The more time one spends along Cabo's coastline the more it becomes evident that the ocean tides play an important role in the various aspects of daily Cabo life. It's nice to understand a little bit about tides before heading to the Cape, and just a little knowledge can make any Cabo adventure more fun.
For starters lets go with the big picture. The cycles of high and low tides are mostly caused by the gravitational pull of the moon (and to a smaller degree of the sun) against the earth's surface. And it is the specific location of the sun and the moon throughout each day that causes the ongoing variations in those tidal heights.
Usually there are two high tides and two low tides each day. They follow each other in roughly 6 hour cycles...high tide, then low tide, then high tide, then low tide....you get the drift (pardon the pun). So you can pretty much count on two high tides and two low tides in Cabo every day.
The height to which these tides rise and fall to differs a little every day. Some days the tides run somewhat average, and some days (depending upon the alignment of the sun and the moon) they can be extremely high or low. How high or low the tides are can affect various vacation related issues in Cabo.
As an example, in some places in Cabo the surf breaks better at lower tides (Costa Azul), and in some cases it breaks even better at v-e-r-y low tides. And there are places in Cabo where the sand is too shallow at low tide where the waves break best at medium or high tide (East Cape).
Another example is Cape boat ramps. Some of the boat ramps on the East Cape are marginally usable at extremely low tides.
Thinking about motoring around Cabo Pulmo in a boat or inflatable to take some pictures? At low tide you have a good chance of getting stuck, so plan your adventure at medium to high tide.
Clamming in Baja is a ton of fun, but clamming at high tide can be frustrating and non-productive. Low and very low tides work best for good clamming. Low tide also makes it easier to dive for clams that are located offshore.
Even something as simple as walking along the beach in Cabo can be more enjoyable with the proper tide planning. At high tide the ocean tends to gobble up most of the hard flat sand down by the water that is easiest to walk on, leaving the less convenient sloping soft sand to trek on. Still fun, but a bit more work.
Snorkeling in Cabo is also best at certain tides. At low tide some of Cabo's best snorkeling areas are too shallow to float in, so waiting for the tide to rise is sometimes best (such as Cheleno Bay). Also, visibility tends to increase as the tides run from low to high.
Kayakers usually do best with higher tides, giving them a few more inches of clearance between the bottom of the kayak and the top of nearby reefs and rocks. The coastal area from the entrance of the Cabo harbor to El Arco is an example of a great kayak location that benefits from a higher tide.
On Carlos Fiesta's 2,200 mile SOLO BAJA CIRCUMNAVIGATION around Cabo the tides played an important part in how far offshore he anchored his boat each night before going to sleep. Waking up in the morning with your boat stranded on the sand can be a bit embarrasing and somewhat problematic.
It's easy to make tide planning a part of your next trip to Cabo. Most coastal Boat and Marine stores give away pocket-size annual tide charts to customers as gifts. These puppies fit in your pocket or wallet, (right next to your condoms) and are very easy to reference when you plan your next coastal adventure.
For a quick review of Cabo's tides visit the web site below. Enjoy!