Whales aren’t the only sun-seekers that crave the balmy waters and healing solar rays of Cabo at Christmastime! Mexico is a traditionally Catholic country, so Christmas is a true celebration, and not just for one day.
Find out why the Christmas season is the perfect time to escape to the creamy sands of Cabo San Lucas.
A Marathon of Revels
From the sacred to the party-hearty, Christmas in Cabo rocks with opportunities for merry-making and devotion. December breaks into holiday fever by honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12 and continues nonstop through January 6, the day of the Three Wise Men (Los Tres Reyes Magos). This period of revelry, dancing, singing, eating, drinking, partying, worshiping, and playing for nearly a month is what locals call the “Guadalupe – Reyes Marathon.”
The Festival of Inns: Las Posadas
Multi-colored decorations lavish Cabo’s town square, banners drape across the streets, and an enormous Christmas tree and nativity scene announce the occasion. Gold, silver, and magenta ribbons and ornaments rival classic red, green, and white decorations. Hot-pink bougainvillea flowers compete from every wall. Music and dancing fill the streets.
Leading the joyful scene is the 9-day festival of Las Posadas, which has been celebrated in Mexico for 400 years. Starting on December 16 and continuing every night leading up to Christmas Day, revelers re-enact the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Every night you can enjoy candlelit processions and hospitality as a man and a woman in Biblical attire act the parts of Mary and Joseph, with “Mary” riding a donkey. Celebrants walk in the footsteps of the holy couple, seeking a room at one inn, or posada, after another.
The nine-day novena represents the nine months that Mary carried Jesus. On Christmas Eve, the final posada admits the weary travelers. House-parties honor the kindness of the innkeeper who gave the holy couple shelter.
This last night, Nochebuena, is the most important day of the season throughout Mexico, with the birth of Christ observed at midnight. The tradition is for families to attend midnight mass. A feast and exchange of gifts bring the nine days to a cozy end.
Christmas Day itself is a quiet day of leisure and leftovers—called recalentado—from the previous night’s festivities. For visitors, many resorts and restaurants offer special Christmas dinners. Turkey is native to Mexico, so it’s a popular choice!
2 Must-Have Drinks to Celebrate
Food and drink reach new heights of creativity as revelers take over the town during Christmas in Cabo. It’s celebrated every year with two popular seasonal delights from the bar:
1. Ponche Navideño – This is the traditional Christmas Punch, a fruit concoction that hums with the unique flavor of tejocotes, a fruit from an indigenous species of hawthorn tree.
2. Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) – This thirst-quencher is a beer only found here for the season. Arriving in October and available through December, the lager is treasured for its dark, spicy flavor. You’ll recognize the bottle by the red and green poinsettia flowers on the label. The word for poinsettia in Mexico is also Nochebuena: Christmas Eve.
Can’t-Miss Christmas-in-Cabo Activities—Outside the Traditional
Need a break from the festivities or simply craving a relaxing escape from the hectic holiday season back home?
Rest at a spa.
After a night of revelry, take a break with a healing massage and herbal treatment to restore body and mind. The resorts of Cabo pride themselves on more world-class luxury spas than anywhere else in Mexico. Classic European therapies are offered, but for a unique experience, try a Los Cabos specialty: indigenous Mexican treatments. They incorporate ancient healing practices and exotic ingredients, such as aloe, clay, and tropical or desert herbs and flowers.
At The Spa at Las Ventanas al Paraíso, treatments inspired by the traditional healers of Baja use:
- Ancient rituals
- Indigenous plants
The 22,000-square-foot spa at One&Only Palmilla has 13 indoor and outdoor spa villas. Heading up an extensive menu of offerings is the Secret Garden Remedy, using garden oil infused with herbs of Baja that are grown on-site.
Restore yourself in the wild.
Nature-lovers, leave the Christmas trees of town for the boojum trees, cacti, and cardons of the ancient desert mountains. A moderate-advanced climb up Mount Solmar from the marina rewards your persistence with a spectacular view over Land’s End and the sweeping Bay of Cabo San Lucas. The locals call it El Cerro del Vigia, roughly “Lookout Hill.”
Or get on the back of a horse, and see the beauty of Cabo’s countryside. Get a glimpse into how agriculture works in this region, and then enjoy some of it! All local, organic delicacies.
Soar in the sky.
Parasailing gives you breathtaking view of Baja’s unique ecosystem, a waterless desert surrounded by rich turquoise waters and distant, rocky horizons. The hills cradle championship-level golf courses overlooking the crystal sea.
In Cabo’s turquoise waters, the gaudy colors of Christmas in Cabo San Lucas decorations are rivaled by the fishes. Jump into the water, and you’ll be greeted by multi-colored marine life. Parrotfish, angelfish, Moorish idols, and damselfish dance in the clear water of Bay of San Lucas. A SNUBA® adventure in Cabo will reveal why Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium.”
Join a parade of whales (and sharks).
Christmas is the perfect time to follow the whales to Cabo. Migrating humpbacks and gray whales leave their icy northern waters, where they feed and work for a living, for the wide blue sky and golden sun of Cabo at Christmastime. They play, court and breed, and give birth. December is just the beginning of months of fabulous whale-watching.
Whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world, also come to the Sea of Cortez to give birth. You can swim with these beautiful, gentle giants in the Sea of Cortez! Then visit the Whale Museum to learn more about the creatures of the deep.
Get out around town.
Art galleries, museums, and botanical gardens offer a quieter day of reflection and calm. With the current rates of exchange, the U.S. dollar goes a long way toward admission!
The Cabo San Lucas Museum of Natural History is located on the Plaza Amelia Wilkes. It explores the dramatic, animal-vegetable-mineral and heritage of Los Cabos and features a skeleton of a Pericu woman, a long-vanished aboriginal people of the Baja peninsula.
Shopping is the sport of choice for devotees of retail therapy. Hand-crafted items from all over Mexico are available in the shops of Cabo San Lucas. One of the most interesting traditions is from the Huichol Indians, whose bright colors and stylized shapes are immediately recognizable. The Paquime Gallery on the Old Town Square in Cabo San Lucas carries Huichol bead art and the Mata Ortiz pottery of Juan Quezada Celado, winner of the National Award for the Arts.
The original Paquime Gallery is in San Jose del Cabo. If you’re visiting the old colonial town, drop in on Cactimundo. This botanical garden is a celebration of the enduring cactus plant in all its devious permutations.
Christmas in Cabo traditionally celebrates a very special birth with the joyful festival of Las Posadas, building to the climax of Nochebuena, but you can celebrate whatever you like—and there are plenty of ways to do it!