View across rock-studded shallows to a wide beach lined with fishing boats.

View of Playa Palmilla near the end of the day with the fishing boats pulled up high on the beach. Photo © Ana Rodríguez Carrington, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Pristine sunbathing beaches are the primary reason why so many high-end resorts have decided to build along the Corridor. To find the most easily accessible beaches, look for blue and white signs that say Acceso a Playa, with an image of a snorkel and mask or a swimmer. (Some signs have just the picture and not the words.) Ocean swimmers should be aware that strong undertows and rocks make many of these beaches unsafe for wading and bodysurfing. Playas Chileno and Santa María are two exceptions. You may also be able to get in at Playa Palmilla.

Playa Palmilla

The beautifully landscaped access road may trick you into thinking that Playa Palmilla (km 26) is private. At the moment, it’s not. It does serve as the main beach for several upscale resorts, but it has a good-sized public parking lot, several palapas for shade, and plenty of sand to go around. The beach is pleasant for swimming or snorkeling. Palmilla is also the only place along the Corridor where you can watch the fishing pangas launch the old-fashioned way—without a paved boat launch or dock.

Playa El Bledito (Tequila Cove)

In front of the Hilton and Meliá resorts in Cabo Real, a breakwater protects swimmers from the pounding surf. This is hands-down the best beach in Los Cabos for families. You can rent personal watercraft on the beach (a safety concern for swimmers), or simply enjoy the bodysurfing, snorkeling, and swimming.

The Hilton no longer offers day passes for use of its pool and facilities, but you may be able to arrange a visit if you call ahead of time. Parking is difficult if you aren’t staying at one of the resorts. You may be able to park in the lot for guests and walk through the resort to get to the beach. Otherwise, it’s best to take a bus or cab.

Bahía Chileno and Bahía Santa María

If you want to swim and snorkel during your stay in Los Cabos, chances are someone will direct you to one of these two accessible beaches on the Corridor. Construction is in progress around both of these bays, so access may change as yet more golf courses and resorts go up. Many land and sea tours bring groups of tourists to these bays because they are protected from the surf and have rocky points that attract a variety of marine life. Both have ample parking in dirt lots, though you may have to pay a few dollars to the security guard monitoring the lot. Shade and commercial services are lacking at both locations, though vendors seem to come and go each season. There are public restrooms at Chileno (km 14) and sometimes snorkeling rentals at Santa María (km 12).

Both of these beaches can get crowded with shoulder-to-shoulder snorkelers when the tour boats come in mid-morning to mid-afternoon. It’s best to get an early start if you’d like to have the bay to yourself. Playa Chileno has an exit ramp from a new stretch of the highway, which has moved inland to give way to a new development.

Playa Las Viudas (Widows Beach)

At kilometer 12.5, between the now-demolished Twin Dolphin and up-and-running Fiesta Americana resorts, a shallow bay with rocky points offers secluded snorkeling and swimming, when conditions are calm. Access may be changing due to on-again/off-again construction. Look for a dirt road at kilometer 12.5, between Cabo del Sol and Playa Santa Maria. The sand can get deep, but most vehicles seem able to traverse the access road.

Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon Los Cabos.