By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva-
We had seen numerous pictures of it, and we even saw it from a distance on a beach walk far across the bay. But as we paddled our kayaks out past the rock islands and the end of the cape and it came into view, we simply weren’t prepared for its beauty. We are speaking of El Arco, The Arch, Cabo San Lucas’ most recognizable landmark on Land’s End, the small strip of land at the very bottom of Baja California.
Although our kayak tour to Land’s End and its beautiful beaches and majestic rock formations was a major highlight of our recent visit to Los Cabos and the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, it was only one of many that made our Mexican escape so enjoyable.
We booked our kayak trip with Baja Outback and couldn’t have been more pleased with the experience and with the helpfulness of our guide Carlos. We set off from a beach at the mouth of the harbor to Cabo San Lucas and enjoyed our paddle out to El Arco, stopping along the way for Carlos’ informative explanations of the natural surroundings of the capes (“cabo” is Spanish for “cape”) of lower Baja where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean.
After paddling around the rock formations by El Arco (its shape suggests a drinking dragon), stopping frequently to marvel at the beauty of this area, we pulled our kayaks up on the beach and proceeded to explore. Playa del Amor (Lovers’ Beach) is a wonderful beach on the Sea of Cortez side of Land’s End with great views of the Bay of Cabo San Lucas. This beach was safe for swimming and snorkeling was fairly good, although you do have to be aware of the water taxi traffic.
Just a short walk across Lovers’ Beach takes you to the Pacific side and the “so-called” Divorce Beach, thus named because of the extremely rough surf at this beach. Swimming here is highly discouraged, but the stunning views are well worth the short walk. Baja Outback has a variety of adventure tours in addition to their kayak/snorkel tours, many of which can get you off the beaten path to experience some of Southern Baja’s most unique locations.
We also enjoyed a unique desert experience with another adventure company, Cabo Adventures. After a 4×4 off-road tour of the outback, we climbed atop camels for an unusual tour of a pristine beach, where we were able to spot gray whales swimming in the Pacific. The gray whales migrate to Southern Baja waters during the winter months.
Our afternoon finished with a delicious lunch of authentic Mexican cuisine and an informative and fun tequila tasting. Cabo Adventures also offers a variety of adventure tours as well as various dolphin experiences at their dolphin center located at the marina in Cabo San Lucas.
Los Cabos also offers numerous activities including great scuba diving, surfing, world-class golf, hiking, mountain biking, ATV off-roading, zip-lining, whale watch cruises (winter months), and some of the world’s best big-game fishing.
Where to stay?
If you’ve never been to Los Cabos, deciding where to stay can be a daunting task. Here are three recommendations of ours – each
resort having its own unique flavor. The Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar is located six miles outside of Cabo San Lucas on the tourist corridor. The Sheraton is an upscale, 28-acre resort set on a gorgeous, secluded beach. The traditional Mexican Hacienda décor – presented in the guestrooms, fountains and plazas, and the shops and cafes – lends an authentic grace to this resort.
With four stunning swimming pools, a first-class destination spa, idyllic beaches, an excellent fitness center, and a wonderful selection of dining options – two of which are rated Five Star Diamond – this resort is first-class. We enjoyed an exquisite dinner in De Cortez.
Golfers will get excited about the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course, ranked in the top 100 courses worldwide by Golf Magazine. The Sheratoon Adventure Kids’ Club is great for families; and everybody can join in the fun of the daily activities including water aerobics, Mexican bingo, tequila volleyball, and cooking and bartender classes. Those looking for a more quiet, upscale resort, one that is removed from the hustling pace of Cabo San Lucas, will find the Sheraton Hacienda a perfect fit.
Where the action is.
If you’re looking to be much closer to downtown Cabo San Lucas and all the action on Medano Beach, we recommend Villa del Arco. This five-star, family-friendly, all-suite resort has luxurious one, two, and three bedroom suites, many with full kitchens and spectacular views of the beach, the Sea of Cortez, and the beautiful El Arco rock formations. Two very large, beautifully sculptured swimming pools, one with a full-size Spanish galleon in the middle of it serving as a restaurant, offer great views of the beach and sea. The resort has two other excellent restaurants, where a table by the rail offers outstanding views of the bay and El Arco. A very well-equipped fitness center and spectacular spa complete the resort’s upscale feel.
Downtown Cabo San Lucas and the action on Medano Beach are an easy 15-minute walk from Villa del Arco. (Cabo doesn’t have the safety issues that many parts of Mexico have because it is so isolated and far from the U.S. border.) Medano, the main beach in Cabo San Lucas, is safe for swimming and attracts the crowds looking to party. A raucous line of beach bars and cantinas like The Office, Mango Deck, and Billygans, serve up traditional margaritas and buckets of beer, while the entertainment keeps the energy flowing.
You’ll find all the watersports rentals along this beach, such as waverunners, parasailing, kayaks, water skiing, snorkel and dive trips, and banana boat rides. Local peddlers offering T-shirts, hats, jewelry, henna tattoos, and just about anything you can imagine, flock to this beach, so anyone walking the beach or sitting in the seats nearest the surf has to be ready to repeat “No, gracias” time and time again.
A more tranquil choice
If you’re a golfer, or if being on the beach isn’t a priority, a third resort we liked is the Los Cabos Golf Resort. With traditional
colonial Mexican architecture and brickwork, this resort has a classic feel to it. Yet it is every bit a modern, updated resort with very well appointed villas. The bi-level pools and stone Jacuzzi, together with the ubiquitous flowering bougainvillea, present a tranquil, relaxing retreat. The pool gets a little busier later in the day when the golfers return and happy hour convenes. The resort has a good restaurant and entertainment a few nights a week.
The Los Cabos Golf Resort, which is just a few-minute taxi ride from downtown and Medano Beach, is more economically priced than the two resorts mentioned above, but the quality of the resort and accommodations are excellent. The golf course, carved out of the natural mountain and desert terrain, is a long and complex course and has some of the most affordable greens fees in the area.
If You Go:
– Sheraton Hacienda del Mar: Phone (52) (624) 145-8000; www.sheratonloscabos.com
– Villa del Arco: Phone (888)844-8169; www.villagroupresorts.com
– Los Cabos Golf Resort: (52) (624) 145-7100; www.golfincabo.com
– Cabo Adventures: (01) 800-365-2226; www.cabo-adventures.com
– Baja Outback: 1 (314) 754-8808; www.bajaoutback.com
– Great sources of information for activities, accommodations, etc: www.loscabosguide.com; www.visitloscabos.travel
Beaches to explore: Shipwreck Beach (Km 11 – through Cabo del Sol) – great snorkeling in tidal pools between the rocks. Santa Maria Beach (Km 12 – difficult to find) – beautiful, but secluded with no amenities. Chileno Bay (Km 10 – clearly marked signs) – great snorkeling, beautiful beach with secured parking area, tiled bathroom and shower, and palapas (grass umbrellas).
Fishing: Los Cabos is a mecca for sportsfishing, and fall is the best season for big game fish, but fishing is good most months. Marinas in Cabo San Lucas and San Juan del Cabo offer wide variety of charters. A license is required for all fishing – some charters include it in the price.
Shopping and Nightlife: Downtown Cabo San Lucas and the marina have numerous shops, restaurants and clubs to enjoy. San Jose del Cabo, much more tranquil than Cabo San Lucas, is a more traditional Mexican town with shopping and dining; you’ll find more art galleries there, but little night life.
Weather: Winter temperatures range between 54 and 78 degrees, and there is only a 5% chance of having a cloudy day. Summer temperatures are between 73 and 93 degrees.