Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: “Do you want to take some pictures with a Mexican?” jokingly yelled a man when 5 of us, girls, were walking down the marina of Cabo San Lucas. Five fine girls in an exotic place like Cabo…yeh, we got some attention you can say. But jokes apart, this was my/our first girls-only trip out of the country and we truly devoured every moment of it. This was a much-needed getaway for me and I think, every woman…no matter if you are happy, are going thru tough time, or just need to escape from everything…can use this kind of trip at any phase of your life.
Located at the far southern tip of Baja California Sur and filled with natural landmarks around coastline, Cabo is a popular destination in Mexico. I’m not surprised that Cabo San Lucas became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 because of its outstanding cultural value and natural sites which deserve protection for the all humanity. Lots of first-timers and seasoned travelers come here to enjoy its year-round warm weather, adventurous outdoor, every possible water activity, scenic landmarks, and world-class dining/resort experiences. For young travelers, this is also known to be one of the top cities with wild night-life.
Some tips for Cabo that I would like to give the future-travelers are: one, carry US Dollar if you can. No need to carry Mexican Pesos or convert your USD for any reason. They accept USD everywhere and most of the places will give you change in USD also. Credit card is accepted at almost every store and restaurant, except for taxis. But paying by cash may give you better deal on souvenirs or other shopping. Two, be very careful with your ATM card or credit cards. My bank card was swapped with someone intentionally when a man was “helping” me to cancel a bank transaction after I’ve withdrawn some money. Luckily, I noticed within a minute and called Bank of America to stop any transactions. Three, use an ATM machine inside a bank for better rate if you have to take cash out. Standalone ATM machines will charge you sky-rocketing fees to withdraw Pesos from there…avoid that if possible. Four, bargain whenever you are at a shop, unless it’s a fixed price place. They will rise up the price when they know you are a tourist. Whatever the price they ask, start from the half of it and meet at a point where you both will agree. Enjoy this fun process of haggling while in Mexico.
Other than the incident with my ATM card, we felt that Cabo, near downtown and marina, is very safe. We used to go for drinks or snacks and stroll around our resort after midnight and it was absolutely fine. The town doesn’t go to sleep until really late. Just don’t go off road or somewhere shady after dark and try to stay close to the touristy spots as much as you can.
The ride to Cabo San Lucas from the airport is about an hour drive and our private taxi, Easy Cabo Trip, charged $80 one way for five of us. Enjoy the scenic Sierra Mountain range on The Corridor, which is lined with golf courses, resorts, and hotels. We booked the cab ahead of time to avoid any hassle but eventually ended up waiting at the airport for few minutes. Thank God that the airport had free Wi-Fi and I could call the company thru Viber. When the driver arrived, he was extremely nice, friendly, and very helpful. We used the same company, Easy Cabo Trip, to return to airport on the last day and for our day-trip to La Paz and Todos Santos.
Time of Travel: We were in Cabo during the first week of December 2018. Weather is usually very pleasant here around this time of the year…not too hot and not cold at all. But our schedule did get a bit messed up because the sea was rough and bumpy one day and had to push back our boat ride to Land’s End and Sunset Dinner Cruise until the very last day of our stay in Cabo. But other than that, bring your sandals, sunscreens, hats, and cool shades to enjoy the weather to its fullest.
Our Hotel: We stayed in Marina Fiesta Resort and Spa right by the marina. It was a memorable experience with friendly staffs and homely atmosphere. Our rooms were spacious with balconies and huge bathrooms. The resort has 2 swimming pools with bars and all the nice accessories. The roof top hot-tubs are relaxing while you enjoy the view of whole town. We played UNO at night in the lobby once…it’s very spacious with different sections for concierge, hotel check-in, booking trips, a small bar, and lots more.
The best part of our resort was the location. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay in Cabo. Lots and lots of shops and restaurants stretch on both sides of the resorts, the boats and cruise docks are within walking distance, and downtown is only 10 minutes of walk from here. Some of the other tourist attractions were close by too; like Medano Beach is less than 10 minutes’ walk, most of the dance clubs/lounges are within few minutes along with some of the best rated eateries with the view of marina.
Eating & Shopping: Culinary options in Cabo is unlimited and mind-blowing. Street food as well as fine-dine places were superb all way. We couldn’t get enough of fresh ingredients in our dishes and never missed having a big side of guacamole at every meal. Some of my favorite food in Cabo would be (other than guacamole) any shrimp dishes, refried beans in little tostada bowls, tender steaks, Mexican style shrimp cocktail, and any kind of soup. Just be careful with the habanero sauce they give you with tortilla chips…they can be deadly. Also, don’t pass by opportunity to try fresh coconut water if you find a seller…they come in all flavors, but I like mine fresh and pure. Most of the restaurants usually have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Following are all the places where we dined and had great food and would recommend to anyone.
1st day, we had lunch at Mango Cantina by the marina and very close to our resort, where I tried chiles rellenos which was shrimp stuffed pepper with bean and salad. For drink, I had to have fresh papaya juice and it was delish. Dinner was at a very well-known place, called Mi Casa, near historic San Lucas Church and the town square. This was a bit of walk from the resort (or $10 for cab) but was worth every penny and energy. There is a shop inside the restaurant that sells “Day of the Dead” figures along with other pretty cool items. Mi Casa gained popularity not only because of providing old Mexican taste, but also for its artistic and quirky interior, beautiful decors, and nice ambiance. With lots of options from seafood to traditional Mexican dishes, everyone will find something they love. I had baked basa fillet wrapped in a banana leaf with sides of beans, and salads. If you are up for it, give a little tip to the mariachi band and listen to some local live music while having a meal.
2nd day, lunch was at Taco Loco in downtown where the popular bar Cabo Wabo is located. It’s kind of hidden inside a small walled square, but located on the main street of downtown. It was nice to sit outside while trying a Mexican sampler platter. For dinner, we stayed closer to the resort and went to Fisherman’s Landing right by the water. This was a beautiful outdoor place as well with nice views of tons of yachts floating on water at night. The fried jumbo shrimp dish I had was a bit too big and heavy for me. But the highlight of this place is that, if you order guacamole with tortilla chips for appetizer, they will make it right in front of you fresh and quick. For drink, I had virgin pina colada and my friend had freshly squeezed lemonade…both were great.
3rd day was our day-trip to La Paz and Todos Santos where we had our meals. But on the 4th or last day we were in a bit of rush and had too many things to squeeze in one day. So, we ended up skipping the lunch in San Jose del Cabo and had long awaited dinner in the Sunset Cruise. But we did come out of resort at midnight to have some light stuff. We sat down at La Galeria by the marina. The best shrimp cocktail I ever tried was here and also the best churros. Shrimp cocktail in Mexico is not like the ones we get in The States. The shrimps don’t pathetically dangle from the side of your glass. They are actually mixed in with picco de gallo, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and herbs. Then you mix it with few sauces, depending on the flavor and heat you want and viola…it is mind-blowing. At the end, don’t forget to try hot fried churros with vanilla ice-cream. FYI, Mexican vanilla is way more flavorful and tasty.
Mexican souvenirs are colorful and fun to shop for. For souvenir hunters, stores in Cabo Marina or in downtown and its surroundings are some good areas. There is a mall near the marina where you can find almost anything. I personally bought Mexican hot-tamarind candies, t-shirts, key-rings, a gecko magnet, Mexican cigar, a hand-made Mexican doll, and Mexican organic ground coffee from Cabo San Lucas. “Day of the Dead” or Día de Muertos figures are almost everywhere and they come in all shapes and colors and sizes. Rugs or hammocks, variety kinds of hot sauces, and clay or wooden potteries are also very popular. The day we went to San Jose del Cabo, I bought couple jewelries made with mother of pearl and coral reef, a hand-painted wooden bowl, a home décor made with clay and metal, few wooden bookmarks, and more Mexican hot-tamarind candies. San Jose offers more of traditional Mexican specialty stores offering unique artwork, ceramics, or even furniture.
Again, when shopping here, be sure to bargain unless it’s a fixed price store. If you like something, check other places too and see who gives you a better price and quality.
Places We’ve Visited: We had about 2 ½ days to spend in Cabo and in its surrounding places. One day was left to take a tour to La Paz and Todos Santos (please check the right-side bar for the link). In those couple days, we were able to relax, stroll, shop, look around, and visit some of the must-sees of this town. We couldn’t make it to Chileno Beach and Divorce Beach as some suggested. We saw the 300 hundred years old San Lucas Church (Iglesia de San Lucas) from outside and by the time we got there, it was already closed. It is a historic church of this town and probably worth a visit.
Most of these places are very close to each other or accessible by boat, taxi or private shuttle. We didn’t do any adventurous water or outdoor activities, but there are tons of those here if you have time and are up for them. Some of those are scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, parasailing, wave running, kayaking, renting yachts, submarine ride, ATV ride, horseback ride, fishing, whale watching, touring glass factory, and lots more.
Cabo Marina is one of the thriving spots for tourists and locals. Laced by glamorous stores and mouth-watering restaurants, this is one of the best places for shopping…though you may end up paying high prices. Strolling by the blue water of Sea of Cortez at any time was my most favorite activity here. If you are a sunset or sunrise lover, this place maybe a good spot to enjoy one too, if you can’t get to the beach on time.
As I mentioned before, this is a pretty safe place to hang out, even after mid-night. With hundreds of tourists at every corner, this is a 24-hour party place in the heart of Cabo.
We came across world’s smallest bar while roaming around the downtown. Too bad we didn’t get any drink from there. Not sure, how true this claim is…but hey, if the sign says “World Smallest Bar”, then it is the world’s smallest bar. Oh while you are in downtown or near the marina, enjoy the street arts, take some photos, and appreciate the creativity.
If you get a chance and see a vendor, try doing a fish pedicure. I had my first fish pedicure in Santorini, Greece and I was sort of craving for another tickling service done to my feet. It’s $15 for 15 minutes where you sink your feet in a tank with hundreds of fish. They will come rushing to your feet for yummy meal…quite an experience for any first-timer.
The nightlife of Cabo is one of the hottest in whole North America with glittering clubs and bars bursting with loud music. You can feel the energy on the streets too while passing by these places. Good part is that most of these clubs have no cover fees. So just go and enjoy the music, if it’s not your type of place…hop to the next one.
We bought the boat ticket to Lover’s Beach from a lady near the marina. It was $12 per person (it was $15…but we bargained) for a glass-bottom boat ride where you can look at the sea thru a glass bottom on the boat. I would highly recommend it to anyone, because we saw tons of colorful fish on both ways. On our way, the ride was about 45 minutes and they took us to show the Pelican Island, Sea-Lion Island, Land’s End and finally dropped off to Lover’s Beach.
Land’s End is known for the exceptionally stunning views because of its gigantic clustered rock formations that were created from the rough wind and sea. This is the extreme southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.
Playa del Amor or Lover’s Beach is an iconic beach in Cabo San Lucas which is framed by 30 million years old granite rocks. This is a stunning but a bit dangerous spot because of its deadly rip current. So, be careful when you get dropped off here. Rip currents are strong here because this is where Sea of Cortez meets Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, not visiting this beach in Cabo will be like going to Paris and not visiting Eiffel Tower. But there are men at the beach who will take your belongings and help you get down from the boat and to the beach safely; just don’t jump on the water thinking it’s shallow. We spent about an hour at this beach before heading back to Cabo main town again. I got a bit too sick from the small boat ride on rough water to actually enjoy the beautiful rock formation, blue water, and the warm weather. And therefore, couldn’t go towards Divorce Beach at all.
San Jose del Cabo is the older part of this region and a bit colonial style with its old buildings and few squares. There are few nearby small beaches to explore, but we didn’t have time to visit those in our short visit. San Jose del Cabo also has some modern and fancy resorts on the other side of the town for those who like to stay close to the airport.
We started with taking a very brief visit to Municipality Building or City Hall of San Jose, located in the main square. It was open and charged no fees. It’s a simple building with couple murals on walls. Cathedral of San Jose or Mission of San Jose del Cabo Anuiti is situated in the same square. Cathedral is also simple inside with elegant exterior. This mission was founded in April of 1730. But the present façade dates from the first years of 20th century.
The square was very quiet without too many tourists or locals. We checked out few shops and bought some stuff before going back to the taxi who brought us here.
The whole cruise was about 2 ½ hours. The upper deck was to enjoy the surrounding water and landscapes and two lower decks for elegant dinner and show. This was a fantastic experience as long as you don’t get any sea-sickness. The boat started little before the sunset and so did live music. We stayed on the upper deck to experience an utterly breathtaking sunset over Gulf of California. The boat took us to the Arch of Cabo. With a velvety red and orange sky in the backdrop, the whole sea looked magical. We got to see the Lover’s Beach, the Arch, and Lands’ End all over again in different lights. Oh yes, if you are there with your partner/spouse…PLEASE, enjoy the sunset together, holding each other in your arms, because you’ll regret later big time if you miss that opportunity.
After sunset, it was dinner time. We chose combination platter and therefore, were served with sautéed shrimp and steak with mashed potato and salad. And a plate of dessert with hot beverage came afterwards.
The last portion of the cruise was the live traditional performance. It included high-energy Mexican folk dances and songs, drums, Argentinian Tango, Argentinian weight on rope show, and some more. This was the main attraction and all of us enjoyed every single show.