Party time in the desert.
Why you should go:
A two-hour flight from Los Angeles, incredible fishing and nightlife, and classic Mexican surf.
Cabo San Lucas is located on the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea Of Cortez. There’re actually two Cabos: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Cabo San Lucas is where you’ll find Los Arcos—the famous natural arches that mark the “land’s end” of Baja and the border of the two bodies of water. A twenty-mile drive east of San Lucas takes you through the hotel corridor to the town of San Jose del Cabo. The corridor only has a couple breaks (including Zippers) and is where you’ll find many of the fancy resorts and golf courses. San Jose is a sleepier, cheaper town, but it’s closer to the incredible waves of the East Cape.
Plan on doing a lot of driving. It may not sound like a lot, but you’ll drive 40 to 60 miles looking for good surf—that’s a lot when you consider the narrow single lanes, dirt roads, and slow trucks you encounter trying to get to any break. The East Cape (east of San Jose del Cabo) is all dirt roads and provides a variety of waves—from long, slow points to fast, punchy reefs. The Pacific side has several breaks near Todos Santos—about a one-hour drive north of Cabo San Lucas. From end to end, the area is pure desert. In the hot summer season, May to October, the temperature will go up to 100-plus degrees during the day and stay in the upper 70s and low 80s in the evening.
When to go:
The best time to go is late summer and fall, which also happens to be off-season for tourism—better rates on everything. Cabo breaks generally rely on hurricanes or Southern Hemisphere ground swells. However, the northern Pacific-side breaks can also attract swells all the way from the Gulf Of Alaska in winter—it’s open to all swell angles. The East Cape needs solid head-high-plus south swells to be worth the drive—look for hurricanes to the south for the best action.
Where to stay:
On or off-season, Cabo ain’t cheap. A good way to save money is by staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts—all-inclusive meaning room, food, and drinks paid for with one fee. In San Jose del Cabo there’re three: the Fiesta Inn 1-800-FIESTA-1, the Presidente 1-800-327-0200, and the Royal Solaris 52-624-145-6800—prices range from 62 dollars and up. All three are within walking distance to San Jose del Cabo and two breaks nearby. In Cabo San Lucas there are many hotels and smaller inns to choose from. Some, like the Finisterra (finisterra.com) near Los Arcos, range from 99 dollars in the off-season to 140 dollars in the peak season.
Where to eat:
The food ain’t cheap either. Of course there’s always the taco-stand route, but if you want true Cabo flavor, you’ll want to sample some of the fresh fish Cabo’s famous for—there’s even incredible sushi. In Cabo San Lucas, there’re tons of restaurants to choose from, but you definitely need to go to one of the beachfront restaurants in town, eat lunch, and stare at all the sexy girls in their bathing suits. In San Jose del Cabo, the restaurants are low-key—you have to hunt, but they’re well worth the chase. If you’re scared of good food, there’s always a Subway, Domino’s, and McDonald’s to choose from. If you really want to save money, go to any supermercado (supermarket) and stock up.
• Rent a sportfishing boat and go marlin fishing
• Take a water taxi from the seaside restaurants in Cabo San Lucas to Los Arcos and Lover’s Beach
• Party down at the world-famous Squid Roe (in Cabo San Lucas)
• Surf the East Cape
• Water. The desert will dehydrate you in seconds—always have a bottle with you
• Car insurannce—don’t leave the rental-car agency without it
• Always stay alert
• Wear a hat
Look out for:
Cabo’s relatively safe, but it helps to be courteous to locals, lock your car and room, and watch out for anything having to do with alcohol—like drunk drivers. As a matter of fact, just look out for other drivers in general.
You can try to do it the cheap way by camping and shopping at the supermercado, but expenses like rental cars, nights on the town, and souvenirs will sneak up on you. The off-season flights from Los Angeles can run anywhere from 280 dollars (taxes included) to 400 and up in-season.
Just like anywhere else, there’s always a huge chance you’ll get skunked on waves if you plan way ahead. Your best bet is to watch the swell activity and take off when the going gets good. If worse comes to worst, you’ll end up doing what most people go to Cabo for—partying. For everything you need to know, check these two sites: allaboutcabo.com and loscabosguide.com.