Discover the underwater charms of Chileno and Sta. Maria Bay

Snorkeling in the breathtaking waters of Cabo San Lucas exposes you to the natural wealth of the Sea of Cortez which is home to more than 800 species of tropical fish and thousands of invertebrates species from octopuses to tiny and colorful sea snails. Cabo’s clear, warm waters and dazzling marine life are the reason why visitors from different parts of the world are drawn to this region.


Whether it’s your first time to go snorkeling in Cabo or your umpteenth time, the experience of going underwater will never cease to amaze you because there’s always something new worth exploring. We highly recommend snorkeling at Chileno Bay and Santa Maria Bay which are located along the Los Cabos Corridor.

Playa Chileno

source: Pinterest

multicolored parrotfish is a sight to behold

It will take around a 30-minute boat ride from Cabo San Lucas to get to Chileno Bay and once you arrive at the prime snorkeling spots, colorful tropical fish of varying shapes and sizes will greet you when you go into the azure waters. One of the interesting fish that you might encounter is the multi-colored parrotfish that is known to go through shape, color, and even gender changes during its lifetime. Another fascinating characteristic of this fish is its ability to create a transparent cocoon made of secreted mucus every night before sleeping. You might also come across a school of eye-catching angelfish characterized by their striking colors and lines on their disc-shaped bodies. Moorish idols with their distinctive black, yellow and white bands on their compressed bodies are also often found in Chileno Bay. If you’re familiar with the Pixar animated film Finding Nemo (2003), one of Nemo’s tank-mates in the movie is a Moorish idol named Gill (voiced by Willem Dafoe). Don’t be surprised if you also come across Crush and Squirt’s turtle relatives when gliding along these waters.


devil ray has horn-like flaps

Watch out for manta rays, sometimes called “Devil Rays” for its horn-like flaps in its mouth, that are known to patrol Chileno Bay. These creatures can grow up to nine meters and weigh up to two tons but despite their size, manta rays are generally harmless to humans.  

Keep your eyes open for other interesting marine life hiding in rock crevices such as the moray eel. But be careful of this ambush predator because it can be quite aggressive and is capable of lunging at you with lightning speed if it feels threatened. You might also spot sea urchins and sponges in nooks and crannies.

Fish are not the only ones that bring a splash of color to these waters but also gorgonians, otherwise known as sea fans. This type of soft coral can grow up to three feet tall by 3 feet wide and they come in pink, yellow, purple, and sometimes white. When you pass by these colorful sea fans, take a good look at the branches because you might spot some cute seahorses clinging to them.

Playa Santa Maria

Why snorkel in just one bay when you can enjoy a 2 Bays Snorkeling Trip in Cabo? After skimming the reefs of Chileno Bay, you can head over to another premier snorkeling destination, the Santa Maria Bay. This site begins at the southern side of the protected bay in only 10 feet which gradually drops to a depth of 45 feet.


surgeonfish is also called doctor fish

Its crystal-clear waters are teeming with marine life like manta rays, sea turtles, and a kaleidoscope of tropical fish. You might come across the Surgeonfish, also called Tangs or Doctorfish. They come in many color variations but the most popular one is probably the Blue Tang because of Dory, the Blue Tang with the ridiculous short-term memory from the animated movie Finding Nemo. You might also come face to face with an innocent-looking pufferfish. It may look cute but don’t let its adorable looks fool you because it can balloon into a spiny ball three times its normal size if it senses danger. Discerning predators would rather hunt for other food than munch on this creature with sharp spines sticking out. Another interesting fish that you might come across in this reef habitat is the hogfish. It has the ability to make its skin whitish to blend with the sandy bottom and hide from predators or ambush potential prey. It can also manifest bright and contrasting patterns on its body to appear threatening or attract a mate. These waters are also a favorite playground of angelfish, groupers, snappers, and Moorish idols.

Gorgonians also line the rock walls where small animals like barnacles, tunicates, and snails live. When you come across sea fans, take a good look at the branches for a chance to see hermit crabs and seahorses.

Ideal for first-timers and avid snorkelers

The calm waters of Playa Chileno and Playa Santa Maria are perfect for families including children and individuals who have no snorkeling experience. Kids can have fun snorkeling in these bays under the supervision of an experienced guide and their parents. Introducing youngsters to the amazing world under the sea can be a magical experience for them, especially when they see different kinds of marine creatures pass before them.

The nice thing about snorkeling is that you don’t have to be a strong swimmer to enjoy it. Just put on your mask, snorkel, and fins and you’re ready to go on your first snorkeling adventure. You can use floaters or a lifejacket so you can worry less about staying afloat and focus more on your beautiful surroundings.

Leave a Comment