San Jose del Cabo Activities and Attractions
San Jose del Cabo is one of the two cities that form the Los Cabos tourist destination, Opposing the big shopping malls and hectic nightlife of her sister city Cabo San Lucas, San Jose offers a more relaxing, yet vibrating experience full of Mexican flavor.
San Jose presents to its visitors a wide range of activities, sightseeing, and amenities that promise to please different tastes and budgets.
San Jose del Cabo is the administrative head of Los Cabos County, in Baja California Sur State. Together with Cabo San Lucas, they are known as Los Cabos (The Capes) one of the most visited tourist destinations in Mexico.
Located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, this vibrant city offers plenty of activities, attractions, and experiences to fill your itinerary. Here are some great things to do in San Jose del Cabo:
San Jose del Cabo Historic District
One of the main attractions of San Jose is the town’s Historic District. The area used to be the whole town before the tourist destination was developed by Fonatur back in the 1970s.
Through its buildings and historic places, the visitor can begin to imagine the town’s history.
San Jose del Cabo’s Historic District’s heart is Plaza Mijares (Mijares Square); surrounded by old buildings that house stores and restaurants, the plaza is not only a tourist attraction but a social hub for locals that gather for the town’s main celebrations.
It has a traditional kiosk, beautiful dancing fountains, the City Hall building, and an open theater where many cultural events are presented year around. Across the plaza is San Jose Church, downtown’s most iconic building.
Along Obregon Street is the Art District, where old houses were converted into galleries featuring national and international artists. Every Thursday from November to June the art galleries organize an event called Art Walk which features street shows and wine and tequila tastings.
San Jose’s historic district has every budget accommodation, from juvenile hostels to luxurious boutique hotels, and offers a great diversity of high-end dining or casual lunch restaurants. Nightlife, more subdued than in Cabo San Lucas mainly consists of live music bars and restaurants.
Shopping is another attraction in the Historic District; everything from silver jewelry to souvenirs and Mexican crafts can be found at area stores.
San Jose has a long coastline that goes from the Estuary to Punta Palmilla; along those beaches, one can walk, horse ride, sunbathe, and play but only the Palmilla and Costa Azul beaches are completely safe to swim.
The coast of San Jose del Cabo is dotted with magnificent beaches where visitors can enjoy a peaceful day outdoors. From Playa Las Viudas and Chileno Bay to Costa Azul and Acapulquito Beach, there’s something for every taste. These stunning shorelines feature crystal-clear waters, soft sand, and lush greenery – ideal settings for a tranquil swim or a leisurely stroll.
Costal Azul and its neighbor beach Acapulquito are best known among local and foreign surfers for their great waves. Palmilla is the favorite among families and swimmers for its tranquil waves; kayaking and stand-up paddling can be practiced there.
For thrill seekers, San Jose del Cabo offers plenty of exciting activities. Surfers will find breaks along many of the area’s beaches that are perfect for showing off their skills. Or venture out into the waves on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore the hidden coves of the bay. The calm waters also make this a great spot for fishing or snorkeling, so bring your gear and prepare for an unforgettable adventure!
San Jose del Cabo Historic Places
San Jose del Cabo Historic Places and Buildings are located in the Historic District, which used to be the whole town till the 1970s. San Jose was founded as a Jesuitical Mission in 1730 but lasted only a few years in the original place and changed its location several times. By the beginning of the XIX century, the church was established in its actual location and so the town grew around it.
Before FONATUR’s remodeling in the late 70’s most of the economic, political, and cultural activities were held in La Calle Ancha. The City Hall, La Voz del Sur, Town School, and the Movie Theater were all located on this street along with the houses of the wealthiest families.
With the development of the tourist destination, many people left their houses to rent them as business premises therefore most of downtown´s houses are now stores, hotels, and restaurants. Although a few buildings remain as they were built at the end of the 19th Century, some of them have been remodeled to imitate the town’s architectural style, and most of them were renovated losing their original style.
The historic places you should not miss while visiting San Jose’s Historic District are:
Known as well as Mission San Jose, although is not the original church built by the Jesuits, it is San Jose’s most important Catholic church and the Historic District’s main attraction. More info below.
San Jose City Hall
Houses Los Cabos County Major office and many local government agencies, its walls portray passages of the county’s history. San Jose del Cabo City Hall is located at the end of Blvd. Mijares and Doblado St. on the Mijares Square. The building houses many Los Cabos County premises including the Major’s office.
The construction of the building began in 1888 and it was finally inaugurated in 1927. The clock tower was finished in 1930. Before having its own building the power plant was installed there and it worked from 19.00 to 22.00 hrs. In 1936 an ambulant movie theater was installed on the City Hall’s patio.
A humorous anecdote is still told about how a farmer who was seating in the front row saw a group of horses coming from the screen towards him and stood up to scare them away! Over the years the building has been remodeled a few times, mostly inside with the construction of more offices and the painting of murals on the interior walls depicting the
La Casa de La Cultura
San Jose del Cabo Casa de la Cultura or Arts Center is located in the back of Mijares Square at Obregon St.
A Casa de la Cultura in Mexico is a place where everybody can access the different belle arts. Literature, painting, acting, dancing, and music workshops are open for anybody who wants to attend. Usually, a small stage is available to set spectacles free of charge. This concept was taken from the idea developed by André Malreaux the minister of culture during the De Gaulle presidency in France.
Besides the regular workshops, La Casa de la Cultura organizes a weekly event called Jardin del Arte or Art’s Garden, in Mijares Square. Local painters and craftsmen exhibit their work while a local musician entertains the crowd.
Jardin de los Cabos Ilustres
The Jardin Cabenos Ilustres, Garden of the Illustrious Cabeños, was built in the 2007 Mijares Square remodeling. The place located next to the fountains has the busts of Lt. Jose Antonio Mijares in the center flanked by 5 illustrious men and 1 woman. Some of them helped protect the community while others were pioneers in education, development, and culture.
The Plaza Mijares named after the local hero, Lt. Jose Antonio Mijares, is locals and tourists social hub, many cultural events around the year are held in the square open theater. San Jose del Cabo Mijares Square, known as La Plaza by locals, is a gathering point for residents and tourists.
Located in the heart of the town’s Historic District, The Square is surrounded by historic buildings like the City Hall, San Jose Church, and the Casa de La Cultura; full of not to be missed spots such as the Kiosk, the Flagpole, and the Jardin de Cabeños Ilustres and circled by restaurants and stores.
Many special events like dance and music festivals and different holiday celebrations such as the town Patron festivities in March, The Independence Day celebrations on September 16, the Day of the Dead altars contest in November, and Christmas bazaars in December take place in Mijares Square.
San Jose del Cabo Church
San Jose del Cabo Church, mis-called San Jose Mission, is located in the heart of San Jose´s Historic District. The building as we know it today was restored in 1940 and is the most visited tourist attraction downtown.
The first San Jose del Cabo Church was built when the San Jose del Cabo Anuiti Mission was founded on April 8th, 1730 by Jesuitical Friar Nicolas Tamaral.
The Mission was built near the estuary, where Plaza la Mision is located nowadays, but very soon the Friar had to change its location because of health issues. He moved to the area known today as San Jose Viejo.
In 1734 an uprising was started by the Pericues Indians, Friar Tamaral was killed and the Mission was completely destroyed. In 1840 the construction of a new Church began in San Jose at its actual location but that building was nearly destroyed by a hurricane that devastated the area in 1918. Due to the Revolutionary War and following struggles the Church rebuilding was not completed until 1940.
The Comboni Missionaries served the San Jose Church from 1948 to 1986. Nowadays it is served by diocesan clergy.
San Jose Estuary
An important factor in San Jose’s History the estuary is a natural refuge for local and migrating birds that can be watched while walking through it. Full of palm trees the estuary continues to be an oasis in the middle of the desert.
The San Jose Estuary is a beautiful and diverse ecosystem located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Spanning from South San Francisco to Palo Alto, this unique environment plays an important role in providing a habitat for many native species of wildlife and aquatic plants. It’s also home to a variety of migratory birds and other animals that rely on its bounty for survival. With its wide variety of wetland habitats, the estuary serves as a vital stopover point during annual migrations.
San Jose del Cabo Golf Courses
San Jose has 3 golf courses. The first golf course in the area was built by Fonatur in the 1970s and is located near downtown featuring 9 holes; the second is a Jack Nicklaus design twenty-seven holes course located at Palmilla and the newest one, eighteen holes designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, is located at Puerto Los Cabos.
Beginners will be drawn to courses like Club Campestre San Jose, which features wide fairways and large greens that make it enjoyable for even those new to the game. For more advanced players, Club Diamante Cabo San Lucas offers a challenging yet rewarding round with its tight fairways and creative bunkering. For those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, El Dorado Golf & Beach Club provides an oasis where you can savor the peace and serenity found in nature.
Cabo Real Golf Club
This 18-hole, par 72 course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and offers lush fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and captivating views of the Sea of Cortez. With four tee boxes on each hole, Cabo Real appeals to both novice and advanced players alike.
Puerto Los Cabos
Two acclaimed golf designers, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, collaborated to create this gem of a course along the Sea of Cortez. The masterful design features two distinct styles of play – with the Nicklaus Design Course offering a traditional desert-style layout and the Norman Course blending modern links technique with a rugged terrain.
Cabo del Sol Desert Course
The first of two championship golf courses at Cabo del Sol, the Desert Course offers 18 glorious holes in a pristine desert landscape. Designed by golf legend Tom Weiskopf, this breathtaking course features sand dunes and rolling hills that frame the ocean and sky for a truly magical experience.
Cabo del Sol Ocean Course
The second course at Cabo Del Sol, the Ocean Course winds through cliffs, arroyos, and desert before culminating at an awe-inspiring finish along the Pacific Coast. With its unique landscape and signature holes, this course has become a golfer favorite since its 1997 opening.
San Jose Sport Fishing
San Jose has long been known for its fishing; sailfish, marlin, dorado, wahoo, roosterfish, snapper, and yellowfin tuna among many others can be found just miles from shore in the Gordo Banks one of the world’s richest fishing grounds. Fishing fleets take fishermen to the banks from La Playita and Palmilla.
With multiple marinas featuring modern boats and experienced captains, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect setup for your fishing adventure. For those looking for something different, there are a variety of charters that specialize in fly fishing, kayaking, and other unique experiences.
These brightly colored fish are found around the waters of San Jose and can be caught relatively easily. The Mahi-Mahi, also known as Dorado, is a great catch for recreational fishing enthusiasts and has a sweet flavor when cooked. These fish typically average 12–30 lbs and have long, slim bodies. They feed on small shrimp, squid, and other small animals during the day and make for an enjoyable angling experience.
The Yellowtail is a popular game fish that can be found in the area surrounding San Jose. These fish have slender, tapered bodies with a yellow stripe across their back. They have large mouths and teeth which allow them to feed on small fish and crustaceans. They average 30–50 lbs in size and provide a good challenge for anglers.
Rockfish are a group of resilient fish found off the coast of San Jose. These hardy creatures are capable of surviving in depths up to 200 ft and can often live longer than 50 years. They can be caught year round and they often weigh three to ten pounds. Rockfish are excellent fighters and provide an exciting adventure for fishermen.
The Pacific Halibut is a flatfish species that is prevalent in the waters off San Jose. This fish grows to large sizes and can sometimes reach weights of up to 500 lbs. It is considered a top game fish by most experienced anglers, as it puts up a great fight. Halibut are highly sought after due to their delicious taste; they often prefer sand bottoms for hunting for food.
San Jose del Cabo Information
According to the National Institute of Geography and Statistics 2010 census, San Jose del Cabo has 69,788 inhabitants, 35868 men and 33920 women.
With the tourist destination development many jobs were created; San Jose del Cabo was then a very small town and many people were brought from other parts of the country to fill those job positions.
Many U.S. and Canadian citizens who fell for the place’s beauty decided to make it their second home and live here in the winter or stay all year round therefore Los Cabos has a multicultural population.
San Jose del Cabo Time
San Jose del Cabo and the whole Baja California Sur State belong to the Mexican Pacific Time Zone which is equivalent to the U.S. Mountain Time Zone. Summer time or Daylight saving time begins the first Sunday of April and ends the last Sunday of October.
San Jose del Cabo has dry semi-arid weather with minimal rain; sunny and blue sky days make the beaches quite enjoyable. To read more about San Jose’s climate conditions and check San Jose’s weather forecast, please click here.
Being next to the sea, San Jose offers a handful of fresh fish and seafood prepared in many ways, not to be missed are the breaded shrimp and fish tacos.
Very traditional to the area are:
- Machaca Burritos – Dried meat prepared with onion, tomato, and chili peppers wrapped in a flour tortilla.
- Queso fresco – Crumbly white cheese made from partially skimmed milk; lightly tangy and very subtle; usually sold in small round cakes.
- Wheat Flour Tortillas
- Mango Jelly
No it’s not a margarita although there are some bars that prepare a cocktail with its liqueur! Damiana Liqueur and Damiana Tea are the traditional beverages in the area. Damiana is a small bush that grows wild in the area and has aphrodisiac and stress reliever properties.
Unlike other parts of Mexico in Baja California the native population did not survive the Spanish conquest.
The area was settled by Spaniards and their descendants who developed saddle ware; jewelry made with shells and coral; basketry plaited of palm leaves and wooden boxes and frames made with jumping cholla wood.
These crafts are no longer made in San Jose; the affluence of tourism created new jobs that were better paid than crafting and artisans stopped making them. Small villages in the north of the county such as Miraflores and Santiago continue this crafting tradition.
Los Cabos was conceived as a high-end tourist destination with world-class golf courses and luxurious resorts; its geographic position made it accessible mostly by plane, although many people drive the whole Peninsula from up north to enjoy Los Cabos.
San Jose has always been Los Cabo’s tranquil sister; people that want to relax and enjoy a Mexican town choose it over Cabo San Lucas. In winter time, the high season, people from the US and Canada rush south for a sunny break while during the summer, the off-season, Europeans and Mexicans enjoy the heat.
San Jose del Cabo Holidays calendar observes the same holidays and celebrations as the whole country and as in every town in Mexico, the Patron Saint Festivities are very important to the community.
The Celebrations are called Fiestas de Marzo and span for a week, March 19th Saint Joseph Day the most important day.
The festivities include a fair a palenque (cock fight arena), a cattle exposition, and a charreada (Mexican rodeo). Many stands that sell traditional food, spirited drinks, crafts, and all kinds of goodies are erected.
Every evening several local musicians and dancers are presented in the square’s open-air theater and at the end of the night a nationally recognized artist will entertain the crowd for free.
On the morning of the 19th, a parade is held in the streets of the Historic District. Tourists are more than welcome to the celebrations, a great opportunity to mingle with locals and get to know the real San Jose.