Los Arcos in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is one of those iconic places you just have to add to your bucket list as a photographer. Cabo is a really small party town that exists purely for tourists and wealthy snowbirds but in addition to glorious weather it boasts magnificent views of Los Arcos and the park that surrounds it.
Marine life is abundant so if you want to see jumping manta rays, whale sharks and all manner of fascinating sea life you won’t be disappointed. Cabo San Lucas sits on the very edge of the Baja California Sur peninsula where the Pacific ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. The amazing scenery has been carved out by the crashing waves to create inspirational seascapes that you will love. Here are my Los Arcos Photo Tips.
Typically you’ll fly in to Los Cabos airport which is about a 45 minute drive from Cabo San Lucas along Highway 1. Everything is well sign posted so you won’t even need directions from the airport.
To get to the Los Arcos park area you have two options, one of which depends on the tide.
Option 1 – Drive, bike or walk to the end of Boulevard Marina and walk on to the public beach which is mostly used by the locals. If the tide is not completely in you’ll be able to climb over the tricky wet rocks and get to the more picturesque beaches of the park. This is the quickest option but more challenging and very busy in the day time. Obviously keep an eye on the tide as you don’t to get stuck.
Option 2 – I prefer this option and that’s why I chose a hotel at the end of Avenda Solmar. Instead of going to the end of Boulevard Marina take a right on Avenda Solmar and continue to the very end of the road. This is all hotel property which is why I chose to stay at one of these hotels on the Pacific side. You can still walk through and the security guards won’t bug you but I didn’t try this at 5am so they may ask questions.
Once you go through the hotels and on to the beach at the Pacific side of the peninsula just walk south (or left) down the beach until you can’t go any further. Do NOT try to beat the crashing waves, you’ll be crushed to death! Instead look to the left for a small trail up into the rocks and boulders. If you go in the day time you’ll most likely see others doing this.
You’ll reach and high point and then start climbing down on to ‘Divorce Beach’ which is still on the Pacific side. From there you can walk over to ‘Lovers Beach’ which is on the Sea of Cortez side. You can’t actually walk to the big famous arch unless it’s one of those rare years when the tide goes out enough to expose the sands under the arch. Apparently this happens once every few years so if you really need to get that shot maybe book a last minute trip when the time is right.
- Polarizer – For control of reflections, glare and colour saturation
- Wide Angle Lens
- Zoom lens
- Sensible footwear, there are some slippery rocks and treacherous waves
- Headlamp if you plan on arriving long before sunrise.
- Take a headlamp if you intend to hike through the rocks on the Pacific side. It’s not a difficult climb but could be dangerous when dark. I forgot mine the first time but was lucky enough to have plenty of moonlight.
- Wear some good running shoes for handling those slippy and sandy rocks but maybe pack some flip flops for when you want to get your feet wet.
- Do not trust those waves even on the Sea of Cortez side, they will surprise you every time.
- For shooting the arch chat with the boat owners in the dock who ferry people out to Lovers Beach all day long. For a fee they’ll pick you up at 5 or 6 am and take you around the arch on your own so that you don’t have to dodge other boaters, there’s also no diving boats out at that time and you’ll be there before the fishing boats set off. I paid about $50 and had as long as I needed. It’s 5 times what you’ll pay in the day time but at least you jump the crowds and get the best light.
While You’re There
Los Arcos is by far the best scenery that the area has to offer but you can shoot it from the opposite side of the bay if you have a good zoom lens. There are many beaches that you can access along Highway 1 which all face South towards the arch and the setting sun, rent a car and explore.
If you like the sound of my ‘Option 2’ for reaching the best areas of the park try and choose a hotel on Avenda Solmar so that you can easily access the Pacific side of the peninsula.
Other than there are countless hotels in Cabo so pick one that suites your budget and comfort requirements.
If you like Mexican food you’ll be in paradise. I prefer to walk back from the main strip a couple of blocks to where the locals eat. The food is better and the prices are great. I particularly love the street food and the vendors were really honest when I stupidly paid with a $20 bill instead of a $2 bill and started wandering off with my tasty treat.
I write location tips like this on my blog all the time too and wonder if anyone ever actually reads it. But this was exactly what I was looking for as we are heading to the area in a couple of weeks and I plan to get some sunrise pics. The alarm’s already set for 4:30 lol. Thanks for the tips. Cheers!
Hi Steve, it’s a great place to get some shots of the Milky Way of you’re timing is right.
Did you ever try hiking the route from the marina? I’m thinking that’s the way I might have to go as our hotel is along that side and I think it’s a shorter route I just don’t know how arduous it is even at low tide.
Also, there’s no way to get to the arch from lovers beach without a boat correct?
About every 4 years the tide is such that you can get to the arch on foot but the rest of the time you’ll only get to see it from a boat or the air. I hiked both routes, from the Marina and from the Pacific side. Expect to get your feet wet if hiking via the marina and let someone know where you’re going if you hike out alone in the dark as a slip and fall could be bad news.
Thank you for the tips Gavin. I’m a very amateur Galaxy Note 4 camera phone photographer and will be m making my first trip to Camp next month. Thanks to help from bloggers like yourself I wind up with pictures that make my friends envious even with a camera phone. Can’t wait!
Can you please share where you were and how you got to the spot where you have the sun rising with those awesome rocks all around?(the last picture in this blog) thanks!
You can reach it two different ways. 1 – Hike from the marina and stay on the Cortez side. When the tide is out it’s really easy to find, one of the first formations you see. You can also hike around the pacific side when the tide is low but it’s much longer. Alternatively you can just get a boat tour out and then walk back to towards town until you see it.
Thanks for the tips. Any other near by locations you recommend. I will be on the marina side this summer.
Hello, I know this may be an old post, but I love your photos and glad I found your page. I am traveling from Alaska to Cabo for the first time. I have been to other regions of Mexico, but this will be the first in Baja Sur. What lenses would you recommend, should I bring them all? I have a Nikon D850, with the following lenses: 14mm 2.8 WA, 24-70 2.8, 50mm 2.8, 70-200 2.8, and a 200-500 5.6. I am sure I wont really use the 50, my biggest concern is, will I use the 200-500… Thanks!
Bring as many as you can stand to carry. Also, do some research into safety in Cabo. My images were shot years ago and I’ve heard that Cabo is not quite the same place. Those are rumours though so like I said, do your own research before heading out there.