Here’s your Los Cabos travel guide.
I took my first international trip in September 2020 since the COVID-19 lockdown. It was to Mexico – one of only few countries that is currently allowing US citizens to travel for tourism. I had never been to Los Cabos before and was curious to learn about where to stay, eat and play sustainably at this popular beach destination. I had heard Los Cabos was a “party place,” but I was surprised to discover authentic food, local art and Mexican culture there. In fact, I felt this was the right time to travel to Los Cabos as it wasn’t crowded at all. Also, the locals and tourists were practicing social distancing, hand sanitizing and face covering guidelines.
Traveling to Mexico
Flying into Mexico was pretty straightforward. I took a direct flight from Atlanta to Los Cabos (meaning the capes). The passengers needed to fill out a health declaration and pass through temperature screening stations at Cabo airport.
There are two main cities in Cabo – Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. I landed in San Jose del Cabo and rented a car from the airport. Road conditions were excellent and driving was a breeze. Driving is also a more affordable option to move around the area.
Stay at The Cape Thompson Hotel
I stayed in Cabo San Lucas, located at the southern tip of Baja California Sur in the Mexican peninsula. About 40 minutes south of the airport, this is where most resorts and tourist areas are.
This was my first time at a Thompson Hotel, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how they worked in partnership with local architects and artists to create an inclusive property. Celebrated architects Javier Sánchez and Benedikt Fahlbusch, alongside distinguished Mexican interior designer Marisabel Gómez Vázquez, designed a vibrant 1960s Baja-meets-Southern California vibe. Around the hotel you can find custom furniture handmade in Mexico, an original sculpture of a life-size gray whale constructed by a local artist from salvaged driftwood, and original ceramic pieces from Guadalajara artist Jose Noé Suro.
Overlooking the Sea of Cortez and El Arco (famous granite formations jutting out from the sea), the neutral architecture of the luxurious boutique hotel blend with the surrounding desert and sea.
All the modern and spacious rooms at The Cape come with unobstructed views of the sea. Picture yourself drinking an exclusively produced Realeza Mexicana (made with 100% blue agave tequila), searching for whales from the binoculars provided, while relaxing on the hanging daybed in your balcony!
Work From a Villa
As many of us seek a change of scenery, yet are still in need of the comforts of home, The Cape offers multi-night stay packages in luxury villas with private plunge pools overlooking the sea. Here you can have high-speed wi-fi, daily breakfast, dedicated personal concierge (for grocery shopping, excursion planning, and more), and private cooking classes. After putting in a day’s work, head outside for a walk on Monuments Beach, take a dip in the infinity pool, or surf the waves. Head to the rooftop lounge to see the view of the city and sea, get a massage at the beautiful spa, work out at the fitness center, or simply read a book lounging on a private outdoor cabana. Now that makes remote working something to look forward to!
Eating in Cabo
If you love Mexican food, you are in for a real retreat in Los Cabos. From mom-and-pop taco establishments, to fine dining restaurants, there is a wide selection of food at all price ranges. Best to avoid the touristy areas and go explore some of the lesser known eateries. Here are some of my favorites…
This no frills local restaurant has some of the best authentic (not Tex Mex) food. It is located in a strip mall, next to the road, and nowhere near tourists. Stop here on your way to or from the airport for delicious and cheap tacos and seafood. We had 7 tacos with all the fixings, large Mexican style shrimp cocktail (served as a cold soup in a goblet) and 3 juices, all for $10!
El Merkado Food Hall
The food hall is a modern establishment with several local vendors selling smoothies, ice cream, pizza, tacos, wine and more. You walk up to each counter for self service and there are tables and chairs for dining in. I went to El Merkado for brunch and had some of the best breakfast burritos and croissant sandwiches.
Juan More Taco Tour
One of the best way to explore the local food scene is with a food tour. Juan More Taco is a Mexico-based tour company that employs locals to show around their hometown cuisine. Since the guides live and work in the area, they not only know of all the best places to eat, they are friends with the owners too.
Juan More offers morning and evening taco tours in both San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. I took the San Jose del Cabo walking food tour because I wanted to learn more about this historic city that is often overlooked by tourists.
We started at the main town square – a place that comes to life after dark with families hanging out and eating street food. We looked inside Parroquia San José (mission church), walked passed the colorful Gallery district, and went to a typical Mexican candy store to taste tamarind and mango candies.
Because Cabo is surrounded by water, fresh seafood is a staple and many people catch their own fish. Be prepared to have marlin, shrimp, fish tacos, as well as zucchini, chicharrón (fried pork skin), and many other kinds of tacos on this tour. Every region in Mexico has their own distinct local flavor of taco, and here it was the Baja Fish Taco – my personal favorite. It is made with fried battered fish, chopped fresh onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and sprinkled with lime and mayo. After five very filling tastes of margaritas, tacos and churros, I had to ask them to stop feeding us!
Manta at The Cape
Manta restaurant at The Cape by Thompson Hotel is a great place to celebrate a special occasion or simply pamper yourself. Led by award-winning Chef Enrique Olvera, the menu fuses Asia, Peru and Mexico to create unique and flavorful dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in The Baja. Best to book a table outside so you can see a magnificent orange sunset while sipping on a margarita!
Where to Play in Los Cabos
Most people come to Los Cabos for the warm, turquoise blue, tropical waters and white sand beaches. You have to spend at least some time swimming, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, sailing or just chilling at the beach. After you are done with the sun and sand, head to one of the art galleries or shops in the evening to purchase local and handmade crafts. The glass factory is also a pretty place to look around and shop at.
Walk along the Cabos San Lucas marina for some beautiful views, nightlife, shopping and entertainment. There are high-end shopping malls, as well as countless shops selling glassware, silver jewelry, hats, ceramics, spices, tequila and more. Shopping in San Jose del Cabo is much better, mostly because the goods are of better quality and the shopkeepers don’t hustle. Also, stop by at one of the liquor stores for free tequila or mezcal tasting.
Pez Gato Snorkel Cruise
I took a four hour cruise aboard a spacious catamaran boat that limited capacity to 15 people. Departing from the marina, we went past the famous Arch and Lands End areas, cruising along the Sea of Cortez. It was a bright, clear, warm day and perfect for snorkeling in the shallow waters at Santa Maria Bay. I watched hundreds of colorful fishes swim past me!
On board, the entire staff of Pez Gato wore masks and offered unlimited drinks and sanitized snorkel gear. They served a lunch of packed sandwiches, chips and candy. We listened to Spanish hits, kept our distance from other guests on board, and watched the splendid coastline. Started in 1985, the Pez Gato I is Cabo’s very first sailing tour.
Travel for Good
“Travel is the leading economic driver for Los Cabos, meaning guests’ tourism dollars benefit the local community in truly impactful ways,” says The Cape Managing Director Eduardo Segura Vehovec. In partnership with the Los Cabos chapter of SKAL (an alliance of travel industry employees committed to promoting responsible tourism, international goodwill, and global friendship), The Cape donates 10% of all e-Gift card purchases to support members of the local travel industry impacted by the health crisis. Funds provide healthy grocery kits for recipients, that helps reduce their financial burden during these challenging times.