Eat, Play, Dance: A Week in Cabo San Lucas
written by COLIN RITSICK | photography courtesy of CABO VILLAS BEACH RESORT & SPA; COLIN RITSICK
Hundreds of miles of mountains and desert roll along the Baja Peninsula, slowly creeping toward a gradual grand finale: Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, where the Earth meets the sea in a spectacular fashion. The famous Arch of Los Cabos, the last stand in a valiant effort to separate the Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Cortez, dons film screens and travel brochures all over the world. But, it’s the life along the Marina and Medano Beach that make Cabo San Lucas one of the world’s most famous travel stops.
Once upon a time, before the days of Airbnb and wanderlust, fishing was Cabo’s primary economy. Sportfishing is still popular and lucrative –– but bit by bit, with every glass bottom boat, every jet ski rental, every shot of tequila at Cabo Wabo –– tourism has taken over of as the top source of income for the city. And with such a booming tourism business comes no shortage of hotels, timeshares, condos and villas. However, if you like the simple pleasures like resting and relaxation when you go on vacation, there is an option here for you as well. From ultra luxurious to outdoorsy bare bones, Cabo San Lucas has it all.
Cabo Villas Beach Resort & Spa sits smack in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of Medano Beach – the only swimmable beach in Cabo San Lucas. Along the shore to the left lay beach bars and condos as far as the eye can see and to the right sits the marina with its sailboats, yachts and dining and entertainment options. But the belle of the ball is straight ahead of you, off in the distance. Sitting in a pool chair or a private cabana on the beach in Cabo Villas as the Sea of Cortez rounds out and rises against the rocks and hills to form Land’s End, one can’t help but feel like there really might not be a better view in the world. A margarita in your hand only serves to make the view feel even more spectacular. When in Rome, right? With more than a hundred rooms ranging from studios, one bedroom, two bedroom, suites and penthouses, Cabo Villas can accommodate just about any party size.
SPARITUAL, the full-service spa – located underneath the infinity pool – is the only IMNC (Instituto Mexicano de Normalización y Certificación) certified spa in Cabo San Lucas. It offers deep tissue massages, reflexology, facials and lavender body treatments. And if in the hurry to get the bags packed and your favorite furry friends taken care of, you forgot to get your haircut, don’t worry. Haircuts and styling is available at SPARITUAL as well.
Another top-notch facility resides at Cabo Villas – however this one’s on the roof. Baja Brewing Company, started by a group of Colorado kids with a passion for beer and Mexico, is the only micro-brewery in Baja California Sur. The eight different styles of beer are fantastic, but they don’t hold a candle to the view from the rooftop restaurant. A sweeping view of the Sea of Cortez can be enjoyed with a fire-grilled pizza and an ice cold brew (or two).
Brews, Views and
To be honest, I wouldn’t blame you if you never left the resort. But should you feel the desire to have even more fun than you already are at Cabo Villas, a downtown scene like you’ve never experienced awaits.
Walking from Cabo Villas to the marina is an easy 10 minute stride. Once you’re there, taking in the sights, smells and sounds of the bustling docks is worth the price of admission – if there was one. A multitude of fresh seafood and sushi restaurants vie for your attention (and more importantly, your pesos) right along the marina. Choose carefully, many are delicious. Some are not.
I suggest venturing off the main drag of marina shops and restaurants and trying something a little more local. Sure, eating a fine steak at Ruth’s Chris while overlooking the sailboats is a nice touch – but you can eat that back home. Tucked away on a nondescript street, sits an authentic Mexican restaurant, Maria Corona’s. No fancy sign announcing its presence and certainly no fanfare. If you didn’t know about it, you might never see it.
The atmosphere at Maria Corona’s feels like you are in a movie. Once you walk through the gates, the dining room is a giant courtyard complete with trees and tiki torches, depending on the night there’s live music as well. From start to finish, the whole experience feels authentic. Insider tip: Queso Fundito for the table and Pork Yucateco for yourself. The pork is served on the bone, but it doesn’t stay that way. All you have to do is lift the leg bone up, and the meat is so tender, it falls right off.
Another great spot that’s both local and cheap, but still delicious and close to the hotels is Gardenia’s Tacos. While Maria Corona’s offers a grandeur local experience, Gardenia’s is just a local experience. Tacos, ceviche, cervezas and that’s about it. Take it or leave it. At about $1.50 per taco, the price-to-flavor ratio should be illegal.
Bailando en la Noche
During the daytime, the marina and the streets that surround it offer up cozy lunch spots, boat taxi tours and shopping options. But at night…it’s a whole different world.
If night clubs aren’t your style, walk around the main downtown drag until you pass The Smallest Bar in the World. Is that a fact? Maybe, maybe not. But if you’re not sitting in one of the five barstools in this broom closet – I mean bar – then you’re missing out. Meanwhile, Cabo Wabo, perhaps as famous as the city itself, has plenty of open tables and is Sammy Hagar’s tribute to a good time. As touristy as it gets, Cabo Wabo is still a must see in my book. Split levels, multiple bands, multiple bars, open-area dining rooms offer up a quintessential Cabo experience. But do yourself a favor: avoid the hangover (maybe) and skip the Cabo Wabo brand tequila.
Will Hike for Views
If you’re interested in seeing sides of Cabo most never see in their life then you have to go out on a limb. The place that serves as the most picturesque backdrop along Land’s End is called Mount Solmar. There’s a fence all the way around it so people don’t climb up it, but if you are willing to get out of your comfort zone, it’s possible.
Walk along Paseo Boulevard de Marina, past the Navy base and towards an unmarked beach. There is a dog shelter behind a barbed wire fence, called Enrique’s. Enrique’s house sits at the base of the mountain and he is more than happy to let tourists in to hike up the mountain. There’s a big trail that takes you up a ways, but once the actual hiking begins, you’re more or less on your own. However, I promise, it is very doable and the views from atop the mountain overlooking Cabo, the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez will make your entire trip worth it.
Cabo San Lucas, like any vacation destination, is full of tourist stops and local spots. The give and take between the two creates dynamic options for everyone fortunate enough to visit this little piece of paradise.
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