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The towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, or "Los Cabos" as they are commonly called, are located at the very South of Mexico's Baja California peninsula where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. San Jose del Cabo is the municipal seat of the state of Baja California Sur. Starting in 1974, the Mexican government started developing the small fishing village of Cabo San Lucas for tourism. Today, Cabo San Lucas is a very commercial town which, unlike traditional Mexican towns, does not have a central plaza. Tourism is by far the main economic factor with more than two million visitors per year - more 1 million come from the United States.
There is much to see and do, but unless you decide to stay in Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo or in your resort, you should rent a car to get around as the best beaches, the best things to see and the best things to do are spread out.
We decided last minute to go to Los Cabos in December and, Los Cabos was basically booked out except for some $300+ per night hotel rooms. After some searching, we found the wonderful and incredibly low priced Holiday Inn Express Cabo San Lucas which is a nice hotel located about 3 miles outside Cabo San Lucas. The decor is very modern and the hotel is clean and the rooms are spacious. The lobby restroom even has an automatic toilet paper dispenser.
The hotel has no beach access. There are an unpaved road, a fence and a trench that separate the hotel from private properties. We saw chicken and goats on those private lots.
You will need a car to go anywhere. Costco is right across the street and Walmart is only 2-3 miles away. There are few restaurants in walking distance. What stands out about this hotel is the super helpful and extremely friendly hotel staff, who speak good English.
We had room 247 which has an amazing view of the ocean and Land's End. It is a very nice clean room with a king size bed and a very modern bathroom with an interesting looking very modern sinkand everything there worked perfectly. The furniture showed little sign of wear.
The dark drapes in the rooms are only decorative and cannot be closed to darken the room at night and the temperature display on the A/C unit is bright enough to light up the room at night. The A/C was efficient and fairly quiet.
The hotel has a small outdoor pool on the 2nd floor and a guest laundry close to it.
The price was very competitive and breakfast is included. For breakfast, they have a small buffet with bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, sliced sausages, cream cheese, cereal, fruits, yogurt and some Mexican dishes. The staff is real friendly and helpful and they immediately collect empty plates. One day the coffee pot was empty and they saw that I was looking for coffee. Immediately after getting new coffee, they brought a cup to my table. Great!
The hotel provided 2 complimentary bottles of water, 1 soap bar, 1 bottle of shampoo and 1 body lotion per day; no conditioner.
Long story short: This is a very nice hotel for way under $100 per night. I recommend it.
The Mexican government had developed the small fishing village of Cabo San Lucas into a major tourist attraction last century. The radpid growth eradicated much of the traditional Mexican flair the city had and nowadays you will find a city without a traditional central plaza and lots of fairly modern buildings.
The map below shows the locations of some of the major tourist magnets in downtown Cabo San Lucas. When you click on the map then you will be taken to Google Maps which shows the exact locations.
The Buccaneer Queen was built in 1968 and is a replica of an ancient galleon. It looks so real that it has been used in commercials and movies e.g. in 1995 it made its Hollywood debut in the movie “Cutthroat island”.
They offer different tours throughout the day like a lunch & snorkel tour or a 2h sunset & dinner cruise, which is what we did.
The cruise is a lot of fun with the crew swashbuckling, the guests being given ballons and having a good time with nice music, a good buffet being served and, of course, you enjoying the beautiful views of Cabo San Lucas by day and night.
We thought this was money well spent.
The San Jose Estuary is a marshy freshwater lagoon covering over 2,000 acres (1.4 square kilometers) which is a protected natural area since 1944. It is fed by an underground river from the nearby mountains. There are over 200 species of animals, many of the birds. Besides being an important desert oasis, the Estuary has become a popular tourist attraction.
You can join a guided tour or discover the area by yourself. Either way, you should plan at least 2 hours, maybe a whole day, especially if you like to spend some time at the beach.
The Wirikuta is a botanical desert garden is home to over 1500 varieties of desert plants from around the world. There are a total of approx. 1 million plants, including a labyrinth of 1000 bonsai bougainvilleas, and three pyramids built from massive granite boulders.
We have not been there and you can find mixed reviews online.
The major attractions of Los Cabos are the beaches. As there are so many beaches, we have dedicated an entire blog post just to them. Please follow the link below to our reviews of the beaches.
Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo have lots of things to offer. In this blog post, we will tell you the best things to see and the best things to do in Los Cabos.
Check out our other destinations in Mexico.
"Los Cabos" are a favorite beach destination and the best is, you are almost guaranteed to have beautiful weather as in Los Cabos the desert meets the ocean with an average of 4 days per month with a little rain. The only months where you will see more than a sprinkling are August through October and February to June are typically almost rain-free.
East of Lands End with El Arco towards the Sea of Cortez, the landmark arch of Cabo San Lucas, you will find beautiful white sand beaches that are good for swimming and some of them have decent snorkeling too.
Beaches on the Pacific Ocean, however, are no-swim beaches and the Pacific's treacherous undercurrents claim several lifes every year.
We have been to several of the beaches and tell you how to get to the beaches, what you can expect and I will tell you all about of favorite beach in Los Cabos.
Besides the beaches, we tell you about the best things to do and best things to see in Los Cabos.
El Arco (the arch of Cabo San Lucas) forms the very Southernmost tip of the Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. This is the place where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez meet. It is three stories tall and was formed by erosin. On the Sea of Cortez side, it is bordered by Lovers Beach and on the Pacific Ocean side by Divorce Beach.`
El Arco is the main landmark of Cabo San Lucas and a popular gathering spot of sea lions ... and tourist boats.
This is the high season. Hotel rates are at its peak and it is advised to book well in advance.
The average high temperature is 77-84F (25-20C) and the water temperature is 70-75F (21-24C).
This is a short shoulder season. You may score some deals on hotels if you book well in advance.
The average high temperature is 86-89F (30-32C) and the water temperature is 73-74F (23-24C).
This is the rainy season and you will likely encounter some rain. Hotel rates are at its lowest.
The average high temperature is 91-93F (33C) and the water temperature is 78-85F (26-30C).
This is a short shoulder season. Hotel prices are goung up and you may get the best deals if you book well in advance.
The average high temperature is 84-90F (29-32C) and the water temperature is 80-84F (27-20C).
We ate dinner at Mi Casa because of all the positive reviews on tripadvisor. Finding a parking spot near the restaurant is difficult. We ended up parking in a parking garage about 2 blocks away and paid 44 Pesos for 90min. To get to the restaurant, you first have to go through a souvenir store. The inside of the restaurant itself is beautifully painted and decorated which contribute to the good atmosphere.
Our server spoke good English and, to our surprise, the food and drinks came within a few (!) minutes of placing the order. The food was authentic Mexican, plentiful, tasted well, and was a bit on the expensive side.
There was a 3 man band that went from table to table and asked if they could play a song or two for a tip. They did a good job.
Long story short: This is a nice but little expensive restaurant. Finding parking can be difficult and driving in this part of town can be a challenge with all the unmarked one-way roads. A GPS is definitely recommended.
We checked out Asi & Asado as it was in walking distance from our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Cabo San Lucas. From the outside, this restaurant looks like any other small Mexican restaurant. On the inside, it has nicely painted walls; the menu is painted on the wall over the counter. We found the food to be authentic Mexican. They sell most dishes for 35-40 Pesos (see my 2 photos). A dish is typically one flower or corn tortilla (soft or hard) with your choice of meat or seafood (incl. octopus). I ordered 3 dishes. The food gets delivered on a plate that is wrapped in a plastic bag. You then take the plate to the condiment bar where you load it up with salsa (in varying degrees of hotness), beans, cucumbers, coleslaw, onions, etc. and pineapple salsa. Another guest told me that they are apparently famous for their pineapple salsa.
They also have a nice selection of beers and some other food dishes like quesadillas and baked potatoes.
Our server spoke fair English, was very friendly and a great help selecting the dishes we ordered.
Long story short: We found the food to be tasty and paid about US$15 per person. I recommend it and would definitely eat there again.
Puerto Paraiso Mall is located right at the Northern end of Cabo San Lucas' marina. It is a multi-level complex with higher end clothing stores, fine arts and crafts galleries offering handmade goods, a movie theater and also several restaurants.
We found that the mall is a good place to sit down, eat an ice cream and watch people do their things in the marina.
This inexpensive, relatively small and low tech but air conditioned museum is a good place to learn about the history and the people of this area. It is a self-guided tour and many exhibits are labeled in English. You should plan about 1h for it.
San Jose del Cabo is the seat of Los Cabos Municipality. The city formed around Mission San José del Cabo which was founded in 1730 on the west bank of the Río San José river. Unlike Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo has retained much of its historical charm as it was not impacted as much by the uninhibited growth of Cabo San Lucas. In San Jose del Cabo you will find many stores selling higher quality products at higher prices than in Cabo San Lucas and interestingly, the sales people as much less pushy here.
A walking or shopping tour of San Jose del Cabo will likely start at Plaza Mijares, a beautiful, quiet and relaxing plaza in the center of the historic old town. There are numerous clothing and gift shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes, bakeries and ice cream parlors and you will likely see locals hanging out there.
On Thursday nights the plaza turns into an artist's showcase where you can see local artists exhibit and sell their art (see Art Walk below).
Formally known as "Misión Estero de Las Palmas de San José del Cabo Añuití", it was one of the original missions founded in 1730 and the southernmost of the Jesuit missions established during the colonial period in the Baja Californias. The church was moved several times and destroyed during the rebellion of the Pericues Native Indians. The church was rebuilt in 1918 and later on destroyed by a hurricane. The current church was built 1934.
If you have a little time then I strongly recommend to check out this beautiful church. The doors are open during the day and admission is free. Its interior is relatively simple but beautiful. To the left of the main altar you will find an image of Saint Charbel Makhluf and, in front of it, a rack which has many colorful ribbons. People write petitions to the saint on a colored ribbon and tie it to the rack.
West of the church is the Art District, which has become the cultural center of Los Cabos. You will find lots of high-end fine art galleries that show original paintings, sculptures, photography, prints and jewelry by local, national and international contemporary artists. Besides the galleries, you will find several good restaurants in this area.
Art Walk in San Jose is a popular weekly event in San Jose del Cabo. Every Thursday evening between from November to June, the galleries have extended opening hours until 9pm and they welcome guests to enjoy the neighborhood, viewing art, and dining at the local restaurants. During Art Walk, some galleries will have special events such as “artist in attendance” or openings of new work.
More information can be found here.
Plaza Artesanos is an easy 1.1 mile (1km) walk South of Plaza Mijares. It starts on Calle Boulevard Antonio Mijares near Calle Valerio Gonzalez and you will find many small stores with friendly and not pushy shopkeepers. The stores sell traditional Mexican handcraft jewlery, pottery, clothes, jewelry. There are also coffe shops, a pharmacyand restrooms. As there is usually not that much traffic, you can park right by the stroes.