Located at the southern tip of the worlds longest peninsula, Baja California, Los Cabos has fast become more than another bustling Mexican community. Surrounded by desert sands, aqua sea, pristine surf and out-of-control bachelor parties, this renowned vacation destination balances tranquility, natural wonder and good times as wild as you can handle.
Although there are more than 150 flights per week landing in San Jose del Cabo International Airport, traveller entry requirements at immigration seem to be based on the customary pressing of a huge button that you pray will turn green.
"Do you get the rubber glove welcome if this turns red?" poked a fat American, already sweating from the intense heat.
The Mexican Immigration officer cracked a smile, an example of the local hospitality bestowed upon everyone.
Los Cabos (the Capes) refers to the two once-remote towns of Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and the corridor, the stunning coast that connects them. While travellers are ready to pay handsomely for a taste of these luxurious surroundings, upscale costs still caught me off guard, especially after travelling for a fraction of the cost on Mexicos mainland.
Cabo San Lucas rolls in American dollars, pulsing with around-the-clock shopping, restaurants and night clubs overlooking the beach. Yet amidst the neon lights, cranked music and women bursting out of their bikinis, alcohol makes decisions for the many tourists who leave Cabo with their name etched on a grain of rice, hair braided, and a Cabo-Wabo tattoo branded upon their lobster red skin.
Luck fell upon us in the quieter town of San Jose. Real estate agent, Javier Madero found us a top-notch condo to rent for the month, across the street from the beach in San Jose. Drumming home to us the benefits of travelling in the slow season (September-December and April-June) we enjoyed luxurious surroundings with full amenities and a swimming pool for the slashed monthly rate of $1,000 Cdn which, between three of us, worked out to be pretty cheap. It was of huge benefit to be able to cook; restaurant prices start off around $8 Cdn per meal but quickly add up. Fish meals were surprisingly expensive, however shopping at the colourful local markets for pescado (fish) and produce is an experience not to be missed. For 5 pesos (70 cents) the bus drops you right off at the door.
The smorgasbord of sporting activities available was expansive, including snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, horseback riding, jet skiing, ATVing, mountain biking, surfing. Surfing was my main mission in Los Cabos. The small, strong waves of Acapulquito/Old Mans Break were perfect for beginner surfers, and could be found just across the street from Costa Azul surf shop.
One of my most amazing days was spent kayaking around El Arco, the dramatic rock arch that has become the most famous geographic landmark of Los Cabos. It was formed by the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean meeting the Sea of Cortez.
I found the best place to rent kayaks, snorkels and water-sport gear was from Cabo Acuadeportes, a beachfront adventure centre at Hacienda and Chileno beach, and walking distance from San Lucas.
With more activities than I could handle, I was happy to stumble across registered massage therapist Julian Ranjel cranking out massages under a canopy of the picture-perfect Chileno Beach. Julian has over 10 years of experience teaching massage in the United States and is licensed in seven different methods, and charges a fraction of the going rate.
Beware of highly priced/unqualified locals charging through the roof for massages.
Once out of San Lucas youll definitely need to know some Spanish. The Lonely Planet phrase book is well worth it; the locals really appreciate your efforts to converse in their language. The people here are extremely genuine and kindly; try to minimize your haggling, tip generously, and say "Hola" to the many strangers who will greet you. Here the Mexicans have great pride in their country, people and occupation. Zip any complaints you may have, and accept all services rendered with a smile.
Once youre here, youll understand the saying "when you discover Los Cabos, you rediscover yourself."
Getting there: Alaska Airlines usually has the best deals from Vancouver. www.alaskaair.ca
Where to stay: Los Cabos Tourism: www.visitloscabos.org, 1-866-LOS CABOS
Adventure Centre Bookings: Cabo Acuadeportes, www.cabowatersports.com
Getting around: local taxis are expensive, especially from the airport. Public buses and rental cars are a better option.