas: The star of the show is Medano Beach, a lively stretch of sand with bars, live music, and water sports like paddle boarding and jet skiing.
  • San José del Cabo: For a more tranquil experience, head to the pristine beaches of the East Cape, such as Playa Palmilla or Playa Santa Maria.

Whale Watching

The Baja California Sur region is a whale-watching paradise, with humpback and gray whales migrating to the area during winter. Both towns offer excellent opportunities to witness these majestic creatures:

  • Cabo San Lucas: Hop on a water taxi or book a tour to see whales near the iconic El Arco rock formation.
  • San José del Cabo: Join a tour departing from the marina, or venture further north to the Sea of Cortez to spot whale sharks.

Check out our guide to whale watching in La Paz for more information

Water Sports and Adventure

If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping activities, both towns have you covered:

  • Cabo San Lucas: The area is famous for its scuba diving, with sites like Cabo Pulmo and Land’s End offering stunning coral reefs and a chance to see the Mexican chocolate clam.
  • San José del Cabo: Explore the Baja Peninsula’s rugged terrain on an ATV tour or try surfing in nearby Todos Santos.

Dining and Nightlife

From street food stalls to fine dining, both towns offer a tempting array of culinary delights:

  • Cabo San Lucas: The bustling nightlife scene features iconic venues like Cabo Wabo, while Medano Beach offers an array of beachfront bars and live music.
  • San José del Cabo: The town’s main square is home to some of the best restaurants in the region, with options ranging from traditional Mexican cuisine to upscale international fare.
Cabo San Lucas Vs Los Cabos Mexico: What'S The Difference?

When to Go: Weather and Seasons

Choosing the best time to visit Cabo San Lucas or San José del Cabo depends on your preferences and travel style. Here’s a breakdown of the weather and seasonal considerations:

  • Sunny Days and Warm Weather: The peak season for both towns runs from December to April, with sunny days and warm temperatures making it the perfect time for beach lovers and sunseekers.
  • Whale Watching: The winter months (December to March) are prime time for whale watching, with numerous tour operators offering unforgettable encounters with these gentle giants.
  • Hurricane Season and Tropical Storms: Late summer and early fall (August to October) are considered the hurricane season in the Baja Peninsula, with the possibility of tropical storms and heavier rainfall. If you’re willing to take the risk, you may find lower prices and fewer tourists during this time.
  • Spring Breakers: If you’re looking to avoid the crowds of college students on spring break, it’s best to steer clear of Cabo San Lucas in March and April. San José del Cabo, with its more laid-back atmosphere, is usually a quieter place during this time.

Getting Around: Transportation and Accessibility

Whether you’re staying in Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, or along the tourist corridor, you have several options for getting around:

  • Rental Car: Renting a car is the best way to explore the area at your own pace, with several rental agencies available at the Los Cabos International Airport.
  • Public Transportation: The public bus system connects Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, and several points along the tourist corridor, offering an affordable and convenient way to travel between the towns.
  • Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are readily available, providing quick and easy transportation within and between the towns.

Exploring the Area: Day Trips and Surrounding Destinations

When visiting Cabo San Lucas or San José del Cabo, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the beautiful surroundings of the Baja Peninsula. Here are some day trips and nearby destinations to consider, featuring the remaining keywords:

Todos Santos

Just an hour’s drive from Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos is a charming small town on the Pacific Coast. This designated Pueblo Mágico, or “Magical Town,” is famous for its vibrant art scene, with numerous art galleries and studios lining the main street. The town also boasts some of the best surfing spots on the West Coast, such as Playa Los Cerritos and Playa San Pedrito. Don’t forget to stop by the legendary Hotel California, rumored to have inspired the famous Eagles song.

La Paz

The capital city of Baja California Sur, La Paz, is approximately two hours north of San José del Cabo. This coastal gem offers a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation, with pristine beaches, fascinating marine life, and a lively downtown area. During winter, La Paz is a prime spot for whale watching, with opportunities to see the blue, humpback, and orcas. For the more adventurous, swimming with whale sharks is a unique experience offered by several tour operators in the area.

Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park

Cabo Pulmo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a protected marine park along the Sea of Cortés (also known as the Gulf of California). This ecological treasure is home to one of North America’s oldest and most diverse coral reefs, making it a haven for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. The park is about two hours from Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, making it a fantastic day trip for those seeking underwater adventures.

The Baja Peninsula’s Small Towns

If you want to experience the charm of Baja California’s small towns, there are several delightful options within easy reach of Los Cabos. Discover Santiago’s colonial architecture and main square, a tranquil town in the Sierra de la Laguna mountains. Or visit the picturesque fishing village of El Triunfo, with its 19th-century mining history and the region’s tallest smokestack.

Los Cabos Beaches: A Guide to the Best Sandy Spots

Los Cabos boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, with options ranging from lively party scenes to secluded escapes. Here are some of the best beaches to check out during your visit:

  • Playa El Médano: Cabo San Lucas’ main beach is a bustling spot with water sports, beach bars, and plenty of people watching.
  • Playa de Los Amantes (Lovers Beach): Accessible by water taxi, this romantic spot near El Arco is perfect for couples seeking a quieter relaxing place.
  • Playa Palmilla: This family-friendly beach in San José del Cabo offers calm waters for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Chileno Beach: A popular spot for snorkeling and swimming, Chileno Beach is located along the tourist corridor and features crystal-clear waters and a beautiful coral reef.

Live Music and Entertainment in Los Cabos

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing evening with live music or a wild night out on the town, Los Cabos has you covered:

  • Cabo San Lucas: The city is famous for its nightlife, with popular venues like Cabo Wabo and Mandala providing live music and DJs. Check out the jazz and blues scene at various bars along the marina for a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • San José del Cabo: The town offers a more laid-back

nightlife scene, with venues like Baja Brewing Company and La Osteria hosting live music performances from local and international artists. During the high season, don’t miss the weekly Art Walk, where galleries open doors for visitors to enjoy Art, live music, and refreshments.

Outdoor Activities and Adventure Sports in Los Cabos

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Los Cabos offers a plethora of outdoor activities and adventure sports:

  • Fishing: The waters surrounding Los Cabos are teeming with marine life, making it a premier destination for sport fishing. Charter a boat and try to catch marlin, tuna, or dorado.
  • Ziplining: Soar through the Baja California Sur’s stunning landscapes on a thrilling zipline adventure, with several operators offering canopy tours.
  • Hiking: Explore the diverse terrain of the Baja Peninsula on foot, with trails in the Sierra de la Laguna mountains and the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park providing breathtaking views and unique flora and fauna.
  • Mountain Biking: Rent a mountain bike and tackle the rugged trails of the Baja Peninsula, or join a guided tour for a more structured adventure.

Dining and Shopping in Los Cabos

From traditional Mexican markets to upscale boutiques, Los Cabos offers a wide range of shopping experiences:

  • Cabo San Lucas: The city’s luxury malls and designer boutiques cater to high-end shoppers, while the downtown area features traditional markets and souvenir shops.
  • San José del Cabo: The town is known for its art galleries, local handicrafts, and boutique shops selling unique clothing, accessories, and home goods.

When it comes to dining, Los Cabos has something for every palate, from street food to fine dining:

  • Cabo San Lucas: The city is home to some of the best restaurants in the region, offering a diverse range of cuisines, including Mexican, Italian, and Japanese. Don’t miss the chance to try the local specialty: chocolate clams.
  • San José del Cabo: The town’s main square hosts various food stalls where you can sample traditional Mexican dishes and local delicacies like churros and elotes.

Los Cabos International Airport and Travel Tips

The Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) is the closest airport to Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, located approximately 8 miles north of San José del Cabo and 29 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas. The airport is well-connected, with direct flights from several cities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, consider the following travel tips:

  • Currency: The local currency is the Mexican peso, but US dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas. It’s a good idea to carry some pesos for smaller purchases if you venture off the beaten path.
  • Language: Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Learning a few basic Spanish phrases can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable and immersive.
  • Safety: Los Cabos is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. However, it’s essential to be cautious and take necessary precautions, like not displaying valuable items and using reputable transportation services.

Accommodations and Getting There

Cabo San Lucas is home to world-class resorts, boutique hotels, and vacation rentals. August’s low season means you’ll likely find the best discounts and deals on accommodations.

To reach Cabo San Lucas, you’ll fly into Los Cabos International Airport (SJD), located in San Jose del Cabo, about 30 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas. From there, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, or hire a private driver to reach your destination. Check out Google Flights, the best way to find deals on flights. Google Flights will automatically suggest other airports or dates to find the best deal.

Best Family Resorts in Cabo

Here are some of the best highly-rated family resorts in Cabo San Lucas:

Grand Velas Los Cabos

This luxurious all-inclusive resort offers spacious suites, excellent dining options, and a world-class spa. With a dedicated kids’ club, a teens’ club, and various family-friendly activities, it’s a top choice for families.

Click here to check availability and prices

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

Another fantastic all-inclusive option, the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, features multiple swimming pools, a water park, and a variety of dining options. The resort also offers a kids’ club and a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Click here to check availability and prices

Paradisus Los Cabos

Set on a beautiful beach, this all-inclusive resort boasts multiple restaurants, swimming pools, and a kids’ zone with a mini water park. With various activities for all ages, Paradisus Los Cabos ensures a fun and memorable vacation for the entire family.

Click here to check availability and prices

Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort

With a stunning beachfront location, this resort offers a range of family-friendly amenities, including a kids’ club, infinity pools, and various on-site dining options. The resort also features a golf course and a spa for parents.

Click here to check availability and prices

Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa

This all-inclusive resort offers spacious suites, multiple dining venues, and a variety of activities for kids and adults. It’s an excellent choice for families seeking a fun and relaxing vacation with a kids’ club, a teens’ club, and a mini water park. Click here for more of our other top Dreams brand resorts for families.

Click here to check availability and prices

Here are some other options for finding the best deal on a resort or VRBO in Cabo:

Best Places to Stay in San Jose Del Cabo


What are some unique experiences in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo?

  • Cabo San Lucas: Take a water taxi to Lovers Beach and enjoy the stunning rock formations at Land’s End, or explore the vibrant marine life on a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion.
  • San José del Cabo: Visit the charming art galleries during the weekly Art Walk or sample traditional Mexican dishes at the local food stalls.

Which destination has better golf courses?

Both Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo offer world-class golf courses designed by renowned architects. However, the tourist corridor boasts some of the best courses in the region, with stunning ocean views and challenging layouts.

Is Cabo San Lucas safe?

Yes, Cabo San Lucas is considered a safe destination for tourists. As with any popular tourist destination, exercising common sense and taking necessary precautions to protect yourself and your belongings is essential.

How far is Puerto Vallarta from Cabo San Lucas and Los Cabos?

Puerto Vallarta is approximately 300 miles southeast of the Baja California Peninsula. Direct flights are available between Los Cabos International Airport and Puerto Vallarta, with a flight time of around 2 hours.

Cabo San Lucas & San José del Cabo vs. Mexico’s East Coast

Cabo San Lucas and the East Coast of Mexico, specifically Cancun and Playa del Carmen, are both popular family vacation destinations in Mexico. Each region has its unique characteristics, attractions, and offerings. Let’s explore the differences between these two regions, focusing on aspects important to family travelers, such as beaches, terrain, and resorts.


Cabo San Lucas: Located on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas boasts beautiful beaches with dramatic rock formations and crystal-clear waters. Some of the most popular family-friendly beaches in the area include Playa El Médano and Playa Santa Maria. The beaches on the Pacific Ocean side can have strong currents and waves, making them less suitable for swimming but ideal for surfing and other water sports.

Cabo San Lucas Overhead View

Cancun and Playa del Carmen: These destinations on the East Coast of Mexico lie along the Caribbean Sea, offering soft white-sand beaches and calm turquoise waters. The beaches in Cancun and Playa del Carmen are generally more suitable for swimming and snorkeling, with calmer waves and warmer water temperatures. Some popular family-friendly beaches in these areas include Playa Delfines in Cancun and Playa Mamitas in Playa del Carmen.



Cabo San Lucas: The landscape in Cabo San Lucas is characterized by a desert-like environment with rugged cliffs, cacti, and stunning rock formations. The unique terrain offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, ATV tours, and horseback riding.

Cancun and Playa del Carmen: The terrain on the East Coast of Mexico is flatter and more tropical, with lush vegetation, mangroves, and cenotes (natural sinkholes filled with water). The region offers a variety of eco-parks and natural attractions to explore, such as Xcaret, Xel-Há, and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.


Cabo San Lucas: Cabo San Lucas offers a variety of family-friendly resorts, many of which are all-inclusive. These resorts often feature kids’ clubs, multiple swimming pools, water parks, and various dining options. Some popular family resorts in Cabo San Lucas include Grand Velas Los Cabos, Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, and Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort.

Cancun and Playa del Carmen: Cancun and Playa del Carmen also have a wide selection of family-friendly resorts with many all-inclusive options. These resorts typically offer extensive amenities for families, such as kids’ clubs, water parks, and numerous dining venues. Some top family resorts in Cancun and Playa del Carmen include Moon Palace Cancun, Paradisus Playa del Carmen, and Grand Palladium Riviera Maya Resort & Spa.

Activities and Attractions

Cabo San Lucas: Families visiting Cabo San Lucas can enjoy various activities, such as whale watching, snorkeling, and boat tours to El Arco. The area also offers adventure parks like Wild Canyon for adrenaline-pumping experiences like ziplining and bungee jumping.

Cancun and Playa del Carmen: These destinations on the East Coast of Mexico offer many family activities, from water sports and eco-parks to exploring Mayan ruins like Chichen Itza and Tulum. The area also boasts a vibrant nightlife and shopping scene.

In conclusion, Cabo San Lucas and the East Coast of Mexico offer unique experiences for family travelers. Cabo San Lucas has a desert-like environment with rugged landscapes and Pacific Ocean beaches. Cancun and Playa del Carmen have a tropical settings with white-sand beaches and calm Caribbean waters. Both regions offer a variety of family-friendly things to do.


Choosing between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo all depends on your travel style and priorities. Cabo San Lucas is the place for you if you want excitement, nightlife, and water sports. If relaxation, culture, and art galleries are more your speed, San José del Cabo may be your perfect spot. Regardless of your choice, you will surely have an unforgettable experience in the sun-soaked paradise of the Baja Peninsula. So pack your bags, and let the good times roll!

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