Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo, Cabo san Lucas, Baja California!

One destination with many names which I thought were all the same place!

A destination that has been on our bucket list for quite a while, due to be taken pre-covid and the penultimate trip of ours still to be taken using travel vouchers from the 2020/2021 chaos.

It’s a shame no one has paid me to travel here and do this review, but that’s not what my travel club is all about.  It’s about authentic reviews from real people at places where the people who work there are blissfully unaware that I’m reporting back to my small audience in the hope that they too can travel and make their own opinions without being influenced by those paid to do so. Make sense?

It was a destination I’d always wanted to go to; I’d seen it on television (admittedly mostly on the Real Housewives and other car crash reality TV franchises) heard people talk about it and I have read about it so many times, that I decided Mexico was somewhere I wanted to experience. I didn’t even have to consult the other half (BB), rarely do when it comes to holidays, if he can dive there, he’ll go. He had already visited the opposite side of the peninsula in his previous life, BT (before Tara) and was happy to return to a different side with me.

Obviously 2022 has been a very difficult time financially for a lot of people and taking this trip seemed a bit decadent in view of huge increases for everyone in the cost of living, but this one had been booked and paid for such a long time ago that it almost felt like a free holiday. So we continued as planned but consciously tried to cut costs wherever we could, and both said almost every day that we were feeling grateful and blessed to be somewhere in the world that wasn’t in utter chaos, or at least it didn’t seem to be!

I’d always heard Cabo being referred to in different ways. Didn’t know if Cabo, Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo were all the same place or different and I can happily report that I now know the difference and can solve the mystery for others.

A few people I had talked to in passing had put me off it, saying “it always rained”, “it was boring”, “there’s nothing to do there” etc etc. but I wanted to see for myself what it was like and make my own opinion, and possibly prove them wrong, which I believe I did!

So, here we go:

We flew into and out of Los Angeles, (see my snippet LA blog here when it’s written), and then took a short 2hr flight from LA to San Jose del Cabo. All the flights were paid for using airmiles and companion vouchers with British Airways and American Airlines. This made our trip slightly longer than we wanted it, but due to no availability on the return flights back to Heathrow we had to extend it for a few days more. Thus making it 12 days in Mexico and 6 nights in LA.

Los Cabos – the municipality

There are an abundance of hotels in Los Cabos, listed below here.  Extending into the Pacific Ocean from the tip of Southern California, the Baja California Peninsular has an almost lunar landscape, with small, isolated, undeveloped beaches, yet there is also an array of beautiful waters and mountainous landscapes in places.

The whole region is perfect for all sorts of activities, from hiking, surfing and sailing to fishing, scuba diving and sunbathing…….yes, I class that as an activity in my book of life!

We started off between the states of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo at the La Pacifica Hilton Los Cabos resort   This is a newish resort for Hilton, which incorporates the La Pacifica resort.  It is at the high luxury end of the scale, and as Hilton Grand Vacations owners we paid for it using points, otherwise we would have been at the local Comfort Inn (one of the budget options for experiencing this area, of which there are a few).

Bearing in mind the dollar was almost at parity with the pound, it was the worst time for us in the UK to travel to the US.  Prices in the travel industry worldwide have gone through the roof currently as suppliers desperately try to claw back lost funds from Covid lockdowns and other supply issues so what was luxury is now high luxury and what was budget is not really budget but mid range.

The position of this resort is perfect.  Two great sized pools, an expanse of garden areas, a kids club, private cabanas by the pool or on the beach which is only a few steps away from any of the bedrooms.  Beware though, there’s often quite a strong pull getting into the water so not for the skimpy bikini bottoms, if you have those!

If you do stay there and you like to eat lots of delicious, Michelin star quality food and drink amazing cocktails, then I highly advice you to do their meal plan package when you get there and you can do this for a minimum of 3 days.  We did five. There was no buffet style restaurant apart fromthe breakfast restaurant, and you can eat or drink anything anywhere, the only limitations being on lobster or wagyu beef options neither of which would be my choice. 

There was an amazing sushi restaurant and also a grill restaurant both open for lunch only, a beach bar, pool bar, swim up bar, lobby bar etc. For dinner we had a choice of the Spanish restaurant, the Italian restaurant or Mexican food at the lobby bar/cafe.  We honestly had no complaints about the food at all, and I would say this resort was the best all inclusive package we have done, Cocobay in Antigua being second best. 

On our last night we tried the wine flight dinner with their winemaker of the month. Speaking to the head chef it was evident that his worldwide training and experience was the reason this resort had excellent food as well as outstanding hotel staff.

The people working at the hotel were some of the most polite people we have met in the hotel industry and they couldn’t do enough for us and always with a smile.  There was one exception, not to be named, at one point I thought him and BB were gonna have a shout off at any moment so we made a point of avoiding any bar he was serving at. I personally think his time as a barman was over but he didn’t want to admit it to himself. He almost resented people having a good time.

The rooms were large, fresh, clean and all had either a balcony or outside terrace, no bad views as they all look onto or alongside the sea.

There are many other resorts along the coastline from the luxury One & Only Palmilla to the Westin and the Montage. Then further down the coast in either San Lucas or Cabo san Lucas there are more buzzy places to stay. To get to San Jose los Cabos and Cabo san Lucas you need an uber or a car. Uber’s were not a fortune.

San Jose del Cabo – a city

During those 5 days on the all inclusive plan, we spent one late afternoon in San Jose del Cabo, the most popular area for locals, and a visit was recommended to us by one of the hotel workers. We arrived in an Uber and started to wander around the square. Full of families and young kids on a Sunday afternoon, roller skating or skateboarding in between the crowds, lovely old buildings that looked like they’d come from a movie set, shops with old bars on the windows. I was slightly on edge, only hearing the bad things about Mexico, it’s crime, its drug cartel history etc, makes one unnecessarily anxious. I was annoyed with myself, because really this was just a traditional old town full of traditional Mexicans, trying to earn a living selling their traditional Mexican souvenirs.

However, I wish I’d had that rationale when BB did his usual trick. If you’ve read any of my blogs before you’ll know he is quite a character, always taking me out of my comfort zone, down drab quiet alleyways away from the safe hustle and bustle of a town, one wrong turn (usually unintentionally) and he pretends its how he planned it and its all part of the adventure.  This trip didn’t disappoint.  In San Jose we went from busy lovely lit square, to dark quiet alleyway with old cars, some still with engines running, people shouting behind the widows and a feeling I was going to be kidnapped, held at gunpoint or accidentally shot during gang fan warfare at any minute. Of course none of this happened and it was only my usual anxiety-ridden brain working overtime. I got angry, I shouted, and so we were quickly back on the path well-trodden and he found us a lovely rooftop gin bar called Dalton Gin Bar music blaring, metal detectors at the entrance and great cocktails, to make up for his misdemeanour!  

From here we then Ubered to an amazing farm to table restaurant that had been recommended to me by a Facebook friend of mine who shares our dream of living in Italy. Someone I’ve yet to meet, but between us we cross recommend places for her to visit when she comes to Italy, and by default I found myself in an area where she also spent a lot of time, and her recommendations for this area were just great!

ACRE resort is about 15 minutes outside of San Jose del Cabo, literally a dirt track road for 10 minutes in complete darkness, but leading to a modern oasis, jungle style restaurant.  I’d love to stay there when we win the lottery! It was completely dark by the time we arrived but the lighting enhanced some of it’s beauty and added to the magical atmosphere of the place.

Exceptional food, Mexican wine, and service. We sat right next to the kitchen which is usually a no-no but this was a Gordon Ramsay style kitchen, where the head chef was barking orders at the rest of the chef’s who responded with a loud ‘YES CHEF!’ every time, I guess to acknowledge they’d heard.

Cabo San Lucas – a city

We spent another few evenings in the marina in Cabo San Lucas, another state in the Baja peninsular, mainly to find out about the local diving for the other half but it was a nice area for mooching, shopping, taking boat trips to the famous Arch, watching the sea lions and crossing paths with various locals offering everything from a table for dinner to some ‘special delights’!  We spent an evening here after a night dive (him not me, I stayed in the boat) and ended up in a great rooftop bar, with swimming pool, Rooftop 360, which turned into a night club, and that was when we left, quick dance, and we were off, it was way too loud! The bar on the rooftop of one of the hotels by the beach, the Corazon Cabo Resort.

Todos Santos – a town

Then, on the advice of my Facebook friend Susan, we rented a car for 48 hours. In her words, “it will change your whole experience of Baja”. And it really did. We drove North to find somewhere to swim with whale sharks.  We booked a trip the day before using VIATOR, I always use them to book trips unless we find somewhere better locally.

On the way to our destination our first stop for lunch was in Todos Santos, the place that is infamous for the Hotel California, the hotel sells itself on being THE hotel California that the Eagles wrote about. They even have their own merchandise to sell. However, the hotel owners were sued by the Eagles as it’s not true, (this was settled out of court). For this reason we drove by but didn’t actually get out of the car.

Lunch was recommended to us by one of the members of staff at the Hilton. A restaurant called Jazamango.  Another farm to table restaurant, probably similar to the Italian agriturismos we have in Tuscany, providing somewhere to eat, with produce from the land next to the restaurant, and a few rooms to stay over. A delicious and very filling Sunday lunch, the chicken below was for one!!!

La Paz – a city

After lunch, we then made our way further up the coast to La Paz. Sadly our trip with the whale sharks was cancelled as we were a few weeks too early in the season and none had been spotted yet. We had booked the one night in a budget hotel, Hotel La Concha, on the outskirts of the city centre, needing to save our money where we could. The room was $88 a night.  Old style, the photos looked gorgeous, but I wouldn’t describe this as a gorgeous hotel, more like a motel with a nice pool area. It was right on the beach, and very clean, but very old. However, beautiful sunsets!

After our huge lunch in Todos Santos we weren’t hungry for dinner but wanted to get out and about and do some exploring. We drove down the coast road but the traffic was terrible. We soon realised that this was old style Mexico, and what we were part of was their typical weekend activity. We weren’t in a traffic jam, we were in the cruising line.! As we parked and got out and went for a walk, we realised we were seeing the same cars full of the same people going both ways!

Some cars had families all squashed in together, kids on adults’ knees, dogs with heads out the window, all with the music blaring, some with LED lights or large speakers in the back, others with windows open and pimped up wheels, just driving. It was addictive to watch a great and cheap way to spend an evening.

We attempted to go snorkelling on our own the next day, he had found in his words a ‘beautiful resort where we can have a nice lunch and then snorkel’ in the area Bahia de los Suenos.

He promised me this (left) and I got this (right)

To be fair the resort was closed but he hadn’t done his research right! See below where he ‘lays his hat’, in our hotel room, that’s him! Chilled and stress free!

There was at least a restaurant there with a much nicer view of where we had snorkelled where we ate and drank afterwards and to his credit, once I ventured in I got lost in my own little sea word, albeit attached to him like his Siamese twin!!

So all in all, this area can be done either luxury or budget. The food and drinks are obviously much cheaper out of the resort than in, so if you can find a boutique /reasonably priced hotel further along the coast then do it and use the money you save to hire a car and explore other parts of the peninsular.

Below are most of the hotels in the Los Cabos area. As for which ones are luxury, chic, budget or boutique………well that’s what the internet is for!

  • Alegranza
  • AR Luxury Suites
  • Bahia Hotel
  • Baja Cabo
  • Cabo Country Club
  • Cabo Inn
  • Cabo Villas
  • Cactus Inn
  • Casa Costa Azul
  • Casa del Mar
  • Casa Dorada
  • Casa Natalia
  • City Express Plus
  • City Suites
  • Comfort Inn
  • Estancia Real
  • Fairfield Inn
  • Four Seasons
  • Grand Solmar Land’s End
  • Grand Velas
  • Hacienda Encantada
  • Hampton Inn
  • Hard Rock Hotel
  • Hilton Los Cabos
  • Holiday Inn
  • Hotel Aeropuerto
  • Hotel del Angel
  • Hotel Dos Mares
  • Hotel El Ganzo
  • Hotel J y M
  • Hotel Santa Fe
  • Hyatt Place
  • JW Marriott
  • La Marina Inn
  • Las Palmas
  • Las Ventanas al Paraiso
  • LCH Goldscape
  • Le Blanc Spa Resort
  • Live Aqua
  • Los Milagros
  • Los Patios
  • Mar de Cortez
  • Mar del Cabo
  • Mariamar Suites
  • Marina Fiesta
  • Medano Hotel
  • Mirador del Cabo
  • Montage Los Cabos
  • One & Only Palmilla
  • Palmilla Dunes
  • Palo Verde
  • Paradisus Los Cabos
  • Park Royal
  • Playa Grande
  • Plaza Los Arcos
  • Posada Antonio
  • Posada Real
  • Posada Terranova
  • Quinta del Sol
  • Real Dorado
  • Riu Santa Fe
  • Royal Solaris
  • Santa Maria
  • Senor Manana
  • Seven Crown Express
  • Siesta Suites
  • Tesoro Los Cabos
  • The Bungalows
  • Tropicana Inn
  • Villa del Palmar
  • Westin Los Cabos
  • Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos
  • Pueblo Bonito Pacifica
  • Pueblo Bonito Rose
  • Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach
  • Pueblo Bonito Montecristo Estates
  • Sheraton Hacienda del Mar
  • The Cape, A Thompson Hotel
  • Solmar Resort
  • Cabo Azul Resorts
  • Barcelo Gran Faro Los Cabos
  • Breathless Cabo San Lucas
  • Casa del Mar
  • Club Regina
  • Dreams Los Cabos
  • Hyatt Ziva
  • ME Cabo
  • Riu Palace Los Cabos
  • Secrets Puerto Los Cabos
  • Sirena del Mar
  • Solaz
  • Viceroy Los Cabos
  • Villa del Arco
  • Zadun, A Ritz Carlton Reserve

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