Sightseeing is a rather simple affair for cruise ship passengers to Cabo San Lucas. The tourist areas of the town are all within a few blocks of the Marina, and a walk from one end of the Malecón (Marina boardwalk) to the other takes roughly half an hour.
In fact, for those who'd like to skip the shopping and souvenir hunting and head straight for the beach, pangas (water taxis) may be arranged as soon as you exit the cruise ship terminal, and will take you directly to Playa El Médano. Also known as Médano Beach, this two mile strip of sand is home to a thriving beach scene, popular restaurants and cantinas like Mango Deck and The Office on the Beach, as well as water-based rental companies offering hourly rates on kayaks, wave runners, parasailing, and snorkeling equipment.
Because of the compressed nature of the downtown area, you really don't need much of a plan to enjoy a half-day of sightseeing or activities rentals, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have one. Because the Malecón route from the cruise ship terminal to the beach is so well-worn, visitors can expect a constant barrage of sales pitches along this path.
So unless you're interested in jumping into an activities option that's located right on the Marina - Cabo Dolphins and Cabo Submarine are two of the most popular - the smartest thing to do is to get off the Marina boardwalk and take a leisurely stroll through the downtown district. The sales pitches will still come, but in much less aggravating quantities. To lessen the annoyance, it's helpful to learn at least two words of Spanish: No, Gracias. No, thank you is polite and to the point, and does the trick nearly every time.
The Office is a premier stop for those seeking seafood and seaside splendor. — Photo courtesy of The Office on the Beach
The best place to exit the Marina is near the Dolphin Center or Cultural Pavilion. The latter is easily recognized because of its ultramodern design (locals often use stronger words). Once off the Malecón, the crowds thin and life becomes much more laid back.
Marina Boulevard is the main street in downtown Cabo San Lucas, and parallels the Marina as far as Plaza Bonita. Within a two block walk of Marina Boulevard are sightseeing standards like the old church, Iglesia San Lucas, the town square, Plaza Amelia Wilkes, and the natural history museum, Museo Cabo San Lucas.
Restaurants and shopping may also be found in abundance, from traditional Mexican cuisine to arts and crafts and souvenir stores. Visitors and souvenir hunters will likely want to stop at Cabo Wabo Cantina, the long-time bar originally founded by former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar. Hard Rock Cafe collectors will find the local version located at Plaza Bonita, across from El Squid Roe, another major nightlife attraction.
Cruise ship passengers should be aware that although they won't be able to experience Cabo's boisterous nightlife scene - and most will probably prefer it that way - virtually every bar and club in town is also open during the day, and the majority also serve food. To continue through the downtown area to Médano Beach, hang a right just past Puerto Paraiso, the major downtown shopping mall. It's easily distinguished by its large colonial-style tower, which also serves as a handy directional marker for those that manage to get lost.
Downtown Cabo San Lucas offers great food, abundant shopping, and some lovely views. — Photo courtesy of Vic Vertigo
All cruise ships anchor in the bay at Cabo San Lucas, so passengers will have an initial look at natural Land's End monuments like El Arco (the Arch) and Neptune's Finger. However, for a closer look, short tours are available on catamaran cruises or water taxis, both of which may be found easily by returning to the Marina.