Cabo San Lucas’ Hidden Beach: Playa Coral Negro
There is a beach in Cabo San Lucas that goes by many names – Playa Coral Negro, Cannery Beach, and Old Peoples’ Beach, to name just a few – yet seems to be little known by any of them. Playa Coral Negro is the name I have heard most often, although Playa Escondida, the name of neighboring sands in the collective group of so-called Cannery Beaches, is perhaps more accurate: Hidden Beach. Hidden in plain sight.
I have never seen this beach mentioned in guidebooks or articles about Los Cabos, although it has more tradition than most, and is often thronged with people on weekends. The sandy stretch offers safe swimming and good snorkeling, enjoys a privileged location between the Cabo San Lucas Marina and Lover’s Beach, and looks out across the restaurants and resorts that line Playa El Medano.
Why isn’t Playa Coral Negro better known, or written about in travel guides and round-ups of the best local beaches? Perhaps because it is the traditional Mexican beach–the one that hasn’t been given over to tourists. There aren’t a lot of white faces to be seen here, particularly on weekends, and the beach lacks the amenities associated with the more popular seaside tourist haunts.
Every Sunday, Playa Coral Negro draws huge crowds of Choyeros (the name comes from the cholla cactus, and is used to describe natives of Baja Sur), with umbrella-shaded vendors selling food and drinks, and families sitting together near the shore. A wooden deck winds around the walls of the old cannery, and serves as a sort of makeshift pathway from the vendor carts to the rocks rimming the far side of the beach.
If you look out toward the rocks guarding Lover’s Beach on a Sunday afternoon, you’ll see enterprising youths carefully climbing around them, making a fairly difficult if not very dangerous traverse past the remaining Cannery Beaches to Playa del Amor. There is a reason guidebooks often claim that Lover’s Beach is only accessible by boat or water-based transportation. Local officials don’t want tourists hurting themselves. But this climb is something of a rite of passage for many who live here, and falling into the calm waters of the bay isn’t the worst thing that could happen (unless you’re run over by a rogue wave runner).
For many years, the cannery was the center of commerce in Cabo San Lucas. In fact, as recently as fifty years ago – when the population numbered about 300 people – it was about the town’s only industry. Playa Coral Negro was the town’s most important beach. Visitors may notice that the entrances to two of Cabo’s earliest hotels, Finisterra and Solmar Suites, are only a hundred yards or so from Coral Negro beach. The early developments moved incrementally inland, slowly edging away – both commercially and geographically – from the old cannery and its beach.
Nowadays, the cannery is in ruins, and the beach is virtually deserted for most of every week. Still, it’s a pretty place, and a strategic spot to watch all the boats motor in and out of the bay. It’s within easy walking distance of Pedregal and the Marina, and well worth a visit for those who like hidden treasures.
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