Where To Stay, Eat and Play in Los Cabos

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
View from my room at The Cape Thompson Hotel.

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.

play at beach in Mexico
Secluded beach and rock formations at The Cape Thompson Hotel.

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!

play at infinity pool
Start each day with a relaxing swim in the infinity pool at The Cape.

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!

eat Tacos
Los Cabos has some of the best tacos you would have ever tasted!

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…

best Mexican food in Cabos
Colorful, fresh and budget friendly lunch at Taqueria Rossy.

Taqueria Rossy

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.

Mission at San Jose del Cabo
Make sure to check out the historic charming town of San Jose Del Cabo.

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.

San Jose del Cabo
Walk and eat your way around San Jose del Cabo with Juan More Taco.

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!

sunset at The Cape Cabo
Spectacular sunset views at Manta restaurant.

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.

travel to Cabos san lucas marina
The marina in Cabos San Lucas is less crowded during the day.

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.

Lands End Cabo
The arch of Cabo San Lucas at the extreme southern end of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

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.

snorkeling in Cabo
You can’t tell but that’s me snorkeling at Maria Bey with Pez Gato.

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.

Learning About Tequila in Tequila Town, Mexico

National Tequila Day is on July 24. As you enjoy this popular spirit neat or mixed in your margaritas, perhaps you would curious about its origin. Last year, I took a trip to Tequila Town, Mexico – the birthplace of tequila, and learned firsthand about the art of making, drinking and using by-products of tequila.

Jimador working on Jose Cuervo’s agave fields near Tequila, Mexico

Making Tequila

Made from blue agave, Tequila, also known as Azul Tequilana Weber, is a plant that comes from the states of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit and Aguascalientes in Mexico. The plant grows in semi arid climates at specific altitudes. Agave means admirable in Greek, and there are more than 136 species. In order to be sold as tequila, the beverage must be distilled from agave grown in certain regions of Mexico. Such areas are mainly Tequila and surrounding municipalities. 

Use organic, GMO-free agave to naturally sweeten desserts and teas

In addition, the plants take an average of seven years to reach maturity. The piña, or pineapple, of the agave plant is roasted for 36 hours. Once sugars and juices are released, it is distilled and stored in barrels.

Merida is another must-see magic town in Mexico.

Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town)

Tequila is a fun, little, tourist town located 45 miles northwest of Guadalajara, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. In this UNESCO World Heritage site appointed town, you will find colorful shops, cobblestone buildings, authentic Mexican restaurants, and over 22 tequila distillers. Most travelers come to Tequila for a day trip, but if you really want to enjoy the town, stay for the evening. After the party crowds thin out, local Mexicans gather in the main square, often performing live music and dance. Not to mention, outdoor markets sell handmade jewelry, bags, souvenirs and agave honey.

There is also a tequila museum where you can see paintings, handlooms, costumes, and exhibits by Mexican artists. Also, you can walk around the town and truly enjoy its charming architecture and unique art. Tequila hides incredible legends and stories wherever you look! The Lavaderos de Tequila remain exactly as they were hundreds of years ago. During that time women washed their garments over the stone basins. In addition, Centro Cultural Juan Beckmann Gallardo shared the national sport (no, it’s not soccer) of charrería (Mexican style horseback riding).

These Mexican clay pots are great for serving cocktails, tea or water.

Grab a cocktail served in a cantaritos (clay pot), and watch voladores, or “flying” dancers perform in the main square.

tequila town
Mexican snacks are served on board The Jose Cuervo Express.

Tequila Train

Take the 2-hour train ride on The José Cuervo Express from Guadalajara to Tequila, also known as the “tequila train.” You will not only enjoy sweeping views of agave fields, Rio Grande Canyon, and Tequila volcano (standing at 9,580 feet above sea level), but also get to taste Jose Cuervo tequila brands on board. Depending on the experience you book, you will be served authentic Mexican snacks. Such dishes are tamales, guacamole and frijoles. Cocktails prepared use tequila Traditional® and Jose Cuervo® Especial. Enjoy our Premium Bar: Maestro Tequilero®, Centenario®, 1800®, Rum, Vodka and Whisky, onboard Jose Cuervo Express®.

tequila town
Endless blue agave fields make for a picturesque sight.

Agave Fields

I have visited small agave fields in the Caribbean but nothing as vast and scenic as the blue-green Jose Cuervo fields outside of Tequila. I watched how men and women grew, harvested and pruned agave plants in the hot and dry climate. Many of them have been working in the same fields for generations, which they’ve passed on the knowledge of how to care for these delicate plants. The man in charge of cultivating agave is called a Jimador. He is easily recognizable by his traditional attire and swift strong hand movements that remind you of a cowboy.

Read my feature on the women of tequila on CNN Travel.

tequila town
Board the Jose Cuervo Express in Guadalajara.

La Rojeña Distillery

La Fábrica La Riojeña is located in the town of Tequila. Established in 1795, it is the oldest active distillery in Latin America. Also, here you can take a guided tour to see the production process from agave roasting in the brick oven to the clear spirit storing in the cellars. Jose Cuervo’s Tradicional Añejo’s distillation process follows Cuervo’s original recipe. First, after aged for 12 months, they are stored in New American oak barrels. Second, Irish single malt whiskey barrels are used to finish them afterward.

tequila town
Learn to taste tequila using all your senses

Don’t miss Jose Cuervo’s premium tequila tasting experience where you will learn the proper way to sip tequila (it’s similar to wine tasting), what notes to look for when tasting tequila (nuts, vanilla, figs, cinnamon, caramel), and the best way to serve tequila (hint: it’s plain up, in a flute).

Invest in special glasses and a decanter to serve tequila

Mexican Folk Show

Guests of the tequila train get to experience a colorful cultural music and dance show in the late afternoon. Also, watch tap dancing men and long skirted women light up the stage with energy as the crowd sings along to popular Mexican songs.

tequila town
Mexican folklore performance is part of your experience in Tequila

Overnight at Hotel Solar de las Ánimas

Overlooking the main square, so you stay amidst the culture and heritage of the area, is the town’s only luxury hotel – Solar de las Ánimas. From the rooftop bar and pool area, you can see the church of Santiago Apostol (St. James the Apostle), which is the heart of the town of Tequila and the foot of the great volcano.

tequila town
Stay in the heart of the city of Tequila.

The hotel’s design is based on a Creole colonial house. Also, the structure is typical of Mexican architecture from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

tequila town
Traditional Mexican decor combine with luxurious amenities at Hotel Solar de las Animas.

Spacious rooms and courtyards equipped with modern amenities make you feel you are at the private estate home of a Mexican family. Here you can also get a relaxing massage at the spa. You can also lay by the pool, rent bikes to explore the surroundings, and taste many flavors of margaritas. In addition, my personal favorite is the Pineapple and Chili Express. Also, it’s an infusion of tequila Traditional Plata, pineapple, Serrano chili, lemon juice, agave syrup, angostura and egg whites. 

tequila town
Take an afternoon break at restaurant La Antigua Casona with fresh-made churros and hot chocolate.

Restaurant La Antigua Casona serves scrumptious breakfasts. The restaurant also has a floral courtyard while naturally lit and colorfully tiled. Try huevos rancheroschilaquiles, or the signature weekend breakfast buffets that include local specialties such as posole, maduros, and pan dulce.

Stay Safe at Mundo Cuervo

On June 15, 2020, the destination team of Mundo Cuervo – covering six exceptional experiences in Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico – announced the reopening of the Relais & Chateaux Solar de las Animas Hotel, the La Antigua Casona Restaurant, and the Jose Cuervo Stores, following a comprehensive safety protocol designed to ensure the safety of all guests and staff during COVID-19.

Following recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Federal, State and Local Health authorities, some key changes include limiting capacity to 50% at the hotel, restaurant and Jose Cuervo Express Train. Further, all pools and gyms are reduced to 25% capacity. There is also 24-hour room service, antibacterial gel dispensers with sensor activation, temperature measurement at entry points, obligatory use of face-masks, industry-specific cleaning and disinfection protocols, enforced physical distancing in all common areas, QR codes to verify capacity before entry, and payment only by credit/debit cards.

Groups at La Rojeña Distillery and JBG Cultural Center Tours are limited to 20 people. Face masks are required, and social distancing is enforced.

Here’s an easy Agave Way cocktail recipe from the Historic Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico that you can try on National Tequila Day!

Just add this margarita mix to tequila for your homemade cocktail