Chileno Bay and Santa Maria Beach – Which beach has the best snorkeling ?

Chileno Bay Versus Santa Maria Beach?

Chileno Bay and Santa Maria Beach are both popular snorkeling spots near Cabo San Lucas and one of the few beaches where you can swim safely.  With limited time during your vacation, you may be trying to decide at which is better to spend your time? And second question, should you take a tour of these places?

Chileno Bay is a great beach for swimming and snorkeling near Cabo San Lucas.
Chileno Bay

Chileno Bay

Chileno Bay is an AMAZINGLY GORGEOUS beach and my top pick for beaches near Cabo. Chileno is a protected cove with calm, serene, clear waters on most days.  There is a coral reef up to ½ a mile out from shore with lots to see underwater! 

Fish are abundant along with other marine sea life. You never know what you may find on any given day! I was thrilled to spot octopuses among the coral. They are amazing creatures! Access to snorkeling is easy from the beach so you don’t have to venture very far to see fish. They swim up to you as soon as you enter the water!

There is lots to explore at Chileno even if you are not a swimmer. You can be adventurous and climb on some of the boulderous rocks where you will be met with crabs scurrying across. Or, explore the tide pools where you can search for unique shells and cool finds in the crystal clear pools.

One of Baja Mexico's Most Beautiful Beaches is Chileno Bay Beach with lots to explore other than the beach.
Climb the rocks at Chileno Bay and see crab crawling across!


Tide Pools are fun to explore at Chileno Bay near Cabo San Lucas Mexico - Baja Mexico
Tide Pools are fun to explore at Chileno Bay.


Boat Tour To Santa Maria Beach

Santa Maria is also a nice beach, except it a bit smaller than Chileno. This may leave you with less opportunity to explore so keep that in mind.

Boat tours frequent Santa Maria Beach from Cabo San Lucas Marina. I spent my last day in Cabo with a snorkel boat tour on a Cabo Blue Catamaran where I enjoyed a 45 minute boat ride sipping Margaritas and listening to music in harmony with the ocean waves. It doesn’t get much better than that!


Snorkeling Tours will also let you tour El Arco and Rock Formations in Cabo San Lucas. Everyone should do a boat tour at least once while in Cabo!
Sailing past El Arco and the rock formations in Cabo San Lucas.

As the boat sailed from the marina, the boat sailed by the famous rock formations such as “El Arco.” You have to see this at least once when in Cabo! Luckily any tour you take will allow you to see the rock formations since they sail from the Marina on their way out to sea.

As the boat approached Santa Maria, the beach began to come into view and the boat stopped a quarter mile from shore. Everyone aboard put on their snorkel gear and were required to wear life jackets to jump into the water for 30 min of snorkeling.  The water was choppy due to winds that had picked up in the afternoon so unfortunately, the visibility in the water was pretty bad. I was able to spot some fish, but I did not see as much variety as I did at Chileno Bay.

I am glad I visited Santa Maria Beach and would give it another shot on a calm day. Even in perfect conditions, I believe Chileno Bay is the better beach to visit for snorkeling since there is more diversity in the water.


Yes and No….

A boat tour of any kind is one thing I would recommend to anyone visiting Cabo. This allows you to see Land’s End rock formations which Cabo is famous for! It is a chance to get those iconic pictures you see anytime you research Cabo San Lucas.

BUT, for “quality” snorkeling and freedom to relax on beach, it is best to go on your own. There is nothing like having leisure time to explore, swim, relax and enjoy the ocean waves!

While tours are great, be warned you will only have about 30 min – 50 min max to snorkel. Such a tease! It is not a lot of time, but at least you will get a new experience, see the beach and enjoy sailing the sea.  You can always arrange to come back if you know you like it!

Come explore Chileno Bay with me as I explore and snorkel in the video below. Get a sneak peak!

Chileno Bay - Best Beach and Snorkeling near Cabo San Lucas Mexico
Watch the Video to see more of Chileno Bay!

Thinking about snorkeling at Pelican Rock?

If you were also considering Pelican Rock, know that the waters most likely will not be as calm as Chileno Bay or Santa Maria Beach. Swells can be quite high on some days! You can read more about Pelican Rock in my post here.

A Review of Snorkeling at Pelican Rock in Cabo Mexico
A Review of Snorkeling at Pelican Rock in Cabo Mexico

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