We enjoy vacationing in Cabo san Lucas, Mexico every year, calling it the place “where desert meets the ocean.” When we invited my brother, sister-in-law and nephew to join us, the only question was: Would there be enough for a teenager to do? Fair question, as teens are all about adventure. So, in our planning, we included as many activities as possible to keep our teen happy, while enjoying our time together as a family.
Cabo for Families with Teens
Located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, beautiful, picturesque Cabo is known for its beaches, water sports, and land adventures. The sun shines an average of 350 days here with average temperatures ranging from the low 70s, in the winter, to mid-90s in the summer- perfect climate for outdoor activities.
Where to Stay in Cabo
Los Cabos is the combined nickname for the neighboring towns of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo san Lucas. The Corridor region, a 20-mile stretch that connects these two towns is our favorite area to stay, as we’re centrally located to restaurants and activities we love on both sides of Cabo.
Our home base was Hacienda Encantada Resort and Spa located minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas and the Marina District. The resort, with hacienda-style suites is perched high on a scenic point overlooking the azure waters of the Sea of Cortez.
All villas face the ocean and the resort’s large tiered infinity pools include plenty of water activities. Though the crashing waves, large rock formations and undercurrents are not conducive to swimming or water sports here, some of the area’s best beaches are literally minutes from the resort.
And falling asleep and waking to the sight and sounds of the magnificent surf more than made up for the lack of a swimming beach.
Where to Play in Cabo – Beaches
Like pearls on a necklace, a string of magnificent, sparkling beaches stretches through Cabo along the Sea of Cortez and into the Pacific Ocean. Its unspoiled, turquoise waters are a treasure chest of tropical fish, coral forests, and one of the world’s greatest whale migration destinations.
Santa Maria, part of a marine sanctuary, is a lovely horseshoe shaped beach ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The long expanse of Chileno Beach with its classic shaded palapas is likewise a popular area for swimming, snorkeling, diving and kayaking.
For the perfect surfing adventure, our concierge recommended Cerritos Beach, located on the Pacific, one hour north of Cabo. Surf instructors were available for lessons, with surf boards of all styles for rent.
Despite the fact that our nephew spoke little Spanish, and his instructor spoke almost no English other than “paddle, paddle” they communicated just fine, and after only a few times out on his surfboard, our nephew was catching his first wave!
Where to Play in Cabo – Water Sports
Medano Beach rocks with the fun and excitement of the ultimate beach party. Situated on a long stretch of deep golden sand, this is the top place for water activities and rentals, from paddleboards and kayaks to jet skis.
This provided options on getting to Cabo’s most popular and photographed site, El Arco (The Arch) at Land’s End, reachable only by boat. Seas were a little rough for kayaks, so, we wisely opted for the glass-bottomed boat.
Literally, where the land ends, this implausibly beautiful tip of the Baja peninsula divides the deep blue churning waters of the Pacific from the warmer and calmer Sea of Cortez. Rolling waves ripple serenely to shore on the deep, soft sands of Lover’s Beach.
Snorkeling is great around Pelican Rock, a giant boulder just off the beach, where hundreds of deep-billed seabirds roost. Fascinating spired rock formations line both sides of the beach area.
On the Pacific side, Divorce Beach is found through a gap in the rocks, and is so named for its rough, dangerous churning waters. Swimming here is particularly dangerous due to swift currents and powerful, booming surf. But, what an exciting place to see Mother Nature in action.
Where to Play in Cabo – Land Activities
Probably the most extreme of all Cabo’s many outdoor adventures is the Ultimate Zip Line by Cabo Adventures, Mexico’s longest, highest, and fastest zip line. Our family, true adventurers, ranged in age from the 40s and 50s along with our teen nephew.
We traversed with guides over suspended bridges, repelled on cliffs, and flew in harnesses over picturesque desert canyons at speeds of up to 60 mph and a length of 4,000 feet.
If zip lining wasn’t enough fun for one day, we piled into a couple of rugged Polaris off-road UTV buggies and zoomed off into the beautiful Baja desert. Careening madly along dry riverbeds and over sand, rocks, and dusty roads was a real adrenaline rush.
Where to Eat in Cabo
Our young nephew calls himself a “true foodie” and is not a picky eater. No matter, as Cabo offers a large variety of restaurants to satisfy every member of the family.
One of our lunch favorites, The Office, is located right on Medano Beach. So, after some water adventures, we dined feet in the sand. The restaurant, known for its excellent food, top notch service and entertainment is famous for its palapa roof and stunning ocean views. We were treated to live music and an authentic Mexican fiesta with piñatas and prizes.
Hacienda Cocina y Cantina is the signature beachfront restaurant at the Hacienda Beach Club and Residences. The property rests on the corner of the Cabo San Lucas marina and spills out onto Medano Beach overlooking the iconic rock formations of Land’s End.
Hacienda features open air indoor dining, softly lit outdoor dining on the terraza, and a beachfront palapa bar. Our favorite entree was the delicious, family-style shared Molcajete- consisting of skirt steak, chicken, chorizo, chiles, panela cheese, black beans, and avocado cooked together in a basalt pot, accompanied by freshly baked tortillas.
Sharing is a hallmark of this restaurant, and we enjoyed a sampler platter of fabulous tastes. Prices are incredibly reasonable given the quality of the food and stunning atmosphere. Shared entrees for two ranged between $32 to $34 dollars, though portions were very generous.
One of the best sushi restaurants we have ever been to, and one our nephew asked to visit twice was Nik-San, a wonderful Japanese restaurant located in the marina district. Seafood is brought in fresh daily, and chefs prepare sushi in an open-air kitchen where all can observe their “art in motion”.
Their menu is extensive, so, it’s hard to choose. Thankfully, our waiter offered expert guidance and we ordered an eclectic mix of specialty salmon and tuna rolls, and exquisitely prepared seafood dishes. We marveled at the savory freshness, generous portions, and knew we’d be back.
We literally ran out of time before we ran out of things to do. So successful was this trip that our nephew commented with a huge smile that he would definitely return with his sporty, fun-loving friends to tackle all the adventures we didn’t get to this time around. We all agreed the vacation was a rip-roaring success!