Graced with tantalizing desert landscapes, lush oases and rich marine life, Baja California is one of the most compelling and popular destinations in Mexico. Its human history is no less enticing, with a legacy of remote cave paintings, crumbling Spanish missions, top-notch beach resorts and fabulous seafood.
Baja California runs out of land where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez come together in a spectacular fashion. After running parallel for over 1300km, the ocean and sea meet at the sister towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, known collectively as Los Cabos – easily the most exclusive parcel of land in the Baja. Undeniably beautiful and home to the lion’s share of the peninsula’s lavish resorts, golf courses and jaw dropping beaches, the area is one of the fastest-developing regions of Mexico.
Last September the region made international headlines after it was ravaged by hurricane Odile. My visit, exactly 12 months later, showcased a resort town which has bounced back after undergoing a successful facelift. Freshly polished doors have swung open just in time for the busy winter season. Tan fans will be welcomed into newly renovated resorts where tequila and cerveza flow forth freely. If you’re keen on a Baja beach retreat, here are my Top 10 Things to See and Do in Los Cabos:
1) Marquis Los Cabos Resort
The Marquis Los Cabos Resort sits perched overlooking a stretch of pristine sandy beach at the very tip of Baja California. The hotel is a perfect fit for those who are equally as interested in loitering in luxury via tranquil turquoise pool as they are to explore the regions top attractions. The Marquis is perfectly located between the regions two towns, a 15 minute drive east to San Jose del Cabo and 30 minutes west to Cabo San Lucas.
The Marquis opened its doors on March 2015, after extensive repair and renovation from Hurricane Odile. An adults-only all-suite resort, the property features two infinity sunset and sunrise pools and a three-tier Central pool. Upon arrival in the dramatic lobby, guests are greeted with a breathtaking entrance to the resort with scenic ocean views and a 40-foot cascading waterfall. Throughout the property guests can view an extensive collection of Latin American original artwork.
Looking to book the hotel’s poshest pad? The property has 26 one-bedroom Casitas, all of which feature jaw dropping ocean views. Each spacious 1670 sq ft suite includes plush king bed, living and dining area, wet bar, furnished lounge terrace surrounded by private gardens, petite plunge pool, sofa bed, satellite TV, hot tub, marble lined rain shower and luxury toiletries by L’Occitane.
2) Cafe de Lolita
Coffee fans should be sure to plan a java jolt at Cafe de Lolita in San Jose del Cabo. Located on a street teaming with art shops, Lolita is a perfect spot to wake up to the world. Guests are greeted by a portrait of Betty Boop, who winks at you from the barista bar. Be sure to sip in the sun soaked backyard, under the shade of mango trees which stand tall amongst dangling wine bottles and vintage picture frames. Enjoy the signature Lolita (double espresso, milk, chocolate foam), hearty Cerritos Sandwich (freshly baked bread, cheese stuffed poblano chile, tomato sauce, refried beans, chipotle mango dressing) and for your sweet tooth, a crispy and fluffy pair of churros with dulce de leche for dipping.
3) One&Only Barber and Blade
Renowned as Mexico’s premiere destination spa, the One&Only Spa at Palmilla offers an expansive programme of ancient healing techniques combined with cutting-edge therapies. The spa recently launched a fabulous gents-only offering, “Barber and Blade,” which is perfect for men looking to have their hair cut, eyebrows plucked or beard trimmed while on vacation. I was greeted by black bow tie adorned Alfonso Mata who offered up a tasting of George Clooney’s own Casamigos Tequila upon arrival. After enjoying a quick sip I plopped myself into a vintage Koken barber chair (which if you look carefully was originally constructed in 1920 in St. Louis Missouri) where I spent the next hour being slathered with beauty products from Murdock of London. The relaxing hair-care pampering service includes straight razor wet shave, express facial, scalp massage, eyebrow and ear and nose grooming.
4) Stroll Through San Jose del Cabo
Founded as a mission in 1730 by Jesuits, San Jose del Cabo was abandoned after the Pericu revolt just four years later. A mix of ex-pirates, lapsed missionaries and drop-out miners began to repopulate the town in the early nineteenth century and turned the area into a small port and agricultural centre.
Today, the town is a perfect spot for an art lovers stroll as the streets team with local high end galleries and craft shops. Head to Plaza Mijares and you’ll find twin-towered church, La Mision de San Jose del Cabo Anuiti, which was built in 1932 on roughly the site of the original Jesuit foundation.
5) Horseback Riding with Cuadra San Francisco
If you’re keen on a four hoofed adventure head to Cuadra San Francisco Equestrian Centre for a horseback ride which will have you trotting through the Baja’s beautiful desert landscape. The family owned and operated ranch features towering cactus, chirping chickens and a stable filled with handsome horses. On my one hour tour I sweat through the desert with a sombrero adorned Mexican cowboy. His fancy footwork and lasso skills had me clapping and chirping, “bravo!”
6) Tacos at Asi y Asado
If you’re looking to feast like a local head to Asi y Asado to indulge in Cabos favourite street-style taco joint. The cheap and cheerful restaurant is located just off the highway and features plenty of plastic chairs and tables in a dining room which is surrounded by a colourful mural splashed with bright pink, sombrero’s and Day of the Dead skulls. During my quick visit over the lunch hour I ordered two of Mexico’s finest cerveza’s (Pacifco Clara and Modelo Negro) which perfectly complimented a trilogy of tacos stuffed with ribeye steak, deep fried shrimp and crispy chorizo.
7) Mezcal Tasting at La Lupita
San Jose del Cabo’s newest culinary gem is La Lupita, a watering hole which is already hugely popular with locals. The restaurant and bar offers a long list of creative taco creations, the regions best craft beer list and an impressive 30+ mezcal menu which features limited edition, award winning bottles. Spend your night chilling out at the restaurants backyard al fresco patio and sip your way through a mezcal trio. I sampled three of the owners favourite bottles which are served in hollowed out seed husk and accompanied by worm salt and wedges of sweet orange.
8) Flora Farms
Flora Farms is a ten-acre organic farm in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains in San Jose del Cabo. The farm employs over 300 staff which help run Mexico’s finest farm to table experience. Flora Farms includes a 10 acre organic farm, 7 acre mango orchard and organic farm and a 150 acre ranch where free range chickens, pigs, rabbits and goats are raised. I arrived just before the dinner hour and was offered a tour of the property which features a world class bakery, butchery, charcuterie aging room, pizzeria, restaurant, bar, 10 culinary cottages, spa, pool, extensive fruit and vegetable gardens, adorable farmers market as well as a collection of boutique shops featuring local soap producer, winemaker, jeweller and fashion boutique. Turtles loiter on the lawn while ice cream sandwiches are devoured in the sun by younglings. For those who find inspiration in culinary whimsy, welcome to Nirvana!
9) Snorkel Cruise
No trip to the Baja is complete until you’ve hopped on a boat to explore the regions stunning coastline. I set sail out of Cabo San Lucas marina for a 6 hour luxury cruise with Cabo Adventures via posh Beneteau Cyclade yacht. The popular tour is offered on the daily and includes an open bar (margarita’s, wine and beer a-plenty) and guacamole slathered BBQ shrimp lunch which is best enjoyed before hopping in the sea. Tan fans keen on thirst quenching via dip in the deep blue sea are offered snorkel gear and paddle board to splish and splash in a quiet bay before everyone hops back on board and sails back to town just in time to watch the sunset.
10) Champagne at Sunset da Mona Lisa
There’s no better place to watch the crimson sunset splash across the horizon then the cliffside restaurant Sunset da Mona Lisa. It’s perhaps no shock that the New York Times dubbed the spot “one of the top 5 coolest restaurants in the world,” the eye candy here is totally out of this world. If you’re traveling with “that special someone,” you’ll have them romanced immediately upon arrival (and it is most certainly that sort of place you could stumble on one knee and ask for that pretty hand to marry you). Arrive an hour before the sun is scheduled to set and skip down the steps to the posh Taittinger Terrace Oyster & Champagne Bar. Sip on flutes of Taittinger Prestige Rose while surfers below sail over crashing waves and eagles soar above. Moments after the sun disappears a choir of staff bid the day farewell with a croon from conch shell and moody vibrating beat of copper gong. This is bliss at the beach!
My visit to Los Cabos was a press trip coordinated by Tourism Los Cabos. Flights, accommodation, restaurant visits and activities featured in this destination guide were complimentary.