Once upon a time, the majority of Cabo’s visitors were anglers and came primarily from Southern California and the west coast. But these days they fly in nonstop to Los Cabos from all over the United States; and to Loreto and La Paz from some U.S. cities. Via nonstop service, Los Cabos is about 2 hours from San Diego, about 2¼ hours from Houston, 3 hours from Dallas/Fort Worth, 2½ hours from Los Angeles, and 2½ hours from Phoenix. Flying time from New York to Mexico City, where you must switch planes to continue to Los Cabos, is 5 hours. Los Cabos is about a 2½-hour flight from Mexico City.
As far as Baja Norte is concerned, you have a few options. Many people just buy Mexican insurance in San Diego and drive on in. But if you don’t live that close, you can either fly into San Diego and rent a car to drive down (check with rental companies as their policies differ on this), or fly into Tijuana and rent a car from there.
Cabo San Lucas
In Cabo San Lucas there’s a massive hotel on every available plot of waterfront turf. A pedestrian walkway lined with restaurants, bars, and shops anchored by the sleek Puerto Paraíso mall curves around the entire perimeter of Cabo San Lucas harbor, itself packed with wall-to-wall sport fishing and pleasure yachts. Unfortunately, a five-story hotel complex at one edge of the harbor blocks a small portion of the water view and sea breezes from the town’s side streets, but it can’t be denied that Cabo is a carnival and a parade, all at once. The short Pacific coast beach in downtown San Lucas is more peaceful, though monstrous hotel projects have gobbled up much of the sand here too. An entire new tourism area dubbed Cabo Pacifica, by its Pueblo Bonito developers has blossomed on the Pacific, west of downtown. In late 2007 this ultra-exclusive development received a marketing name change, and was dubbed the Quivira, after a mythical beach of golden sand searched for, but never found, by the Spanish galleons. Construction began on Quivira in early 2008, and will continue for several years. Several major hotels and at least two world-class championship golf courses are included in the Quivira master plan
Even before the Corridor had an official name or even a paved road, the few hotels here were ritzy and elite; one even had its own private airstrip. Although much has changed, little has changed, if you get our drift—developers have deliberately kept this area high-end and private. The Corridor is the most valuable strip of real estate in the region, with guard-gated exclusivity, golf courses, luxury developments, and unsurpassed views of the Sea of Cortez.
San José del Cabo
If you’re willing to sacrifice happening digs for a bit more authenticity, Cabo San Lucas’ little sister city San José del Cabo is the place to base your stay. Its downtown is appealing and attractive, and recently the government has again enlarged and beautified the main zocalo, graced now by a brand-new “dancing waters” fountain, lit at night. Several streets fronting the square have become pedestrian-only and new parks have been installed here as well. And the ambitious multiyear beautification process continues: San José’s original nine-hole golf course was recently purchased by the Mayan Resorts, a time-share newcomer on the beach, and the course refurbished. Just beyond and a bit farther south is the ever-expanding Zona Hotelera where a dozen or so new hotels, time-shares, and condo projects face the long stretch of beach (also referred to as Playa del Sol or El Sol) on the usually placid Sea of Cortez.
Los Cabos Restaurant Reviews
Although everyone knows that Latins prefer dining late into the eve, be warned that if you arrive at restaurants in Los Cabos after 10 PM, you’re taking your chances. Most places are open year-round, sometimes closing for a couple of weeks—or even a month—in the middle of the hot Baja summer, and nearly all of Los Cabos restaurants close one night a week, typically Sunday or Monday. Unless otherwise noted, the restaurants listed in this guide are open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations are mentioned when essential, but are a good idea during high season (mid-November to May). Dress is casual. Polo shirts and nice slacks are fine at even the most upscale places; shirts and shoes (or sandals) should be worn any time you’re away from the beach.
Restaurants in Los Cabos tend to be pricey, even by U.S. standards. Some places automatically add a 15% service charge (several up to 18%) to the bill, and some add a fee for credit card usage. If you wander off the beaten path—often only a few blocks from the touristy areas—you can find inexpensive, authentic Mexican fare (though still more expensive than elsewhere in Mexico), although these spots may not accept credit cards.
Los Cabos Hotel Reviews
Bargains here are few; rooms generally start at $200 a night and can easily climb into the thousands. For groups of six or more planning an extended stay, condos or villas can be a convenient and economical option, though you should always book well in advance.
Hotel rates in Baja California Sur are subject to a 10% value-added tax and a 2% hotel tax for tourism promotion. Service charges (at least 10%) and meals generally aren’t included in hotel rates. Several of the high-end properties include a daily service charge in your bill; be sure you know the policy before tipping (though additional tips are always welcome). We always list the available facilities, but we don’t specify extra costs; so always ask about what’s included.
Assume that hotels operate on the European Plan (EP, with no meals) unless we specify that they offer a Continental Plan (CP, with a continental breakfast), Breakfast Plan (BP, with a full breakfast), Modified American Plan (MAP, with breakfast and dinner), or the Full American Plan (FAP, with all meals). A number of properties throughout Los Cabos have gone all-inclusive (AI with all meals and drinks).
Los Cabos Nightlife
Party-minded crowds roam the main strip of Cabo San Lucas every night from happy hour through last call, often staggering home or to their hotel rooms just before dawn. It’s not hard to see why this is the nightlife capital of southern Baja. Indeed, Cabo is internationally famous (or infamous, depending on your view) for being a raucous party town, especially during spring break. On the other hand, nightlife in San José del Cabo is much more low-key; it’s more about a good drink and a good conversation as opposed to the table-dancing chaos you’ll find in some Cabo hot spots.
Between the two towns, the self-contained resorts along the Corridor have no nightlife to speak of, other than their ever-improving restaurants and bars, which can mix up some fabulous cocktails themselves.
If you’re more interested in the arts than late-night carousing, you’ll find that Los Cabos has much more to offer you than it once did. In the past, Todos Santos, a little north of Los Cabos, used to be the bohemian center of southern Baja, while Los Cabos concerned itself with partying. Meanwhile, many talented artists over in Cabo San Lucas are braving the party scene to open studios. Galleries have sprung up along the Cabo Marina, a number of them combining the visual and culinary arts in happy tourist-friendly gallery/restaurant combos.
Los Cabos Shopping
Los Cabos manufactures sunshine and good times but very few actual products. One exception is glassware from La Fábrica de Vidrio Soplado (Blown-Glass Factory). In addition, a burgeoning arts scene has national and international artists opening galleries and, in fact, a large number of galleries now abound throughout Los Cabos, especially in San José del Cabo’s rapidly evolving city center. Several shops will custom-design gold and silver jewelry for you, fashioning pieces in one to two days. Liquor shops sell a locally produced liqueur called damiana, touted as an aphrodisiac. Clothing shops will create custom-designed bathing suits for you in a day or so, as well.
Despite Cabo’s lack of homegrown wares, stores are filled with beautiful and unusual items from all over mainland Mexico. You can find hand-painted blue Talavera tiles from Puebla; blue-and-yellow pottery from Guanajuato; black pottery from the village of San Bartolo Coyotepec (near Oaxaca); hammocks from the Yucatán; embroidered clothing from Oaxaca, Chiapas, and the Yucatán; silver jewelry from Taxco; fire opals from Queretaro; and the fine beaded crafts of the Huichol tribe from Nayarit and Jalisco.
No longer hawking only the requisite T-shirts, belt buckles, and trinkets, Cabo’s improved shopping scene has reached the high standards of other Mexican resorts. Its once-vacant streets are today lined with dozens of new shops, from open-air bazaars to souvenir shops and fine designer boutiques. To be sure, there’s something for everyone here.