Coral Reefs to See in Cabo

Situated at the end of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is perched where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez meet. Warm waters, balmy weather and a preserved habitat create a safe home for a jaw-dropping variety of tropical fish and other sea creatures. This beautiful part of the Mexican Riviera offers particularly fantastic snorkeling spots in the marine preserves of Santa Maria Bay and Cabo Pulmo. Marine explorer Jacques Cousteau once called the Sea of Cortez the “the aquarium of the world” due to its ideal environment for an incredible wealth of marine life including unique creatures like the vaquita marina, a tiny porpoise listed as an endangered species. Following are the major reef snorkeling spots in Cabo San Lucas.

Chileno Reef

Stretching half a mile out to sea from popular Chileno Beach, the reef is a paradise for Cabo San Lucas snorkelers, with crystal clear water and incredible coral formations brimming with an incredible variety of marine life including giant manta rays, tuna, starfish, urchins, eels, sharks, sea turtles and so much more. Clear, calm, warm waters fringe an easily accessed beach where you’ll find super morning snorkeling. Head to the far end of the beach farthest to the right for excellent snorkeling; here you’ll find exotic coral formations and a multitude of tropical fish. You can book an exciting Cabo San Lucas snorkeling tour to visit sites further out on the reef. As you pass Lover’s Beach, be sure to keep an eye out for the big colony of sea lions, the iconic Cabo Arch and the exotic rock formations of Land's End.

Cabo Pulmo

The desert kisses the sea at the Sea of Cortez, where schools of colorful fish stream by on one side, while cacti fringe the other. Protected by the Mexican government, Cabo Pulmo Marine Life Preserve encompasses the only living reef in the Sea of Cortez and is considered one of the top snorkeling spots in Mexico. Located between Cabo and Pulmo and Los Frailes, the park is about two hours from Cabo San Lucas on the cape’s east coast. Unlike many others, the reef at Cabo Pulmo has grown 300 percent since it became protected. The most northerly coral reef of the western Pacific, Cabo Pulmo’s eight-fingered habitat is still in a healthy state, with depths ranging from 15 to 100 feet. Swim among rays, turtles, eels and tropical reef fish. Better yet, some great snorkeling sites start close to the shore.

Santa Maria Cove

Offering some of the hottest Cabo San Lucas snorkeling, this beautiful cove has warm, calm waters fringed by long, lovely stretches of sand. Renowned as one of the best beaches in the area for snorkeling, Playa Santa Maria’s curved north wall is lined with gorgonians (sea fans) and alive with schools of brilliantly hued tropical fish, giant sea turtles and manta rays. This protected, horseshoe-shaped beach is flanked by craggy rock formations, sheltering pristine waters perfect for all snorkelers from beginners to experienced, and the marine park is also popular with scuba divers.