Are you debating between a San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas vacation? Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about choosing a trip to San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas.
This comparison of San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas Mexico, was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Are you stuck between San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas for your next Mexican vacation?
Trust me, you aren’t alone. Both San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas are on the Baja California Sur, only about 30 minutes from one another.
But despite their relative proximity, these two cities are very different. I’ve been to both, and I’ve got some opinions!
Cabo San Lucas is a more vibrant and lively resort town, sometimes known as a party town. San Jose del Cabo has more of a laid-back atmosphere and a more traditional Mexican atmosphere.
However, there’s much more to consider when choosing between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
In this article, we’ll talk about all the major differences between the two cities, the best places to stay, some fun activities in Los Cabos, and other important information you might want before your trip to Baja California Sur.
Keep reading to find out more!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Cabo San Lucas blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Cabo with kids.
Popular Cabo Tours/Activities
- Sunset Pirate Ship Cruise (your kids will geek out)
- Beach and Desert ATV Adventure (perfect for thrill-seekers)
- Whale Watching Boat Ride (it comes with free photos)
- Animal Sanctuary Tour (you get to feed exotic animals that have been rescued)
- Flytographer Photo Shoot (this is an easy and affordable Cabo photography option)
Kid-Friendly Cabo Resorts
Overview of Baja Peninsula
The Baja California Peninsula is a long, narrow strip of land in northwestern Mexico, separating the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).
It’s renowned for its unique landscapes, including deserts, mountains, and beautiful coastlines. The natural beauty here is unmatched, offering opportunities to swim with tropical fish right offshore and relax on quiet beaches.
You can also hide away in high-end resorts or enjoy some good food in local restaurants.
There’s also a large variety of activities along the Baja California Peninsula, including swimmable beaches, water sports like jet skiing, hiking, and wildlife viewings.
And it’s also the perfect destination for foodies thanks to its excellent Mexican food and seafood. Plus, it is a great place for deep-sea fishing because of its rich fishing charters.
The Baja Peninsula comprises two states: Baja California Sur (the southern state of the peninsula) and Baja California (the northern state closest to the California border).
Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are two towns in the Los Cabos municipality on the very southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.
Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula is popular among spring-breakers and other travelers, but it’s especially great for families.
There are many family-friendly resorts, the popular tourist areas are considered safe compared to other parts of Mexico, so many activities for every age, and endless cultural activities for little ones.
When to Visit San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas
The weather in both Cabo San Lucas vs San Jose del Cabo are pretty much the same, as they’re so close.
The best time to visit San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas is between January and May, when the weather is perfect, and there’s a tiny chance of rain.
During these months, the daytime temperature is usually high at 26C (79F) and low at 16C (61F).
The weather is warm enough to enjoy and relax on the beach without melting. And it gets cool with a nice breeze in the mornings and evenings.
However, winter is also the most popular and expensive time to visit.
If you want fewer crowds and score better deals, visit Los Cabos in late spring or early summer. The weather is still bearable, and there are usually fewer people around.
Getting to San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas vs San Jose del Cabo are pretty straightforward places to get to, which is one of the reasons it’s so appealing.
Los Cabos International Airport (SJD Airport) is a major airport about 16 km (10 miles) from San Jose del Cabo and 40 km (25 miles) from Cabo San Lucas.
Transportation from Los Cabos International Airport to San Jose del Cabo is simple and plentiful.
You can take a private transfer, taxi, shared van, or local bus from Los Cabos airport to San Jose del Cabo. The trip should take about 20 minutes.
Transportation from Los Cabos International Airport is also easy. There are several private transfer services, taxis, shared vans, and a public bus.
You can catch the public bus to Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo outside Terminal 1. The bus leaves every 10 minutes, from 4:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
The Ruta del Desierto bus travels to downtown San Jose del Cabo downtown, Cabo San Lucas, and the Tourist Corridor. It can be easily identified by its bright yellow and purple buses.
Where to Stay in San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo have very different vibes, so it’s essential to look at all options for your family before settling on one.
Cabo San Lucas has more of a party, high-energy reputation with ultra-luxury resorts. San Jose del Cabo is known as a more authentic vacation spot that’s much more low-key than its sister town, Cabo San Lucas.
Because of this, you’ll find more laid-back resorts and boutique hotels in San Jose del Cabo and more high-end accommodations in Cabo San Lucas.
However, both spots have many wonderful places to meet all preferences and needs. Let’s review some of the best resorts in Cabo San Lucas vs San Jose del Cabo.
Best Kid-Friendly San Jose del Cabo Resorts
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos
The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos is a great option for families visiting San Jose del Cabo.
This all-inclusive resort features 4 outdoor pools and a children’s pool, with a waterslide, cabanas, and sun loungers.
They also have a kids club with a private playground and water play area. And they offer babysitting services. Check hotel rates.
You won’t go hungry here. In addition to their 7 on-site restaurants (some with beachfront dining), they have more restaurants and pop-up stations throughout the day offering fresh churros, tacos, fresh seafood, and more!
There are lots of room choices available that sleep 2-6 people. Plus, many of their rooms can be joining rooms, which is great for larger families. Check the latest rates and availability.
You can read my in-depth Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos resort review here.
One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos
One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos is a high-end luxury resort in a private area of San Jose del Cabo, near Playa Palmilla.
The hotel features two outdoor swimming pools, one children’s pool, free children’s club, and in-room babysitting.
It’s also on a private beach, with stunning ocean-front views throughout the property. There are many activities here, from golf to tennis to many water sports. Check rates here.
And if that isn’t enough, you can spend the afternoons snacking and dining at one of the four onsite restaurants with traditional Mexican food and international cuisine.
There are several rooms to choose from, accommodating between four and twelve people, so it’s perfect for larger families. Check the latest rates and availability.
Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Zadún is the first-ever Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Mexico and has set some high expectations. It’s a luxury hotel with some of San Jose del Cabo’s best beaches and views.
The hotel has four large swimming pools, a children’s pool, a kid’s club, a playground, a game room, and babysitting services.
It’s also located on its private beach, making it the perfect romantic getaway or beach resort for families. Check rates here.
Perhaps one of the highlights of Zadún is the incredible residential-style rooms, villas, and suites.
The hotel aims to blur the line between indoors and outdoors with large, open-air, tastefully decorated rooms to feel more natural. Check the latest rates and availability.
Hilton Vacation Club Cabo Azul Los Cabos
Hilton Vacation Club Cabo Azul Los Cabos is one of the best mid-range hotels in San Jose del Cabo. While it is more affordable, you can enjoy many of the same luxuries.
The hotel has six outdoor pools and three spa hot tubs. There is one designated children’s pool and a waterslide on the property. Check rates here.
Other popular amenities for families include the onsite convenience store for simple necessities, an arcade room, a kid’s club, and babysitting services.
This hotel also has several onsite restaurants and an excellent location, walking distance to other restaurants, stores, and bars, so you can easily find everything you need. Check the latest rates and availability.
Club Regina Los Cabos
Club Regina Los Cabos is one of the most excellent, budget-friendly resorts in the Los Cabos area. This three-star hotel is above the shoreline, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez.
The hotel is on a private beach with four outdoor swimming pools, one children’s pool, a free kids’ club, a playground, and a fitness center. Check rates here.
The architecture and layout of this hotel are much simpler, but considering the price and endless list of services and amenities, it’s definitely worth the value.
Although the resort area is huge with no elevators, be prepared for walking or frequent rides on the hotel’s golf carts. Check the latest rates and availability.
Best Kid-Friendly Cabo San Lucas Resorts
Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection
Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection is a luxury resort in Cabo San Lucas on its private beach.
This is truly the perfect beach destination spot for families because of the sheer beauty of the property, architecture, and surrounding area.
There are five pools, a fitness center, a large beach area, six restaurants, and everything else you can imagine. But the best part of this resort is how family-friendly it is. Check rates here.
There are several amenities for children, including a children’s pool, game room, and babysitting.
While this is on the more expensive side of resorts in Cabo San Lucas, the rooms and villas are decked out, with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, and private balconies. Check the latest rates and availability.
Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort
Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Resort is one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Los Cabos area. It’s right next to a golf course and on a private beach.
The hotel has several outdoor pools, including two swim-up bars and one children’s pool.
There are also some tennis courts, a convenience store, a game room, and babysitting, making it an excellent place for families and children of all ages. Check rates here.
The hotel overlooks the Caribbean Sea, with a beautiful view of the ocean and the beaches below. You can soak up the view at the infinity pool, which has arguably the best views in the entire resort.
There are over 700 rooms at the hotel, but everything is spread out well enough so it never feels crowded or overwhelming. Check the latest rates and availability.
Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa
Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa is an excellent resort in Cabo San Lucas in the historic district near the Marina del Rey and Plaza Bonita Mall.
There are five outdoor pools, one children’s pool, a private beach area on one of the quieter beaches in the area, and several restaurants. Check rates here.
The fitness center offers many different classes, including aerobics and yoga, or you can partake in some active games on the property, like beach volleyball.
One of the best things about Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa is the incredible architecture and beautiful property grounds.
The hotel almost blends into the background, with large rock formations that match the hotel’s backdrop. Check the latest rates and availability.
Tesoro Los Cabos
Tesoro Los Cabos is a simple, affordable hotel in the center of Cabo San Lucas.
The hotel is only a 13-minute walk from Cabo San Lucas Bay, a 3-minute drive from Marina del Rey, and connected to a large shopping plaza. Check rates here.
This is an excellent budget-friendly accommodation for the entire family. While there are fewer luxury amenities, you’ll have everything you need and probably a little more.
The hotel has a large outdoor swimming pool with a swim-up bar, fitness center, spa, five restaurants, and complimentary breakfast for guests. Check the latest rates and availability.
Best Things to Do in Los Cabos
There are so many fun activities around Los Cabos. You’ll surely find the best activities for your families, especially if you’re near the tourist corridor, where all the action happens.
Here are some of the best things to do in Cabo San Lucas vs San Jose del Cabo.
Things to do in San Jose del Cabo with Kids
Try Some Surf Lessons
Los Cabos is a major international surf destination because of the good swells year-round and the types of waves. There’s a little something for everyone.
Experienced surfers can enjoy world-class, challenging surfing. In comparison, beginners can give it a go on calm and mellow swells.
Because of this, it’s an excellent spot for the family to take surf lessons.
May to October are the best months for surfing around the Sea of Cortez, where both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are located.
November to April are the best months for surfing on the Pacific side of the peninsula, where La Paz is located.
Los Cabos Surf Lesson at Costa Azul offers excellent seven-hour surfing lessons, where you’ll likely be standing up by the end of the day.
Depending on the season, the tour takes you to Cabo Azul or Cerritos and includes lunch. Check the latest rates and availability.
Go Horseback Riding
If you’re visiting San Jose del Cabo with your family, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible in nature. And horseback riding is one of the best ways to do just that.
Make sure you go with a reputable tour company that treats its horses well.
Horseback Riding in San Jose del Cabo is a great option for beginners and advanced riders.
The tour takes you along a beautiful freshwater river and through all types of vegetation, a unique experience from Los Cabos. It feels like a breath of fresh air. Check the latest rates and availability.
Go on a Snorkel Tour
Another must-do activity in Cabo San Lucas is snorkeling. The waters off the Baja California Peninsula are warm year-round, crystal clear, and calm.
So, it’s the perfect place to hop on a boat and explore all the fascinating marine life.
There are hundreds of snorkel tour and boat tour companies around Cabo San Lucas and the tourist corridor highway that connects Cabo San Lucas with San Jose del Cabo.
Snorkel Tour – San Jose del Cabo is the best small-group tour that takes you to secluded snorkeling spots, so you won’t have to share the reefs with hundreds of other tourists.
The tours are led by a certified scuba diving instructor, bottled water, free wet suit rentals, and snorkeling equipment.
The tour is also capped at eight people, so it’s calm and comfortable compared to other overly crowded tourist activities. Check the latest rates and availability.
Spend a Day on the Beach
You must make time for the beach if you’re in Los Cabo. And there are some beautiful beaches around San Jose del Cabo.
Playa Palmilla is the closest swimmable beach to San Jose del Cabo. You can hop on a local bus from downtown and spend an entire day swimming and snorkeling around the calm waters.
Presidente Hotel Beach is on the south side of San Jose del Cabo. It’s a mile-long beach with plenty of space for small or large families to sprawl out.
Playa El Tule is another beach on the tourist corridor near San Jose del Cabo. It’s a large, secluded beach that’s becoming more popular for stand-up paddleboarding and sometimes surfing.
Although there are large rocks in the water, so make sure you keep an eye out when swimming or playing.
Things to do in Cabo San Lucas with Kids
Join a Turtle Release
Turtles come up to the beaches around Cabo San Lucas to lay eggs throughout the year. You can take part in this incredible experience with a turtle release program.
It’s an excellent experience for the family and a great learning opportunity for kids. You’ll have to go with a designated guide, who’ll teach you all about the turtle release and what the local organizations do to help them thrive.
Los Cabos Turtle Release Eco-Experience is a reputable tour for the turtle release with knowledgeable English-speaking guides.
The tour includes roundtrip transportation, bottled water, and an adoption certificate for your help with the turtles. Check the latest rates and availability.
If traveling with older children who want high-energy activities, consider going on a ziplining tour.
Boca de Sierra National Park is the perfect backdrop for ziplining and UTV tours. The lush forest is full of beautiful views and exciting wildlife.
Outdoor Ziplining and UTV Adventure is a fun, action-packed ziplining and UTV adventure tour around Boca de Sierra National Park.
The tour includes all professional-grade gear, bottled water, lunch, and roundtrip transportation.
This tour has a minimum age of 8 and specific height requirements (minimum height of 4 feet and maximum weight of 250 pounds). Check the latest rates and availability.
Take a Mexican Cooking Class
One of the best ways to immerse yourself into a new culture is to try out all the food and learn some of the secrets behind the best dishes from the region.
While Cabo San Lucas has some of the best restaurants in the region, it’s also an excellent place to try out a cooking class. Not only is it a great way to bring home a new recipe, but it’s also an enjoyable family bonding experience.
Cabo San Lucas: Mexican Cooking Class is a fun, family-friendly cooking class with a master chef.
You’ll learn to make signature local meals from scratch and get tips and secrets from the chef you’ll work alongside. Check the latest rates and availability.
Have a Blast on a Pirate Cruise
The pirate-themed sunset cruise is one of the most exciting activities for children and parents.
Cabo San Lucas: Sunset Pirate Ship Cruise goes around the Sea off Cortez with an entertaining pirate show and staff that stay in character from start to finish.
You can marvel at the beautiful sunsets and even pass by El Arco and other significant landmarks. Check the latest rates and availability.
Visit El Arco at Land’s End
El Arco is a rock formation that’s often identified with Los Cabos. El Arco, or “Land’s End,” is at the tip of Baja California Sur and is right where the Sea of Cortez meets with the Pacific Ocean.
It’s an iconic rock formation that’s a must-see while you’re in San Jose del Cabo.
You can see The Arch from some parts of Cabo San Lucas, but it’s best to take a boat trip to get a closer look. It’s also a popular hangout spot for sea lions, so you may encounter some of those during your trip.
Cabo San Lucas: 4-Hour Snorkeling Cruise with Open Bar is a fun boat cruise from Cabo San Lucas. It sails by The Arch or Land’s End, Lover’s Beach, and the sea lion colony.
The boat will also do a little whale watching if there’s enough whale activity. Check the latest rates and availability.
Boat Trips in Los Cabos
There are tons of different boat trips around Los Cabos for families and travelers, and I’d highly recommend partaking in at least one.
The best time to see whales in either Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo is between January and March.
If you’re here doing this time, the Cabo: 2-Hour Whale Watching Boat Ride with Free Pictures is the way to go for all ages. Check the latest rates and availability.
If you want more privacy and independence, consider renting a private yacht or private boat tour.
The glass-bottom boat tours are another popular activity, especially for the little ones. This Los Cabos: Glass Bottom Boat Cruise visits the Arch of Cabo, the Sea Lion colony, and Lover’s Beach.
It’s definitely one of the best ways to see all the incredible marine life in Mexico. Check the latest rates and availability.
Most tours can be picked up in either San Jose del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas, so you should have no problem joining along, no matter which beach destination you decide.
Beaches in San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas
Both San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas have some incredible beach access. And honestly, it’s so easy to travel between the two Cabos you can hop between beaches and towns, as you’d like if you feel you’re missing out on something.
Perhaps the most famous beach in Los Cabos is Playa Medano. Medano Beach is in Cabo San Lucas and is well-known for the undisturbed view of the Arch.
If you want the location for the best family-friendly beach, choose Cabo San Lucas. Because of the currents and waves, other beaches can be more rough and dangerous. But Medano Beach is almost always a safe bet and a very entertaining area.
Day Trips from Los Cabos
San Lucas vs San Jose del Cabo are excellent starting points for day trips around Los Cabos and Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.
After all, if you look at a Los Cabos, Mexico map, you’ll see plenty of other towns, hot destinations, and must-see attractions.
Let’s review some of the top day trips from Los Cabos.
Todos Santos is a quintessential town, about 45 miles (75 km) from Cabo San Lucas and 65 miles (105 km) from San Jose del Cabo.
The town is known for its many art galleries, local artwork, delicious regional food, and laid-back vibe. There are also several lovely beaches for lounging or surfing near Todos Santos, including Playa Cerrito.
Cabo: Todos Santos tour with Camel Ranch, Tequila, and Lunch is an excellent way to explore Todos Santos on a day trip.
You’ll also be accompanied by an English-speaking guide, who can teach you more about this region. Check the latest rates and availability.
La Paz is Baja California Sur’s capital, so you’ll find the municipal government and town hall. It’s about 95 miles (160 km) from Cabo San Lucas and 115 miles (185 km) from San Jose del Cabo.
It’s most known for its beautiful beachfront Malécon promenade (a boardwalk along the ocean), with many street vendors, restaurants, and shops.
Day Trip to La Paz & Balandra Beach from Los Cabos is a fun, full-day tour, including a stop at the famous Hotel California and plenty of time for the beach and shopping. Check the latest rates and availability.
Cabo Pulmo National Park is a national marine park on the east coast of Baja California Sur. It’s the perfect day trip for ocean lovers and nature enthusiasts. It’s about 80 miles (130 km) from Cabo San Lucas and 60 miles (100 km) from San Jose del Cabo.
If you have older children who like adventure and activity, the best way to visit Cabo Pulmo is on a snorkeling and kayaking expedition. Cabo Pulmo is a stunning region, but the best part of it is the crystal clear waters and thriving marine life.
From Cabo: Cabo Pulmo Marine Park Snorkeling and Kayaking is a fun activity for children at least 7 years old.
It includes roundtrip transportation from Los Cabos, an experienced guide, all equipment, lunch, snacks, drinks, and other necessities during the 11-hour tour. Check the latest rates and availability.
Los Cabos FAQs
Which part of Los Cabos is better?
All of Los Cabos is beautiful; it just depends on what you’re looking for. Cabo San Lucas has more of a party vibe, with high-energy tourism and many activities. San Jose del Cabo, on the other hand, is more laid-back and authentic feeling.
Is San Jose del Cabo the same as Cabo San Lucas?
No, San Jose del Cabo is not the same as Cabo San Lucas. These are two different towns in Los Cabos, on the southern tip of Baja California. However, it does get confusing sometimes to differentiate between Cabo San Lucas vs San Jose del Cabo.
Usually, Cabo refers to Cabo San Lucas. Los Cabos refers to the region in which Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo reside.
Final Verdict on San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas for Families
Cabo San Lucas vs San Jose del Cabo are both incredible places in Los Cabos in Mexico. They are very close to one another, but there are a lot of significant differences.
Cabo San Lucas is known to be a popular spring break and party destination, especially for young people. On the other hand, San Jose del Cabo is more low-key and laid-back.
Both are fun, with tons of different activities and family-friendly resorts.
Cabo San Lucas is better for families that want more convenience, variety, and a faster-paced environment. And San José del Cabo is better for families that want to experience a slightly more authentic family vacation.
However, no matter your choice, you will surely have a blast. Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are two unforgettable beach destinations in Mexico. Make sure to take advantage of the incredible ocean, landmarks, and even day trips around Los Cabos and the surrounding area.