Baja California Sur has a great number of outstanding beaches with a variety of reasons to make a list of the best beaches in Mexico or even the world. A recent poll in USA Today had local experts nominate their favorite beaches in Mexico and readers voted on these selections. With all the great ways of how the sand meets the Sea in the southern state it is not surprising that 6 of the 10 best beaches were here in Baja California Sur.
There are more Baja beaches than the poll could possibly put in their offerings, each with their individual appeal. I've been to all of them in the top 10 list in my years here on the peninsula and will provide first-hand information here. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the beaches that made the list and some that didn't too.
Rules for the Beaches of Baja and Mexico
First, let's start by looking at beach rules. By a 1975 presidential edict, there are no private beaches anywhere in Mexico. Unfortunately, some resorts and private properties have tried to chase off members of the public and there have been lobbying efforts to rescind this presidential order. Today any and everyone has access to the ZMFT. (Zona Federal Maritimo Terrestre) which is defined as 20 meters from the high tide line. Camping, discarding trash, building fires or motorized vehicles among other things are prohibited from this zone.
Private concessions are granted in certain areas above the ZFMT zone for restaurants, beach palapas, and camping. Concessionaires do have the right to ask you to leave from those areas. Beach front property owners are required to provide access to the public areas of the beach, although many developers seek to make this just as difficult as possible.
Taking shells, coral, sand dollars and other marine souvenirs from the beaches of Mexico is prohibited. Very few beaches in Baja California Sur have significant improvements enough to have life-saving, so you are swimming at your own risk.
Technically, there are no nude beaches in Mexico, as public nudity is prohibited. Today, with increased population and development it has become increasingly difficult to find a beach to shed it all and erase those tan lines.
With only one or two exceptions the beaches in this article do not offer lifeguard monitoring, so swim at your own risk. I've tried to make note of surf and undertow where I have found it. Sharks, by habitat, can be found at just about any of these beaches, but I don't know if I've ever heard of a shark attack in my 16 years at these beaches. Stingrays are common in the shallows, particularly in the eastern Sea side beaches and most prevalent in the spring and early summer months when the shallows provide their earliest food source. Doing the Sting Ray Shuffle can almost always avoid a painful interaction. Jellyfish and Portuguese Man of war can be found anywhere mostly in the summer months, but again, a little alertness can avoid what isn't much more painful than a bee sting. I've seen white Jellyfish the size of your head off Cabo beaches, a spectacular Blue Jelly on the beach near La Paz the size of a garbage can lid and Portuguese Man of War the size of your fist in the Sea. Just keep your eyes open (but not underwater)
The Beaches: The Pacific
(Also see the Best Beaches in Baja California Sur - The Sea of Cortez Side)
Bahia Santa Maria is located just north of the entrance to Bahia Magdalena on the Pacific coast. It is very remote and for many years only know to the sail cruising crowd as a stop-over point and a safe harbor from winter storms. The long curved beach is more than 13 miles long to the south of the cove and sometimes a coyote is your only companion. There is no road access. The north end of the beach sometimes has a very rustic camp style service palapa. There is no trash disposal or restrooms. The north end of the beach is only separated from Bahia Magdalena by about a 100m sand bar. The Pacific water remains brisk here through most of the year only reaching into the upper 70's in the late summer.
The Pacific coast of the peninsula takes much more of a beating from the waves of the Pacific, particularly during winter storms and the passage of our summer tropical cyclones. Therefore, many of the beaches are much narrower and the land rises much more quickly away from the beaches that it does on the Pacific side.
The next popular beaches moving south access from Hwy 19 and the Pueblo Mágico are located in Todos Santos and Cerritos just to the south. The more northen beaches abruptly meet the Sea and are slowly developing some beach services as they are popular with the surfing crowd during different parts of the year while by the time you get to Cerritos the beaches are broad and sandy. These are Pacific beaches, so the water reaches into the low 80's at the very warmest parts of the summer and surf ranges from 2 to 12 feet depending on the time of year. These beaches include the areas north of Punta Lobos and Hidden Harbor. The sand is clean, the vistas are spectacular and sunsets are not to be missed. San Pedrito has long been a favorite of surfers, beachside camping is now giving way to more comfortable residential living and accommodations as the surfers also mature beyond the desire for a night on air mattresses and sleeping bags.
Just about 12 miles further south is the growing pueblo of Pescadero. These beaches remain unimproved, but access is difficult through the remaining agricultural areas and expanding residential development. This long stretch of narrow but beautiful Pacific beach is well worth a stroll.
|USA Today's List of the Top 10 Beaches In Mexico|
|1 Balandra Beach
2 Somewhere else in Mexico
3 Who cares?
4 Honeymoon Cove
5 Cabo Pulmo Beach
6 Lover's Beach
7 Somewhere else in Mexico
8 Medano Beach
9 Too far away from here
10 Tecolote Beach
Cerritos Beach is about halfway between Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos. It is an up and coming area of development and many have referred to a day a the beach there like stepping back into Cabo in the early 1990's. There is a beachside restaurant, parking, and restrooms along with a few activity providers sprouting up in the high season. This beach is particularly popular with summer residents seeking to escape the heat of inland and the Sea side summer heat with a persistent ocean breeze keeping things several degrees cooler. The waters here can throw some good sized waves during storms, but the break is best on the northern most side for beginning to intermediate surfers. The water here also only reaches about 80°F at the peak of the season in late August but is inviting through most of the summer months.
The Los Cabos area provides the first two beaches to place in the top 10 in the USA Reader's Poll. Lover's Beach has long been a popular attraction just a short panga ride out from downtown Cabo and comes in at #6 in the poll. The beach is located just a few hundred meters from Land's End and the famous rock arch. The fee for a panga ride to and from the beach is around $15 a person in a 6 person boat or $45 for the boatload and we encourage negotiation. The beautiful sand and spectacular vistas will make it feel like money well spent. In large surf, the trip isn't for the faint of heart. The beach wraps around the point to the west and allows for a nice stroll, which is the likely origin of its name. It is alleged to be the only beach in the world on two bodies of water, the Sea of Cortez on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. As the beach works to the west it has also been known as Divorce beach or Widow's Beach. The surf can be strong and the drop-off is quick, sometimes making swimming a bold plan.
The main beach in Cabo and for many, the main beach in the southern peninsula is Medano Beach, coming in at #8 in the Reader Poll. On my first visit to this beach, it had just three small restaurants and a water spicket for cruising sailboats to refill with fresh water. Those days have given way to this being the busiest beach, with a variety of restaurants, activities, string bikini's, drinking contests and an endless Spring Break atmosphere. Here you can rent kayaks, jet ski's para-sailing, water rocket rides and more. If you are looking for a beach to cut loose and have fun there is absolutely no better place than Medano. The water temperature is acceptable for bathing year round but can reach into the low 80's in the summer months. The drop-off in the water is dramatic and with strong surf, there are areas of significant undertow. Since the beach is located close to downtown Cabo San Lucas and the marina swimming outside the designated swimming areas requires a watchful eye and despite civic improvements in drainage contamination levels can become dangerous for a few days after heavy rains. Medano beach extends for miles to the east along the Resort Row and the golden sand beaches are why the area is a popular resort destination.
As we move toward San Jose del Cabo there is certainly no shortage of honorable mention beaches and this area is often referred to as being in the Sea of Cortez. However, for the purpose of breaking this article into two managable ones, here it is on the Pacific side review. The El Tule arroyo provides one of the last areas when vehicles can drive down to the beach. The stretch of golden sand is only interrupted by a few rocky points between Cabo and San Jose del Cabo. Bahia Chileno and Bahia Santa Maria have long been popular with locals, but the relocation of Hwy 1 further inland to accommodate additional resort and residential development have brought the focus more toward Bahia Santa Maria and the developed parking area and beach access there. These small bays make for great places to snorkel and swim and the scenery is unique. Taking care of the security of the items in your parked car is recommended.
Playa Costa Azul could be called San Jose del Cabo's flagship beach. Located just west of the city nearby breaks including Old Man's and Zippers have long been favorites of the summer surfing crowd. Packing can be limited and many access these beautiful beaches from the resorts that stretch to the east and west of this location. The next 12-15 miles of beach is beautiful, with only a few rocky interruptions you can virtually walk to the Puerto Los Cabo's development. In between is The One and Only Palmilla, and the associated residential areas, beach security here can sometimes be overzealous.
After the San Jose arroyo endless beaches, resort, and residential development stretch around the tip of the peninsula for many miles. Although access can sometimes be a challenge you can always find some unused sand almost all the way to Los Frailes and Cabo Pulmo. The further east you go the more influence you get from the warmer waters of the Sea of Cortez and summer water temps can easily reach into the low 80's. Most of this area is south facing and surf can get pretty large and on short period during the summer months when tropical cyclones pass to the south, some well to the south mind you, but still kicking up some hefty surf, about once every other week on average. Southwest winds keep the temps down in the heat of summer and there are still a few wild places to be sought out as you make your way around to East Cape.
The Baja peninsula has more than 2500 miles of beaches, and it is hard to go wrong with any of them, each offering its own charm and beauty. With so many lovely locations I'm certain I have overlooked someone's favorite, but I'm already up to page 6 on this article, so that is just the way it goes sometimes
When you visit our beaches we encourage you to respect the natural beauty and take home every lick of trash you brought with you and police after your pets. Although many of the beaches offer trash bins, these collection resources are often under-serviced, particularly during heavy traffic periods. Come enjoy our beaches and refresh your soul.