San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo san Lucas: Which city in the Los Cabos Municipality is better? Located 20 miles apart on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, both cities are premier vacation destinations, cumulatively attracting over 2 million tourists per year. But what is the difference between the two cities, and which one should you stay in? If you are trying to decide between San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo san Lucas for your next trip, here are the main factors to keep in mind.
Attractions and Activities
San Jose del Cabo
The first thing to note about San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo san Lucas is that San Jose del Cabo is the smaller, quieter city. Founded as a mission in 1730, the area served as a rest and recuperation point for Spanish galleons returning from the Philippines to resupply their fresh water, and was the site of a siege during the Spanish American War. San Jose del Cabo also variously served as a hideout for pirates and smugglers, and the site of a violent native uprising.
The rich history of the area is reflected in the old buildings in the historic center, including Mission San Jose, The City Hall, Casa de la Cultura, which served as the US headquarters in the area during the Spanish American War, and more.
San Jose del Cabo has a laid-back, family friendly atmosphere. Flanked by the cool, deep blue waters of the Sea of Cortez on one side and surrounded by desert landscape on the other sides, the natural beauty and tranquility of the area is stunning. The beaches in San Jose del Cabo are some of the nicest in the country, with white sands, calm waters, and beautiful rock formations.
In the city, the cobblestone streets and small buildings make it easy to walk to San Jose del Cabo’s best restaurants, bars, museums, festivals and more.
Cabo san Lucas
Cabo san Lucas is San Jose del Cabo’s more active counterpart. Like San Jose del Cabo, Cabo san Lucas has great beaches and deep, blue waters that are perfect for swimming or soaking up the sun. Unlike San Jose del Cabo, Cabo san Lucas also has a wealth of watersports and waterfront activities to partake in, including surfing, kayaking, deep sea fishing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, parasailing and more.
Cabo san Lucas is the much busier city than San Jose del Cabo. More tours, day trips and excursions are available in Cabo san Lucas, as well as a more active nightlife. Main attractions at Cabos San Lucas off the beach include buggy tours of the local canyons, bungee jumping, visiting the local restaurants, shopping, and enjoying the spas.
Some of the more popular and unique attractions in Cabo San Lucas include camel rides through the Mexican desert, glass bottom boat rides over the nearby reefs to see tropical fish and other marine wildlife, and autumn and winter whale watching tours–the oceans off Baja California Sur see a variety of whales during those months, coming to bear young in the warm southern waters before heading north to Alaska for the summer. Cabos San Lucas also hosts a marlin tournament every October, which is one of the most watched and highest paying in the world.
For those interested in the nightlife, Cabo San Lucas features a wide range of bars, lounges, and nightclubs for partygoers to choose from, unlike San Jose del Cabo, which has some bars and entertainment, but is quieter overall.
In terms of accommodations in San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo san Lucas, the hotels and rentals in San Jose del Cabo are generally a little smaller than the ones in Cabo san Lucas, and has fewer all-inclusive resorts. That being said, San Jose del Cabo still has incredible all-inclusive resorts that are easily on par with those in Cabo san Lucas, offering luxury suites, fine dining, extensive pools, spas, beachfront access, on-site golf courses, and everything else you need for a great vacation.
Most of the popular resorts, however, are located in Cabo san Lucas. Cabo san Lucas’s all-inclusive resorts have everything that San Jose del Cabo’s do, from master suites with balconies overlooking to beach, to direct beachfront access, to pools, spas, gyms, and more. Plus, the resorts in Cabo san Lucas are much closer to the tour groups and day trips that leave from Los Cabos to go snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, camel riding, whale watching, and more.
In general, Cabo san Lucas is more expensive than San Jose del Cabo. As the more popular destination, businesses in Cabo san Lucas charge higher prices for everything from accommodations to tours to dining. The average price for one person to stay in Cabo san Lucas for one week is around $2,386 and the average price for one person to stay in San Jose del Cabo for one week is $1,623.
The Bottom Line
When considering the pros and cons of San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo san Lucas, there are a couple of important factors to take into consideration. The main thing you will want to consider is what you are interested in doing on the vacation. If you want an active vacation with tours, snorkeling and scuba diving, whale watching, and other unique experiences, Cabo san Lucas is the better destination.
If you prefer a more quiet, laid back vacation spent relaxing on the beach and swimming in the ocean, San Jose del Cabo is likely the better choice. San Jose del Cabo is also less expensive, so it is the better choice for those who are travelling on a budget. Also, keep in mind that the two cities are only a 30 minute drive from one another, so it is more than possible to visit and spend a couple days at both.