4 Great Boat Trips for Kids in La Paz and Los Cabos

Boat trips are a great way to teach your kids about the Baja region. But be careful; one of the most popular trips was a great letdown for us.

Some of the best family activities you can do in Baja California Sur are on the water. Flanked by the Sea of Cortez on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, the peninsula offers a diverse selection of water-based fun.

And while very young children might not be able to snorkel or scuba dive, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the incredible flora and fauna that the ocean has to offer.

Here are four boat trips we did in La Paz and Los Cabos that kids of any age will enjoy (along with one that our kids should have enjoyed, but didn’t!).

1. The Cabo Arch

The boat ride from the Cabo San Lucas marina to the famous arch is one of the most stereotypical trips you can take while in Baja Sur. But just because it’s a staple trip that hundreds of people undertake every day, it doesn’t mean you should give it a wide berth.

If you are traveling with kids, make sure you go in a glass-bottomed boat. The number of fish that call the waters around the arch their home is impressive, and the boat’s captain will stop in several spots where you can marvel at the endless sea life beneath you.

Once you arrive at the arch, the ocean swells are huge. If your kids are anything like Harriet and Luca, they will be giggling in delight as the boat rises and falls by several meters at a time.


And of course, the arch also provides ample photo opportunities; the famous Playa de los Amantes (Lover’s Beach) and Playa del Divorcio (Divorcee’s Beach), located on either side of the arch, offer a beautiful backdrop.

Some boat tours will stop and allow you to set foot on the beach, but honestly, it’s probably not worth your time. They are best viewed from the water.

2. Whale Sharks in La Paz


Whale shark tours (not to be confused with the gray whale tours) are an easy trip from the La Paz malecon. They are in the area between October and May every year as they come to wallow in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez and graze on the nutrient-rich marine life.

Predominantly found in the waters around Mogote Beach, it takes about 30 minutes for the boat to get from the departure point to the viewing point. The boats will supply snorkeling equipment for those who want to enter the water, but you can see plenty from the vessel if you don’t feel comfortable getting in the sea. Snacks and drinks are typically provided by the boat’s captain.

You can book a tour from the many agencies on the malecon.

3. Gray Whales in Lopez Mateos

Taking a trip to see the gray whales is one of the main reasons that lots of nature-lovers come to Baja California Sur. More than 97 percent of the world’s gray whales make the Pacific waters on the western side of the peninsula their home between December and April.

Several towns on the west coast make whale-watching tours their raison d’être, with two main hubs being the tiny villages of San Carlos and Lopez Mateos.

We only went on this trip once due to the driving distances involved (it’ll take you more than four hours to get to the town of Lopez Mateos from La Paz and six hours from Los Cabos).

Sadly, our experience was underwhelming. Despite going in the peak season, we only saw a single whale that poked its back out of the water for a mere few seconds, right at the end of the two-hour boat tour. Full credit to the captain for noticing the tiny hump from a seemingly-impossible distance. We would have never spotted the one that we did see without his well-trained eagle eye.

This trip was a great disappointment to Harriet and Luca. We’d spent weeks showing them videos of whales, talking to them about what to expect, and educating them on the migratory process. Sure, they enjoyed the boat ride, but the experience failed to live up to expectations.

In truth, we just got unlucky. Friends who made the same trip spoke of seeing dozens of the majestic creatures and have photos and videos of them coming right up out of the water. But it goes to show that sometimes even the best-planned trips do not work out as you would like.

Just remember to manage your kids’ expectations before you set off, lest you have a similar experience to us.

4. A Tour of the La Paz Malecon

If you don’t want a long boat ride that takes several hours, you can commission one of the tour operators on the malecon to give you a private ride to wherever you want.

On one occasion, we asked the captain to give us a slow ride around the La Paz bay. He went at a snail’s pace along the malecon, looped past the various marinas with the fancy yachts, swung over to the far side of the bay to get a view of the golf course, and gave us an up-close look at the Mexican Navy military installations just outside the town center.

We got lucky because our captain was a knowledgeable chap who had been doing boat rides in the area for most of his life. He gave us fascinating snippets of information as we sailed and was more than happy to answer our questions. Remember, with all these tours, a guide who knows his material can make the difference between a good trip and a great trip.

Ultimately, the approach of privately commissioning a boat and telling the captain to take you to the places you want to see is a great way to see the area and experience the sights that are most appealing to you. There are so many private boat owners touting their tours on the malecon that it is easy to find one that will oblige with your request.

Honorable Mention…

Another popular trip from La Paz is to the protected island of Espiritu Santo. You can see lots of marine life, disembark on the beaches and have a swim in the clear water, and enjoy local food and drink provided by the tour operator. But these tours tend to last all day and require several hours sitting on the boat. Kids can become bored, or worse, seasick. If your kids are a bit older, it is worth considering, but for younger children, give it a miss.


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