Skip to Content

Visit Cabo Pulmo National Park: A Full Guide [2024]

Spending some time in Los Cabos? A visit to Cabo Pulmo National Park, Mexico, is a must when in Baja California Sur! Learn all about it in this post…you won’t be able to resist adding it to your travel plans!

Cabo Pulmo is a National Marine Park located in the east cape of Baja California and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as by the Ramsar Convention, for re-establishing marine life in the area after many years of efforts.

Protecting about 27 square miles of land and sea, the National Park offers a great variety of activities for visitors, from snorkeling in the coral reef to diving among stingrays and hiking the trails. Taking a day trip is most definitely one of the top things to do in San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas.

In this Cabo Pulmo travel guide you’ll learn all there is to do at the park, how to get there, and even where to stay if you decide to spend the night!

An Introduction to Cabo Pulmo National Park

Cabo Pulmo, Mexico used to be a small fishing village on the east coast of Baja California in the early 1990s, until the locals realized the potential of the area, and how rich its biodiversity was, and started working toward protecting it. In fact, Cabo Pulmo is a perfect example of what ocean conservation can do.

Overfishing was a great issue in the region, and it had driven away many of the animals that called the Sea of Cortez home, so a project to bring them back began, banning fishing completely.

Cabo Pulmo was designated as a National Park in 1995 by the Mexican government, and since then it’s been striving to recover its ecosystem – very successfully! – and also improve the well-being of the community.

The park is home to the only hard coral in North America – and the largest living coral reef on the peninsula! – where 11 different species of corals live, as well as a very diverse marine life, from over 10 types of sharks (!) to sea turtles, rays, sea lions, and humpback whales.

Cabo Pulmo has not only been able to recover its ecosystem, but it saw an increase of almost 500% in the population of fish and sea life, which is now protected and thriving in its natural environment.

The national marine park is a true Mexican gem. While it’s located relatively close to San Jose del Cabo, it’s still a very unspoiled, naturally gorgeous location that’s very worth the visit, especially if you’re interested in ecotourism in Los Cabos.

How To Get to Cabo Pulmo National Park

The closest airport to Cabo Pulmo BCS is Los Cabos International Airport (SJD). There is no public transportation available to the park, so below you’ll find the alternatives for getting to Cabo Pulmo.

Join a Tour To Cabo Pulmo Marine Park

The only alternative to renting a 4×4 car and driving yourself to the park is joining a day tour from either San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas. In my opinion, it’s the best option if you’re only visiting for the day. We went on a tour by High Tide Los Cabos and loved it!

➤ You can book the same private jeep tour to Cabo Pulmo, which lasts close to 7 hours and drives you along one of the most scenic roads in the peninsula as you make your way to the park. You’ll also explore the mountain trails going off-road in the 4×4 vehicle.

The Cabo Pulmo tour includes some time off at a gorgeous beach, Playa Arbolito, and snorkeling in the reef, where you’re likely to swim with stingrays and turtles, and possibly spot some sharks as well.

The day we visited there wasn’t much visibility, but we were still able to spot two big turtles. We also met the cutest donkeys on the way!

A Mexican lunch at a restaurant is included in the experience, before driving back to your hotel, where you’ll be dropped off. It’s one of the best Cabo Pulmo tours from Los Cabos! ➥ BOOK IT HERE

A good alternative is the Cabo Pulmo National Park Snorkel Expedition from Cabo San Lucas. You’ll depart early in the morning for a full day of adventures. At the park, visit four different snorkel locations with an expert guide, and go swimming with fish, lobster, sea turtles, and starfish. Lunch and all gear is included, as well as roundtrip transfers. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Rent a Car

If you decide to drive to Cabo Pulmo, I highly recommend renting a 4×4 vehicle. While you could be OK renting a regular car, you won’t be able to make it to some places within the park, such as Playa Arbolitos.

With a non-4WD you’ll need to drive on the internal road that goes through Miraflores. It won’t be possible to go on the coast road that offers astounding landscapes, which for me is reason enough to either join one of the jeep tours (that’s what we did!) or rent a 4×4.

Otherwise, you’ll end up missing one of the most enjoyable parts of visiting Cabo Pulmo which is, indeed, the road to get there!

▶ If you’re going from San José del Cabo to Cabo Pulmo, you’ll need to drive north on Highway 1 until La Ribera. Once there, you’ll turn to Camino Cabo Este and keep driving for about 40 minutes until you reach the park.

Be aware that the last 6 miles you’ll be driving on a dirt roadthat’s ok, you’re going the right way! Once you hit that road you’ll be in Cabo Pulmo in close to 20 minutes. The overall trip should take you around 1.5 hours.

▶ Going from Cabo San Lucas to Cabo Pulmo? You’ll also take Highway 1 and follow the same route. The trip will take you about 2 hours, though.

If you don’t feel like driving on this unpaved road and are planning on spending at least one night in the park, you can ask your accommodation if they offer transportation from Los Cabos or the airport. Some do for an extra fee, and you won’t have to worry about the drive!

What’s the Best Time To Visit Cabo Pulmo?

May to October are the best months to visit Cabo Pulmo, as the weather (and water!) is warm, and there are perfect conditions to enjoy most watersports, from kayaking to snorkeling and diving.

The winter months can be very windy, and not so favorable to take part in the park’s activities. It’s also the high season for tourism in Mexico, so there might be more visitors than usual.

Things To Do in Cabo Pulmo National Park

Snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo

Snorkeling is the number one activity in Cabo Pulmo National Park. The water is crystal clear, which makes it one of the best spots to practice this sport. You’ll get to see an immense variety of fish and other sea life, as well as incredibly gorgeous and very colorful corals.

We went snorkeling in Playa Arbolito. There’s an 80 MXN ($4) ticket to enter the beach, but since we were on a guided tour, our driver/guide took care of everything for us.

Other Cabo Pulmo snorkeling opportunities you should check out are La Barrita, whose shore is so close to the reef it makes it very easy to access; the north end of Los Frailes; and Las Navajas.

You can otherwise join a tour to explore the underwater world.

Scuba Diving in Cabo Pulmo

Then there’s scuba diving, which takes snorkeling to a whole new level as you submerge into the depths of the Sea of Cortez to appreciate the stunning underwater landscape all around you.

Cabo Pulmo, in Baja California Sur, is home to around 14 different species of sharks, which you will most definitely see – and probably even swim with! – when diving. Bull sharks, whale sharks, silkies, and hammerheads are some of the ones you may spot.

Humpback whales, lots of schools of fish, rays, and sea turtles will also be swimming around, and the chances of spotting them during your dive are very high.

Because of the incredible diversity of sea life in Cabo Pulmo, diving here is a bucket-list item for many divers, even if it’s just to marvel at the corals from up close – which you won’t because seeing the marine life is pretty guaranteed!

The best time to go diving for the best visibility and warm waters is June through November.

The Cabo Pulmo 2 Tank Certified Dive with Lunch is a scuba-diving excursion that includes transfers and all equipment. You’ll visit two different spots to dive with the rich marine life and a 19th-century shipwreck. Refuel with lunch between both dives. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Beaches in Cabo Pulmo

▶ Playa Los Arbolitos is one of the best beaches in the park. It’s situated 3 miles south of Cabo Pulmo town, and it’s the perfect beach for snorkeling, although there’s an entrance fee of $3 (60MXN) to enter.

The beach is gorgeous, but there aren’t many facilities besides a basic bathroom and shower, so you should bring your own gear, snacks, and water.

▶ Las Sirenas Beach (also known as La Sirenita Beach) is beautiful and totally worth spending some time in it. It’s a sheltered bay, protected from the wind and waves, that offers fantastic snorkeling opportunities.

This beach is only accessible by boat or kayak, or by hiking there from the nearby beach Los Arbolitos, which takes around 20 minutes.

▶ Los Frailes is also protected from the elements by a cape, so the water is mostly calm and ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. It’s the bay everyone escapes to when the wind picks up on other beaches!

While it’s a very popular spot for camping, there are absolutely no facilities, so you should take with you all you may need for a day at the beach.

▶ Cabo Pulmo Beach is located right in the center of town, so it’s one of the busiest beaches – if you walk away from the crowds, though, you’ll most definitely find empty areas to relax without people all around you.

It’s one of the best places to watch the sunset, so it’s a good spot to end your day, before heading into town for dinner or some drinks.

Whale Watching in Cabo Pulmo National Park

Humpback and grey whales make their way to the warm waters of Los Cabos from December to April, to mate and give birth before heading back north to Alaska.

Many of them call Cabo Pulmo their home while in Mexico, which is why seeing these spectacular mammals is almost guaranteed at the national park if you go at the right time of year.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to head far into the sea to spot the whales: you can see them from the shore, jumping out of the water and splashing around.

If you want to get closer to them, though, either to snap astounding pictures or unlock a new memorable moment, you’re better off joining a responsible whale-watching trip that will take you to them.

Most tours are guided by a local biologist or expert in the field, offering a great opportunity to learn more about the whales, their habits, and migration patterns, as you marvel at them from a few feet away. It’s surely one of the greatest adventures in the park!

What to do in Cabo Pulmo besides that? Hiking, kayaking, and SUPing are great options!

Visit Cabo Pulmo Town

Cabo Pulmo is a very small town, with more PADI dive shops and equipment rentals than any other facility. It’s nothing like the more glamorous towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, featuring an incredibly laid-back vibe and nothing but the most basic provisions.

There are restaurants where you can enjoy a good meal, like El Caballero and Coral Reef Restaurant, and two small local markets for some groceries or necessities (the options are very limited, so you shouldn’t depend on them for your supplies).

There’s a store in El Caballero restaurant and another one in Alice’s Take-Out, and they mostly sell non-perishable goods. Both of them are cash-only, so make sure to have pesos with you!

There are no ATMs in town, and the wifi signal is pretty much non-existent, so be ready to disconnect from your phone, and focus all your attention on your surroundings (which are mind-blowingly stunning!)

Kayak in Cabo Pulmo

Among the many water adventures available in Cabo Pulmo, kayaking is one of the favorites. This different approach to exploring the Aquarium of the World enables you to glide past the coastline, visit beaches, admire rock formations, and visit the sea lion colonies that inhabit the area.

Kayaking trips also include snorkeling stops at the reef, so you’ll get to mingle with the rich marine life and enjoy a refreshing dip.

This Cabo Pulmo Marine Park Snorkeling and Kayaking from Cabo is a full-day activity. Enjoy your guide’s insights about the area during your transfer to the park, and once there embark on a kayaking tour. Visit La Sirenita beach, a sea lion colony, and the coral reefs for snorkeling. Lunch is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Marine Park Rules

To ensure the protection and preservation of the ecosystem, wildlife, and nature of the park, there are some regulations in place which all visitors are required to follow.

▶ Fishing is entirely forbidden at Cabo Pulmo, as is the use of jet skies, and the extraction of live rocks.

▶ If you’re going to practice any watersports, from kayaking to SUPing, you’re required to wear a life jacket, which you can get with your kayak/SUP rental, or rent separately at one of Cabo Pulmo’s dive shops.

Some visitors have said this rule wasn’t enforced by their guides, so it might be up to your group leader. As of 2024, however, it remains one of the official rules.

▶ If you’re going to camp, note that camping and campfires are only allowed in designated areas of the park such as Playa Arbolitos, Frailes, and Playa Miramar.

Each group (of up to 8 people) can’t stay more than 30 minutes in each snorkeling spot, and the use of gloves or knives is not allowed.

▶ Non-biodegradable sunscreen, oils, or bronzers are completely prohibited when swimming. Make sure you take reef-safe sunscreen on your trip to Mexico!

▶ Kayaking needs to be done under the supervision of a guide.

In the park, you’re only allowed to snorkel with a guide – and they check! While we were snorkeling, a boat approached us and checked if we were with a guide. So, follow the rules!

If you want to know all the park’s restrictions and rules before visiting, you can read them here.

Where To Stay in Cabo Pulmo

Accommodations in Cabo Pulmo are very basic, but that’s part of the location’s charm. Below you’ll find a couple of options where you can stay, with limited facilities but the most beautiful surroundings.

Bungalows Cabo Pulmo offers small houses with a kitchen, seating area, bathroom, and bedroom which accommodate from 3 to 5 people. Some bungalows also have a private patio, and there’s free wifi (although not the fastest due to the area) and private parking.

El Encanto is a luxury accommodation that matches the rusticity of the location. It features colorful, vibrantly decorated interiors with 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen, dining and living room areas, and a charming courtyard. The patio has a BBQ Grill and outdoor furniture.

Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort features solar-powered, palm-thatched bungalows with a kitchenette, dining table, and a double bed. Some of them also have a seating area and patio, and while simple, they’re nicely decorated and comfortable for a couple of nights’ sleep.

▶ Camping is also possible in Cabo Pulmo. Whether you’re traveling with a tent or an RV, you can camp on designated zones of the park. These zones include Los Frailes Beach, one of the most popular spots, Los Arbolitos, and Miramar. Los Arbolitos is Cabo Pulmo’s only site with facilities.

Cabo Pulmo FAQs

What is Cabo Pulmo known for?

Cabo Pulmo National Park is a protected area in Baja California Sur, known for its rich vegetation and wildlife, glorious landscapes, and stunning coral reefs. It’s home to 14 different species of sharks and populated by humpback whales for part of the year.

Can you snorkel Cabo Pulmo on your own?

I’ve heard there are areas in Cabo Pulmo where you can snorkel on your own such as in Los Frailes, as the coral reef is merely a few feet from the shore, and it’s easily accessed. If you want to go further into the sea, or snorkel in the marine reserve, you’ll need a guide.

Can you stay in Cabo Pulmo?

Yes, you can stay overnight, either camping in one of its designated zones or in a bungalow. That’s pretty much the only accommodation available at the National Marine Park, so don’t expect fancy hotels in Cabo Pulmo.

Is Cabo Pulmo safe?

Cabo Pulmo is a very safe area! As you would anywhere, though, take good care of your valuables and don’t leave them out of sight.

Where is Cabo Pulmo?

Cabo Pulmo is in the east cape of Baja California Sur, about 60 miles north of Los Cabos.

Thanks to the Los Cabos Tourism Board for sponsoring us on our trip and this activity. All opinions are as always our own.

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

Lori Trochim

Thursday 5th of January 2023

Hi, Hmmm, I've snorkeled for the past 10 years directly from the beach in town in Cabo Pulmo with no guide. Did something change? Where were you snorkeling where they stopped you by boat? Also, do you now need a guide to go to the other places mentioned? I'm planning a trip there but don't like guided tours. Thanks!


Friday 6th of January 2023

Hi Lori, I'm not sure when the rule started but for sure in Arbolitos (where I went snorkeling) you cannot go without a guide. There was one lone swimmer in the water and our guide went to tell her that she was breaking the las and risking a fine. It might be ok to swim alone in Cabo Pulmo town, I'm honestly not 100% sure if you tell me you've been doing with no issue, but I'd definitely ask a local before getting in the water.