Last week I had the opportunity to explore the Los Cabos area of Mexico with our hosts from Visit Los Cabos and Delta, going beyond the sun and beach scene of the all-inclusive resorts to learn how this area can satisfy travel yearnings for cultural discoveries, epicurean experiences, and diverse local encounters.
For those of us from the East Coast, Los Cabos is a longer plane ride than heading to Cancun, and it may not be an obvious choice, but it’s well worth that extra flight time for the unique aspects of this destination. This week I share a few of the highlights of the area, although there is even more to make Los Cabos a great vacation choice.
Culture and Culinary Experiences in Los Cabos
The area of Los Cabos Mexico may initially create images of beaches, sunshine and water sports, but it is so much more, with a desert setting peppered with varied cacti near the coastline, offering a diverse set of experiences such related to art, culture, gourmet cuisine, stargazing, and adventure.
The Los Cabos area encompasses the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. The twin urban areas of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are epicenters of the area, which are connected by a sandy stretch of highway known as “the tourist corridor”. The tourist corridor is home to some of the most luxurious resorts and best beaches of the area. The high energy city of Cabo San Lucas is located at “Land’s End”, the meeting point of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean.
The amazing desert scene is a surprising juxtaposition against the beautiful coastline with crashing waves. Mountains encompass the urban communities, and rough outcroppings and stretches of sand wander through the districts.
The climate in Los Cabos is warm, dry and bright the vast majority of the year, which makes it the ideal getaway. It seldom rains in Los Cabos, so outdoor activities can be planned with confidence.
An Elevated Culinary Scene
One of the things that stood out in the trip was the phenomenal dining experiences we had throughout. I found the meals at the various resorts we visited to be superior to the food I’ve had in Cancun, and the off-property dining options demonstrated that Los Cabos has a strong attention to delivering higher quality food options, whether in typical local cafes or gourmet restaurants.
One of my favorite experiences was the farm to table restaurant we visited, which offers a delicious meal, or, even better, an extended cooking class where you help prepare the courses from the fresh ingredients you’ve picked from the farm. Our group had a fantastic time as we sat down at a long table set with chopping boards and knives, and we chopped fresh herbs for the infused oil and fresh tomatoes for the ceviche and sauce, and helped with various cooking steps. The dining experience was amazing, as we sat at an outside dining table enjoying our efforts.
We visited a beach house restaurant in Cabo San Lucas that served delicious fish and Asian dishes – all superb. A must-visit restaurant is set along the visitors corridor on a water edge setting, perfect for watching the sunset. Their tasting menu demonstrates the high-end cuisine that helps make Los Cabos the number one luxury destination in Latin America.
A Tale of Two Cities
Each of the two urban areas of Los Cabos has its own draw, and its own character. Cabo San Lucas is perhaps the better known city, with an active vibe of the marina, nightlife, and cafés. It’s the location of many excursion companies and water activities in the area.
The other half of Los Cabos is about art, history, architecture, and culture. If Cabo San Lucas is about beaches, nature, and fun, then San Jose Del Cabo is about Mexican culture and charm. The city is marked by its cobbled streets, adobe houses, and Spanish colonial history heritage. The best way to soak in the essence of the city is by exploring it on foot.
San Jose del Cabo – A Cultural Experience
Situated in the town square called Plaza Mijares is the Mission San Jose del Cabo, an old church built in 1730. It still stands tall as a beautiful example of Spanish colonial architecture. It is a building of cultural, religious, and historical importance.
This section of the city of San Jose Del Cabo has been dedicated to art and artisans. Several large homes built in the 1800s have been converted into art galleries and shops that showcase handicrafts of local artisans.There is an “Art Walk” each Thursday evening from 5-9 pm from November to June, where the entire Plaza is set up with displays by the local artisans.
Cabo San Lucas – Center of Activity
While San Jose Del Cabo has a charming small town feel, Cabo San Lucas generates a feeling of energy and activity.
It’s located at “Land’s End”, the meeting point of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, and where the rock outcroppings create the famous landmark El Arco (The Arch).
The city is filled with restaurants, cafés and bars, with the beach right there for sunbathing or relaxing, and the marina which offers several various excursions.
A cruising, fishing, or whale watching visit is an incredible way to spend a day on the water. In the cold weather months, pads of whales come right from Alaska and Siberia to bear their calves in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez. Game fishing is well known, with game like dorado, swordfish, and striped marlin.
Water sports fans will discover numerous options for surfing and paddle boarding. There are various surf spots all over the coast between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
Los Cabos has extraordinary swimming and scuba diving. The Sea of Cortez has been known as the “Aquarium of the World” in view of the bounty and variety of marine life.
ATV riding in Cabo Pulmo National Park is yet another exhilarating experience available in Los Cabos. Or for a truly memorable adventure – how about a camel ride on the beach?
Resort Options – All-inclusive versus European plan
Mexico tends to be known for all-inclusive resorts, where all your meals and beverages, including alcoholic drinks, and some on-property activities are included in the overall price of your stay. All-inclusives can be a convenient way to relax and know you won’t be hit with a big bill at the end of your trip.
But there are other options. Some hotels and resorts are ‘European plan’ which means you are just paying for the cost of your room, and any food and drink will be extra, which can be a good choice if you want to explore the various culinary offerings.
During my stay, we toured ten different accommodation options, from resorts right on the beach, to hotels in the center of Cabo San Lucas, to boutique hotels. Some were adults-only and others were for families. Each had a different vibe, and I found myself appreciating the totally diverse experiences one could have visiting Los Cabos.
One key thing to be aware of is that not all the beaches in the Los Cabos area are swimmable. Because of steep ocean dropoffs close to shore that create undercurrents and strong waves, many beaches are closed as they are dangerous. Your preference for swimming or just beach views is an important consideration in resort selection.
A Current and Future Destination
I found Los Cabos to be an intriguing and inviting destination. The variety of activities and experiences, beyond those I’ve found in other Mexican resort areas, makes this a more attractive area to visit to get that mix of relaxation and exploration of new places.
Mexico is open now for visitors, and they have responded well with safety and health protocols for Covid, so it’s a comfortable choice for a near-term vacation.
Los Cabos would make for a perfect couple’s getaway or family vacation. It truly is the best of both worlds.