Cabo San Lucas Travel Guide

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Forty years ago, Cabo San Lucas was a small fishing village. Since that time there has been increasing development to capitalize on the tremendous natural advantages enjoyed by the area, which include spectacular big-game fishing, superb diving, beautiful beaches, great sailing winds just outside the protected bay, and the unique rock formations at Land's End, the most famous of which is El Arco. Burgeoning ecotourism has also made this a prime destination for whale watching, and for exploration of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range that forms the spine of Baja California Sur. These natural advantages have made Los Cabos the number one tourist destination in Mexico, and a favorite for destination weddings and renewal of vow ceremonies.

The resorts of Los Cabos are equal to any in the world in terms of extravagance, amenities, and the sheer magnificence of the surroundings. Infinity pools and world-class spa treatments are the norm at most of the resorts, the majority of which offer suites, villas, time shares, and ownership opportunities. Be advised that time shares are big business in Cabo San Lucas, and be prepared to deal with approaches from the time you land at the airport. Luckily, the sales people will take no for an answer, although those wishing to defray the cost of their vacation can recoup hundreds of dollars and get discounted dinners by attending a time share presentation or two. Hotel service is very good here, and concierge services are glad to help you arrange your itinerary. The value oriented traveler can find good accommodations for under 100 USD, and there are small, downtown hotels where you stay for around 50 USD per night.

Most of the action in Cabo San Lucas revolves around Medano Beach and the Malecon (marina boardwalk). Medano is the most popular beach in Los Cabos, and becomes particularly crazy during the Spring Break months. You can rent pangas (water taxis), kayaks, wave runners, and parasailing tours right off the beach. Lover's Beach near Land's End can only be reached by panga, kayak, or wave runner, so this is a prime departure point. The marina area is the center of the fishing, sailing, and diving charter businesses, and is fringed by a number of bars, restaurants, and shops. This is also a good walk for boat lovers, as the marina is home to some of the most luxurious yachts this side of the French Riviera.

Cabo San Lucas has also become a very desirable golfing destination. There are many championship caliber courses in the area, from the Davis Love III designed Diamante along the Pacific coast north of the city, to the Pete Dye designed Cabo San Lucas Country Club, to several great Jack Nicklaus designs like Cabo del Sol, Palmilla, Quivira, and Club Campestre. Golfing here can be expensive, but the ocean and desert views that characterize these courses are memorable, to say the least. Expect lots of uneven stances, elevation changes, and attentive beverage service.

Restaurants here range from fruit and taco stands to fine-dining, with great food at every price point. Most resorts will have several on-site restaurants, and many offer all-inclusive plans that cover your food and drink. This is a fishing destination, so the local seafood is varied and delicious. If you have never enjoyed smoked marlin, be prepared for a treat. Traditional Mexican food is very popular, of course, and so is, somewhat inexplicably, Italian food. There are a wealth of great Italian restaurants here, and, because so many talented chefs have gravitated to Los Cabos, you will also find very good French and Mediterranean cuisine.

One of the things Cabo San Lucas is most famous for is its unabashedly roisterous nightlife. Old-school party bars like El Squid Roe and Cabo Wabo have been challenged by a new breed of VIP discoteques catering to the high-end haut monde, and locals style bars offering ridiculously cheap prices. You can get two beers and two tequilas for five dollars, or spend 10,000 dollars for a three liter bottle of Cristal Champagne. Whatever strikes your fancy, there are a slew of options here, several to the block in fact. Dancing and drinking start at dawn, and often end at dawn. Don't be alarmed when you're being offered margaritas before breakfast. They may think you haven't been to sleep yet.

There is a wealth of good shopping here, from the high-end extravagance of Luxury Avenue to local handicrafts such as clothing, jewelry, blankets, hammocks, paintings, sculptures, and the like. Mexican silver is a specialty of many shops, and there are numerous small flea markets, as well as the ubiquitous t-shirt shops you will find in any resort area. Afficionados of Mexican art should be sure to visit Todos Santos and San Jose del Cabo, both of which have flourishing art districts. If you are from the US, and wish to take advantage of the availability of Cuban cigars, be warned that there are many vendors and stores offering Dominican imitations.

Most everyone you meet at the resorts or around the marina and downtown areas will speak passable to very good English. As you move away from the tourist areas, however, you will find fewer and fewer people who know English. So if you are an intrepid traveler who enjoys getting off the beaten track, it is advisable to come armed with a least a smattering of Spanish, enough to order a meal, or ask for directions. Of course, no one here knows the street names when they give you directions. They will point you in the right direction and tell you what your destination is next to, so it is a good idea to pick up a local street map. All the big resorts give them away as a complimentary amenity.

The marina and downtown areas are compact and easy to walk, but taxis are necessary from time to time. You will have no trouble finding them, as there are drivers everywhere. The taxi union is one of the strongest in the country, which helps to explain their proliferation as well as the high prices they charge. A taxi from the airport to Cabo San Lucas can easily run 80 to 90 USD. Negotiating with the taxi drivers can be challenging, and has become something of a sport with the ex-pat community. Walking is preferable, and offers a better opportunity to interact with the locals, the majority of whom are very friendly. Visiting San Jose del Cabo, Todos Santos, Cerritos, and other communities in Baja California Sur will require a rental car or signing up for a guided tour.

Despite the growing reports of violence in Mexico, Cabo San Lucas and in fact all of Baja California Sur are very safe places to visit, and the local and federal authorities are committed to keeping it that way. The primary safety concern of visitors should be the beaches, since lifeguards are virtually nonexistent. Swimming in Bahia San Lucas, at Medano or Lover's Beach, is generally quite safe. Avoid swimming at any of the beaches on the Pacific Ocean side. The rip currents are very strong, and rogue waves, while not exactly common, are not unheard of either. Sidewalks can be uneven here, and change elevation frequently as you move away from the marina district, so watch your step. Water is purified at the resorts, but the safest bet is bottled water when you are out and about. Otherwise, there are few dangers here outside of tequila overindulgence, a local malady that seems to afflict most visitors at one time or another.

Where to Go in Cabo San Lucas

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

Grand Solmar Lands End Resort and Spa

expert pick

Av Solmar No 1- A Col Centro

Newest Land's End resort from Solmar.

Playa el Medano

user rating

expert pick

South of downtown

The most popular beach in Los Cabos.

Sunset Da Mona Lisa

user rating

expert pick

Highway 1 Km 5.5
Misiones Del Cabo Complex

Incredibly romantic sunset dining.

El Squid Roe

user rating

expert pick

Lazaro Cardenas
Blvd. Marina, opposite Plaza Bonita

Popular party spot

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