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Cabo San Lucas...Whales, Whales and More Whales!!! INCREDIBLE!!!!

Updated: Feb 6, 2022

One of our favorite adventures is traveling to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to whale watch. Every year starting in December until March, the Humpback whales make their trek from Alaska to the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean to mate and birth their young in the waters surrounding Cabo San Lucas. We have been to Cabo San Lucas many times and each time we go whale watching and see a whale, it is like seeing one for the first time. Such magnificant creatures!

There is nothing like seeing a double breach like the one in the photo to the right. Whale watching in the Sea of Cortez and in the Pacific Ocean does not disappoint. Every time we travel to Cabo we don't think we can see a better whale show than the last time but we have yet to be disppointed! We have found the best time to whale watch is early to late January when the whales are mating and showing off for the females. Many times we have seen 3 to 4 whales in one location with two breaching and tail slapping! We typically go out on a Zodiac boat because the boats are smaller with less passengers and they get closer to the whales. We have used Cabo Expeditions and Cabo Adventures. Both are excellent companies!


We stay at Hacienda Del Mar in Cabo Del Sol between San Jose and downtown Cabo. It is a nice family resort with gorgeous swimming pools, nice beach and good restaurants. We rent a car and drive so we can go to the local restaurants either in San Jose or in downtown Cabo. We are not all-inclusive kind of people so have not tried that in Cabo. Hacienda is

not a five-star resort. It was close to a five-star years ago but has failed to update reguarly. The rooms are clean and spacious and comfortable but not luxurious by any means. Rooms have full kitchens or kitchenettes in the studio rooms. We usually head to the grocery store or Wal-Mart and buy groceries for the week for breakfast and lunch. The staff are friendly and helpful and most importantly, the pool and beach are are wonderful! A benefit to the main pool area with the infinity pool is seeing whales breaching and tail slapping from the pool. The view is awesome and no matter what time of day, you can see whales in the distance and the tour boats watching them. Below are photos from the pool area using my 600mm zoom lens of a young whale learning to breach with its mother nearby.



“Cabo San Lucas has the spirit and authenticity of Mexico but has an American influence. While I wish I spoke Spanish, there is no language barrier; they accept American money; and the trip is a 4 1/2 hour direct flight from Chicago. We can leave 20 degree snowy weather and be in sunny 80 degree weather in 4 1/2 hours!"

HIGHLIGHTS OF CABO SAN LUCAS

Cabo San Lucas is located on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. It has beautiful beaches with its main beach, Playa El Medano. There are many outdoor based water activities and many outdoor restaurants and bars. The marina is full of fishing boats, excursion boats and large yachts. Past the marina is Land's End, the site of Playa del Amor, or Lover's Beach and El Arco, a natural archway in the seacliffs separating the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean.


Playa El Medano is the main beach in Cabo San Lucas. Lined with beach chairs, umbrellas, boat tour operators, water taxis, jet ski operators, and in the distance, where the cruise ships dock. It is where the action is happening! If you want to visit Lover's Beach, you can take a

water taxi from Medano to Lover's and back. They run regularly between the two beaches. It is a great place to sit and people watch! There are many restaurants and bars either on the beach or overlooking the beach. The Office is a touristy restaurant but has good food and a great location on the beach.


Santa Maria Bay is a beautiful beach with turquoise water and decent snorkeling. Most of the snorkeling boats head to Santa Maria Bay to snorkel. We rent a car and drive as it is just down the road from Hacienda Del Mar. Snorkeling at Hacienda Del Mar is possible but it has to be a calm day. Santa Maria is situated on the Tourist Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo and while there are condos built on the beach, all beaches are open to the public. Make sure to visit Santa Maria Bay! Chileno Beach is down the road from Santa Maria and has bathroom facilities and palapas. It is a much larger beach and worth visiting. Snorkeling is decent but not as good as Santa Maria Bay but a beatufiul beach to visit!


A must-do activity is the San Jose del Cabo Art Walk on Thursday evening from 5:00 to 9:00 between November and June. The streets of San Jose are lined with shops, art gallaries and restaurants. A great place to buy souvenirs from local artists. It makes for a fun evening and an event not to be missed!


The Marina Cab San Lucas is a premier location for bustling activity; gorgeous yachts; restaurants; hotels; sea lions and pelicans! We enjoy visiting the marina for watching the pelicans, sea lions and eating dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants. There is a high end shopping center at one end of the marina. You can catch a sport fishing tour or whale watching tour from the marina too. If you are looking for souvenirs, you can also find shopping in downtown Cabo San Lucas, which is just across the street from the marina.


We have taken a couple of day trips while visiting Cabo San Lucas with one to Todos Santos. It is a popular shopping area with many artists and galleries. The famous Hotel California is also in Todos Santos. A nice place to stop and have a glass of wine. The beach area is also beautiful in this area and is surrounded by mountain views. Make sure you make hte drive during the daylight hours. Cows can wander the roadways at night.


A day trip I would not recommend is to Magdalena Bay to see the gray whales. We did the trip ourselves and hired a local fisherman to take us out to see the gray whales. It took us at least 3 hours to get to Magdalena Bay. Once we got there....I classified it as one

of my more scarier experiences. We left the shore in a small panga boat and headed out in fog in search of the whales. We went for over an hour before we saw one whale. The fog finally burned off after 2 hours! We saw many gray whales but they are nothing like the Humpback whales. They are like logs floating in the water. Gray and UGLY! They floated along the boat and were bigger than the boat. We saw them up close and could hear them breathe. We saw many tails and one nose but no breaching. On the way back into shore, the tide had gone out and we had to push our boat in the mud! It was a classic experience! I would not waste your time or money! Stay in Cabo San Lucas and enjoy the Humpback whales!


Below are photos from our many whale watching tours and our first trip sport fishing for Marlin. I would highly recommend Marlin fishing. You can see whales, dolphins, pelicans and Marlins all in one trip! I will stick with the Humpback whale trips and I love the Zodiac boats!



Below are more whales from our whale trips and the beautiful Lover's Beach and the signature rock formation, El Arco.

I don't typically do itineraries for Cabo San Lucas. We travel for a week and stay at Hacienda Del Mar and take in all the local attractions.


TIPS TO TRAVEL ECONOMICALLY AND GET THE MOST FOR YOUR TIME AND MONEY

I also get asked many times, "How do you travel so often and keep it affordable?" A few tips are below:

  • For me, planning and researching is part of the excitement of the trip! Visioning is so much fun!!!

  • I plan all of my own trips and research, research, research on the internet. I utilize TripAdvisor, Frommer's, and blogs from other travelers to find the information I need for my trip. I do ALOT of reading and researching. It takes patience to plan a good affordable trip!

  • I have a budget in mind for each trip and challenge myself to stay in the budget. Depending on the location, I typically start planning and booking hotels, cars, etc., approximately 9 months out. Hotel prices usually get more expensive the closer to the trip unless you are willing to do a last minute internet deal. Car rental and airline prices also go up the closer it is to your trip. Occasionally you can get a last minute deal but something else may be more expensive and you are really not saving. I like to plan!

  • For hotels, I use Booking.com, or Priceline.com. I look for hotels with good reviews, pay when you stay, and free cancellation in advance.

  • We have done all-inclusive in a couple of tropical locations years and years ago but found that we do not eat and drink enough to make it worth the extra expense. We like to go off site from the hotel and experience the local cuisine and traditions. We have not done all-inclusive in the last 15 years. However, all-inclusive is wonderful if you want to stay at the resort for all meals, not rent a car, and have the hotel shuttle you to your destinations. That has worked for us in Jamaica and it was very relaxing! But I would not drive in Jamaica so all-inclusive was the smartest option! If you enjoy all-inclusive, the earlier you book the trip the lower the price. Unless you are game and are not a planner, and are willing to travel where the last minute deal is advertised. Then you could get a great all-inclusive deal!

  • If we are flying, I use the Skyscanner app to check airfare prices and I try not to buy until about 60 to 75 days out. There are times where I will by earlier if the price is super reasonable. I usually do not book on Skyscanner. It will tell me the site that is the most affordable to purchase the tickets and if it is a more well known trust site, I go directly to the site to purchase the tickets. Many times Skyscanner will take you right to the airline website. Skyscanner will search all airlines and will sort by price, times, shortest trip, etc.

  • Have a credit card that gives you miles or hotel points. We will use points for many of our trips. We are American Advantage members and have an Advantage credit card. We try to fly American as often as we can to earn points and then use those points for future airline tickets. Our credit card is tied to our Advantage numbers and awards points as well.

  • We exchange our money when traveling internationally in European countries but when traveling to islands, they typically like the American dollar. Costa Rica is no different. You can use the American dollar but they will give you their currency back in change. We try to use a debit or credit card so the exchange is automatic when we travel.

  • We drive if the location is in the United States and we can drive and sightsee along the way. If we need to rent a car, we reserve online using Booking.com, Orbitz.com, or Priceline.com. They are usually the most reasonable. I watch for specials and never book a luxury vehicle! We also have a credit card with a low limit that we use for vehicle rentals that provides insurance as a credit card benefit. We always decline the insurance when we are in the United States. If we are traveling out of the United States, we check with the credit card if the insurance is valid internationally. We have found it is valid in Europe, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, but in other locations, we are forced to purchase the liability insurance from the rental car company.

  • While there are free maps online for most destinations, I always go onto Amazon and buy a map of my destination, especially if it is international. I do not buy maps for tropical Caribbean islands. I just get one when we arrive. But for countries like Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, England, Canada, Germany, France, etc., I always purchase a good map. As you do you research, you can use the map to highlight the places you want to visit and the sites you want to see. I have it as a reference later for putting my memories and photos into a photobook!


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