search

Best Things to Do in December in Cabo San Lucas

Holiday Spirit in Los Cabos: Things to Do in December


There is something very special about the holidays, particularly in overwhelmingly Catholic México, where the festive season persists for close to two months and includes many holy days that are not commonly celebrated in the U.S. It is a period of frequent fiestas, so much so that the month-long holiday period between December 12, the day honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe, and January 6, the remembrance of Los Tres Reyes Magos (the three wise men), is only half-jokingly referred to as the Guadalupe–Reyes marathon. But despite the plethora of parties held each December in Cabo San Lucas and elsewhere around the country, the holiday season is above all a time of devout observances and intimate gatherings with family and friends.

For winter vacationers to Los Cabos, however, December may be most notable for some of its seasonal outdoor activities, which reflect not so much holiday cheer as profound natural wonder. Whale watching season, which officially begins on the 15th of the month, sees many of the world’s largest and most majestic creatures transiting the area as they head to winter breeding grounds in coves and inlets around Baja California Sur. Humpbacks are the most commonly sighted, but others species can also be seen, most spectacularly during dedicated whale watching expeditions aboard high-speed Zodiac boats.

Speaking of enormous creatures, December is a pefect time to experience swimming tours that take place side-by-side with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark. These gentle giants subsist solely on plankton so there is no danger, but their sheer size alone – adults can weigh as much as 47,000 pounds – is apt to get one’s adrenaline racing. These tours typically take place in La Paz, the state capital, with round-trip transportation provided from Los Cabos resorts by the tour operator.

December is also peak season for windsports like kiteboarding and windsurfing, thanks to world-class conditions on the Los Cabos municipality’s picturesque East Cape.


Advertisement

The conventional wisdom says summer is the best season for surfing Los Cabos' Sea of Cortés side beaches, while winter conditions favor the Pacific Coast breaks found just north of the municipality off beaches like Playas Los Cerritos, San Pedrito and La Pastora. This is good advice, although the truth of the matter is that the Pacific side beaches see very good surf conditions on a year-round basis. High Tide is the best among several companies that offer surf lessons at Playa Los Cerritos, with excursions that include round-trip transportation. But if you go on your own, board rentals and lessons can easily be arranged on the beach. Los Cerritos is more beginner-friendly, while expert surfers favor San Pedrito at Pescadero, and La Pastora, which is just north of Todos Santos. All three beaches are less than one hour by car from Cabo San Lucas.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: How many places can you find great surfing in the middle of winter? In Baja California Sur, Pacific Coast beaches like Los Cerritos certainly qualify.

Chris's expert tip: Day passes are available at Cerritos Surf Town Beach Hotel & Spa, but rentals and lessons can also be arranged right on the beach.

Read more about Winter Surf Season →


México has its fair share of traditional spirits, from tequila and mezcal to popular cervezas like Corona and Pacífico. Not surprisingly, the country also boasts a number of excellent seasonal sippers. Ponche Navideño (literally, Christmas punch) is perhaps the best known and is distinguished from typical alcohol-laced fruit punches by the presence of tejocotes, an indigenous fruit that comes from the hawthorn tree. Noche Buena, a dark, spicy bock style lager from Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma in Monterrey, is the most popular seasonal beer. It's available each year from October through December, and is immediately identifiable by the red and green poinsettia flowers on its label (Both poinsettias and Christmas Eve are called Nochebuena in Spanish). Rompope is yet another Christmas time favorite. First made in México by nuns at Puebla's Convento de Santa Clara in the 17th century, this eggnog style drink is perfect for holiday parties and events. For a special treat, chill it and float a little Kahlua on top.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Few things get one into the Christmas spirit better than seasonal drinks like Ponche Navideño, Noche Buena and Rompope.

Chris's expert tip: Fenway Bar makes the best Monjitas (Little Nuns), a local cocktail featuring rompope and Kahlua.

Read more about Holiday Spirits →


Cabo Pulmo National Park
Photo courtesy of Chris Sands

Cabo Pulmo is the heart and soul of the East Cape, accessible via a graded dirt road that connects coastal communities – from eco-bungalows and remote campsites to off-the-grid villages – between La Ribera and Zacatitos. The Cabo Pulmo National Park and its marine sanctuary is the area's biggest draw, an undersea fantasia of living coral reef with a remarkable concentration of marine life that includes sharks, dolphins, sea lions, eels, leaping mobula rays and endangered sea turtles. For visitors who don't have time for a East Cape weekend getaway, but don't want to miss Cabo Pulmo, jeep tours may be arranged through Los Cabos based company High Tide, and day trip diving adventures through Adventures in Baja, Cabo Adventures, and other area dive shops. The park has been protected since 1995, and inludes over 27 square miles spanning land and sea. The beach is gorgeous here as well, with beachfront hangouts like Tacos & Beer offering chill vibes and and even chiller refreshments.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The living coral reef at Cabo Pulmo is the premier diving destination in Los Cabos.

Chris's expert tip: Cabo Pulmo National Park is home to over 800 varieties of fish, and over 2,000 species of marine invertebrates.

Read more about Cabo Pulmo National Park →


Advertisement

The relationship of New Year's Eve to New Year's Day is somewhat like that of Christmas Eve to Christmas in Los Cabos, meaning the first day is given over to family dinners and celebrations, while the second day is for rest, relaxation and the enjoyment of leftovers. After the dinner on New Year's Eve, many people go out to enjoy the local parties and theme nights, which run the gamut from barefoot beachfront formals to masked carnivals. Fireworks are a staple of virtually every Mexican celebration, but the New Year in Cabo San Lucas is always greeted with a particularly dazzling display over Médano Beach. Once the clock strikes midnight, it is also traditional to eat twelve grapes, with the grapes representing good fortune for each of the next twelve months.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: New Year's Eve is the premier party night of the holiday season in Los Cabos.

Chris's expert tip: Casa Dorada Resort & Spa on Médano Beach hosts one of the area's best New Year's Eve parties, with a Studio 54 theme planned this year.

Read more about Nochevieja →


Whale watching isn't the only seasonal activity to get excited about in Los Cabos. Each winter, from approximately mid-November through mid-March, strong El Norte winds blow hundreds of miles down the Sea of Cortés, creating optimal wind and kite surfing conditions in many coastal areas of Baja California Sur. During this yearly breezy season, small East Cape communities like Los Barriles become meccas for world-class kitesurfers, kiteboarders and windsurfers, who flock to regional beaches for a chance to grab big air over inshore waves. Exotikite in Los Barriles is the top option for rentals and lessons, and also offers beachfront accommodations.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: December is peak season for kiteboarding, windsurfing and kitesurfing on Los Cabos' East Cape.

Chris's expert tip: With the La Ventana Classic on hiatus and the Lord of the Wind Showdown permanently done in Los Barriles, there are no windsports competitions scheduled this season.

Read more about Windsports Season →


Cabo San Lucas' answer to Art Walk in San José del Cabo is its own weekly cultural celebration staged in and around the town square: Plaza Amelia Wilkes. Like Art Walk, there are plenty of local artists and artisans showcasing their original artworks, but because Cabo San Lucas lacks a defined Gallery District, this is much more of a street festival, with added attractions like regional folkloric singing and dancing on the stage in front of the Natural History Musem (also a highly recommended attraction for visitors during daytime hours). The plaza has recently been remodeled, with new plantings, landscaping, and stonework around the central gazebo, and the weekly celebrations are as popular with locals as they are with visitors. In fact, one of the primary benefits of Viva La Plaza has been to return Plaza Amelia Wilkes to a central role in the social and cultural life of the community. Festivities take place every Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. during high season. Food and drink stalls are limited, but there are a number of excellent bars and restaurants in the neighborhood. Nearby Hector Estrada Art Gallery, meanwhile, is a mecca for serious art collectors.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This is one of the best regularly scheduled cultural events during the holiday season.

Chris's expert tip: Street parking is limited, so the best bet for those with rental cars is to leave them in the parking lot at Plaza Alamar, which is only a block from the town square.

Read more about Viva La Plaza →


There are a lot of different seasons in Los Cabos. There's a whale watching season, a windsports season, a sea turtle season, and of course a whale shark season. The latter refers to the period from October through April, when Los Cabos visitors can be driven up to the state capital of La Paz to swim side-by-side with these majestic creatures off the tip of the El Mogote peninsula. As large as 40 feet in length and over 20 tons in weight, whale sharks are awe-inspiring when encountered in their natural habitat, and of course completely safe to swim with thanks to their plankton based diet. Cabo Adventures is one of the largest and most reliable tour operators in Los Cabos, offering round-trip transportation as well as the services of a professional photographer to document the unforgettable experience.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This is one of the best seasonal adventures available to December visitors to Los Cabos.

Chris's expert tip: For more information on swimming with whale sharks in Los Cabos, visit Cabo Adventures at cabo-adventures.com.

Read more about Swimming with Whale Sharks →


This beautiful old church is set amid San José del Cabo's historic downtown area, a stone's throw from City Hall, Plaza Mijares, and the Gallery District. Originally founded as a mission in 1730 by Jesuit priest Nicolás Tamaral, the church has undergone several moves and renovations. Tamaral remains an integral part of local lore, however, and one of the church's most arresting features is a mosaic above the entrance depicting his killing by the area's native inhabitants, the Pericúes. The church moved to its current location near the middle of the 19th century, but had to be rebuilt in the early 20th century after being badly damaged by a hurricane. Despite the history – this is one of the most important cultural monuments in Los Cabos – it's an active church, and the best place in the area to attend weekly and holiday services.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This is the best place in Los Cabos to attend holiday services.

Chris's expert tip: The church is one of the most important historical and cultural sites in Los Cabos.

Read more about Parroquia de San Jose del Cabo →


The Thursday evening Art Walk is one of highlights of any visit to San José del Cabo, running weekly from 5 to 9 p.m. during high tourist season (November through June). Sip wine, sample cheese, wander the area's beautiful cobblestone streets, and interact with some of the top artists and gallery owners in Baja California Sur. Of course, most paintings, sculptures and the like are for sale to those with a discerning eye or an interest in regional art, but it should be noted that this event can also be enjoyed at no cost whatsoever. And the pleasures of Art Walk extend beyond the boundaries of the Gallery District. The historic church is close by, as is Plaza Mijares, the town square, and City Hall, with its historic clock tower and colorful interior murals that trace the history of México.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This is the best seasonal cultural event in Los Cabos and a must-see for December visitors.

Chris's expert tip: Several excellent bars and restaurants are located in the Art District, including the original location of Baja Brewing Company.

Read more about Art Walk San Jose del Cabo →




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 in December because: Whale watching is the number one attraction during the holiday season in Los Cabos.

Chris's expert tip: Humpbacks often breach spectacularly, and typically provide the best photo opportunities.

Read more about Whale Watching →


Map

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

×