Infinite Underwater Gems: Los Cabos as a Scuba and Snorkeling Paradise
For most people, diving beneath the ocean's surface to experience the otherworldly life that lies in submarine nooks and crannies requires putting their everyday routines on hold, getting on a plane to a far flung destination, staying at a hotel or vacation rental for several days, and incurring in considerable expenses. This is not the case in Los Cabos, where nature and human activities coexist closely. We caught up with Loretta Diaz Rivera, real estate professional at Los Cabos Sotheby’s International Realty, to discuss the best spots for scuba diving and snorkeling in the region, as well as some of the most coveted real estate locations among aficionados of underwater experiences. Read on and get the insider perspective on the Los Cabos lifestyle!
Cabo Pulmo is truly a world-class gem, hosting myriads of underwater species
Q: Los Cabos is among the best destinations for scuba diving and snorkeling in the world. Why is that?
A: One thing that sets Los Cabos apart from other places is that there is a wide variety of different spots for practicing scuba and snorkeling. The peninsula is narrow and can be traversed easily. On one side of it it’s the Pacific Ocean, while the other is the Sea of Cortez. And all along Baja’s coastline there are numerous coves and nooks and crannies, each one with their own characteristics. In one day, you can experience many different, world-class underwater locations.
Q: How do people that live here take advantage of this characteristic of Los Cabos?
A: I remember a time when I went scuba diving with sharks in the morning. Bull sharks. I got up early, drove to Cabo Pulmo, had a magnificent time, and by 4:00 pm I was back in my apartment in San Jose on a Zoom meeting, working. It's amazing that you can do something as wild as that on a normal business day. And that's what people like about here. The lifestyle really lets you be in close contact with nature without having to go on a trip to another part of the world. That's really something that can't be done in many places in the world. Most people have to travel and put their lives on hold to do that.
Several varieties of mantarrays can be appreciated up close in Baja's waters
Q: What are some of your favorite places for scuba diving and snorkeling?
A: Cabo Pulmo is famous for scuba diving, and they have a bunch of different spots, all protected. I think you can only access three spots in one day, and you need to ask for permission, and then they let you in. They only allow a certain number of boats or expeditions in one day. It is like two hours away from Cabo San Lucas, on the Sea of Cortez, and about one and a quarter hours from San Jose. The sheer amount of life that’s in there, it's just amazing. In one day, you can see dolphins, you can see sharks, you can see giant schools of fish. It's insane. Also, Espiritu Santo Island, off the coast of La Paz, which is about two hours away from Cabo San Lucas, is simply breathtaking. Scuba diving with sea lions is a must over there. They're super friendly. Whale sharks are another species that you can swim with. You can do that in La Paz, or if you take a trip to the islands of the Sea of Cortez, you can also find them. There are a few reputable companies that specialize in that kind of multi-day trip. Pisces Yachts, which sets sail from Cabo San Lucas is the best among them.
Q: Have you done the trip to the islands of the Sea of Cortez?
A: Yes, many times. It depends on the weather, but one of my favorite spots is Espiritu Santo Island. There's a camping site there that's only open three months during the summer. An Italian man owns it and it's beautiful. Even when it's summer, the temperature is nice. You don't suffer. It's gorgeous. And he's Italian, so they cook you amazing Italian food. You can do all the water sports, and there's a well near the camping site on the island that provides fresh water. They have these giant tubs and you can actually shower with fresh water. There's also San Francisquito, which is really, really beautiful. It's like a half moon. The Sea of Cortez is peppered with wonderful locations, and you just have to organize your own stops, jump in the water, and be amazed with all the life in there. You can also fish and get your own oysters and scallops. Sometimes, we've found lobsters there which we fish and cook for dinner. There's nothing fresher than that.
San Francisco Island and its crescent shaped bay
Q: Coming back from La Paz and its surroundings to Los Cabos, what are some of your favorite spots here?
A: There are expeditions that depart from Cabo San Lucas called safaris. You basically go on a small boat called a “panga” and you try to find any kind of marine life. Usually, if you find something, the instructor or the one in charge goes in the water first to make sure that it's safe for everybody else to jump in. I've seen silky sharks on safaris, four different types of manta rays, giant sea turtles, and dolphins. I haven't seen orcas yet. They're still on my bucket list: number one on my bucket list. The Pacific Ocean is rougher than the Sea of Cortez. It's not like creatures are waiting for you there. You have to go and find them. You have to go into the deep blue, and god knows what you'll find. It's a little bit of an adventure.
Q: What if you're not feeling up to such an intense adventure and you just want to wake up in Cabo San Lucas and go snorkeling for a few hours and then get back to your life. What do you recommend?
A: Right outside the marina before the Arch, there are many rock formations, like Pelican Rock. That's usually where they take you to get your license for scuba diving, and you can also snorkel there. It's really good snorkeling, even if it's a bit crowded, but there's lots of life there. It's crazy because if you go there to snorkel, you have somebody from National Geographic documenting something, and then you have the partygoers right next to you, and sportfishing boats setting out. It's a whole mix of human and natural activities. Boats go in and out of the marina and there’s some sound pollution, but the marine life doesn’t seem to care. Just jump in and see for yourself the amount of life there. That’s characteristic of Los Cabos: nature is very close to human activities. A nice place to stay near that area is Hacienda, a luxury resort where you can rent beautiful villas for a few nights.
Hacienda is a luxury resort right on Cabo San Lucas Bay, ideal for engaging in submarine fun from a central location
Q: What about Chileno Bay? It’s really beautiful. How is snorkeling there?
A: It's good, but for me, going to Chileno is already a bit of a trip, so I’d rather put in the extra mile and go all the way to Cabo Pulmo. What I love to do in Chileno is kayaking. You can take a kayak near the public beach access and go all the way to Santa Maria, where you can see all the developments and all houses that they're building there. There's a lot of reefs and rocks, so there's usually plenty of sea life. There's two female sharks that live there. I can't remember the type, but they’re big, and they're female, so they're a little bit territorial. Not dangerous, but sometimes they try to scare you away. There is a beautiful house right on the tip of Chileno Bay called Villa Cielito del Mar, which is for rent through Pisces Luxury Collection.
Q: Where would you recommend to buy a property to someone that enjoys the kind of water activities we’ve mentioned and who wants to integrate them into their daily lives?
A: If you want something luxurious, you could buy a property in Chileno or in Maravilla. But really, like we have said, all along the southern half of Baja Sur is full of great options. From La Paz to Cabo San Lucas, and farther north to Todos Santos, experiences that involve interactions with marine life are easy to access. Now, if you want something more off-the-beaten-path, you can literally get a property in Cabo Pulmo and have access to the amazing marine life that's there. Alternatively, closer to San Jose, but still very near to Cabo Pulmo is La Ribera in the East Cape. You have the Four Seasons hotel there, and they’re building developments around it. The area is growing, and communities like Costa Palmas are gaining popularity. The area is for people willing to be adventurous, because it’s a little far away, but it’s also growing, and you can find very good infrastructure and luxury if that's what you are after. That area in the East Cape is ideal for making an investment because it will grow in value in the near future, and connectivity is already improving.
Loretta Diaz Rivera is a real estate professional at Los Cabos Sotheby's International Realty. A Los Cabos native and enthusiast, she is exceptionally qualified to assist her clients with all aspects of enjoying the unique lifestyle this world-class destination has to offer.
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