El Arco is synonymous with Cabo San Lucas, it is the image that you think of when you hear Cabo mentioned in a conversation, at least for me it was. It’s called Land’s End for a reason – as the crow flies, if you followed a line south from here, you would not touch land again until you reached the South Pole. This distinctive landmark of Cabo San Lucas – the rugged taffy-colored El Arco Cabo is also called The Arch. It is a rock formation that erupts from the sea at the tip of the Baja Peninsula has been featured in countless vacation photos and travel pamphlets. El Arco is a popular tourist attraction and a visit to Land’s End is undoubtedly one of the most popular things to do in Cabo San Lucas. So when we were in the Mexican Baja California Sur, we set a day aside to leave the comforts of the resort in the resort corridor to visit the famous arch and get our vacation photo taken there like the many other Cabo visitors before us.
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Getting to El Arco Cabo
Getting there was easy. We hired a private boat, with so many options available from zodiac boats to luxury sailboats to smaller boats taxis, some of them even come with glass bottoms, we went with Rancho tours. The 2 hour private pontoon boat option included the pickup and drop off from our resort to the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Once we reached the marina which was a comfortable 20 minute drive away, we walked around and admiring the beauty of Pedregal and marina before we set off to view the iconic arches.
The boats lined up marina
Our private and precious pontoon boat, not very many pontoon boats in the marina…not sure if that is why it was named Precious Toon III
The view of Pedregal as we leave the Marina
Architect Manuel Diaz Rivera, along with his family searched for a place to move away from the metropolis of Mexico City. After visiting Tijuana and Ensenada, they arrived at La Paz, a city famous for its great commerce and lovely beaches and eventually to the fisherman’s village of Cabo San Lucas. With an amazing vision the Riviera family has developed the master planned Pedregal community with its streets, parks, residential lots, lookout points- the whole area looks like it belongs in Greece or Italy with buildings hanging off the cliffs.
En route to El Arco we passed some lazy sea lions basking on the rocks.
We saw a few pelicans in the water as well
Lover’s Beach or Divorce Beach
Playa del Amour (Lover’s Beach) at the base of the rock formations is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, some sunbathing, snorkeling, swimming and a picnic. Sometime during low tide, below the arch there is a small beach only accessible by a boat. There are very few facilities on the Lovers beach like toilets or stores and vendors. Romantic as the name may be, the area where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez converge at Land’s End, swimming is not advised. The water currents are pretty rough at the Pacific side’s Playa Divorcio (Divorce Beach) and swimming is not advisable there either. Many drowning have occurred in this area, so just bring the camera and not a swimsuit. You can ask the captain to drop you off at the Lover’s beach and arrange a pick-up time but we opted to stay in the boat and go to looking for whales instead.
A view of the Pacific side from the calmer waters of Sea of Cortez
A cove with a spot of sand
The real El Arco
The reality behind those beautiful vacation pictures – there were so many boats waiting to get in front of the arch for their shot, the water was pretty choppy as well.
Our captain found a spot for us and we got our pictures in front of the famous Arch of Los Cabos!
Whale tail or just a tale
Each year in early autumn, when the seasonal change occurs hundreds of whales migrate from the frigid waters of the Arctic to the warm, calm waters surrounding the Baja Peninsula. December to March, you can see them playing and in waters near Los Cabos. The whales make their way south completing the 19,312-km (12,000-mile) migration by late December, staying until late March when they repeat their journey northward. Ideal climate, shallow waters, salinity and abundant marine life make the bays and lagoons north of Los Cabos the perfect place for whales to birth and rear their young. Of the 11 species of whales found worldwide, eight venture to the waters off Los Cabos, including minke, bryde, fin, sei, humpback, gray and blue. This six-month, round-trip sojourn is the longest trip made by any animal in the world. We spotted a couple of humpback whales in the short time we were there, we saw one blow at the surface of the water… When whales open their blowholes and exhale air explosively through their blowhole, this exhaled air from the blowhole is called the blow and usually forms a gusher or a bushy stream of misty air and vapor.
Long before the luxurious hotels, championship golf courses and world-class spas, the waters of Los Cabos were brimming with an abundance of marine life. Hollywood stars, such as Bing Crosby and John Wayne, lured by the legendary sport fishing initially put Cabos on the tourist map back in the 1950s. Ranked among the top five fishing destinations on the planet, Los Cabos holds the title as the “Marlin Capital of the World.” The destination’s azure waters entice black, blue and striped marlin that weigh in as big as 1,000 pounds. Marlin is the number one fish in Los Cabos because it is present throughout the year, with peak months being May, June, December and January. You can arrange one of the boats to take you fishing for Marlin and then take it to the restaurant where they will cook it for you. Our captain tried to talk us into it but given that tow out of four of our family gets seasick we had to pass.
After a few more minutes on the boat looking for whales, we saw a couple of them – just a fin here, a tail there, some blowing water out of their blowholes.. we didn’t see the dramatic breaching of the whales! When a humpback whale breaches, he essentially jumps out of the water and whirls around – often numerous times in a row, this is called breaching… Not that our captain didn’t try, he was on his little radio talking to other boats in the area to figure out if there were any whale sightings.. and dashed over to the area, by this time one of our kids got a little seasick and was not too keen on seeing a whale breach, so we called it a day and headed back to the marina, where we saw a few more pelicans. While the Baja Peninsula today is a major migration route for whales, Cabo San Lucas was once an important trade route for Spanish galleons in the 1500s. Pirates would hide behind the protection of El Arco in the calm bay of the Sea of Cortez as they waited for Spanish fleets loaded with gold, spices and other treasures to pass. At the appropriate time they would launch their attack from the towering rock formation of El Arco. We didn’t see any pirates either…
More Pelicans chilling by the marina – not sure if he is angry or he is just focusing on catching a fish or two
We loved walking around the marina, had tacos nearby watched the sun go down, then walked up to the Puerto Paradiso Mall around the corner and got some Haagen Dazs Icecream. Since we opted to stay longer at the marina, we missed our ride back and took a cab which added another $40 to the trip in addition to the $350 we spent for the 2 hour boat ride. Would I suggest that you add this to your Cabo itinerary? Yes, if you want to have a picture by the famous El Arco, but before you go know that the water is pretty cold and choppy, the area touristy and the beach near the arch only accessible by a boat. If we had gone all the way to Baja California Sur and not gone to see the El Arco, I would still have it on my list and now I can take it off my list and share my experience with you. Plan on a hour boat ride, if all you want to see is the Arch – it only takes 15 minutes from the marina to the Arch itself, do a longer tour if you want to go see the whales. But do spend some time around the marina and then take a 5 minute cab ride to the Medano beach and have lunch at one of the restaurants (The Office owned by Edith Jimenez seems like a popular one) with a view of the Arch. If you are vacationing in the Cabo area and want to get a picture by the famous Arch of Los Cabos, hire a private boat, you will be glad you did… the captain will help tailor the trip for you and your family!