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  • Janis Nunez

Mexico: San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas

Updated: Jul 1, 2023



BEFORE YOU GO

ADAPTER: No adapter needed (same plugs as used in the US).


PHONE: Contact your cell phone provider to see what is included before you leave.


WHERE TO STAY: I have a habit of wanting to stay away from the crowds (even before Covid), unless we are visiting a tourist spot where it is unavoidable like the Eiffel Tower. Determining where to stay became fairly simple once I got online and started researching the differences between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.


Cabo San Lucas is where ALL of the people are. There are tons of hotels, villas, all inclusive resorts all in very close proximity. And it's right in the middle of all the action. This is not where I want to be. I'm content being in a more quiet location, and driving to the tourist attractions. This is why we chose to stay between the two locations.


There are several fancy hotels and resorts located up and down the coast (including the area that we stayed). Most of the time when we travel we try to stay at an Airbnb. Simply put you get more space, hosts usually provided beach necessities, you can cook for yourself, and they have a washer/dryer so that I can travel with less. But this time our priority was to just relax. And someone else making my bed for the week sounded perfect.


When we do chose to stay at a hotel, we tend stick with Hilton. We have never been disappointed, and they are quite affordable. We found a Hampton Inn with a rooftop pool and beautiful view of the ocean and mountains. My husband found a last minute deal through Hotwire for a hotel and car bundle that we could not pass up.


If you want a fancy beach front hotel this is not the hotel for you. It did have an ocean view and was right next to the El Markado, which is a trendy food hall in the area. It's nice to just walk out of your hotel and have several options available. There is also a grocery store just down the street (Fresko) with everything you could possibly need without the tourist prices. More on that later. We had a very large room with two queen beds and a kitchenette. The hotel provided towels to take to the beach as well as in room breakfast if you wanted it. Here is the link to where we stayed: Hampton Inn and Suites.



CAR RENTAL: Like I said we got a hotel/car bundle, but the car was through Alamo. Excellent service. They pick you up right at the airport in a van and take you over to the rental property. It's located just outside of the airport. We also dropped off and were shuttled to the airport quickly when heading home, which was nice.


FLYING DURING COVID TIMES


Flying Delta was very comfortable as they are still limiting the number of passengers on the planes. You do wear your mask the entire time in the airport and on the plane. If you are a member of Sky Club it is still open, but there are limited items available. All of the food is individually wrapped and seats are blocked off to ensure people keep their distance. It was not crowded at all while we were there. We were able to eat breakfast before getting on the plane.


Boarding the plane you are given a hand sanitizer towelette to do with as you wish. They do have the drinks/snacks already assembled for customers. There is no drink cart that comes down the isle. You basically get a ziplock bag of water, biscoff cookies and goldfish. So if you want something else, bring it. You can remove your mask while actively eating and drinking, but you have to have it on at all other times. They will come over to you and ask you to put it on. They also state on the intercom at the start of the flight that if you fall asleep and the mask is not covering your nose and mouth that they will wake you.


WHEN YOU ARRIVE


CURRENCY: Since Cabo is such a big tourist area, you can get away with not exchanging money or even using pesos. We paid either with a card or American dollars the entire time. If you do need to take out pesos at the ATM, just be sure to alert your bank before you leave. We alerted our bank, but just didn't need to take any money out. Sometimes you will pay with US dollars and get pesos in change. Keep it to use for those places who do not take US dollars or your credit card. There were a couple of places we could not use our credit card.


GROCERY: One of the first things we like to do when we get to a new country is stop at the grocery for any necessities we are going to need on our trip. Lucky for us Fresko was just down the street. We got a Styrofoam cooler, water, sunscreen, snacks, and beer for our upcoming week. They have a counter at the back of the store where you can order prepared foods. We ordered some salsa, guacamole and refried beans a couple of times to take with us to the beach. They also have homemade tortillas and chips. One day my son ordered some quesadillas to take to the beach. They cook them to order for you.


There is also a cafe located inside of the grocery store. We got a coffee and purchased some of the Mexican bakery items for a quick bite one morning before heading to the beach. Definitely check out the local grocery before spending too much money at another location, which can easily be done in the more touristy areas. Many beaches don't have places to order food or drinks, so you need to bring your own.



SIGHTSEEING AND THINGS TO DO

Day 1: Our flight arrived around 12:25 on Christmas day. We picked up the rental car and stopped by Fresko to grab some things we needed, and then headed to the hotel. At check in we were informed that breakfast could be ordered via phone and delivered to the room in the morning if we wanted to eat before heading out. We got ourselves settled in and everyone was hungry. We had a reservation in Cabo San Lucas for dinner at 7:30pm. We didn't want to ruin our appetites with a big lunch, so we called to see if they could get us in sooner. Since we left our house at 4am and basically had snacks up until that time, a 4:30pm reservation sounded perfect. The drive from the hotel to the restaurant would be about half an hour, so we got ourselves cleaned up and dressed for an early dinner.


Hacienda Cocina y Cantina is a beautiful restaurant to have dinner with an amazing view. You will go through the gated entrance of the hotel to get to the valet at the restaurant. The views are breathtaking! The food was excellent. We had a couple starters and then got two shared plates for the four of us. It was plenty of food and the wait staff was excellent. The only issue we had with this place (and you will find this at many places in Cabo) was the price for margaritas. They start at $25 each. That is just absurd. So keep an eye on the pricing for drinks while there. Not all places price gouge, but many do on the margaritas.



On the plus side we got away from the cold winter weather and got to sit outside to enjoy the beautiful Mexican weather and cuisine. Our waiter took some photos for us and we were able to walk around the grounds a little and take some of our own. This place is stunning. If you can afford to stay here you will not be disappointed.



Day 2: We slept in and ordered our breakfast in the room before heading to Palmilla Beach. It was very close to our hotel and had Palapas available if you get there early enough to snag one. The parking is very close to the beach and free. You will need to bring your own umbrella if you do not get a palapa as they do not rent umbrellas there. We were told that we could use the last (handicapped) palapa, but would be asked to move if it was needed by someone. Worked for us.


There is a huge resort next to the beach. You can walk along the coast and through some beautiful rocks and back. It's pretty secluded and we didn't encounter very many other travelers.

Palmilla Beach


We cleaned up at the hotel after a great day at the beach, and headed to a restaurant recommended by a local. El Toro Guero was our absolute favorite place to eat in Los Cabos. Their shrimp tacos and shrimp empanadas were amazing. My boys got horchata everywhere we went and said they were great here (best horchata is at Hangman Tacos). Los Cabos is known for their marlin. Definitely try the marlin tacos. Keep in mind you will get overcharged for margaritas, but everything else on the menu is quite affordable and delicious. It's an open air restaurant with great service. The ceviche is amazing! And the portions are huge.



Day 3: We had coffee and breakfast at the El Merkado before heading to the historic downtown San Jose del Cabo. There is an excellent coffee shop and breakfast place.



Historic San Jose del Cabo is a great place to walk around. There are several shops and restaurants to go to as well as the Los Cabos sign in front of the church. Many tourists and locals hang out in the downtown square where there are various shops and street carts. You can get tamales, corn, paletas and lots of other treats.



Then we headed to Chileno Beach for the rest of the day. This beach has free parking and is a short walk from the parking lot to the beach. Umbrellas can be rented for $10 (US) for the day. You can snorkel here and see a lot of colorful fish. We were told that this is the favorite beach for locals.



For dinner we went to Hangman Tacos. This is a great place! The tacos are delicious and the line was out the door when we left. All of the restaurants we went to give you several individual cups for taco toppings. Ask which are HOT. My youngest son mistook the habanero dip for cheese sauce and it was pretty scary for a few minutes.


This place has a great atmosphere and was filled with locals. There was live music as well. It's another open air restaurant and the service is excellent.


Day 4: We started the day by heading over the Baral Bar. I found this place on Tripadvisor while searching for places close to our hotel. My youngest son and I had acai bowls, my oldest son had the dragon fruit bowl, and my husband got the chilaquiles with an egg on top. It's a small place, and the owner makes every order from scratch. We all thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast.



After breakfast we headed down to Cabo San Lucas to do some sight seeing. We parked in a local lot and were lucky enough to have the guy at the lot take us directly over to the boats to get a water taxi to see El Arco. It cost us $15 per person. The boats will take you to all of the must see sights, and drop you off at Lover's Beach where you can stay as long as you like. BELOW: El Arco, Pelican Rock, Keyhole to the Pacific (from the Sea of Cortez), and Lands End. The boat will also take you by the sea lion colony.



We walked from Lover's Beach to Divorce Beach. WOW. The photos we took there as well as by El Arco from the boat are just breathtaking, and they do not do it justice. Since we had the boat to ourselves and we were only staying a short time, the driver waited for us. If you share a water taxi or stay longer, you need to remember the name of your boat so you know which boat to get on to go back to the marina. You can stay as long as you like, but keep in mind that you need to bring your own drinks and there are no restrooms there.



When you are finished at the beach you can walk around the marina. There are various shops and restaurants to explore. There are also churros and various other kiosks around the marina with drinks and treats. Take a photo by the Cabo sign for a great keepsake.



We ended up going back to El Toro Guero for dinner. I'm telling you the place is amazing. We also stopped by the historic square to get Elote from the food cart. When we went back to our car this beautiful horse was just standing in front of it.



Day 5: Our last day in Mexico we went to Fresko to get some coffee and baked goods from their bakery before heading out to the beach. We made sure to stock up on snacks, water and beer so we could stay out all day. Santa Maria Bay has a free parking area and restrooms, but it is a bit of a walk to the beach, so you may want to use the bathroom before heading down. It's also a good idea to wear beach shoes as the sand is made of tiny rocks and isn't soft on your feet.


Santa Maria Bay is breathtaking. It's also a great place to do some off shore snorkeling. We saw a ton of fish while we were there. Several boats come to the area to let people snorkel, but they don't come to the beach so it doesn't get crowded. There are men who rent umbrellas for the day for just $10 (US).



Our final dinner was at Guacamaya's in San Jose del Cabo. There were a lot of locals as well as a few tourists. They have the al pastor that everyone told us we should try while visiting. There you will pay $15 for margaritas. Don't do it. We tried one of each kind of taco, guacamole, soup, churros, and Mexican hot cocoa. Those big mugs my boys are holding are full of horchata. They got one everywhere we went!


The beer in Mexico: When we travel my husband tries to taste all of the local beers. My favorite was the Modelo Negro. My husband's favorite was the Bohemia (I liked it as well). There is a craft brewery there, but we didn't have time to go. Baja Brewing is in the historic area of San Jose del Cabo.



That was our much needed 5-day beach trip to Cabo. It's stunning there. There is a lot to do and several places you can day trip to if you have more time. There are also more beaches to see. We were disappointed we didn't get to walk along Playa Azul. We passed it so many times and it is just beautiful. It's not a beach to swim due to undertow, but it is stunning. I have listed some of the places that were on my list of things to do/see, but we didn't get to.


Enjoy your trip to Los Cabos! Hopefully this helps you navigate your way to a fabulous trip.

 

BEACHES

Medano - swimmable beach, more touristy

La Playita - great location for swimming, restroom, free palapas

Playa Hotelera - may see whales from the beach

Playa Azul - beautiful beach to walk, no swimming, surfers


RESTAURANTS

The Drunken Sailor

Baja Brewing Company

Los Carlos

Taqueria Rossy

Frida Cabo Restaurant

Wiki Poke Healthy Bowls

Tamales from Dona Nina food truck in the Plaza Mijares

Taqueria El Paisa (recommended by a local)

French Riviera Bakery/Restaurant

The Sand Bar

Omega Sports Bar & Grill


DAY TRIPS

Todos Santos

Cabo Pulmo National Park

Waterfall in Santiago

Mount Solmar


GROCERY

Fresko (our favorite)

La Comer

Walmart

Costco


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