Located on the picturesque coast of California, Santa Maria Beach is a true gem that captivates visitors with its stunning beauty and exhilarating waves. Renowned for its world-class snorkeling, showcasing vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, this beach is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.
In this article, I will take you on a virtual tour of Santa Maria Beach, sharing valuable insights, practical tips, and recommendations to ensure your visit is nothing short of extraordinary.
Things to Know Before Visiting Santa Maria Beach
Before planning your trip to explore the beach, there are a few things you would want to know, which I’m going to discuss in just a second.
Is Santa Maria Beach Safe?
Santa Maria Beach is generally safe to visit. The beach is a popular tourist area, meaning you will find lifeguards on duty to assist anyone in need. Moreover, the local police regularly patrol the beach, which helps deter potential criminal activities.
Further reading: The safest areas in Mexico
Where Is Santa Maria Beach Located?
Santa Maria Beach in Mexico is located in the beautiful region of California’s Central Coast. Specifically, it is situated in Santa Barbara County, near the city of Santa Maria.
The beach is part of the larger Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex, which spans approximately 18 miles along the coastline. A few of the nearby beaches include Chileno Beach, Lovers Beach, and Medano Beach.
Is Santa Maria Beach Free To Visit?
Yes, Santa Maria Beach is free to enter since it is a public beach. However, there are additional costs to consider if you plan to rent beach equipment. For instance, an umbrella costs around $13 (250 MXP), and a beach chair costs $5.20 (100 MXP).
Is Santa Maria Beach Swimmable?
Santa Maria Beach in Cabo is indeed swimmable and inviting for water activities. The water at Santa Maria Bay is calm, relatively shallow, and well-protected from waves and strong currents due to its location in a private cove, making it safe for adults and children to swim.
The beach has been awarded the international Blue Flag certification, which indicates high environmental and water-quality standards and makes it a safe beach to swim in Cabo.
Further reading: why can’t you swim in Cabo?
Parking In Santa Maria Beach
You’ll be pleased to know that parking at Santa Maria Beach is completely free. Upon arrival, follow the beach access sign that will direct you straight to the large paved parking area.
How to Get To Santa Maria Beach?
To get to Santa Maria Beach in Cabo San Lucas, you have several transportation options available to you. Let’s discuss a few details about each option to help you decide.
By Car Or Taxi
If you can access a car or plan to get a taxi, driving to Santa Maria Beach is convenient. The beach is off Highway 1, approximately 10 miles southeast of Cabo San Lucas. Reaching this beach from Cabo San Lucas will take around 20-30 minutes.
From Cabo San Lucas
Start by heading southeast on Highway 1, the Transpeninsular Highway. Continue on Highway 1 until you see the sign for Playa Santa Maria, which is around 12 kilometers. Take the exit for Playa Santa Maria and follow the signs for about a 0.25 to 0.5 mile to the paved beach parking area.
From San Jose del Cabo
If you’re coming from San Jose del Cabo, it takes around 22 minutes. You’ll also be traveling on Highway 1. Follow the highway northwest until you reach the Playa las Viudas exit, past Playa Santa Maria.
Take the Playa las Viudas exit and turn left to go under the overpass. Then, turn left again to get back on Highway 1 heading southeast. Take the next exit for Playa Santa Maria and follow the signs to reach the beach parking.
Note: The price for the taxi is around $12 (200 MXP).
By the Local Bus
If you are on a budget, the local bus is the cheapest way to get to Santa Maria Beach in Los Cabos. This only costs around $2-$3 per person (37 MXP). If you are coming from San Jose del Cabo, you first need to take a bus heading towards Cabo San Lucas. Buses for this route are usually labeled with “Cabo San Lucas” on the front.
When in Cabo San Lucas, take a bus heading towards the tourist corridor or Highway 1 and inform the driver that you want to go to Santa Maria Beach. These buses are convenient and run frequently.
Note that this is a public bus, and it stops frequently. So, the journey from Cabo San Lucas to Santa Maria Beach may last as long as 40 minutes due to potential traffic delays.
The bus will be able to drop you off near milepost 12 and the Twin Dolphins Hotel, and from there, you will see a sign on your right for Playa Santa Maria. Just follow the signs on the dirt road down to the parking lot. You can’t miss it.
By Boat Rides
If the thought of hopping into a taxi or taking a public bus ride doesn’t exactly spark joy in your adventurous soul, How about embarking on a boat ride?
For me, this is the best option because it is more convenient, plus the tour operator takes care of transportation and provides extras like snorkeling gear and guides. It’s a great option if you want a hassle-free and organized experience with added perks.
One option that I recommend is a kayaking and snorkeling tour offered by Cabo Outfitters. They organize tours of both Santa Maria and Chileno Bays, and it’s a fantastic way to explore the area. The added fun of kayaking makes the tour even more enjoyable. I’ve personally tried this tour and had a great time!
If you prefer a more leisurely experience, you can consider a snorkeling cruise on a catamaran. There’s a 4-hour tour available that includes snorkeling and an open bar. It’s a popular choice among visitors, and you can find it offered by different tour operators in the area.
For a truly luxurious experience, you might want to consider a private snorkeling yacht tour. Cabo Sailing offers a private tour on a 42-foot yacht, and it’s perfect for up to 4 guests. This tour includes lunch and premium alcoholic drinks, providing a high-end and personalized snorkeling experience.
All these boat tours typically depart from the Cabo San Lucas Marina. It’s a convenient starting point, and you’ll have a great time exploring the beautiful waters around Santa Maria Beach.
Best Time to Visit Santa Maria Beach in Cabo
Los Cabos enjoys mostly pleasant, sunny, and warm weather year-round. Some people may even argue, that there is no bad time to go to Los Cabos.
Although each time of year has its draws, the best time to visit Santa Maria Beach in Cabo San Lucas is during November and May. These months offer sunny days, fewer crowds, low humidity, and temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 24-30 degrees Celsius).
These comfortable temperatures make it ideal for beach activities such as swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and diving. If you’re interested in whale watching though, the best time to visit is during winter, specifically December and March.
Early in the season, you’re more likely to see adult whales, while toward the end of the season, there’s a better chance of witnessing baby humpbacks.
Best Things to Do In Santa Maria Beach
Once you arrive at the beach, there are plenty of activities that you can try at Santa Maria beach:
- Go Snorkeling
- Go Scuba Diving
- Take a Swim
- Enjoy Whale Watching
- Explore nearby Attractions
1. Go Snorkeling
One of the most popular activities among visitors and locals is snorkeling. Santa Maria Beach is a haven for snorkel enthusiasts due to its pristine turquoise waters and thriving marine ecosystem.
The exceptionally clear waters at this beach provide unmatched visibility, enabling you to marvel at the captivating underwater realm even from the comfort of a tour boat. Snorkeling in these waters allows you to encounter many marine species varying in sizes, shapes, and vibrant colors.
To make the most of your snorkeling experience, I recommend exploring the two opposite ends of the bay closer to the rocks and the beach. You can expect to see endless amounts of colorful fish species like:
- Moorish idols
Keep your eyes out for crabs, stingrays, and even sea lions. Those can occasionally be spotted frolicking in the bay.
2. Go Scuba Diving
If you’re searching for scuba diving spots in Cabo San Lucas, look no further than Playa Santa Maria. While snorkeling can be enjoyable, if you’re prepared to delve deeper, embarking on a diving tour might be just what you’re looking for.
The beach welcomes divers of all skill levels, catering to both beginners and experts. At depths ranging from 20 to 60 feet, you’ll encounter a vibrant reef teeming with corals.
To arrange a diving trip in Los Cabos, it’s recommended to contact a reputable diving operator. The following dive shops are known for their reliability and professionalism, providing a range of services such as tours, lessons, and diving packages exclusively designed for Cabo San Lucas.
- Eagle Divers Manta
- Cabo Adventures
- Dive Ninjas
- See Creatures
- Nautilus Dive Tech
3. Take a Swim
The crystal-clear waters beckon visitors to take a dip and enjoy a refreshing swim.
Whether you’re looking to cool off, exercise, or relax, Santa Maria Beach offers a beautiful setting and calm currents, ensuring a delightful swimming experience. it is an excellent location for families due to its safe swimming environment, which caters to adults and children alike.
4. Enjoy Whale Watching
If you happen to visit Santa Maria Beach between December and April, you’re in for a treat – it’s whale-watching season! The calm, shallow waters are ideal for up-close viewing.
You can embark on a thrilling whale-watching excursion and witness these majestic creatures breach and play in the ocean. You could get lucky and see:
- Humpback whales
- Blue whales
- Sperm whales
- Minke whale
- Fin whales
5. Explore nearby Attractions
While visiting Santa Maria Beach is the main activity, the real excitement also lies in the numerous nearby destinations and attractions that can take your trip to the next level. Expand your itinerary and add these thrilling places to your must-visit list for an unforgettable experience.
- Quivira Golf Club
- Cabo San Lucas Arch (El Arco)
- Land’s End
- Marina Cabo San Lucas
- Cabo Pulmo National Park
- San Jose del Cabo Art District
Where to Stay At Santa Maria Beach?
Grand Velas Boutique Hotel
Grand Velas Boutique Hotel is a luxurious retreat just 6.6 miles from Santa Maria Beach. This boutique hotel in Cabo offers relaxation and convenience with an outdoor pool, free parking, and a fitness center. Indulge in sea-view rooms, delightful dining options, and impeccable service.
Arch and Ocean View with Private Balcony
This hotel is perched just 3 miles along the Cabo San Lucas shoreline, this hidden gem offers an oceanfront oasis complete with a private balcony and amazing sea vistas. The private home features two cozy bedrooms, contemporary comforts, and a fitness room. You can also tee off at the prestigious Cabo San Lucas Country Club.
Mar del Cabo By Velas Resorts
Mar del Cabo is just 2.8 miles from the pristine shores of Santa Maria Beach, it beckons with its irresistible charm. This resort offers more than just a place to rest your head – It offers a fitness center, free parking, a restaurant, and a bar. With sea-view rooms, it became a favorite among couples seeking a romantic getaway.
Where to Eat At Santa Maria Beach in Los Cabos?
While there may not be restaurants directly on the beach, there are establishments nearby where you can enjoy a meal. Here are a few of my go-to options:
Situated about 7 miles from Santa Maria Beach, Sunset Monalisa is a stunning restaurant perched on a cliff overlooking the Sea of Cortez. it offers breathtaking sunset views. The menu focuses on Mediterranean cuisine with Mexican influences, featuring dishes like fresh seafood, handmade pasta, and prime cuts of meat.
A visit to Los Cabos wouldn’t be complete without savoring the delights of Edith’s Restaurant, located approximately 7.3 miles from Santa Maria Beach. The restaurant is famous for its traditional Mexican cuisine and seafood dishes. The restaurant also features a wide selection of tequila and signature cocktails.
The Cape, a Thompson Hotel – Manta
Manta is situated within The Cape, a luxurious beachfront hotel, and offers a sophisticated dining experience. The menu features seafood specialties, creative cocktails, and extensive tequilas and mezcals. Manta is located about a 13-minute drive from Santa Maria Beach.
In conclusion, Santa Maria Beach is a slice of paradise that beckons travelers from far and wide to immerse themselves in its natural beauty and tranquility.
With its safe and accessible environment, awe-inspiring surroundings, and a plethora of activities to enjoy, this amazing beach promises an unforgettable experience. There’s something for everyone, from snorkeling to indulging in thrilling water sports or simply relishing serenity on the sandy shores.
I highly recommend stopping at Santa Maria Beach in Cabo San Lucas at least once during your Los Cabo getaway!