Despite its reputation for romantic resorts and rowdy nightlife, Cabo San Lucas is actually a very good family-friendly vacation destination. Many local lodgings offer onsite kids clubs with supervised activities, babysitting options are readily available, and there are a wealth of outdoor activities that will appeal to children of all ages.
Cabo Adventures’ dolphin swims and Cabo Submarine are two of the top choices for young children, and both provide memorable experiences in non-threatening environments. Cabo Submarine’s yellow semi-submersible showcases the abundance of colorful marine life in the Sea of Cortés from a comfortable underwater viewing cabin, while Cabo Adventures provides up-close-and-personal dolphin encounters in very shallow water.
Older kids, meanwhile, may prefer surf lessons at High Tide Los Cabos, where they can learn wave riding from a former Mexican national champion. Swimming with whale sharks experiences and a bay hopping snorkel tour are among the cool offerings from Cabo Expeditions, while the Baja California peninsula’s biggest theme park, Wild Canyon, draws raves from visiting teens for its adrenaline-pumping adventures, which range from bungee jumping to zip-line courses.
Scott “Freedy” Freedman loves working with kids. He did it for 12 years as a professional ski instructor at the Aspen Skiing Co., and for the past several years he has been doing it full-time with his Cabo San Lucas based charter fishing company. “Kids are the most fun to live vicariously through,” Freedy says, “and they make the most progress on a day-to-day basis.” He even tailors his fishing trips to suit the temperament of younger children, using smaller baits and fishing closer to shore. Don’t get the idea, however, that these fishing experiences aren’t also customized for adults. His fleet of boats ranges in size from 28 to 60 feet, with VIP amenities like fresh catch ceviche prepared onboard, as well as cocktail service.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Fishing is what put Cabo San Lucas on the tourism map, but few local charter companies customize tours for kids like Fishing With Freedy.
Chris’s expert tip: The FWF fleet maintains eight boats, which range widely in both size and creature comforts. Call (310) 924-4450 for more details.
Los Cabos spas typically offer signature treatments that revolve around a unifying concept. At The Spa at Las Ventanas, the menu is a showcase for treatments inspired by the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. What really sets the spa apart from the competition, however, are its special programs for kids and pets. The Sense of Beginning menu, for example, offers an array of massages, manis, pedis, and mini facials for children ages 5 to 13. A parent or guardian must be present during these spa visits, so treatments like the Mom or Dad and Me –” in which a parent and child receive side-by-side Swedish style massages –” are a popular option. Dogs, too, are treated like VIPs at Las Ventanas: canine pampering options include dog butlers, doga (dog yoga) classes and soothing massages.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Spa treatments for kids are part of the resort’s Sense of Beginning menu.
Chris’s expert tip: Las Ventanas al Paraíso offers special massages for kids ages 5 to 13.
Whale watching season in Los Cabos traditionally stretches from mid-December through mid-April, and sees an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 whales migrate south to breeding grounds at Magdalena Bay and in the Sea of Cortés. Grays and humpbacks are the most commonly sighted, but lucky visitors can occasionally see blue, sperm, fin and pilot whales, as well as the occasional orca. The annual migration is big business locally, and virtually every local tour boat offers seasonal whale watching excursions. High-speed inflatables provide the best chance for up-close-and-personal looks at these leviathans, but you don’t necessarily have to sign up for a tour to enjoy sightings. Whales are often spied from area beaches, as well as coastal hotels, restaurants and golf courses.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Whale watching is one of the most popular seasonal activities in Los Cabos, and an awe-inspiring adventure for kids.
Chris’s expert tip: Humpbacks often breach spectacularly, and typically provide the best photo opportunities
Surf lessons at beginner-friendly breaks at Playas Costa Azul and Los Cerritos may be the most popular water-based activities option from High Tide Los Cabos –” especially with kids –” but the company’s most iconic offering is a tandem kayak paddle out to Land’s End and the Arch, with a stop at Lover’s Beach for sun, sand, snorkeling, snacks and superb photo opportunities. Stand up paddle boards are also available on this tour. “Two Bay” snorkel tours are another popular activities option, as are hiking excursions in picturesque Fox Canyon. Less active pursuits include private off-road jeep explorations of Todos Santos and rustic East Cape locales like Cabo Pulmo.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: High Tide’s surfing lessons are popular with visiting kids, and its snorkel and kayak adventures are also family-friendly.
Chris’s expert tip: Learning how to surf from a former national surfing champion of México is one of the coolest offerings from High Tide.
The Baja California peninsula hosts the most famous off-road race on the planet, the rugged and challenging Baja 1000. Over the years, scores of Los Cabos based activities companies have attempted to replicate this experience on a smaller scale, but few have succeeded quite like Cabo Adventures. Their new Off-Road Adventure is a complete blast, thanks in large part to the outstanding course layout, which features everything from bumps, jumps and water hazards to switchbacks and spectacular Pacific Ocean views. There are even a few cows and horses wandering around as driver’s attempt to steer their Polaris high performance UTVs safely through winding, cactus-strewn desert terrain. Not content with mere thrills, Cabo Adventures adds a culinary dimension at the end, serving up delicious, all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet in a breezy beachfront dining area.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kids can’t drive the buggies until they’re 18, but those eight and older can enjoy the high-speed twists and turns from the passenger seat.
Chris’s expert tip: Drivers and passengers alike will finish this adventure both wet and extremely dusty, so dress accordingly.
The Baja California peninsula’s biggest and baddest theme park, Wild Canyon, is home to a wide array of hair-raising and adrenaline-pumping adventures, ranging from zip-lining and bungee jumping to sling swings and off-road racing. Although it’s easily the top stop in Los Cabos for thrill-seeking teenagers, Wild Canyon does offer slower paced pursuits like camel rides and, most recently, an exotic petting zoo. The park is located near Playa El Tule in the Tourist Corridor that connects cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. After your tour, grab burgers and drinks at the tropical-themed Lion’s Den restaurant.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Teenagers will love Wild Canyon’s collection of extreme activities, which include zip-lining and bungee jumping.
Chris’s expert tip: The palapa-topped, tropical-themed Lion’s Den is a great place to have a cold beverage and relive your adventures. Comfort food specialties like burgers and chicken wings headline the menu options, and meal add-ons are also available as a $12 ticket upgrade.
Few local adventure companies can match Cabo Expeditions’ variety of eco-themed activities, which include whale watching and swimming with whale sharks (seasonal), parasailing, snorkeling, kayaking, and day trips to Isla Espíritu Santo off the coast of La Paz. Perhaps the best thing about the company’s collection of land and water-based activities is that they cover a good portion of Baja California Sur, and thus provide visitors with wide-ranging introductions to the area’s incredible biodiversity. The Land’s End snorkel tour is a great introduction to local flora and fauna, both above and below the surface. Adults and kids ages 5 and up will enjoy the snorkeling at Pelican Rock, where an upwelling effect contributes to the profusion of colorful marine life. Sightseeing stops at the sea lion colony and iconic Arch, meanwhile, offer abundant photo opportunities.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Land’s End and Bay Hopping snorkel excursions are among the area’s best family-friendly activities options.
Chris’s expert tip: Week-long snorkel and kayak tours explore UNESCO protected islands near Loreto and La Paz.
Cuadra San Francisco is one of the Los Cabos area’s hidden gems, offering virtually every equine-related activity imaginable: trail rides over local terrain, romantic rides along secluded beaches, carriage rides for weddings or special events…even polo lessons. The late Francisco Barrera trained under Nuno Oliveira, the Portuguese legend considered by many to be the most outstanding horseman of the 20th century, and his son Valente excels at teaching dressage, and the traditional techniques of Mexican vaqueros. The stables are located in the Tourist Corridor, just off the Cabo Real golf course, and maintain close to fifty horses. Pony-sized horses with special saddles are available for kids, who can take riding lessors, as well as studying dresssage, reining, Western pleasure, and other equine arts.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Riding excursions and lessons are available for visiting children.
Chris’s expert tip: Cuadra San Francisco maintains a riding school with lessons for all ages and ability levels. Contact them @LosCabosHorses on Facebook for lesson prices and availability.
This 60′ yellow semi-submersible takes guests on short but memorable 75-minute tours of Cabo San Lucas Bay, with abundant views of the local marine life from their climate-controlled underwater viewing cabin, and the occasional Beatles song (you guess which one) as mood music. Helpful guides allow you to identify up to 70 types of fish (everything from dolphins and whales to colorful puffer fish), and if it isn’t on the chart, the crew are readily available to answer questions. On the return trip, the submarine hugs the coast near Land’s End, offering up-close looks at The Arch, and other notable rock formations like Pelican Rock and Neptune’s Finger.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: This is one of the best tour options for younger children.
Chris’s expert tip: Cabo Submarine get closer to landmarks like Land’s End and The Arch than most boats and provides some superb photo opportunities.
Dolphin swims are among the most popular tickets in town. The encounters occur in shallow water and so aren’t very physically demanding, as the dolphins do all the work; most memorably, giving rides to visitors, who hang on to their pectoral fins. The pool is quite cool, as it has to be maintained at a temperature comfortable for the dolphins. But wetsuits are provided, and this is hands down one of the best local activities for couples and families with small children (ages 4 and up). Swims are done in small groups, and last for 30 to 40 minutes, with a photographer assigned to all groups. Conveniently, Cabo Adventures maintains dolphin centers in both Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Dolphin swims are among the best kid-friendly activities in Los Cabos.
Chris’s expert tip: All Cabo Adventures tours are assigned a photographer, and dolphin swims and encounters are exhaustively and professionally photographed.