Call it Cabo — just like Canadians and LA celebs in the know do.
In Baja California Sur, the peninsula separated from the rest of Mexico by the Gulf of California, you’ll find Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, idyllic communities separated by a line of all-inclusive hotels basking on golden beaches. Having rebounded strongly from the effects of Hurricane Odile in 2014, the area has upgraded with new attractions, properties, and tours in time for your winter getaway.
Even the drives are fresh. Head north from Cabo San Lucas for adventure on the new coastal highway. You’ll journey past the Sierra de la Laguna biosphere reserve, an attraction dotted with cactus and mesquite. As you make your way along Highway 19, your eyes will brighten. The waves of the Pacific Ocean roll in on one side of you while the blue Sierra de la Laguna mountains in the distance are sure to hold your gaze.
What to Do in Cabo
Surf’s Up: Surf with the locals on a High Tide Los Cabos surfing tour. They’ve got you covered with everything you need from boards, lessons, wetsuits, and transportation to refreshments. Winter surfing is consistently good at Playa los Cerritos, near Todos Santos. Professional instructors teach everyone from kids to grown ups how to catch a wave and stay safe in the ocean. In the summer and fall, you can take a half-day trip to Costa Azul, near San Jose del Cabo.
Love on the Rocks: You can’t say you’ve been to Cabo until you’ve been to the Arch (pictured above). Take a glass-bottomed boat tour to the rock formations at Land’s End where the turquoise Pacific meets the emerald Sea of Cortez.
Along the way you’ll see the famous Arch, Lover’s Beach (on the other side of Divorce Beach), and the Keyhole where Pacific waves pound into foam through a small vent. This protected area has plenty of fish along with sea lions, frigate birds, and pelicans. Rent a kayak or take a guided snorkel tour to a protected bay like Santa Maria or Chileno. The ocean around Cabo can be unpredictable, so ask your concierge or guide for recommendations before heading out.
Where to Dine in Baja California Sur
Hotel California’s La Coronela: Take the one-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos with Cabo Expert. The reportedly haunted and utterly charming Hotel California is waiting to welcome you with open arms. Restored by Canadians John and Debbie Stewart, the hotel has won awards for its design. It is bursting with cobalt blue and acid yellow walls that are filled with contemporary Mexican art. Have lunch at the property’s restaurant, La Coronela, created by Canadian chef Dany Lamote, then sample some Hotel California Tequila in the gift shop. Todos Santos is a picturesque town with cobblestone streets, the Santa Rosa Mission, and a vintage theatre in the town square to explore. If you like silver jewellery, this is the place to stock up.
El Merkado Centro Gastronomico: Industrial chic comes to Cabo at El Merkado Centro Gastronomico, a modern, two-story, warehouse-style market, and dining experience. Take home fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from Ziracua Select, enjoy smoothies and salads from Cha Cha Cha or Italian-style ice cream and gelato from 12° Gelato. Authentic Mexican recipes are reinterpreted at Tortilleria San Sebastian and Lateral. La Osteria has an Italian spin, and you’ll find sushi, pizza, a wine bar, and more than a dozen other restaurants all under one roof. Hours vary depending on the vendor but the building is open every day from 7 am to 2 pm.
Mariscos El Toro Guero: You might have to jockey for a seat at Mariscos El Toro Guero but you’ll be glad you did. A favorite with locals, El Toro Guero serves up generous portions of fresh seafood at its locations in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. The menu is in Spanish but the friendly staff will happily guide you through it. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. If you find yourself in the middle of a birthday party complete with mariachis, just grab a cold Tecate lager, brewed in Baja, and roll with it.
Where to Stay in Cabo San Lucas
The Paradisus Los Cabos has been extensively upgraded with a $35-million renovation adding Royal Service and Family Concierge Service to this luxury all-inclusive. The recent hurricanes had virtually no impact on the hotel and it stayed open during the entire season. A 20-minute drive from the San Jose airport brings guests to the breeze-filled lobby where a two-story pyramid-shaped onyx skylight casts a golden glow over the polished marble floors. In one wing, couples can spend their vacation in the adults-only Royal Service section where they can enjoy dedicated butler service, a lounge, and a private pool.
Families will enjoy their own wing with a huge play area for the kids and a family concierge on call. This hotel has the only swimmable beach in the area and they keep it pristine for endangered black sea roosters to use for nesting sites.
Address: Km 19.5, Carr. Transpeninsular, 23400 San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico. For those who want to venture to Cabo’s main streets, the drive from the property, located in the city’s hotel zone, is about 20 minutes away.
Room Rates: Prices at the Paradisus Los Cabos start at around $415 USD for a weekend stay in December. Rates vary depending on date of travel and room classification. Also, specials pop up frequently on the property’s website.
Notable: As part of property owner Melia Hotels International’s commitment to the local community, the Paradisus Los Cabos’ recycling program donates one chemotherapy treatment to a child for every 1,000 bottles that are recycled.