I’ve been to Los Cabos, Mexico prior to this trip; however, I spent my time in Cabo San Lucas in the midst of all the fun, yet, often overwhelming chaos of beachfront bars, international cuisine, and overpriced touristy stores. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolute blast and I’m sure I will go back to Cabo San Lucas plenty of times in the future. Honestly, prior to planning this trip, albeit only two weeks before we left, I had no idea that “Los Cabos,” or “Cabo” as many people know it, was made up of two major cities, not just the Cabo everyone thinks of for spring break destinations. It consists of both Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.
Download this city guide (with GPS maps) on your smartphone here to have it handy for your trip!
This trip, Joe and I were looking for something a bit more peaceful, quiet, and relaxing. One of our friends suggested San Jose del Cabo, and we were easily sold, as it’s a relatively quick and inexpensive trip from SFO with plenty of direct flights. We stayed in the Zona Hotelera district, which is a strip of resorts directly on the beach. All of these resorts have the all-inclusive option. Joe and I decided to just do the all-inclusive beverages since we’re foodies and love to venture out and explore the different restaurants and local joints when we travel.
The beaches in this area are absolutely amazing and groomed to perfection. With the white sand and turquoise water in sight, its surprisingly rare to find that it looks very deserted since many of the visitors stay up on the private beach areas belonging to their respective resort. The currents are stronger in San José, so you won’t find as many swimmers, but there are plenty of beaches around that are suitable for swimming and surfing. We had a blast body surfing on the beach directly in front of our resort. Most of the resorts also have awesome swim up bars, outdoor restaurants, and beach side massages.
Getting around San José was really easy. You can walk to plenty of restaurants from the resorts in under 10 minutes and to the downtown area of San José del Cabo in 30 minutes. It’s a really nice walk alongside a golf course and street lined with tall palm trees the entire way. You can also grab a taxi for ~$8 USD to the downtown area and can easily hail one on the main strip. The local transportation is relatively simple too, and takes only a couple more minutes than a taxi. They call their buses “Urbanos” and it’s actually a really fun experience to take them, as they are converted school buses. Each with their own charm, some had colorful lights on the inside or vibrant music. The Urbano only costs ~$1 USD to ride and takes about 5 minutes to get you downtown.
The downtown area of San José consists of a plaza in front of La Mision de San José del Cabo Anuiti (one of the famous catholic missions) and about a 3x3 block radius of a variety of restaurants, art galleries, bars, and gift shops. I was very surprised by how beautiful and trendy this area was. Many of the buildings were painted bright colors, giving the district a quaint and charming appeal. There were some really amazing restaurants here too, which, to my surprise, had a very hipster and trendy ambiance to them. We heard from many locals that we encountered that the food in San José is much more authentic and less expensive as it’s not as touristy as it’s Cabo San Lucas counterpart. I definitely agree with this. It’s a great mix of upscale restaurants, local favorites, and authentic outdoor food carts. Joe and I love to try a mix of all of these types of food when we travel, so it was perfect.
We also went to an amazing ten-acre organic farm off-the-beaten path a few miles east of San José called Flora Farms because my friend Chloe recommended it to me. THIS PLACE IS AMAZING. It’s the cutest little farm area with an industrial and trendy ambiance. For food and drink options, there is an incredible restaurant, a pizza bar, and a cocktail bar. The food here is all organic and it’s a unique experience because where you eat is literally directly next to the farm on which they grow it. Not only is all the food grown there, but all the construction, woodwork, steelwork, handmade soaps, oils, etc., is also done by workers on site. There are also various little shops and stores on the property ranging from wine bars, to clothing, to jewelry, art and handmade goods. You can easily spend an entire day here, as they have tours of the property, a spa, cooking classes, and more. The restaurant was ranked #3 of places to eat in all of San José. If you do decide to eat here, make sure to make a reservation online as it fills up quickly. (Note: it’s not open on Sunday evening or at all on Mondays.) Getting here is the only part that is a pain. If you didn’t rent a car (like us), your only option is to take a taxi, which costs about $25 USD each way. It’s a bumpy ride since half of the drive is on a dirt road!
You’re also able to get to Cabo San Lucas relatively easy if you want to visit for a day or at night for the well-known nightlife scene. Of course a taxi can take you there, but there are some less expensive ways to arrive as well. We chose to take a tour bus there as we purchased a kayaking and snorkeling excursion to The Arch and Lovers’ Beach. Since we decided to stay the entire day, and not go back on the tour bus, we took the local bus back. The bus costs about ~$3 USD per person and takes about 40 minutes. A cab would take about 30 minutes, so you’re able to save a lot of money without much added time.
Spending your time in San José is perfect for a low-key, quiet, and most importantly, relaxing vacation. It’s a great spot for couples or families! I’ll definitely be heading back to this area next time I want to visit Cabo!
My San José del Cabo To-Do List
download it here!
Things to do:
-Kayak, snorkel, SUP tours to Cabo San Lucas (we used Baja Outback)
-Zip line in Wild Canyon
-Take surf lessons
-Explore the mission and the downtown area
-Do the Art Walk in the Gallery District downtown
-Get a massage on the beach
-Visit Flora Farms
Restaurants and Bars:
-Tropicana $$$ (Upscale ambiance with outdoor patio seating and amazing Mexican food.)
-La Lupita Tacos y Mezcal $$ (Amazing tacos and cute ambiance. Great for lunch or dinner.)
-Flora Farms $$ (See blog post for more info about the farm and restaurant. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.)
-Don Sanchez Restaurante $$$ (Upscale contemporary Mexican restaurant with a really cool patio that’s decorated so cute. The food is amazing here, and reminds me of a type of restaurant that would be in San Francisco.)
-The View $$ (Great for a drink overlooking the mission at sunset.)
-Lugareño Café $$ (A cute little breakfast and lunch café with yummy food and a view of the ocean.) $
-French Riviera Bakery (Stop by for a fresh and sweet treat!) $
-Churro and Tamales Street Carts $ (Located on one of the corners of the main plaza downtown, they are dirt cheap and so yummy!)
-La Michoacana $ (A cute little gelato and ice cream shop with a variety of cool looking gelato popsicles or cones to go.)
If you’re spending a day in Cabo San Lucas, check out Los Claros for fresh and cheap tacos. It was recommended by our tour guides as where the locals eat! Also check out Monkey Business. The owner, Victor, is friends with my aunt and uncle and the bar is known for their world famous (and HUGE) margaritas!