Cabo San Lucas Vs. San Jose Del Cabo: Adventures in Baja California,
Although they share a coastline and are a mere 20 minutes
apart, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are as different as night and day. In part two of his adventures in Mexico, David Latt reveals the quieter side of
Cabo San Lucas is synonymous with parties and recreational activities, from
family-friendly to death-defying.
But for those who want to skip the booze and high-energy adventure, simply head
north to San Jose del Cabo, a mere 20 minutes from Cabo San Lucas.
Experiencing the best of San Jose del Cabo can be accomplished within a day, as
evidenced by the cruise-ship crowds that come in from the Cabo San Lucas port
for a few hours at a time. Here, day-trippers can get a taste of authentic
culture that they can’t find in modern, noisy Cabo.
Don’t miss David Latt’s previous story on the area: Driving Vacations & ATV Adventures: Cabo San Lucas to Buena
Vista – Baja California.
Meanwhile, San Jose del Cabo can serve as the primary
destination for those looking for a more laid-back vacation.
Though it may lack Cabo’s great variety of activities, San Jose del Cabo offers
entirely different experiences.
Narrow boulevards, virtually devoid of cars, leave pedestrians free to wander
back and forth across the street, browsing through art galleries, clothing and
Small restaurants take advantage of the warm climate with well-landscaped
courtyards. The hotels in town are boutique-sized, evoking the intimacy and
comfort of private homes.
The town surrounds the Plaza
Mijares, anchored by the Mission San Jose del Cabo, built on the
foundation of the original, 1799 Mission San Jose del Cabo de Anuiti.
The small church is charming, as are the narrow streets lined with stores
selling a variety of goods.
Throughout the year, there are evening art performances in the
plaza, free to the public, which feature a variety of music, from hip hop to
traditional Mexican ballads.
Walk west on Calle Zaragoza on the southern side of the church, and sample the paletas, juices, and fresh
fruit shakes at La Michoacana.
Paletas are those wonderfully delicious ice creams on a stick flavored with a
variety of fruits and vegetables. (An insider’s tip: they are sold in stores
always called La Michoacana, no matter who owns them.)
On Boulevard Antonio Mijares, adjacent to the plaza, small stores sell
beautifully crafted jewelry, clothing, and art.
Definitely worth a visit is Veryka:
Art Gallery and Boutique (with
a sister store in the Cabo marina). The work of talented Mexican artists are for
sale. Of particular interest are paintings by Jorge Salazar and Guillermo Olguin
Mitchell and the work of Jose Luis Serrano Carrillo, who appropriates
traditional folk art objects like Day of the Dead figures and the Tree of Life,
turning them into exquisitely detailed sculptures.
Across the square on Boulevard Mijares, Antigua
Los Cabos sells art,
handmade silver jewelry and a selection of artisanal tequilas. Around the
corner, the small shop La
Pinata carries toys,
jewelry, handmade art, and curios from all over Mexico.
Find more great experiences like these in our Shopping section.
A few blocks from Plaza Mijares on Calle Alvaro Obregon, Indian Hands curates jewelry by local artists and
exhibits large scale work by the talented painter, Adriana Quero Martinez.
In the central historical district, keep an eye out for liquor stores like Los Barriles de Don Malaquias that sell tequila exclusively. With
almost a hundred brands to choose from, there are blends, some flavored with
herbs and spices, as well as premium, aged, 100 percent agave brands. For the
tequila aficionado, tastings are available at no cost.
Where to Stay
Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo? The two destinations are so vastly
different that choosing a home base depends on the individual.
If you are a fun-loving single with an adrenaline-junkie streak, your best bet
is to stay along resorts along Cabo San Lucas’s busy harbor where you can enjoy
the great variety of bars, restaurants and recreational activities. Then, if you
tire of the noisy beach front and crave a day of culture, art and shopping in an
authentic Mexican town, you can day-trip to San Jose del Cabo.
On the other hand, visitors who prefer a vacation focused on quiet relaxation
will be happier based in San Jose del Cabo in one of the cozy, boutique sized
hotels. From there, it’s easy to head into Cabo for adventure sports or
late-night, DJ-fueled discos.
For more ideas, visit our Mexico & Central America Travel section.
Alternatively, there is a third option. There are a few large hotels located in
quiet spots between the two cities so travelers can day-trip in either
Bordering the Cabo San Lucas harbor is a variety of hotels
with very different price points and qualities. The ME Cabo Resort and Hotel has a typical layout with a grouping
of pools, restaurants and bars in a center courtyard lined with tall, wispy palm
trees, fronting the beach with an expansive view of the harbor.
The resort could be recommended except for several unforgivable failings. First
and foremost is a concern that all Cabo-bound travelers should consider: The
disco music playing during the day at poolside and at night from the Passions
nightclub is unrelentingly loud. Sealing bedroom doors and windows provides no
relief from the noise, even well after midnight.
Another curious choice is what the hotel bills as their AWOL Club. During the
day, registered guests are excluded from the main pool, bar, restaurant and
beach front area. The area is available only for those willing to pay a high
Get more advice on Hotels & Accommodations here.
Also in the same area and a complete contrast with ME Cabo, the Hacienda Beach Club offers a gated setting with
magnificent views of the harbor. The spa and restaurant are first rate.
Sitting on the veranda of the Hacienda Restaurant and Bar, enjoying an afternoon
mojito, plates of tacos with handmade tortillas, quesadillas, ceviches, and
inventive starters like the salad of avocado, shrimp and hearts of palm escabeche in a vinaigrette is a refreshingly
pleasant way to enjoy Mexican hospitality.
While Cabo San Lucas is proud of the many luxury hotels that line its beaches,
San Jose del Cabo offers more intimate accommodations. The affordable and
elegant El Encanto Suites on the western side of the historical
district, is a two-story hotel with 28 rooms, each one adjacent to a garden,
small courtyard or pool. You won’t find tennis courts, a golf course, or big
noisy discos here. But you will find quiet relaxation in your room, on the
compact grounds, and in the Ixchel spa.
The even smaller Hotel Casa Natalia with just 16 rooms and a very homey
feel. At a fraction of the cost of the Cabo San Lucas resorts, Hotel Casa
Natalia and El Encanto Suites give the visitor an up-close-and-personal
experience with Mexican art and culture.
Text and photos by David Latt for PeterGreenberg.com. Visit David on the Web
Related Links on PeterGreenberg.com:
- Driving Vacations & ATV Adventures: Cabo San Lucas to Buena
Vista – Baja California
- Mexico & Central America Travel section
- Shopping section
- Spring Breakers Warned To Avoid Mexico Amid Increasing
- Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Punta Mita & Riviera Nayarit,
- Cabo San Lucas Resorts Brace for Hurricane Jimena