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Trip Report: Los Cabos, Mexico

Los Cabos is on the tip of the state of Baja California Sur—an arid and cactus-filled land, yet fertile due to its peninsular body surrounded by the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Los Cabos consists of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

High Points: After leaving behind a snow-blanketed Boston, I heartily welcomed the Cabos sun. The warmth set the stage for my five-day trip. From the friendly people to the spicy food, Los Cabos’ warmth was like a welcome mat to Mexico.

My time in San Jose del Cabo was spent meandering about art gallery-filled cobblestoned streets, perusing the town’s markets and shops, and visiting the Mega (something like a Costco, and what seems like geared for ex-Pats). I found a sketchy water canal with colorful street murals, rode local buses (there are several varieties, including the urbanos, the co-ops, and even some with AC), shopped around for fine tequilas to bring back home, and spoke with several cigar vendors about the famous Habanos. (Did you know Fidel once hired his own personal cigar roller?)

Walking about the town, folks are ready with a quick “hola” and “buenas tardes.” I made friends with Tim, the (highly stressed) landscape designer for Hollywood stars at Baja Brewing Co. I chatted up Geraldo the bartender, who’s going to make it a point to go running on the beach more often. Then there was Laurel and Sharon, daughter and mother, beachside Malibu residents who’s ancestry ties them with the Rockefellers. Oh, can’t forget Eduardo, El Encanto Inn’s concierge. Ever-helpful, Eduardo promises to show me around where the locals hang out upon my return to Los Cabos—a certain move in my near future.

Low Points: Unfortunately, headlining the news these days is Mexico’s rampant drug-affiliated violence. That, however, shouldn’t dissuade you from making a trip to Los Cabos. I felt safe in San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.

Scarier are the gouging prices. Being in Mexico I expected wares and services to be a lot more affordable than what I encountered: $50 for a bottle of mid-tier tequila, $40 for a one-way cab ride from San Jose del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas (a 20-mile distance on a toll-less road). A typical dinner starts at $15, sans drinks.

Savings Strategy: From cab fares to trinkets, be ready to haggle. It’s almost expected of you to do so.

Where I Stayed: I stayed in two hotels while at San Jose del Cabo. The Hotel El Ganzo is hip and artsy. Past guests include Slash of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame; party-boy Charlie Sheen; Mexican artist Gabriel Macotela; Manuel Pujol Baladas, known as the Young Dali and infamous for falsifying his namesake’s work; and one of my fave musicians, Damien Rice (swoon).

For a more affordable and authentic San Jose del Cabo experience, check out Encanto Inn. Take advantage of the hotel’s central location for Art Walk. Every Thursday evening from November through June, the town’s art galleries stay open late into the evening, enticing patrons with complimentary wines and hors d’oeuvres.

If You Go: Take advantage of the rich marine life that surrounds you and dive, snorkel, kayak out to Cabo’s famous Arch and Lover’s Beach, fish, swim with whales—whatever it is you prefer, just soak in the surrounds. If you’re anything at all like this Northeasterner, it’s not often you have an opportunity to try out as many of these marine adventures in a single destination.

For beachside centrally located accommodations in Cabo San Lucas, stay at Casa Dorada. Though I only lunched there, I was blown away by the impeccable service—one of the genuinely friendliest I’ve ever met.

For the calendar of events, more accommodations options than what is listed above, and general destination tips, peruse the Los Cabos Tourism Board site.

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(Photo: Patricia Magaña)

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