Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park Vacations

Beach at Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, Mexico
Beach at Cabo Pulmo, Mexico (John Markos O'Neill/Flickr)

A park since 1995, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is a protected area of land, water, and arroyos that surrounds the main reefs offshore the tiny village of Cabo Pulmo. The park lies 60 miles north of Los Cabos, about 40 miles north of the airport at San Jose del Cabo. It stretches along the shoreline from Pulmo Point in the north some five miles to Los Frailes in the south, while its marine boundaries are Bahia Las Barracas in the north to Bahia Los Frailes in the south.

Its shallow bay is home to three living reefs, including the only hard coral reef in North America. The reef is approximately 20,000 years old and is among the oldest in the American Pacific. In these extraordinarily nutrient-rich waters, plankton thrive, providing the base for a food chain that supports an abundance of invertebrates, fish, birds, and marine mammals. Among the area's popular diving and snorkeling sites are El Bajo and the Frailes Rock sea lion colony, plus there are a couple of wrecks to visit. It is also one of the places where humans can swim with that gentle giant, the whale shark. The water there ranges from about 65 to 80 degrees, so if you're visiting in the cooler months, you'll probably want a wetsuit even for snorkeling. The park is also an amazing destination for experienced surfers, windsurfers, and kiteboarders—especially in winter for the latter two. One catch: It's BYOB—bring your own board and gear.

Although 40 miles doesn't sound like much, it is an adventure to get there from the airport, and it is not advisable to try it at night. Portions of the roads into town are not paved, and a variety of animals mill around in the middle of the road. What makes Cabo Pulmo both inviting and challenging is its remoteness and lack of visitor services and infrastructure. You won't find hordes of tourists there. The beaches are likely to be empty and pristine for miles. The diving, kayaking, and snorkeling are superb, and the only crowds you'll deal with are the fish and other marine life. If you want an utterly relaxing escape from the real world, Cabo Pulmo is an amazing choice.

On the other hand, the town and accommodations are off the grid (don't bother bringing your hair dryer), there are few restaurants, and you have to buy most provisions in San Jose. Lodging owners are very good about providing lots of instructions.

Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is not for everyone, but it is very much for travelers who are environmentally conscious, adventurous, and active. It's for those who appreciate the stunning natural beauty of Baja and the Sea of Cortez and want to help preserve and protect it.

Published: 4 Sep 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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