Beaches of San Jose del Cabo. Although inviting, many beaches in the Los Cabos area are not recommended for swimming or may be designated as non-swimmable at particular times. This is due to the strong ocean currents where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortés. There are still many reasons why you would want to search the beaches in the area to enjoy the waves, the pristine golden sand and sparkling azure water. Some are better for surfing, some for snorkeling, some beachcombing in tidal pools and primordial rock formations, and others for swimming. Some offer amenities, others not. Suggest you bring water, umbrella, hat and sunscreen. Lifeguards are scarce; resorts use a flag system to indicate water safety. One good rule: Never swim alone.
Costa Azul Beach, Playa Costa Azul (Blue Coast Beach).
This marks the start of the San Jose del Cabo beach zone from the south heading toward San Jose del Cabo and is accessed via the arroyo at the Costa Azul at Km 28.5 off the Transpeninsular Highway. Turn right at the bridge and proceed to the beach, the location of the famous Zipper’s Restaurant.
This is also in the proximity of the Cabo Surf Hotel, Mike Doyle’s Surf Shop and some of the best surfing in southern Baja. Located in a beautiful ocean cove known as Playa Acapulquito, (Old Man’s Beach), a surfer’s paradise and host to many surfing competitions, the privileged beach offers long rides and is ideal for long-boarders. Beginners can start with surf lessons before meeting up with the experts heading out to catch the waves, which are bigger in summer than in winter. The area is also great for snorkeling and swimming. You can rent surf boards and stand-up paddle boards at any of the surf shops in the area and set a time for lessons. If you don’t surf, and don’t want to learn, it is a great place to observe those who only have one thing in mind: Catch the Next Big One. Fine dining at 7 Seas Seafood Grille and accommodations are available at the 36-room resort that is reminiscent to a California-style beach house with stucco walls, arches, tile roofs and luscious gardens. Exit Km 28 from the Transpeninsular Highway.
El Estero (Estuary Beach). Located at the end of Hotel Row and fronting the San Jose del Cabo Estuary, this beach offers great bird watching. The freshwater lagoon has over 350 species of wildlife and lush vegetation. Fed by underground aquifers, the river and lagoon are one of the few oases in the otherwise nearly desolate lower Baja peninsula. Swimming is not an option due to the strong undertow and waves. Kayaking in the lagoon is an option, depending on the water level.
Playa Hotelera (Hotel Beach). This beach offers great scenery, but is not recommended for swimming. Surf fishing is popular as are beach walks, especially at night, beach horseback riding, and beach volleyball. This stretch of beach is in front of the hotels lining the oceanfront of San Jose del Cabo starting at the Costa Azul Beach and continuing to the Estuary.
La Playita (Little Beach). La Playita is a great location for swimming, fishing from the shore, watching the fishermen with their catch, and family gatherings with children. It is a long stretch of sandy beach with a roped-off area just outside the entrance to the Puerto Los Cabos marina. The natural open beach is perfect for swimming, skim-boarding, riding the waves or just enjoying the peaceful beach. There are well-maintained restrooms, covered palapas and fishing charters available. No food services are available on the beach, but there are several casual eateries in close proximity to the area. Follow the signs to La Playita/Puerto Los Cabos from Boulevard Mijares in downtown San Jose del Cabo.
Palmilla Beach at Punta Palmilla (Palmilla Point).
Those seeking calm waters, a family friendly area and a mile-long stretch of beach are welcome to Palmilla where you will be surrounded by oceanfront luxury homes, the world-famous One & Only Hotel resort and the world renowned Jack Nicklaus Ocean Nine golf course. On weekends, arrive early if you want a palapa or bring your own umbrella for shade. No services are available for food or sanitary facilities at present, but you can launch a kayak here, or rent a fishing panga or cruiser. Plans are in the making, as of July, 2016, that this beach and others in the area, will soon have public toilets and showers, access for those with disabilities, a covered terrace, tables and benches, a playground for children, a specified area for fishermen, volleyball court and other amenities. Exit Km. 27 and follow the signs. Turn into the beach parking before the entrance to the resort.
Editor’s note: Playa Palmilla or Palmilla Beach has been named a Blue Flag beach by the Blue Flag programme (2016), which is operated under the auspices of the Foundation for Environmental Education and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
By Sandra A. Berry, July 25, 2016.