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Tale of Two Cabos

Read our insider’s recommendations for how to best plan your next Cabo vacation.

 

I love Los Cabos. So do my children. 

The light. The air. The rugged desert jutting up against the sea. The glow of daybreak over the Sea of Cortez. The fiery sun yielding to a canopy of stars stretched across the night.

Los Cabos won my children over after a trip to Tijuana nearly ruined them for Mexico. Together, we’ve savored sun-soaked days exploring the area’s famous beaches, flirting with whales and dining in the ocean breeze. 

Some of our best memories have been painted under the vast skies. Los Cabos touches our souls, reminding us what it means to be alive.

Two Cabos

Cabo is not one town, but two, linked by twenty miles of four-lane highway called the Tourist Corridor that skirts the Sea of Cortez. To the south, flamboyant Cabo San Lucas teems with bikini-filled beaches and raucous nightlife. 

To the north, the more dignified San José del Cabo entices with quieter pleasures. More tranquil still are the jutting cliffs of the Corridor and the surf-beaten enclaves along the Pacific Coast.

Most visitors refer to the whole area as “Cabo,” but to locals, Cabo means only San Lucas.

When to Go

Los Cabos’ famous bumper sticker says it all: No Bad Days. Get to Los Cabos any season you can. Pressed to choose the best vacation windows, I opt for mid-October through November, or April through mid-May. 

The south winds stir in mid-May, pressing hot, humid weather into the southern half of the Baja California Peninsula until September, when the hurricanes blow. By mid-November, northern winds bring milder temperatures and a dramatic increase in visitors. 

With 360 days of sunshine per year, Los Cabos is a sun-lover’s dream.  But the rays here are intense, so never forego sunscreen. My daughter spent the better part of one vacation hiding under a wide-brimmed hat thanks to a nasty facial sunburn from the glare off the water.

Los Cabos Family Activities

Toss your to-do list when you arrive in Los Cabos. Here, it’s all about fun and relaxation. You can park yourself on a towel at the beach and have the time of your life.

Want more excitement? Water sports, land sports, extreme sports, day trips, shopping and nightlife—there are plenty of choices. Read our Outdoor Activities article for more ideas.

Arriving in Cabo

At the airport, brace for long lines at the Immigration counters, where you’ll get a card that must be turned in at the end of your stay. Press a button to determine your fate at Customs. Green and you go on through; red and you stop for a luggage inspection.

Ignore the human tunnel of timeshare salesmen and head straight for Los Cabos Express, which has a monopoly on airport transportation. Depending on where you’re headed, the bus ride can take upwards of an hour, so sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Los Cabos Accommodations

All-Inclusive Resorts

At an all-inclusive resort where meals, drinks, and activities are bundled into one price, you can plunk right into relaxation mode. On one of my favorite walking beaches in San José, the sun-bleached Crowne Plaza Resort offers daytime club activities for kids and a nighttime club for teens. Along the Corridor, the Meliá Cabo Real is more of an island unto itself, boasting a safe swimming beach and a world-class golf course along with club activities for toddlers through 12-year-olds.

A la Carte Hotels and Resorts

Non-inclusive resort hotels on the Corridor and on the Pacific side are isolated, a good thing when your aim is to unwind. On the San José end of the Corridor, you can join a list of world leaders and celebrities, at the stunning Westin Resort and Spa, perched on cliffs overlooking the Sea of Cortez. The Westin offers Family Experience packages and free activities for kids ages 4 to 12.

On the Pacific side, the Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach boasts a huge private beach and 50 acres of villa-style suites. Activities for all ages include Spanish classes, aqua-aerobics, botanical and nature tours, bartending and cooking classes, and a variety of fun and creative children’s activities.

Closer to San Lucas, my kids had a fabulous time at the Villa del Palmar Resort and Spa, and that was before the hotel dreamed up its Kids’ Club and Kids’ Night. The whale slide was a big hit, as were the white sands of Playa el Medano (Medano Beach). Here you’re close enough to walk to the zany stuff that goes on at Medano and far enough not to be bothered by it. The waterfalls in the nine-story lobby and the sumptuous spa are delightful.

Cabo Apartment or Condo Rentals

If your inclination or budget doesn’t scream resort, there are plenty of other options in Los Cabos. Timeshares, fractional ownership units and full-ownership condos are everywhere, with many offering rentals to non-owners. You can book through a local property management company like Sunshine Services or Cabo Homes and Condos. If you’ve got a large group, consider renting a vacation home or villa through a service like Cabo Trip Vacation Rentals.  

Really independent travelers can book directly with owners through services like Vacation Rentals by Owner, where I listed my Los Cabos condo. Guests made all arrangements directly with me, and my property manager did on-site troubleshooting.

Whether you book directly or through a service, condos generally have fully-stocked kitchens, so you can add grocery shopping to your cultural activities and enjoy the convenience and value of cooking in your unit. Guests who return to the same condo year after year get to be part of the local scene without the hassles of ownership. Note that due to a recent crackdown on foreign owners by Mexican tax authorities, vacation rental prices are on their way up.

If you’re really on a budget, the colonial-style Mar de Cortez hotel in downtown Cabo San Lucas is a great choice, as is the Marisol, a boutique hotel near the beach in San José.

Los Cabos Restaurants

When it comes to dining, Los Cabos will please every palate and budget. The area’s restaurants have everything from fresh seafood to traditional and contemporary Mexican to international specialties prepared by top chefs.   

For fine dining, the 7 Seas Restaurant, Morgan’s Restaurant & Cellar and the Tropicana Restaurant are traditional favorites in San José. Dolce Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria and Damiana round out the mix.

I also love Edith’s, near Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas. Other great choices at the tip of the peninsula include Mariscos Mazatlan, Mi Casa Restaurant & Cantina and La Fonda Restaurant.

On a budget, you can’t go wrong at Rosy’s Tacos or Hangman in San José. Rosy’s is open only for lunch, but I’m always happy to take time off from the beach to gobble down fish tacos with all the fixings for about a dollar each.  

Hangman is fun and affordable for casual dinners. It doesn’t serve alcohol, but you can bring your own. I like sampling traditional dishes like squash blossom quesadillas and queso fundo, a sort of Mexican cheese fondue.

If you’re hankering for a traditional burger, local favorites are Buzzard’s Bar & Grill Restaurant, on the East Cape road, and Latitude 22, on the Corridor near Cabo San Lucas. While you’re at Latitude 22, pick up a bumper sticker to remind you that in Cabo, there are No Bad Days.

Before planning your Cabo vacation, read our Los Cabos Travel Tips.


Destinations: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, San José del Cabo

Themes: Beach Vacations, Family Travel

Activities: Eat, Sightseeing, Sleep


User Comments

We love Cabo! If you live on the west coast, I recommend more highly than Hawaii for families. It's closer, more affordable, and yes, has better weather. Hawaii is magical -- we love it. But you can get several days of rain. That's virtually unheard of in Cabo. We recommend the Melia Cabo Real. It's the absolute perfect resort for families.

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