If swimming in natural hot springs is on your bucket list, you must add the Santa Rita Hot Springs to your Baja California Sur itinerary.
Just an hour outside of Los Cabos you’ll find these turquoise-blue natural hot springs—and yes, the water is actually hot!
Situated in a serene oasis-like environment beside a refreshingly-cold river with gorgeous waterfalls, the hot springs are one of the region’s best hidden gems.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Santiago, the small town where the hot springs are located. I loved the town’s genuine local feel (which can be hard to find in this area of Mexico), and the incredible swimming holes at Santa Rita Hot Springs, Canon de la Zorra, and other nearby spots.
The Santa Rita Hot Springs are located about twenty minutes outside of the center of Santiago, down a long, dusty dirt road.
On your way to visiting them, it can feel like you’re lost in the desert. But that’s why I created this Santa Rita Hot Springs Travel Guide—so you can visit this natural wonder without getting lost. Keep reading for the full guide!
Before you read on, make sure to bookmark these other Baja California Sur Travel Guides for your upcoming adventure:
★ 21 Best Day Trips from Cabo
★ The Ultimate Guide to the Santa Rita Hot Springs
★ Cañon de la Zorra & Sol De Mayo Waterfall Hike First Timer Guide
★ The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Travel in La Paz, Mexico
★ 6 Reasons to Visit Santiago, BCS
★ Playa Balandra, La Paz Full Guide
★ Playa El Tesoro, La Paz Full Guide
★ 5 Best Balandra Beach Tours from Cabo
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The Ultimate Guide to the Santa Rita Hot Springs
The Santa Rita Hot Springs were one of my favorite stops on my recent Baja California Sur road trip, alongside the other hidden gems in Santiago.
The hot springs are truly hot—a little hotter than the average hot tub. But if you need to cool off, you can walk a few steps to the refreshing, cool river that flows gently, forming gorgeous swimming holes and small waterfalls.
Looking for some quick tips to plan your day trip to the Santa Rita Hot Springs? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
★ Bring pesos for the entrance fee: You’ll need to pay about $150 pesos ($8.50 USD) per person as an entry fee at Rancho Santa Rita. Most tours (more info about the best tours below) will cover the entry fee, but if you’re going without a tour, make sure you have cash in small bills ready. If you cannot pay in pesos, you can pay in USD, but expect to get pesos for change.
★ Plan your visit according to opening hours: Rancho Santa Rita is typically open from 8-5pm on everyday except Wednesday. Plan your trip accordingly. If you’re taking a day trip from Cabo, leave early and make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy the idyllic natural springs!
★ Consider adding nearby attractions to your itinerary: You can easily spend a whole day jumping between the thermal springs and cool pools at Rancho Santa Rita. However, if you’re looking for something else to do in the area, I recommend stopping at Fox Canyon (Canon de la Zorra in Spanish) which is about twenty minutes away. It’s home to one of the most stunning waterfalls in Baja, Sol De Mayo Waterfall, and several refreshing natural pools for swimming. Read my full guide on visiting Canon de la Zorra.
★ Download the area on Google Maps ahead of time: Service is limited in the rural villages nearby Rancho Santa Rita. I highly recommend downloading the area for offline use on Google Maps. With the area downloaded, you can navigate without wifi or cell phone service. Learn how to download an area on Google Maps.
★ Leave it better than you found it: Be sure to clean up after yourself, and even take it a step further and pack out any trash left by others. It’s small gestures like this that help beautiful natural areas like the Sierra Laguna mountains.
★ Be willing to adjust your plans or take a guided tour if it rains: Parts of the road to Rancho Santa Rita can flood after heavy rainfall. If you’re unsure about the road conditions, consider booking a tour instead of visiting by yourself (more info on the best tours below).
Swimming toward a small waterfall at Rancho Santa Rita
Where are the Santa Rita Hot Springs?
The Santa Rita Hot Springs (Aguas Termales Santa Rita in Spanish) are located inside the Rancho Santa Rita, a privately owned ranch in the Sierra Laguna mountains of Baja California Sur, Mexico. The surrounding area was designated as a National Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2003.
The ranch and hot springs are just over twenty minutes outside of the small town of Santiago. Santiago itself is an hour from San Jose del Cabo, an hour and fifteen minutes from Cabo San Lucas, and two hours from La Paz.
Floating in the cool natural pools near the Santa Rita Hot Springs
How to get to the Aguas Termales Santa Rita Trailhead
You need a car to get to Rancho Santa Rita without a tour. Although the drive includes 20+ minutes on a bumpy dirt road, you can easily visit without four wheel drive as long as there hasn’t been heavy rain. I recently visited the hot springs in a small sedan and had no issues driving—though the road is littered with tons of obnoxious pot holes, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.
Looking for a guided day trip to Aguas Termales Santa Rita? Scroll down for top-rated tour recommendations with reviews and ratings.
Directions to Santiago from Los Cabos
The drive from Cabo to Santiago is between an hour and an hour and fifteen minutes, depending on the area of Los Cabos.
To drive from San Jose del Cabo, head north on Highway 1 for about an hour until you see the sign for Santiago (after about 50 minutes). Turn left toward Santiago and drive about five minutes into town.
To drive from Cabo San Lucas, drive toward San Jose del Cabo and get on Highway 1 North (you may enter San Jose on Highway 1, depending on where you’re coming from). After about an hour and ten minutes, you’ll see the sign for Santiago and turn left, driving five minutes into two.
Directions to Santiago from La Paz
There are two ways to drive toward Santiago from La Paz: Highway 1 and Highway 286. There isn’t much of a time difference, but check your GPS to see which route is faster based on traffic and your exact starting point.
Highway 1 and 286 meet near La Venta, converging into Highway 1. Keep driving south on Highway 1 through Los Barriles until you see the sign for Santiago after about two hours of driving. From there you can drive into town, which takes about five minutes.
Be warned: some sections of the road to Santiago are very windy and curvy. Be careful as you drive and ensure you’re driving in full daylight in both directions.
Santiago to the Santa Rita Hot Springs Trailhead
As I mentioned above, I highly recommend to downloading the area on Google Maps before attempting to visit Rancho Santa Rita.
Although there is some service in Santiago, there is no service during the 20+ drive from Santiago to the Rancho. The road between Santiago and Santa Rita is along a bumpy dirt road with a few forks and limited signage. Having the route pre-downloaded on Google Maps will save you the headache of trying to navigate the area’s dusty roads on your own.
Relaxing at the Santa Rita Hot Springs in Baja California, Mexico
Best Santa Rita Hot Springs Baja TOurs
The Santa Rita Hot Springs are still largely undiscovered by international tourists. There are a limited number of tour companies that offer day trips to the hot springs, and most tours include a stop at both the hot springs as Fox Canyon. Based on my research, here is a highly-rated day tour that typically includes a visit to Rancho Santa Rita:
★★★★★ 5/5 Stars out of 8+ reviews
Pickup in Cabo San Lucas.
This day trip includes round trip transportation to Rancho Santa Rita’s natural hot springs with a guide who specializes in local flora, fauna, and history. Participants have the option of relaxing at the main hot springs or hiking longer to more secluded springs.
“The terrain of Cabo is so beautiful with mountains, desert, and the ocean. This tour takes you off the beaten track and into the mountains to explore hot springs and waterfalls. The hot springs are the perfect temperature and the waterfalls are amazing to swim in and take photos near. We had so much fun! Max is an excellent tour guide with lots of knowledge of the local plant life! He is also an excellent photographer and got some of our favorite photos of the trip! The restaurant he took us to on the way back was delicious. Overall we loved the experience and would happily do more trips with Good Trips Baja!”Review from Emily on Viator
Where the hot springs and cool water below meet
How to Visit Santa Rita Hot Springs Without a Tour
As long as you’re willing to drive down a bumpy, dusty road and can download the GPS instructions ahead of time, you can visit Santa Rita Hot Springs without a tour.
I love booking tours while traveling because I typically learn so much more from local guides than I ever could on my own, but it’s also nice to be able to enjoy a natural space on your own schedule.
After following the directions on Google Maps to Rancho Santa Rita, you’ll arrive at a small parking lot with a variety of animals wandering around. There is another ranch just a few hundred feet from Rancho Santa Rita. If you’re unsure if you’re at the right spot, ask someone for “Aguas Termales Santa Rita” and they will kindly point you in the right direction.
Once you reach the parking lot, there will be a rancher sitting at a small table to collect the entrance fee. After you pay, you’ll walk down a small pathway, through a gate, past a large tree and picnic tables, until you reach an opening by the river.
From there, traverse across the river rocks. Cross the small bridge and the hot springs is around the corner to the left. It will be obvious when you touch the water, but there are pools of cool water beside the hot springs.
The walk from the parking lot to the river and hot springs takes about 5 minutes.
Aguas Termales Santa Rita Photo Gallery
Santa Rita Hot Springs pool
Floating in the cool river beside the hot springs
Hiding in the shade as I soak in the hot springs
Beautiful turquoise blue hot springs at Santa Rita Rancho
Peeking through the foliage to see the calm river beside the hot springs
Santa Rita Hot Springs FAQs
What type of facilities are available at Aguas Termales Santa Rita?
There are no facilities at the hot springs, but there are picnic tables nearby the river. I also heard that there are bathrooms and camping spots at Santa Rita Hot Springs, but I didn’t see them during my visit.
What should you pack for a day trip to Santa Rita Hot Springs?
- Sandals: Bring sandals that you don’t mind getting wet. Otherwise, you’ll burn your feet when you get out of the hot springs and step on the hot rocks!
- Water: The Baja California sun is powerful, and the hot springs are very hot! Make sure to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and healthy!
- Bathing suit: If you want to enjoy the natural pools and hot springs, this is essential!
- Towel: It can still be nice to have a towel you want to change or sit on it. I love Nomadix towels for travel.
- (Optional) GoPro or waterproof phone case: Make sure you can capture photos of this beautiful spot without risking getting your phone wet. I have a GoPro Hero11, which has 27 megapixels and screens on both sides, and I love it!
What else is there to do in Santiago BCS?
Santiago is a small town, but it’s also the gateway to the Sierra Laguna mountains.
There are tons of hikes in the area, and other hot springs. El Chorro Hot Springs is another popular hot spring nearby to Santa Rita, but it was closed when I visited.
If you’re looking for something a little different, head to the stunning Sol de Mayo Waterfall and Fox Canyon, which is just twenty minutes away from Rancho Santa Rita.
Swimming in the cool waterfall pools at Rancho Santa Rita, after soaking in the thermal hot springs
Final Thoughts: Santa Rita Hot Springs
The Santa Rita Hot Springs make an incredible day trip on a Los Cabos beach vacation, or a tranquil stop on a Baja peninsula road trip.
Although nearby Los Cabos is one of the most touristy areas in Mexico, many of the area’s most stunning natural areas remain hidden gems. If you visit this beautiful place, clean up after yourself and respect visiting locals and villagers.
Essential Mexico Travel Resources
Have a Mexico trip coming up soon? There are a lot of travel companies out there, but some are better than others. After traveling to dozens of countries and living abroad on several continents, here are some of my favorite websites and resources for planning unforgettable trips.