10 Things You Have to Do This Year in Los Cabos
There's much more to the cities of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo than what you might find on a spring breaker's itinerary.
Photo By: Maureen M. Evans
Photo By: Lauren Oster
Photo By: Courtesy of The Cape
Photo By: Lauren Oster
Photo By: Lauren Oster
Photo By: Los Cabos Tourism Board
Photo By: Lauren Oster
Photo By: Courtesy of Whale Watch Cabo
The Future Is Fusion
Los Cabos — that is, the cities of San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas and their environs, on the southernmost tip of Baja California — are second only to Cancun among Mexican beach resort destinations for international tourists. It's entirely possible that those first- and second-place berths will flip in the years to come, thanks to an explosion of world-class restaurants and luxurious new resorts in the area, as well as upticks in ecotourism and increased interest in the region's rich cultural history. Have a look at the very best of what Los Cabos now has to offer, and see what the buzz is all about.
The internationally-acclaimed chef Enrique Olvera — whose Mexico City restaurant, Pujol, was ranked #13 among the world’s 50 best restaurants last year — gave his Los Cabos outpost, Manta, a name with a double meaning. It refers to the stunning aquatic creature, of course, but also to the Spanish word for “blanket,” and, accordingly, his innovative cuisine both celebrates seafood and surrounds his guests in comfort. Peruvian, Japanese and Mexican influences intertwine to create showstopping, one-of-a-kind cocktails (with an emphasis on mezcal, pisco and sake) and dishes (Baja-style mushroom ramen is a thing, and it is glorious).
An Agricultural Revolution
Tijuana native and James Beard Foundation Award nominee Javier Plascencia has helped what he calls “Baja Med” (or Baja Mediterranean) cuisine put down roots from the southernmost part of the Baja Peninsula all the way to Miami. He planted Jazamango, his hilltop eatery just beyond the serene town of Todos Santos, quite literally: diners on the spacious patio look out over the organic farm that produces the restaurant’s ingredients. If you fall in love with Jazamango’s fresh bread, stop by the coffee shop on your way out — it sells just-baked loaves, spare fruits, veggies and greens from the farm and locally-produced gourmet goodies.
Toast the sunset (and the occasional fireworks display — be sure to ask your hotel’s concierge if a show is planned during your stay) high above the beach on The Rooftop, a bar and lounge perched atop The Cape (a sleek midcentury-inspired hotel). Settle in for a D.J. set with a local beer or a Bitter Piña (dark and light rum, pineapple, passionfruit purée, coconut and Angostura bitters) from mixologist Hector Ramirez.
Work up an appetite for an evening of local delicacies by heading into the desert (about an hour from Los Cabos and an hour and a half from Cabo San Lucas) and taking a brief scenic hike into Cañon de La Zorra (Fox Canyon), an oasis named for the crepuscular critters that emerge for a drink once human visitors have departed for the day. The flora and fauna you’ll encounter on the way are well worth the nature preserve’s cost of admission (about $6 USD), but the idyllic waterfall and swimming hole at the end of the walk are priceless.
From 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays between November and June, Calle Obregon (San José del Cabo’s main street) shuts down to allow pedestrians to stroll freely — and the Gallery District behind the town’s central square comes alive for its weekly art walk. Folk artists demonstrate traditional craft techniques on pieces like this Huichol beaded hummingbird, galleries throw open their doors to offer patrons tequila, wine, snacks and glimpses of contemporary work from across Mexico and all over the world and art lovers converge from miles around to feast on culture (and tuck into late-night meals afterward).
Fair warning: To catch a glimpse of Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park’s most stunning feature, you’re going to have to strap on fins and a mask — available to rent on the beach, of course — and head out past the picture-perfect shore. The coastline offers access to the Cabo Pulmo Reef, a 20,000-year-old hard coral growth that’s among the oldest in the American Pacific. The Sea of Cortez plays host to more than 800 species of marine animal, many of which call Cabo Pulmo home, and snorkelers and scuba divers alike go wild for that biodiversity.
Music and Mixology
Blanca Blue — the mother-of-pearl-paved restaurant and bar at Los Cabos’s new Garza Blanca Resort — takes happy hour very seriously, and innovative craft cocktails come with seaside views and live performances by Havana Music School alums. Ask for their signature twist on a margarita (featuring mezcal, puréed soursop, chiles and citrus), then grab an outdoor table and enjoy thoughtful avant-garde creations like the “edible garden,” a starter in which veggies and flowers are nestled in crumbs of savory toasted-rye “soil.”
Los Cabos highlights like the local sea lion colony, Playa del Amor (where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Pacific) and the iconic Arch are delightful from any vantage point, of course, but they’re especially charming to behold when one is perched on a French sailing yacht. Book an excursion with a luxury day sailing operator like Cabo Adventures and enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing, on-deck dining, sunbathing, snorkeling and paddleboarding in a protected cove and more.
Small Town, Big Personality
Founded as a mission in the early 18th century, bucolic Todos Santos is officially a magic town: the Mexican Ministry of Tourism has recognized it for its cultural and historical richness. Once a sleepy, largely-undeveloped community of fishermen, artisans and surfers, Todos Santos (which is about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas on Baja’s western coast) has become something of an open secret for travelers weary of destinations dominated by large resorts. Stroll its winding cobblestone streets and duck into intimate eateries, open-air craft markets and traditional haciendas.
Marvel at Marine Life
Whale Watch Cabo, the region’s Los Cabos’s first eco-friendly whale-watching company, is committed to excursions that are both entertaining and educational. Led by biologists and partnered with researchers and local environmental nonprofits, the team offers unforgettable introductions to humpback and gray whales (like the mother and calf pictured above), orcas, dolphins and more. For a truly intimate encounter with Baja’s famous grays, join the team for a two-day tour of Magdalena Bay, where the massive mamas return to give birth and nurse their calves. Whale Watch Cabo operates tours between December 15 and April 15.