Here is my Cabo travel guide! In late June 2021, I joined the hordes of other Americans and booked my first summer getaway since the pandemic started. I decided to take advantage of JetBlue’s new direct flights from NYC to Cabo San Lucas and explore Mexico’s west coast for the first time.
Read on to find out where I stayed, my favorite restaurants, and the best things to do and see in Cabo San Lucas.
Cabo, located at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, is actually made up of two cities: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Together they make up Los Cabos.
Cabo San Lucas is known for its raucous nightlife (it’s a favorite with spring breakers), while San Jose del Cabo is its more upscale sister. Both resort towns boast beautiful views of the Sea of Cortez and great dining.
The area went from small fishing town to tourist hot spot around the 1990s. Today it’s a favorite of celebrities who come for the luxury resorts, world-renowned spas and white sandy beaches.
Where to Stay
Tesoro Los Cabos
Hotel Type: 4 star hotel
Location: Cabo San Lucas Marina
Cost: Starting from $84/night
Relaxing and going with the flow was the name of the game on this trip, so I knew I wanted to stay in a nice hotel in a central location. I chose the Tesoro Los Cabos as it’s right along the marina and within walking distance from restaurants, shops, and nightlife downtown. With three on-site restaurants and a pool club, the resort was a destination in and of itself.
I received an upgraded room with a balcony and stunning view of the marina. Because I booked directly on the resort’s website, I was also able to get a few perks, including free Wi-Fi (the speeds were too slow for working or streaming) and a spa discount.
The hotel also made it easy to obtain a COVID-19 test prior to my flight. I booked an appointment at the front desk and paid $23 for an antigen test. The testing site was right across the street and I received my results the same day. Booking a test with the hotel gets you a $20 credit, which I used for my breakfast one morning.
The highlight of my stay was my time at the pool and spa. I spent much of my trip relaxing by the pool, sipping margaritas and listening to the pulsing music. I’d also recommend a visit to the spa. I tried a hot stone massage for the first time and had a very relaxing experience.
How To Get Around
getting around cabo
Most restaurants, bars, and activities are located near downtown Cabo San Lucas, so you can explore on foot. Uber and taxis are also readily available.
Staying further out or venturing outside of town? Consider renting a car to save money. You can also choose the cheapest option: the bus. Check out this blog post for more details on getting around Cabo.
Getting To/From the Airport
A taxi from the airport to your lodging can cost $70 one way, so I highly recommend booking a transfer in advance. See if your hotel or Airbnb offers this service. You’ll save money by booking in advance rather than relying on the taxis at the airport. My hotel offered roundtrip transportation for $48 per person.
Where To Eat
Food is an essential part of any Cabo travel guide. Known as the birthplace of the fish taco, there is plenty of delicious Mexican food to be had in Cabo San Lucas. From street counter tacos to upscale restaurants, there’s something for everyone, and it all tastes good. Be sure to make reservations a couple of days in advance for the most popular spots; they fill up quickly.
Here are a few of my favorite places:
- Los Tres Gallos – Housed inside a beautiful open air courtyard with colorful decor, this restaurant serves up classic Mexican dishes. The staff wears traditional clothing and provide a warm welcome, making this restaurant feel like dining in a friend’s backyard.
- La Lupita – This popular taco restaurant is known for its inventive tacos. I tried out the octopus taco and was not disappointed. Ordering a drink with mezcal is a must! The mezcal margarita is strong and tasty. If you’re finding it hard to get a dinner reservation, visit during lunch time.
- La Dolce – If you’re in need of a break from Mexican food, there are an array of Italian restaurants in downtown Cabo that are up to the task. I was skeptical at first, but ended up enjoying my meal at La Dolce. Both the Alfredo pasta and fish entrée were appetizing.
- Outpost – I stopped into this hip, industrial spot for breakfast as it’s located across the street from Hotel Tesoro. I enjoyed a delicious plate of huevos rancheros on the rooftop terrace, which is filled with verdant plants. This spot stays open late, so you can also grab lunch, dinner, or drinks.
- Baja Brewing Company – Located near Medano Beach, this modern bar has sweeping sea views and yummy bites. I enjoyed my empanadas and craft beer.
top things to do
Cabo San Lucas has plenty to offer outside of its famous nightlife. From marveling at El Arco to riding an ATV through the desert, this Cabo travel guide will give you the lowdown on the best things to do in Cabo.
El Arco a.k.a. Land’s End, is the top attraction in Los Cabos, and it’s easy to see why. This natural rock formation is a stunning landmark set amongst beautiful blue waters. There are many ways to get here, from booking a catamaran tour to paddle boarding.
I decided to go the local route and hop on a small boat down at the marina. I did this activity solo, so the captain refused to take me to Lovers Beach, a small beach near the arch that is only accessible via boat. Presumably he didn’t want to come back for one person, but I imagine this wouldn’t be an issue with a larger group.
It cost $10, which is the standard rate for Americans. If your Spanish skills are good, you can probably negotiate this down to $5. If you want a tour in English, check out Get Your Guide or Viator. Just don’t be fooled by the claims of most “glass bottom” boats. It’s a very small square in the bottom of the boat that is hard to see through.
Entry Fees & Hours
In case you haven’t gathered this so far in this Cabo travel guide, getting out on the water in Cabo is an absolute must. There are an endless number of ways to make this happen, from kayaking and snorkeling to sailing and a booze cruise.
We opted for a sunset cruise on a catamaran and had a marvelous time. The boat was pretty full (there were about 70 folks), but there was enough space to dance and walk around. Drinks are included in the price and the staff did a great job making sure our cups stayed full. The views of El Arco as the sun set were unbeatable. We had a ball dancing to the pumping pop music.
Entry Fees & Hours
As mentioned earlier in this Cabo travel guide, Los Cabos is known for its scrumptious food. Food tours are one of my favorite ways to find the best spots to eat, so I booked one with Juan More Taco while in Cabo. Our guide was a personable local resident and who led us to 6 different spots over the course of 3 hours. I was stuffed by the end of the tour from all of the delightful tacos we ate. I had to take my tamale back to the hotel for leftovers. Three of my favorite spots were the Taco House (get the marlin tacos), El Paisa (al pastor is the way to go), and Tacos May (try the cow’s head taco).
Entry Fees & Hours
Los Cabos is located where the soothing Sea of Cortez meets with the wild Pacific Ocean. There are a number of spectacular beaches located between the two towns.
I spent an afternoon at Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas. The beach is filled with bars, loud music, and vendors hawking everything from bracelets to sarongs, so it’s certainly not a peaceful experience. I opted to walk further away from the bars, where the locals were relaxing, and rent a beach umbrella. If you arrive before noon, you can also reserve a chair at one of beach clubs.
Other popular options include Playa Palmilla, with its calm waves and soft sand; Santa Maria Beach, which is great for snorkeling; and the more secluded Chileno Beach. All three beaches are less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Cabo. As noted above, Lovers Beach, located a short distance from El Arco, can only be reached by boat.
Entry Fees & Hours
explore downtown cabo san lucas
Make some time to get away from the beach or pool and check out downtown Cabo. Countless gift shops are located here, selling everything from t-shirts to purses.
Stroll through the town square and see evidence of Spanish rule with the Iglesia de San Lucas. The Museum of Natural History is located in the same square, but the pandemic seems to have impacted their hours. I attempted to visit twice during the posted times, but it wasn’t open.
Whale watching is another one of Cabo’s top attractions. This would have been at the top of my Cabo travel guide, if I’d visited during the appropriate season! Scheduled a visit between December and mid-April to see the whales as they migrate. Humpbacks, blue whales, and even Orcas have been spotted.
Entry Fees & Hours
day trip to san jose del cabo
Explore the other town that makes up Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo. Known as the classy big sister of Cabo San Lucas, this town is a bit quieter and more upscale. There are many artisan shops and unique dining options, like Flora Farms. For the art lovers, be sure to visit on Thursday evenings when galleries stay open late.
If you’ve gotten your fill of the beach and spa and want to get your adrenaline pumping, Cabo’s got an answer for that too. Despite being a fishing town, Cabo is actually located in the desert. You can take a zip line tour or ride through the desert on an ATV. Get Your Guide has a number of excellent options that are certain to provide fun for the entire family.