Why I Liked (But Didn’t Love) Los Cabos
Have you ever been to a place that everyone rants and raves about, but you just didn’t feel the magic? That was Los Cabos for me. I enjoyed my time there, but I didn’t fall in love with it the way I did with many of my other recent destinations.
Los Cabos is an area with two main towns located on the southern tip of Baja California Sur: the famous party destination of Cabo San Lucas (Cabo) and the smaller, laid-back town of San José del Cabo (San José). I spent Friday night in San José and then spent Saturday night and Sunday in Cabo San Lucas. The two towns are quite different, and if you’re going to visit the area I would suggest at least spending a few hours in the less-frequently-visited San José.
Below are some of the things I liked followed by some of the things I didn’t.
Things I Liked
1. Amazing Food
One of the main highlights of the trip was definitely the dining. With good seafood, beachfront restaurants, and ample alcohol, the culinary scene in Los Cabos is great. However, this isn’t unique to Baja California; delicious cuisine can be found almost anywhere in Mexico.
With that said, there were a few places that I particularly liked. My favorite was probably Hacienda Cocina y Cantina, which is located right on Medano Beach. There are tons of reviews online that say you have to try this place, and I was skeptical because it is connected to one of the many beachfront resorts. But the reviews were right; it was amazing!
I tried their chiles rellenos, which were so satisfying. It ended up being a very expensive meal by Mexican standards at about 60 USD including drinks, but the view and the atmosphere are great for anyone looking to splurge a bit.
For my first breakfast in San José, I tried Chula Vegan Café which I also really liked. I got a bowl which kind of reminded me of Chipotle except that under the rice, beans, and avocado was a bed of salad. I forget what kind of latte I got, but it was something I had never heard of before and ended up being delicious too!
2. Cabo San Lucas Water Taxi
Another really fun thing to do is take a boat tour on a water taxi in Cabo San Lucas. There are tons of different options, including fancy tours with buffets and open bars, but for budget travelers you can ask for just a quick tour of the famous arch (El Arco) at Land’s End. All you have to do is head to the marina area and ask around (more likely, someone will approach you asking if you want a boat tour).
The guy I ended up going with was more than willing to take just me, so you don’t need to wait for more people to arrive. He asked for 360 pesos, which I’m sure I could’ve bargained down, but I was fine paying that for basically a private tour that lasted about 45 minutes or so. He stopped when I wanted to take pictures and navigated around both sides of the arch.
The other reason you should take a boat tour in Cabo is that the arch doesn’t appear to be accessible by land. For one, the waves are really rough out here, but there also aren’t any roads that seem to go out there.
3. Interesting Plant Life
This is a kind of random point, but Los Cabos are filled with unique flowers as well as palm trees and cacti. The fact that the climate seems dry and arid but is near the ocean makes for some unique landscapes with a diversity of plant species.
4. Historic Center of San José
Last but definitely not least, I really enjoyed walking around downtown San José. It’s small, compact, and has a uniquely Mexican feel. When I went on Saturday morning, it also wasn’t very crowded. The area is centered around the Plaza Mijares and is home to interesting stores, restaurants, and bars.
I even happened upon this little farmers market where vendors were selling crafts, honey, and other produce.
As you can see, Los Cabos has a number of things going for it, and it’s certainly a unique part of Mexico. I wouldn’t say it was perfect, though. Keep reading to learn why…
Things I Didn't Like
1. The Vibe of Cabo San Lucas
In contrast to San José del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas is super touristy. The main road, which is home to tons of bars, restaurants, clubs, casinos, strip clubs, and more just doesn’t have that old-town vibe that San Jose does. You’ve got locals yelling out at tourists walking by, trying to sell everything from knick-knacks and souvenirs to camel rides and whale-watching tours. None of that is particularly surprising, but it does make it harder to relax.
2. Cloudy Weather
The weather here also left a little to be desired. Both times I’ve been to Mexico’s Caribbean coast, I’ve had great weather. In contrast, both days here ended up being partly cloudy. I think I was expecting more of a tropical getaway, but it really wasn’t particularly hot either.
3. Transportation Struggles
One other thing I didn’t love about this area is the lack of transportation options. This is also an issue in Cancún, but it seemed to be a little bit more of a hassle here. For one, there are a bunch of stories online of taxis costing upwards of 60 or 70 dollars for a half-hour ride, partly because of high taxes and licensing fees to pick passengers up from the airport, but also just because drivers tend to rip off tourists.
Uber doesn’t exist here (there seems to be a history of drama and even sabotage such as slashed tires between Uber and taxi drivers, so Uber pulled out of the area).
There are multiple other sources online saying your best option is to book shared, private vans or shuttles in advance. As it turns out, I was able to hop on one without a reservation from the airport (SJD on the outskirts of San José) to the beachfront area of San José where my Airbnb was for 150 pesos.
The other option is to take the public buses. Stops are along the main roads, and at least one route runs between Cabo and the airport. One-way fares were about 40 pesos, or 2 USD. Ask your Airbnb host or the reception desk at your hotel about this option to potentially save yourself a lot of money!
Cabo or Cancún?
Despite my complaints, I’m glad that I took this trip and made it to Los Cabos. However, I feel like a weekend was enough time to get a sense of the area and see most of the main attractions.
It’s a matter of personal preference, but I think the beaches in Quintana Roo just can’t be beat. I want to go back to Cancún and even Bacalar, and I hope to visit places like Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Tulum in the near future.
Do you love Los Cabos? Did I miss something this trip that will make me change my mind next time? Let me know in the comments below! And be sure to stay turned for my next post: Lima, Peru!