Best Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas

Undersea Adventures: The 10 Best Snorkel and Dive Excursions in Los Cabos

The Sea of Cortés teems with fish – locals endlessly repeat the late Jacques Cousteau’s quote that the Gulf of California is “the aquarium of the world” – and visitors to the Los Cabos area will find a remarkable diversity of memorable undersea experiences available.

Virtually every tour boat in Cabo San Lucas provides morning or afternoon snorkel trips, and some, like the smooth sailing Ecocat, showcase tours that go to two or three separate bays. Dive trips to sites in Cabo San Lucas Bay are also offered daily, and intermediate options between snorkeling and diving – such as snuba and Sea Trek helmet diving – are a family-friendly specialty of Cabo Expeditions.

True dive enthusiasts will want to explore the living coral reef off Cabo Pulmo on Baja California Sur’s beautiful East Cape. The area’s oldest dive shop, Amigos del Mar, is one of several companies that offer excursions to this spectacular national marine sanctuary, which boasts the highest concentration of marine life in the Sea of Cortés.

For the ultimate undersea adventure, however, visitors will need plenty of time, and a fair bit of money. Eight months a year – November to June - the 112’ live-aboard dive vessel Solmar V hosts 10 day dive trips from Cabo San Lucas to Socorro, chief island in the the distant Revillagigedos chain, where divers will experience an undersea fantasia of dolphins, sharks, giant manta rays, and other incredible marine life.


Cabo Adventures is one of the area's top tour companies, with friendly professional staff, and an impressive roster of exciting outdoor activities. Dolphin swims and encounters through affiliate Cabo Dolphins are probably the most popular offering, and are available at locations in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Other tours showcase sailing, diving, whale watching, mountain biking and zip lining; and outback camel safaris provide guided introductions to the flora and fauna of the Baja California peninsula. With the exception of dolphin-related offerings in San José del Cabo, all other tours meet at the Dolphin Center on the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Water and snacks are included, and each tour is accompanied by a professional photographer.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: Cabo Adventures is one of the most reliable activities companies in Los Cabos, and features excellent snorkel and dive tours.

Chris's expert tip: Whale watching photo safaris are offered from mid-December through mid-April.

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The 144' luxury catamaran Caborey is the premier cruise ship in Los Cabos, best known for its perennially popular margarita and dinner cruises. The dinner cruise is one of the great local dining experiences, particularly for those who are in town for a short time and want to get a feel for the local landscape, culture and cuisine. Enjoy romantic sunset views of Cabo San Lucas Bay, Médano and Lovers' Beaches, and the unique rock formations such as El Arco that stretch out towards Land's End. There are two belowdecks areas for dinner, depending upon your ticket preference. There is a buffet on the middle deck, and a sit-down dinner on the lower deck with a choice of entrées. After the sit-down dinner, there is a rousing Las Vegas-style floor show featuring Mexican and Latin American singing and folk dances, headlined by a passionately romantic Argentine style tango.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: Caborey's combo snorkel tours are a comfortable introduction to the region's abundance of marine life.

Chris's expert tip: One of the highlights of the dinner cruise is the floor show featuring Latin American song and dance. The performers are available for photos after the show, an opportunity often missed by those lining up to leave the ship.

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Ready to set sail aboard a 98' replica pirate ship that looks (from a distance) as if it could have sailed the Spanish Main? Ready to walk the plank, or rope swing into a vacation adventure? Midday excursions aboard this Jolley Roger flying pirate vessel feature up-close looks at Land's End and Lover's Beach, as well as snorkeling forays into the fish-rich waters of Chileno Bay. Kids will love the sword fights and other scurvy entertainment staged by the salty costumed crew. Parents will appreciate the Mexican specialty food and open bar. Sunset sails and seasonal whale watching trips are also available.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: Buccaneer Queen is one of the most popular providers of snorkel tours to Chileno Bay.

Chris's expert tip: The top tour option is the afternoon snorkel trip to Chileno Bay.

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East Cape community Cabo Pulmo provides easy access to one of the oldest and largest living coral reefs in the Western Hemisphere, in a national marine sanctuary that boasts the highest concentration of marine life in the Sea of Cortés. This is a premier destination for dive enthusiasts, and Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort offers all-inclusive packages that include accommodations in a rustic eco-bungalow, plus food and diving. Other package options at the 5-Star PADI Dive Resort include certifications. Classes and snorkel and dive tours are available daily through the onsite dive center. Typical dive depths range from 30 to 70 feet.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: This is the best dive center at the best dive location in Baja California Sur.

Chris's expert tip: All-inclusive eat, sleep and dive packages are available.

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Roomy French-built catamaran Eco Cat provides a smooth ride - plus an air-conditioned cabin during the summer months - and a wide selection of budget-friendly kayak, snorkel, scuba diving, sunset and seasonal whale watching tours. In addition to the standard tours, Eco Cat also operates a high speed Zodiac boat, Eco Too, which has its own line of offerings, including the "Tres Bahía Extreme." This popular excursion allows guests to check out the snorkeling action in three gorgeous locations - Cabo San Lucas, Chileno and Santa María Bays - and also serves as a sightseeing introduction to the granite monuments at Land' End, as well as the landmarks that dot the coast from the tourist corridor to Cabo San Lucas.

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Andromeda has been around for 30 years, and is generally considered to be one of the premier local dive operations - so much so that their shop serves as base for the Cabo Fire Department and MedCare rescue teams - offering excursions to a wide variety of sites (and depths), as well as a full range of PADI certification courses. Regularly visited sites include the Point and Neptune's Finger in Cabo San Lucas Bay, Chileno and Santa María reefs, plus Gordo Banks (for shark lovers), the protected marine sanctuary at Cabo Pulmo, and the sea lion colony near La Paz.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: Andromeda has been one of the premier dive shops in Cabo San Lucas for 30 years.

Chris's expert tip: Andromeda offers a full line of PADI certification courses.

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Few local adventure companies can match Cabo Expedtions' 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 bio-diversity. A snorkel/dive hybrid called "snuba" is a great choice for kids, since it requires no certifications, and allows ample time underwater (about 30 minutes) to appreciate the abundance of colorful fish and fauna in offshore waters.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: Cabo Expeditions offers family-friendly snorkel and scuba hybrids like snuba and Sea Trek helmet diving.

Chris's expert tip: Week-long snorkel and kayak tours explore UNESCO protected islands near Loreto and La Paz.

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Now open for over a decade, Manta has a good reputation (it's a 5-Star PADI Dive Resort), a good location (on the Cabo San Lucas Marina), and three custom dive boats providing transportation to numerous sites around Los Cabos, the tourist corridor, the East Cape and La Paz. Specialties include 3 tank combo dives at two sites during a single half-day tour, and single tank night dives at Pelican Rock in Cabo San Lucas Bay. A training pool is on hand for beginners, and for use in the extensive list of PADI certification courses. Free diving training and snorkel options are also available.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: Manta offers some of the best night diving tours in Los Cabos.

Chris's expert tip: Manta's 3-tank combo dives allow exploration of two sites in one half-day tour.

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See Creatures Cabo is the former Amigos del Mar, with a mission statement that has been expanded from simply great scuba diving tours to also include whale watching, swimming with whale sharks, and mobula ray experiences. The scuba diving remains front and center, however, from trips to Gordo Banks and Cabo Pulmo to night dives at Land's End followed by open bar margaritas. Those without dive certifications can get them from See Creatures Cabo, with courses all the way through the divemaster level. They also offer photo seminars and courses to sharpen your underwater technique, as well as gear reviews to make sure your camera equipment is ready to go for the adventures to follow.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: See Creatures Cabo operates one of the premier dive shops in Los Cabos.

Chris's expert tip: For those who want an adventure beyond Bahía San Lucas, dive trips to Cabo Pulmo are available, as are trips to La Paz to swim with whale sharks.

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The best diving available from Cabo San Lucas, bar none, is 250 miles away near Socorro, the largest of four islands in the Revillagigedos chain. The 112' live-aboard dive ship Solmar V offers extended, and expensive, 9 to 11 day trips from November through June, with diving, stateroom accommodations and all meals included. The abundance of marine life found around this island chain is staggering, and includes enormous schools of giant manta rays, as well as dolphins, sharks and other large pelagic species. (Shark lovers may also want to book passage during August, September and October, when the Solmar V operates out of Ensenada, and offers cage diving with great white sharks near Isla Guadalupe, 150 miles offshore.) For those interested in local dives around Cabo San Lucas before departure, Solmar V passengers have access to special rates at Amigos del Mar.

Recommended for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling because: These extended trips boast the best diving on the planet.

Chris's expert tip: Nine to 11 day trips are available from Cabo San Lucas, November through June.

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Meet Chris Sands

Chris Sands is the Cabo San Lucas local expert for the USA Today travel website 10 Best, co-writer of Fodor's Los Cabos travel guidebook, and a contributor to numerous websites and...  More About Chris