We absolutely love visiting Mexico and we try to getaway for a week or a weekend whenever we can; living in Houston makes this possible as most destinations are a quick 2 hour flight away from home. So far we have been to Mexico City, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Mazatlan. Our next stop is the popular resort city of Cabo San Lucas, located at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. Our ultimate goal is to live in Mexico, but for now we enjoy this amazing country one week at a time!
Los Cabos is a popular year-round destination, but it’s especially lovely in the winter months when the whales migrate through the Sea of Cortez, visible just off the shoreline. This is our first trip to Los Cabos, but we definitely want to go back again during the winters months to see the baby whales and their migration, which should be magical.
Before we get into the details, here are a few pictures that were taken at the Misiones beach in Cabo San Lucas with the amazing Arch of Cabo and Land’s End as the backdrop!
We are excited to share the details of our trip and our recommendations with you! Here are suggestions on what to see, where to stay, what to do, what to eat and explore the beautiful twin cities of San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas in 4-5 days.
What to see?
Located where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, the twin cities of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are together known as Los Cabos. The cities are located ~30 minutes apart, and connected via the “corridor”. As you drive from San José del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas, you see miles and miles of spectacular coastline. Both cities offer a lot of options for sightseeing.
San José del Cabo is known for its charm, colonial architecture and beautiful streets. The art galleries in the old town host the art walk on Thursday evenings and open their doors to visitors, often serving small glasses of wine or mezcal for the walk. The peak season here is from November through June. We landed in Los Cabos on a Thursday and found out about the art walk at the car rental, so we decided to check it out on the same day. Our trip was in August during the off-peak season, so the galleries were still open, but the streets were pretty quiet with very few visitors. Plaza Mijares Town Center, Parroquia San Jose, Costa Azul, Playa Palmilla and Santa Maria Beach are other places that are worth checking out in San José del Cabo.
Cabo San Lucas is a resort town known for its beaches, water activities, vibrant nightlife, bars, restaurants and resorts. The main attraction here are the golden beaches, the oh-so-romantic arch or El Arco and Land’s End. Keep in mind that there are very few “swimmable” beaches in Cabo San Lucas. Most beaches are very rocky or the waves are too harsh, so it’s not safe for swimming. Cabo San Lucas is a preferred destination for tourists due to the luxorious resorts, beautiful beaches, active nightlife, delicious food and countless adventure activities!
Based on our experience, a vacation in Cabo can be anything you make of it! You can choose to relax and stay at the all-inclusive resorts and make it a relaxing getaway, or you can explore everything Cabo has to offer. Cabo has it all!
Where to stay?
When we started researching our trip to Los Cabos, we learned a little more about the two cities that make up the area – San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. We read about each city and decided to stay at the Villa del Palmar all-inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas since it was closer to a lot of the activities that we had planned. Villa del Palmar is located on Playa Médano, which is one of the very few “swimmable” beaches in Cabo. We could walk just a few steps, be right on the beach and step into the water. Laying on the beach and seeing Land’s End, the southern tip of Baja California is just beautiful! And who doesn’t want to lay on the beach looking at Land’s End? However, the resort is about 30 years old and the amenities at the all inclusive are not the best. There are better resorts that are newer and better such as The Cape, A Thompson hotel, Esperanza, an Auberge Resort and Pueblo Bonito. But if you want beach access to one of the best beaches in Cabo San Lucas, we suggest staying at the sister property, Villa del Arco, which is located right next to the Villa del Palmar on Playa Médano.
If you want to enjoy the culture of the region, our recommendation is to go with a hotel in San José del Cabo. If your dream vacation is to lay on the beach and relax, then Cabo San Lucas would be your best bet. One option we would definitely consider in the future is to stay a few days in both cities, so we can explore the best of what both cities have to offer!
What to do?
Glass-bottom boat tour to El Arco: We hired a boat to take us to the tip of the Baja Peninsula to see El Arco, the iconic rock arch at Land’s End that separates the Pacific from the Sea of Cortez. This rock formation is one of Cabo’s top attractions. We took the boat from Playa Médano, where our resort was located. Disembarking at “Lover’s Beach” was an option, but the waves were very rough and with no cover on a hot day, so we chose not to get off the boat. On the other side of El Arco is “Divorce Beach” and it can be rough and choppy as well.
ATV Ride on the desert trails and Cabo beaches: We chose to go with Cactus Tours and hire an ATV for a little off-road adventure. The ride takes you through the Baja desert trails that are a wild treat, and the beautiful white sandy beaches of Migriño Beach with huge dunes and amazing views. The ATV tour is pretty expensive at ~$240 USD for 2 adults, picture package that costs $75 USD, and the park entrance fee which is $20 USD per person.
Other activities that are available in the Los Cabos area include Surfing, Sailing, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Kayaking, Jet-Skiing, Parasailing, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Camel Riding, Whale watching (December to April only), Sunset Cruises to El Arco, Shopping, Tequila and Mezcal Tasting, Golfing, etc.
What to eat?
Staying at an all-inclusive resort does limit how much you can explore the food scene. During our travels, we love to explore both the street food, small restaurants on the beach that serve fresh seafood, as well as high end restaurants. We mix it up and try a little bit of everything, while staying on a budget at the same time.
Mexico is the mecca for tacos and Cabo San Lucas has some amazing places to enjoy delicious tacos. We did a mini food tour on this trip by hopping from one street food restaurant to another and we hit several taquerias recommended by the locals.
- Los Claros serves up the best seafood tacos in town. You can add your own toppings from the salsa bar, which is a neat idea. We had the crunch shrimp taco and crunch fish taco which were both delicious and super inexpensive. Without a doubt Los Claros was our favorite!
- Las Guacamayas is a Mexican street restaurant named after the macaw, and features macaw themed murals inside the restuarant. They offer authentic and affordable regional Mexican cuisine. We had the Al Pastor tacos and a quesadilla. Both were delicious!
- El Paisa was another taquería recommended by the locals. We ordered the Papa Rellena which was a stuffed baked potato covered with melted cheese and topped with grilled beef, grilled pork and chorizo. This place also had a salsa bar with both mild and spicy versions to add more layers flavor.
- Lechuga Express is neither a taquería or a mexican restaurant, but if my Venezuelan husband finds a Venezuelan restaurant anywhere in the world, we wouldn’t leave that place without checking it out. So we heard about this place from the locals, and ordered the traditional cheese arepas which were great. However, they didn’t have other typical Venezuelan items such as tequeños and cachapas, which was a bit disappointing.
This trip marks our 4th wedding anniversary, so we decided to go all out and enjoy an amazing dinner at the Cocina del Mar restaurant in Cabo San Lucas. The restaurant is carved into the bluffs overlooking the Sea of Cortez and offers amazing panaromic views from all angles. It is located on a cliff with waves crashing below, and the setting is just breathtaking for a romantic dinner. There isn’t a better place to celebrate our love, friendship and this amazing journey! Note: Picture credit for first 3 photgraphs goes to Esperanza resort where the restaurant is located.
How to save money?
- Save money on your flights by using Kayak, Google Flights, Scott’s Cheap Flights and other online sites to monitor the flight prices for the trip. If you are flexible on the travel dates, weekday departures are typically cheaper than weekend departures. Same goes for the arrivals as well.
- If you haven’t done this before, try buying Spirit Airlines tickets at the airport to save anywhere from $20-80 per ticket by eliminating the passenger usage fees that you would normally pay if you booked the tickets online. This is not just for last minute tickets only. You can buy tickets well in advance at the airport and still save the fees.
- Most budget airlines charge additional fees for cabin and/or checked baggage. If you plan on checking in bags, pay for it in advance online versus at the airport to save money. Even better, travel light with just a backpack with the essentials to eliminate all baggage fees.
- Shop for hotels on websites such as orbitz.com, hotels.com etc. to find the best deal. You can accumulate money or points on some of the sites such as Orbucks that you can use for future trips.
- Choose combo packages such as airfare + hotel + car rental to get a great deal!
May we recommend?
Our recommendations for anyone hoping to travel to this amazing destination:
- Skip the tours and taxis and rent a car! We love to explore everthing the city has to offer, so renting a car is always the best and most economical option for us.
- Skip the all-inclusive resorts, and find local places that serve up delicious food. Talk to the locals, eat what they recommend and at the places where they hangout.
- Skip the water, and lay on the beach! The waves in Cabo are rough and choppy, so it takes a lot of effort to swim in these waters. If you’ve been to Cancun or Tulum, you’ll quickly realize that the beaches in Cabo are nothing like that.
- Be smart and stay safe (this applies to most destinations, not just Mexico)!
- Keep in mind that the Pacific hurricane season runs from mid-May to November. We visited Cabo in August, and we got lucky with perfect weather throughout the entire trip, but there’s always a risk if you travel during this time.
- Do your research on whether you want to stay in Cabo San Lucas or San José del Cabo. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself driving up and down the corridor that connects the cities and it takes ~30-45 min to travel each way.
Overall, we could not have asked for more from our trip to Los Cabos! Explore, have fun and seek out authentic experiences. Mexico is so worth your time, so put it on your travel list!
And remember… Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer!