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Los Cabos, Mexico, Santa Maria Beach
Santa Maria Beach/iStock

Picture Los Cabos, and blue water washing up on golden sand probably comes to mind. But vacationers who flock here may be surprised that only a handful of its beaches are actually swimmable, due to strong undertow and rocky shores on the Pacific Coast. What’s a beach bum to do? Luckily, you can head to these five beaches where it’s safe to swim — and free to access.

Medano Beach

Located in the heart of the action in Cabo San Lucas, this popular stretch of sand has the calmest waters and a view of El Arco, the town’s iconic rock formation. While access to the beach is free, we recommend reserving a chair at one of the seaside restaurant bars and ordering a frozen cocktail since persistent vendors aren’t allowed to approach here.

Lover’s Beach


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Take a water taxi or glass-bottomed boat from Medano Beach (around $10 USD) to this secluded beach at Land’s End, and you’ll find a relaxed vibe, great water for snorkeling, and an up-close view of El Arco. Note that Divorce Beach, located on the opposite side of this beach, is a no-go for swimming.

Palmilla Beach


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Pack a cooler and head for this relatively uncrowded beach — just a 10-minute drive from San José del Cabo — where you can relax under palapas. It draws families and groups of friends alike for swimming and snorkeling, plus you can rent paddleboard and kayaks. There are no vendors here, and parking is free.

Chileno Beach

Halfway between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, Chileno is farther away from the crowds, and the 20-minute drive pays off. There’s clear water that’s ideal for snorkeling and you may see more families here, too, since there are lifeguards monitoring the water. Bonus: parking is free; just note that you’ll have to bring your own umbrella and snacks since there aren’t any spots to buy them.

Santa Maria Beach

Just down the way from Chileno is Santa Maria, a horseshoe-shaped beach that’s also about a 20-minute drive from Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. The protected cove misses the roughest undercurrents, making it a popular snorkeling spot where you can spot tropical fish on calm days (bring tortillas — they have an appetite!). And unlike Chileno, there are also new bathroom and shower facilities nearby.

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