Americans have been coming here for years, but Kiwis and Aussies are just hearing about it… there’s more to Mexico than dodgy Tijuana just south of the border!
Two hours from LAX and I landed in Los Cabos at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. If you can picture the USA and Mexico, the peninsula runs like a stiletto heel down from California. I’m on the rubber stopper, just around on the Sea of Cortez (rather than the Pacific Ocean side).
The beach is flat and gentle, the sand is white and wide and from my hotel room at the Riu Palace, I am looking at a cruise ship that docked here yesterday, parasailers floating high behind boats and humpback whales in the distance blowing water from their spouts and diving gracefully with their new babies.
Los Cabos is the name of the region that encompasses Cabo San Lucas (where the Riu Palace Hotel is) and San Jose del Cabo, the more historic town. The population is not huge – kind of like Napier and Hastings, to channel my world view.
Like lots of the big resorts in Mexico, the Riu is all-inclusive. That means 6 restaurants, 24-hour complimentary room service, alcohol served any time in bars and from a dispensary in your room. I kid you not! Tequila, Bacardi, Vodka and Brandy are primed and ready to go right beside your coffee maker.
But here’s a tip: there are 4 specialist restaurants which you have to make a reservation for. Book the steak house as soon as you arrive. I was here for 4 nights and couldn’t get in.
With 624 rooms, two huge pools and a long sandy beach just in front, you can imagine people just checking in and staying put until it’s time to get their passports back out of the safe. There is nightly entertainment (Michael Jackson was playing last night. I know, me too!) and with the loungers and on tap food and drink, it’s every hedonist’s dream.
I’m in the jacuzzi suite – the best room in the house! It has a bathtub jacuzzi outside and up the spiral staircase which I filled the first night I arrived and with a dessert platter of strawbs I sat up here and thought about life. It was pretty perfect!
But about 5 minutes by taxi is Cabo San Lucas and this is where the American college teens and 20-somethings are having Spring Break this week. It’s also a great little Mexican town that is pumping in the evenings and well worth giving up the buffet for.
Cabo Wabo is the (genius) name of Sammy Hagar’s restaurant/bar/live music venue and where excellent fish tacos are about $2 each. They play 70s and 80s music, and above the stage a basketball game was being shown on the TV screen – cos that’s how we oldies roll!
Across the road Giggling Marlin is another popular bar for tourists. Again it’s old school music but this is now cool it seems. Retro is in, I have discovered, as groups of American college students took turns hanging upside down in stocks and drinking tequila shots – while their parents took photos.
Souvenir shops sell jewellery (silver is big here) and lots of ceramic plates, bowls and jugs. Pharmacies dispense Viagra and Prozac over the counter and you’ll get authentic tacos and tamales or a tattoo if you so desire.
From the marina you can take a dinner cruise past the famous hole in the rock and along the beach that was the set for Brad Pitt’s Troy. And as it’s whale time, you ‘ll get to follow several as the mums and babies play in these waters while the dads patrol for sharks about 1km away.
I’m thrilled to have discovered Cabo (that’s what those in the know call it) and it really is a different kind of holiday to have just 2 hours from LA.
Los Cabos is a dream spot for tourists because you can find properties with the luxuries of home while maintaining the real Mexico. This is a rare combination and a great one for new travellers visiting to countries for the first time. You don’t want to miss what this gorgeous area has to offer!