Cabo or Cancun, which is better?
What you need to know about Cabo before planning your next Mexican beach vacation
Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, Los Cabos or even just Cabo all refer to different pieces/similar areas at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. This entire area is a mega attraction for tourists. Depending on how you measure, it is the fastest growing destination in Mexico.
While Cabo is amazing, it was definitely different than expected.
Mexico is known for having a lot of amazing beach resort towns with some of the most famous being Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo. Even though they all justifiably attract tourists, they are not all the same, Cabo especially. To get a basic idea of what you can expect in the others, and specifically Cancun, read here.
Before you plan your next trip make sure to know what you expect if you decide to go. Luckily enough I got offered a pre-planned free trip to Cabo with friends. I jumped at the opportunity because it sounded fun. Unfortunately I didn’t do any research because I expected the destination to be almost exactly like Cancun. I was 100% wrong; the destinations were each amazing, but in completely different ways.
What to Pack?: Before you head off to Cancun, make sure you read my Cancun Packing List guide so you know what essentials you need to enjoy your tropical paradise.
Before booking your trip to Cabo you should know…
Cabo Beaches – The water is cold!
The water in Cancun gently rolls onto the beaches from the Gulf of Mexico and is generally warm and clear/turquoise. In Cabo the water crashes onto the beaches from the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez/Gulf of California and is generally cold and dark.
Swimmable Beaches in Cabo
Swimmable beaches in Cabo are not nearly as common as they are in Cancun. The best beaches in Cabo typically have waves that crash onto more aggressive rockier shores. Because of these differences, the best beaches in Cabo San Lucas have a completely different vibe. While this may sound like a negative, I actually prefer Los Cabos beaches because I don’t like swimming in salt water. I prefer the consistency of crashing waves along the shoreline instead.
Cabo Arch during low tide and high tide.
Cabo is Incredibly Isolated and Safe
The Baja Peninsula is a long stretch of land that has Cabo sitting at the southern tip. There is a not a lot of development going all the way up the peninsula, and the resultant effect is that Cabo is largely isolated from the rest of Mexico.
This isolation means that the area is incredibly safe and experiences almost no crime from the narcos. The negative of this is that there isn’t as much Mexican culture in the area for you to enjoy. When you do encounter locals they are great, but you can expect to run into tons of tourists and expats.
Spring Break in Cabo/ Visitor Demographics
In Cabo the average visitor seems to be a little bit older than in the other Mexican beach destinations. This is good if you are trying to avoid the crazy spring breaker party mentality, but if you are looking to party there is not as much of it going on in Spring Break Cabo. It would be a lie if you said that there weren’t endless parties still going on in Cabo, the Cabo Spring Break scene just isn’t as ubiquitous as it is in Cancun. Cabo tends to be a little bit more expensive than the other Mexican beach destinations, which likely keeps more of the spring breakers going elsewhere to save a few bucks.
Different Attractions in Cabo than Cancun
Cancun is probably most famous for its white sand beaches with turquoise waters, ancient ruins, and naturally occurring cenotes. None of those things are available in Cabo, but what they have instead is equally as alluring. There are still nice beaches where you can work on your tan, though the water is darker and swimming is often dangerous due to underwater currents.
What Cabo lacks in warm waters is made up for in stunning rock formations along the ocean line.
Warm, white sand beaches in Cancun
Rocky, cold(er) beaches in Cabo than Cancun
One of the coolest features is the naturally occurring rock arch that is the famous symbol of Cabo. The arch is located at the very southern tip of the peninsula at an area called Land’s End. Just in from the arch are my favorite dueling beaches along a single strip of land – Lovers Beach Cabo San Lucas and Divorce Beach.
These beaches are back to back but one backs up to the Pacific Ocean, while the other backs up to the Sea of Cortez/Gulf of California. The names aren’t just cute, but actually describe the water. Divorce features lots of turmoil and choppy water, while Lovers beach is much more calm and more relaxing.
Cabo has the best deep sea fishing
If you are fisherman then probably already know that Cabo features some of the best deep sea fishing on earth.
While fishing isn’t my favorite hobby, the area attracts people from all over the world. Evidently the mix of different bodies of waters attracts all kinds of sea life, including some of the best whale watching at certain times of the year.
So which destination would I recommend? Cabo or Cancun? The answer is clearly both!
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