I recently got back from a trip to Cabo San Lucas, a short two hour flight from San Diego yet a world away in terms of mindset. We originally planned to stay for five days (four nights) but Hurricane Newton, a Category 2 storm, hit Cabo on our last night shutting down the airport and forcing us to stay a little longer. Ultimately we welcomed our extended vacation as the storm passed pretty quickly allowing us to get back outside to enjoy the beach and pool, although in hindsight you really only need about a weekend in Cabo San Lucas to really take it all in.
What to Expect in Cabo San Lucas
While the beaches and water is beautiful, the town itself is fairly one dimensional with lots of “party scene” bars and mediocre Mexican food. In general we found the food to be disappointing throughout the trip as we prefer healthy food but the town was anything but health-conscious. There are some fun excursions you can do along with snorkeling that are nice, and surprisingly even some good shopping. We definitely had a great time, but after our second trip to the Marina / downtown Cabo San Lucas area we didn’t really see a point in returning again and spend the rest of our time relaxing by the pool or staying on the resort. Cabo is actually a great destination if you want to go all-inclusive, as you’re not missing a whole lot if you never leave the hotel. My recommendation is to visit Cabo San Lucas if you’re looking to party and let loose, or if you want to go to an all-inclusive and sit by the pool or beach all day sipping a tropical drink and reading a book.
Cabo San Lucas Hotel Recommendations
We stayed at the Hilton Cabo San Lucas which was incredible. It is definitely one of the most luxurious resorts I’ve stayed in, and the infinity pool with swim-up bar was one of the highlights of the trip. The service was top notch at the resort and everyone working and staying there was really friendly and nice, which was another highlight. On the downside, the food was pretty expensive and not all-inclusive, so we ended up spending a lot more money than planned. Drinks cost $8-20 and most entrees for dinner were $25-40. They did have some vegetarian options which was appreciated (some on the menu, some special order), but by the end of the vacation we were really just craving a large salad which was something they don’t really offer here. If we come back to Cabo San Lucas, we’d definitely stay here again.
Cabo San Lucas Restaurant & Bar Recommendations
Bar Esquina was hands-down our favorite meal of the trip – one of the few places in Cabo San Lucas with fresh, local produce. They had plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, a great wine list, and a really trendy and romantic vibe. We also enjoyed a trip into San Jose to eat at Jazmin’s which was delicious and also had plenty of vegetarian options, but was far from healthy. The Hilton also had several restaurants, and their Vela restaurant (pictured above) featured live music and had several ferro and quinoa dishes that were healthy and delightful, and their Mexican restaurant was pretty good too and had an amazing deal on red snapper by the pound that was awesome if you like fish. We also toured the Marina area and stopped for a drink at the Mango Deck on the beach, which was fun with live entertainment although definitely draws in a lot of drunken tourists so make sure you’re in the mood for that.
Cabo San Lucas Transportation Recommendations
Getting around in Cabo is not like the US – there is no Uber or Lyft, and taxis are very expensive by American standards. Getting from the Hilton to either Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo was $25-30 each way, no bueno. We discovered the local bus which did the same route for just $2 and was air conditioned and ran very regularly – we never waited longer than a few minutes and they run all day long until 10pm and seemed very safe. Our hotel offered an airport shuttle that was $66 per person (plus taxes and fees) which seemed like a lot of money too for what was only about a 20 minute ride, so we browsed around on TripAdvisor and found a shared shuttle option using Cabo Airport Shuttle that was only $30 per person round trip, less than half the cost of the hotel. We had a great experience with them and would definitely recommend them. There are also lots of boats for hire when you get there, most of which charge $20 or so to go from the beach to visit the arch, lover’s/divorce beach, and the window to the pacific (pictured above) so don’t worry about booking these ahead of time or booking through your hotel, there are tons of boats desperate for more customers.
Visiting during Hurricane Season
We really didn’t even consider that it was hurricane season during our visit over Labor Day (US Holiday), but mother nature sure reminded us. In 2014 Cabo San Lucas suffered a Category 4 hurricane that did a ton of damage, but luckily Hurricane Newton was just a Category 2 that didn’t hit nearly as hard. The Hilton Los Cabos was well prepared for the storm and took great care of its guests with plenty of updates, flashlights, a backup generator that made it barely noticeable the power was out, and a very quick clean up that had us back in the pool after one day. The rates are definitely cheaper during hurricane season, and its very hot, so take into account when you visit and if you think the reward outweighs the risk.
Cabo San Lucas is a great place to either party your butt off, or relax by the pool and soak up some sun while reading a new book. We ultimately found the food disappointing, but if you’re craving Mexican food or Seafood, then you’ll probably like it better. It’s a great place to visit for 3-5 nights, but after that it feels good to return home and get back into your routine. We’ll definitely be back next time we want to getaway but only have a few days to do so, and the Hilton will be at the top of our list of places to stay.