A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Los Cabos, Mexico
Los Cabos is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Mexico, with tourism growing 1.5 times as fast as other parts of the country. In fact, within seven years alone it added 6,000 new hotel rooms.
So, if you’re a wheelchair user interested in arriving in Cabo by air or on a cruise, you’re undoubtedly wondering—how accessible is Los Cabos?
Los Cabos offers a moderate amount of wheelchair accessibility. I’ll share my takeaways based on my one-month stay, hoping that it’ll give you a base for planning your trip.
Note: The information here is based on my observation as a non-wheelchair user. If you have firsthand experience as a wheelchair user in Los Cabos, I’d love to hear about your trip and recommendations in the comments section. I appreciate it, and I’m sure that our future readers will too.
General Accessibility in Los Cabos
In the early 1900s, an American company moved to Cabo San Lucas and started a tuna business. Cabo remained a small fishing village for many decades after that. However, in 1974 the Mexican government decided to invest in developing the area for tourism.
The result was an expensive party hub where you can meander along the Marina gawking at innumerable yachts.
As a result of Cabo’s early 1900s start and an explosion of new hotels and facilities in more recent years, Los Cabos has a combination of accessible and inaccessible features.
But first, let’s talk about what “Los Cabos” really means.
Los Cabos refers to two towns in the southernmost part of the Baja California peninsula—Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. While the correct term for referring to these two towns jointly is “Los Cabos,” many tourists call them “Cabo.”
Accessibility in Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is the most concentrated tourist area in Los Cabos. The town circles around the Marina, which is the area where people park their yachts up to 357 feet long.
The Marina is a must-see in Cabo and is one of the most accessible areas of both towns.
When you explore the streets outside of the Marina you’ll encounter drop-down curbs at most intersections. However, the sidewalk quality varies given that holes, electricity poles, and other objects can block the path.
As for shops and restaurants, about half of the restaurants along the Marina are wheelchair accessible. The shops on side streets around the Marina have even a lower rate of accessibility, with around 30 – 40% being completely accessible.
However, many shops display samples of their items on the sidewalks, so you can do a fair amount of shopping without entering the often narrow and product-packed stores.
Boulevard Lázaro Cárdenas and Boulevard Paseo de la Marina are two main streets near the Marina that offer decent wheelchair accessibility for exploring.
Accessibility in San Jose del Cabo
San Jose del Cabo is home to the historical center of Los Cabos.
You can arrive in San Jose by driving from your hotel or hopping on a Ruta del Desierto bus, which is wheelchair accessible.
Most streets around San Jose’s historical center have drop-down curbs. They also tend to have less items blocking the way, given that this is a quieter area with fewer tourists.
The downtown area itself has lots of wide, open space.
If you drive to the historical center, you won’t encounter much change in elevation once you disembark. But if you take the bus, it’s a downhill journey to get to the tourist attractions from Highway 1 where they’ll let you off.
San Juan has a massive Plaza de Armas. From there, colorful side streets will attract your attention, enticing you to explore them.
There’s little traffic in San Juan’s historical center. So, if you encounter inaccessible parts of the sidewalk, you can try going around them via the road.
Unfortunately, most shops in downtown San Juan aren’t wheelchair accessible, and fewer restaurants are accessible than in San Lucas. However, if you visit the Hotel Zone in San Juan, you’ll encounter better restaurant and shop accessibility.
Nevertheless, I found that even this more modern part of San Juan fell short in accessibility features. The sidewalks were especially disappointing, where drop-down curbs were hit-or-miss.
Los Cabos Cruise Port
The Los Cabos cruise port is ideally located for wheelchair accessibility, given that it sits at the far end of the Marina. Therefore, upon disembarking, you’ll be able to wheel around the Marina and the side streets that veer off it.
Glass bottom boat tours also operate from the Marina, so this is a great place to sign up for one. I’ll talk more about this tour shortly.
Accessible Parking in Los Cabos
Wheelchair accessible parking in Cabo isn’t ideal.
Many of the streetside parking spots have narrow spaces and aren’t near a ramp to get onto the sidewalk.
Therefore, if you plan to drive around Cabo, I recommend parking at Puerto Paraiso mall if you want to visit the Marina or at other shopping centers and businesses outside of the Marina.
The Oxxo convenience store chain also typically offers excellent accessible parking spaces.
Accessible Public Restrooms in Los Cabos
If you’re visiting the Marina, the best place to access free accessible restrooms is at Plaza Puerto Paraiso, which is an upscale mall.
In San Jose, the Mall Plaza del Pescador is a good option.
There’s also a McDonald’s on the road leading away from San Lucas if you’re driving towards San Jose.
Accessible Restaurants in Los Cabos
As mentioned earlier, about 50% of the restaurants in San Lucas are accessible. Nevertheless, you’ll have some great waterfront options to choose from, including Lorenzillos, as pictured above.
If you explore the streets away from the Marina you can also find accessible restaurants, with several offering ramps.
As for San Juan, you’ll encounter some more modern restaurants in the streets leading away from the plaza. You can also find several accessible restaurants on Malecon San Jose, which is the street that sits above the beaches.
You won’t get ocean views from many of these restaurants, though. So, I personally recommend San Lucas for a greater variety of restaurants, better views, and more tourist activities.
Accessible Things to Do in Los Cabos
Now that we covered the basics of wheelchair accessibility in Los Cabos, let’s look at some of the activities you can do while there.
1. Explore the Marina
The Marina is one of the best land-based accessible things to do in Cabo.
Its U-like shape offers stunning mountain and yacht views. You can also roll right up to the edge of the Marina and watch colorful fish swimming around sunken rocks.
The Marina’s path is wide, flat, and fully accessible. It can get crowded, but because of how large it is, it typically isn’t unbearably so.
You’ll find many accessible restaurants along the Marina, and you can access Puerto Paraiso from there to use the restroom.
This is also the best area for negotiating prices for a private or group boat tour.
2. Take a Boat Tour
Visiting the iconic El Arco (The Arch) is a must-do activity during your time in Cabo.
The only way to see El Arco is via a boat ride, and the Marina in San Lucas offers accessible ramps that lead down to the boats. Once you’re at the embarkation point, they’ll lift you and/or your chair onto the boat.
Boat tour operators in Cabo are accustomed to accommodating wheelchair users. I spoke with Enva Tours, who I took my El Arco tour with, and they said that they can arrange a private or group tour on the spot for wheelchair users.
Enva is one of the only companies that run a glass boat tour ride to El Arco, making the experience extra special since you’ll get to observe fish when they stop along the way.
The tour lasts around 45 minutes and can get bumpy, so make sure to pack medicine for motion sickness if you’re sensitive to boat rocking.
Enva Tours also takes photos of passengers on board. There’s a fee to purchase them at the end, but they’ll arrange the boat so that El Arco is framed behind you, making for a great photo without you having to move to the front of the boat as most passengers do.
3. Hang Out at the Beach
I won’t beat around the bush—although Cabo is known for its wide, sandy beaches, its public beach wheelchair accessibility is severely lacking.
The best accessible beach I encountered was Playa El Corsario, which is a small beach on the far side of the Marina (near the cruise port).
Playa El Corsario offers a beautiful wooden ramp leading out into the sand and two accessible shaded beach spots.
Another beach you can easily access, as long as you have a beach chair, is Playa Medano. The most accessible public Playa Medano beach access I encountered is the entry point from the Marina.
Given the few wheelchair accessible public beach entrances in Cabo, I recommend booking a hotel that offers a ramp to the beach.
Keep in mind that the ocean in Los Cabos isn’t ideal for swimming. Aside from it being super cold, strong currents make it dangerous on most parts of the coast. However, Playa Medano and Playa El Corsario are two beaches that are relatively safe for swimming.
4. Visit the Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas in San Jose is a beautiful area to explore and one of the best places for wheelchair accessibility in Los Cabos.
Downtown San Jose doesn’t draw massive tourist crowds like the beachside areas, so you can expect a quiet but charming atmosphere.
Small artisan stores and ice cream shops line the perimeter of the Plaza de Armas.
Because of how little shade it offers during the day, I recommend visiting the plaza in the morning or evening. The evening is a particularly excellent time to visit, given that the area becomes more lively, relatively speaking.
5. Enjoy the Views from Puerto Paraiso Mall
Whether you want to shop at some fancy stores or use the restroom, you’ll likely end up visiting Plaza Puerto Paraiso. And I recommend heading to the second-floor balcony while you’re there.
This balcony offers views that most people only get by paying for some of the most expensive hotels in Cabo.
To find this balcony, take an elevator up to the second floor of Puerto Paraiso and follow the food court signs. If hunger strikes, go ahead and purchase something (the prices are surprisingly reasonable for the area).
Otherwise, head directly through the doors leading to the outdoor balcony and enjoy a free and stunning view over the Marina.
6. Go Fishing
Fishing is a popular sport to practice in Cabo, given that its cold, plankton-filled waters attract an array of marine life.
Many companies offer fishing excursions, most of which are private tours.
So, you can barter with locals around the Marina to find a boat and price that works for you. Since you’ll be at the Marina, they should be able to point to the type of boat they’ll be using so that you can see if you’d feel comfortable using it with your wheelchair.
Like the glass bottom boat tour, they’ll likely need to lift you onto the boat once you head down the embarkation ramp.
Wheeling Around Mexico?
If so, great news!
We’ve put together a number of other accessible blog posts on Mexican destinations. You can check out a sample of them below:
Are You Ready to Visit Los Cabos?
Wheelchair accessibility in Los Cabos is far from ideal. However, with a bit of planning, you should be able to partake in several activities there.
If you have questions about accessibility in Los Cabos, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help. Alternatively, if you’ve already visited Los Cabos as a wheelchair user, I’d love to hear about your experience and advice, and I’m sure that future readers will too.
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.