Los Cabos’s reputation as a destination for party animals and celebutantes precedes it. But there’s a lot more to this gem of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula—and its two distinct districts—than wild nightlife.
While lively Cabo San Lucas offers up parties and near-constant action, just 20 minutes away, and connected by the resort-lined “Corridor,” sits a much more laid-back alternative: the low-key and thoroughly charming town of San Jose del Cabo.
Chock-a-block with art galleries, great restaurants and world-class spas, historic San Jose del Cabo offers all the amenities of Cabo, but without the raucous revelry.
Morning Get a feel for San Jose with a casual morning stroll through town. Start at the beautiful Mission San Jose del Cabo church, which anchors the main square (Plaza Mijares) and still retains some of the original walls from when it was first built by missionaries in the 1730s. From the church, work your way out, taking in the colourful, Spanish colonial-era buildings that line the cobblestone streets. Browse local galleries like Patricia Mendoza Art Gallery and The Old Town Gallery to see works by some of North America’s most exciting contemporary artists.
Afternoon If it happens to be a Saturday, you can get a taste of the local food scene—and a reasonably priced lunch—at the Mercado Organico, just a short stroll from downtown. On any other day, hop in your rental car and head for a bite at Flora Farms, one of the region’s most noted growers/restaurants. Getting there is a bit of an adventure, but the atmosphere and cuisine are worth the extra effort.
Evening Though sushi may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking for a good feed in Mexico, after a meal at Mi Sushi, it will be. Canadian chef Clifford Roussel has 40 years of experience preparing Japanese cuisine and it shows in the adventurous, visually striking dishes at this tiny, unexpectedly brilliant and budget-friendly—if you can resist ordering everything—restaurant.
Morning Day two promises to be a sun- and fun-drenched one, thanks to Baja Outback’s four-hour Santa Maria SUP & Snorkelling tour (snacks included). Experience the best of what Los Cabos has to offer on top of and in the water at one of the region’s best snorkelling sites, Santa Maria Bay. Whether you’re already acquainted with the balance-challenging art of stand up paddle board or it’s your first time, Baja Outback’s professional (but seriously amusing) local guides will have you cruising in no time.
Evening After a late-afternoon siesta, head into town for a life-changing taco experience at The Hangman on Pescadores and Marinos Street. The place may look like a hole in the wall, but trust us on this one. Resist the urge to play it safe—order the beef tongue. It’s mind-blowing. Once you’ve had your fill, visit La Osteria for a nightcap and some live music. You never know what you’ll get at this open-air tapas bar. Last year, three of the members of U2—Bono included—showed up for an impromptu performance.
Morning Enjoy a leisurely morning lounging by the pool and absorbing the area’s gorgeous desert setting along with some vitamin D. Order a mimosa or two.
Afternoon Continue the well-deserved rest and relaxation with a spa experience at the brand-new Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf and Spa Resort. Book a treatment (the papaya and pineapple pedicure is as delightful as it sounds) and bring your swimsuit to take advantage of the spa’s stunning outdoor relaxation areas complete with plunge pools and lazy river.
Evening If you can tear yourself out of your robe, hire a car to take you for one last incredible farm-to-table dining experience at Los Tamarindos. Tucked into the base of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, this is San Jose del Cabo’s best-kept culinary secret—but not for long. Do yourself a favour: book a terrace table in time for sunset and strap in for the multi-course tasting menu. Your taste buds will thank you.
[This story appears in the January 2015 issue of WestJet Magazine]
Mexico’s Magic Towns
There are 111 pueblos mágicos in Mexico, each one designated as such for its enchanting beauty, architecture and centuries-old culture. Here are five magic towns—Sayulita, Todos Santos, Tulum, Isla Mujeres and San Sebastián del Oeste—that are easily accessible from major cities and resorts.