Cabo San Lucas vs La Paz, what is the best scuba diving destination ?

Scuba Diving, Cabo San Lucas Versus La Paz Mexico

It’s a common question to hear divers ask: Should you dive in Cabo San Lucas or La Paz?

Our official answer is of course; both! But that’s not very helpful if you’re only thinking about visiting one area.

At Cabo Private Guide, our team of experienced dive instructors have been diving in Cabo San Lucas and La Paz for the last 10 years and have accumulated thousands of dives by leading dive trips to these two destinations.

To help you decide whether Cabo San Lucas or La Paz will be the best scuba diving destination for you, we have compiled our knowledge and experience into this guide.

So let’s look at the advantages of each area in detail!


Difference between Scuba Diving in Cabo San Lucas vs La Paz

Weather and diving conditions

Before we look at the specific advantages of each place, it’s worth noting that BOTH, Cabo San Lucas and la Paz experience the SAME conditions year round.

Of course, some days are better in Cabo San Lucas and some days are better in La Paz due to localized weather patterns.

In terms of scuba diving conditions, one area can be calm with crystal clear water while the other can be turbid and murky – and vice versa!

Read here to find out : What’s the best time to dive in Cabo San Lucas.

Wildlife and marine life encounter

While it’s more common to see whale sharks in La Paz, bull sharks in Cabo Pulmohammerheads in Gordo Banks and humpback whales in Los Cabos, our encounters in Baja California Sur are very varied and unpredictable. So, it’s incorrect to say one place has better diving than the other!

The facts are this; The same wildlife can exist and travel around in each area. Wildlife also travels!

Here are a table withe the common marine life sighting in Cabo San Lucas compared to La Paz.

Marine life : Cabo San Lucas VS La Paz

Marine Life Cabo San Lucas La Paz
Sea Lion Good Very Good
Hammerhead Shark Good Rare
Whale Shark None Very Good
Humpback Whale Very Good Good
Mobula Ray Good Good


Should I dive in Cabo San Lucas or La Paz?

The moral of the story is: to get the best out of scuba diving in Baja California, you need to visit for extended periods of time (and visit often) to have the best chance to dive in optimal conditions needed for our spectacular and famous wildlife encounters.

Check out our Baja California diving packages

Scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas

Short Distances to Dive Areas

Dive sites in Cabo San Lucas are extremely accessible. Only 5 minutes by boat and you can be diving at a sea lion colony, or with thousands of mobula rays, or even humpback whales. This means it’s very easy to make 3 or 4 dives a day in different places if you wish.

Aerial view of The Arch of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Aerial view of the dive sites in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Diving Safety

Proximity from Dive site to Emergency Services and the Chamber.

While of course both places have hospitals and access to the recompression chambers, in Cabo San Lucas ocean EMS arrive at the dive area in under 10 minutes while getting you to the chamber in under 10 minutes.

Scuba Diving Costs

Because the boat rides are faster this means the price of diving is slightly cheaper in Cabo San Lucas than in La Paz, as you don’t need to add lunch and fuel costs.

The price for a double dive in Cabo San Lucas is $135 USD per person, with a private guide included !

International Links and Airport

With SJD airport being 40 minutes away from Cabo San Lucas town, it’s an easy location to dive if you are on a quick visit.

Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) has direct flights from the United States, Canada, Mexico City and even the United Kingdom!

Non-diver activities

If you’re with people that don’t want to dive there are a plethora of deals on other tourist-centered activities from an abundance of tour operators to choose from.

All-inclusive Vacation

Well, this may be an advantage or not! If you prefer an all-inclusive vacation Cabo San Lucas is geared up with plenty of 3- 5 star options.

Sheltered Dive spots from December to April

When the north winds blow, it’s common that tours in La Paz and Cabo Pulmo will get canceled.

Thanks to the protection of the canyon wall in Cabo bay, it’s often possible to dive when everywhere else is wiped out.

The end of the peninsula is sheltered from the north winds tearing down west and east.

Notable wildlife and highlights mainly found in Cabo San Lucas:


Whale watching Cabo san lucas

Whale Season in Cabo San Lucas

Whale season in Cabo San Lucas runs from December to April.

Whales visit both Cabo San Lucas and La Paz during the winter. However, Cabo San Lucas is where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean and is a whale watching hotspot.

It’s very usual to hear them singing under the water while scuba diving !

Whale watching in Cabo San Lucas


Scuba diving in La Paz

Less touristy

La Paz ‘Malecon’ or water-front promenade, and the city center in general, is charming, beautiful and as the name describes… peaceful.

If you prefer somewhere with a more traditional feel away from the crowds this is the perfect location out of the water.

Biggest Sea lion colony in Baja California

Los Islotes sea lion colony is home to hundreds of sea lions and their pups.
If you’re looking for a perfect dive with Sea lions from autumn to spring this is the place to visit!

Whale shark feeding grounds

The bay of La Paz has created a natural catchment area for whale shark food! The north winds blow tiny fish and plant life, that make up the shark’s diet, into the bay which acts as a baseball glove catching it all for a feast. This attracts the largest fish on earth into this area to feed from late November. Although tours do run from Cabo, staying in La Paz might work better for you if your solo objective is to swim with whale sharks.

UNESCO World Heritage Area

Although the dive sites of Los Cabos are also a Marine Protected Area, Espiritu Santo Island has UNESCO World heritage status and is perhaps policed and controlled with more gusto than the areas around Los Cabos.

Late summer conditions

In late summer, when Cabo is experiencing swell, La Paz often has beautiful Caribbean type conditions which finally arrive in Cabo in late Autumn.

This is a general observation and is NOT a hard fact.

Notable wildlife and highlights mainly found in La Paz, Mexico:

Aeral view of Espiritu Santo Island, La Paz Mexico

Espiritu Santo Island

Explore Espiritu Santo Island and visit the old pearl farms, gray heron nests, the largest frigate colony in the area and beautiful pristine beaches.

Espiritu Santo island is located only 45 minutes by boat from La Paz, Mexico.

Espiritu Santo island tour


Scuba diving with Sea Lion in La Paz

Dive travel summary and Year Round itinerary:

Spring diving itinerary: February to April

Wetsuit 7mm

If you are visiting in spring, be aware that BOTH areas are cold and experience low visibility.

You will see whales in Cabo and whale sharks in La Paz until late March.

It’s possible to see sea lions in both places, although La Paz has more and closer encounters. Cabo has more protection from the wind and you’re less likely to have port closures.

Whale and scuba diving combo

Summer diving itinerary: May to July

Wetsuit 7mm beginning | 5mm – 3mm End

The water is warming up and La Paz often has warmer, clearer conditions first as well as having protection from swell in Summer.

Summer in Cabo San Lucas and La Paz the sea lion colonies are closed/empty for mating season.

The humpback whales and whale sharks have disappeared.

However, other dive sites with sharks (Gordo Banks in Los Cabos, el Bajo in La Paz) are good as well as a chance to see giant manta rays in La Paz until September at La Reina dive site.

In both areas you can see the huge aggregation of mobula rays which are famous to Baja Sur, although in Cabo it’s possible to dive and snorkel with them on a short, less expensive morning tour.

Mobula and scuba diving combo

Autumn diving itinerary: Aug to Oct

Wetsuit 3mm or none

Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, now have warm water in the months of autumn but are still subject to swell and turbid water causing mixed visibility.

Both places have the most hurricanes during September and October.

The sea lion colony re-opens in La Paz in September but in Cabo they often don’t return to the bay until mid-November.

Snorkeling with sea lion

Winter diving itinerary: Nov to Jan

Wetsuit 5mm start – 7mm end

In Cabo San Lucas and La Paz this is considered the high season.

It’s a good idea to get bookings early for all the popular places in Baja California Sur like Gordo Banks, Cabo Pulmo and La Paz Whale sharks.

Conditions are very good in early Nov to early Dec and then the north winds start making things tricky in La Paz.

Best time to dive in Cabo is the last 2 weeks of November and the first 2 weeks of December for conditions (clear water, chilling off slightly from the Autumn) and wildlife encounters (whales on Gordo Banks dives, the canyon is incredible!)

Snorkeling with whale shark

Hammerhead shark at Gordo banks


Dive trip to Cabo San Lucas and La Paz

Check out our Baja California dive packages for more info ! You will find a list of our favorite dive trips and expeditions to Cabo San Lucas and La Paz.

Baja California dive packages