While a celebrity sighting may elude you, the across-the-board hospitality of Cabo San Lucas will hit the spot
It’s a refrain we all know so well, the soundtrack to our lives: the wispy beats of house music. As the rhythm made its way into my brain, I made my way to the reception desk at ME Cabo by Mélia in Cabo San Lucas and checked in for a few days of fun. Looking through the lobby toward the beach, I quickly spotted the source of the tunes: a white-clad DJ at the side of the pool, playing to loungers at Nikki Beach—a chain of beach clubs at the toniest addresses around the world. So I knew I was in for some prime people-watching.
I was right. Women in swimsuits and heels, deep tans, lots of V-shaped backs propping up the swim-up bar and more abs than I could comfortably count without getting caught—I mean, I think I saw an eight-pack. Party central or soothing sanctuary? A bit of both, actually—thankfully. This little enclave on Medano Beach is a nice mix of those looking to ignore their neighbours completely and those hoping to meet their neighbours in the hot tub.
In my wanderings ocean-side and through this little town of 70,000, I had one eye on the funny pelicans and the other on the hunt for a celebrity sighting. Who would it be?
Heralded as Hollywood’s backyard, a mere two-hour flight from LAX, Los Cabos is the region at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula, comprised of two towns a half hour apart—San José del Cabo (Old Town) and Cabo San Lucas (Main Town). It’s one of those places where you wonder why the airport is so far away from your hotel (up to an hour). Sadly, the area’s planners predicted that the more colonial San José would be the major centre, as Cabo San Lucas was just a little fishing village at the time. When everybody decided that the fishing village was the most peaceful and quaint, tucked in at the end of the rocks near the famous arch (Los Arcos), popularity shifted, and the major construction and even more major yachts along with it. Today, the stretch between the two towns (The Corridor) is gradually seeing new builds—resorts and golf courses—but not so many as to spoil the vibe: this is the country after all—a calm, quiet desert, and that’s not about to change anytime soon.
Medano Beach is like a region within a region on Cabo San Lucas Bay, protected slightly from the often turbulent waters where the Gulf of California (a.k.a. the Sea of Cortez) meets the Pacific Ocean at Land’s End. It even has its own website (medanobeachcabo.com.mx) to promote the hotels, restaurants and activities within walking distance of the town centre and the busy marina, which is home to everything from modest glass-bottomed taxi-boats to luxury cruisers. Everyone gets along: one of the yacht clubs is a neighbour of Hooters.
Grab one of the aforementioned little boats to take you to Lover’s Beach, the little snorkelling and diving strip on the bay side of Land’s End. From there, you can walk the short way to the completely un-swimmable Divorce Beach on the Pacific side, which lays claim to being one of the filming locations for 1968’s Planet of the Apes. The rock formations do indeed make it look other-worldly.
March is perhaps the best time to visit, because the high season is over, so the tourists abate somewhat, the weather is still good and, most important, the whale-watching is fantastic. Baby calves, dolphins, the works. As with everywhere in the entire world, try to avoid spring break. Party-hard students are bad enough, but students with money are total torture.
Did I see Jennifer Aniston? No. Nicole Richie and Christina Aguilera shopping for handbags? Nu-uh. Tiger Woods teeing up? Bupkis. Though I never gained celebrity-sighting status, I was tickled that this little resort town walks the fine line between regal and rustic. And after my rejuvenating time inside the velvet rope, I headed for the airport, the house music ringing softly in my head all the way home.
The 150-room ME Cabo (mebymelia.com) thrives on the Nikki Beach atmosphere it painstakingly works to maintain, and manages to avoid the level of cheese you could possibly be envisioning; no small feat. The hotel’s Tequila Fusion Restaurant is aptly named: tequila is infused into every dish—thankfully, not at breakfast. And unless Jennifer Lopez or Cameron Diaz are dragging you to The Spa at Las Ventanas al Paraiso for a facial, head to Yhi Spa for a superb 90-minute massage that will knock you flat.
Perhaps you can swing even one night at Esperanza (esperanzaresort.com)? If that’s in the budget, go for it. Both Fergie and Gwyneth Paltrow have hung their heads over this infinity pool, likely in really nice swimsuits.
For something a bit closer to the action, The Bahia Beach Club & Resort (bahiacabo.mx) gets excellent Trip Advisor reviews, as does its busy restaurant, Bar Esquina.
Many people will ask if you want to go for a boat ride. Unless it’s George Clooney (who favours the El Dorado Golf and Beach Club), say you’re already spoken for at Ocean Riders (oceanriders.com.mx), which runs those zippy zodiacs with the yellow seats. Part amusement ride, part snorkelling tour, their beach-hopping afternoon winds up on a floating restaurant, with tunes and suds. Perfect.
The extremely inviting Lorenzillo’s Oyster Bar (lorenzillos.com.mx/cabos) makes a perfect pre-dinner pit stop, marina-side right in front of their Lobster House.
Edith’s (edithscabo.com) is the best restaurant in town—steak and seafood, regional flavour, a fusion of Baja and Guerreran cuisine. Edith, by the way, started working there at age 15 as a waiter. Now she owns the place and named it after herself in 1994. The sister restaurant, The Office, opens at 7am for breakfast, and stays open ‘til late—colourful, fun and at the water’s edge. (theofficeonthebeach.com)
Reserve a table at Hacienda Cocina y Cantina (haciendacocina.com) at the Hacienda Beach Club & Residences for full-on Mexican dishes from a variety of different regions. This place has an amazing view in the daytime and at night, you can dine right on the beach.
You being you, you will hit the many markets and outdoor shopping plazas for local art, silver and trinkets. But don’t go in the morning, as prices will be higher than they will be if you wait for mid-afternoon or later.
This town puts paid to the rumour that you have to go to Tijuana to experience serious clubbing. Pffft. Passion at ME Cabo is the best game in town on the weekend—locals, tourists, plus the odd celebrity if you look really hard. Bring the good shoes.
Pink Kitty (thepinkkittycabo.com) near the marina has its exotic eel skin banquettes and tons of Italian blown glass—super chic.
And Cabo Wabo Cantina (cabowabocantina.com, you knew former Van Halenite, Sammy Hagar was going to end up somewhere here, didn’t you?) is hot for live music .