When the luxe-loving likes of Jennifer Aniston and Will Smith and Jada count somewhere as among their favourite holiday destinations, you know it comes with an uber-A-list stamp of approval. And tiny-fishing-village-turned-major-tourist-hotspot Cabo San Lucas (or Cabos to those in the know) boasts everything you could want from a holiday under the sun, and more.
But despite the influx of holidaymakers who flood in for high season from November to May, Cabos has managed to retain its fishing-village, small-town vibe, and you’re as likely to find quaint beachside diners where you can enjoy some of the fresh seafood the region is famous for, as you are full-on party boat cruises that appeal to the party person inside all of us who could break into a conga at any given time.
Into the blue
Located at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula in Baja California Sur, Mexico, Cabo has become renowned for it’s five-star and boutique resorts, gorgeous sandy beaches and plethora of watersports. And fishing enthusiasts have flocked for years to the area dubbed ‘Marlin alley’ to land themselves both a tasty catch of the day or an impressive trophy to mount over the mantelpiece.
A priority for most visitors to Cabos is to enjoy the big blue as much as possible, whether that’s on a chartered yacht, scuba-diving lesson, whale-watching tour or parasailing experience.
If you’d like to get up close and personal with the world’s biggest mammals, head to Cabos in the winter (December to March), when schools of grey whales make their annual 6,000-mile migration from Alaska to Cabo San Lucas, where they come to breed.
And you’re also likely to catch sight of humpbacks, sperm and blue whales, as well as orcas and Pacific bottlenose dolphins along the stunning Baja coast. But with the detrimental effects of tourism being felt a little too keenly in Cabos of late, make sure you take a licensed tour. Days out on the water, which include the chance to snorkel and dive, peer through glass-bottom boats, enjoy sunset and dinner cruises, as well as stop-offs to explore local cliffs and rock formations, can all be booked through your hotel concierge or along the sea front where the charter companies tout their trips.
Famed for its natural landmarks and weathered monuments, Cabos, which also used to serve as a gathering place for pirates to plunder passing Spanish treasure ships, is an ideal place to while away the hours meandering around. First on the stop-off list is Land’s End (or El Arco de Cabo San Lucas), which boasts breathtaking views and plenty of Kodak moments thanks to the clusters of impressive and jagged rock formations where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Here you’ll find colonies of sea lions at the rock islets of Los Frailes and, when the tide is low, you can walk along Playa del Amante (Lover’s Beach) to the famed eroded passageway, the Arch of Poseidon. And you’ll be following in the footsteps of literary luminary John Steinbeck, who famously wrote of the area, “The tip of the Cape at San Lucas, with the huge grey Friars standing up on the end, has behind the rocks a little beach which is a small boy’s dream of pirates… and this little beach must so have appealed to earlier men, for the names of pirates are still in the rock, and the pirate ships did dart out of here and did come back.”
The Church of San Lucas (Iglesia de San Lucas) is another must on your list. Dating back to 1730, if you’re in Cabos in December, make a note to visit the church on the 12th for the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which is celebrated with fairs, parades and fireworks. Finally, stop by the Cultural Centre (Casa de la Cultura), which is well worth the visit to enjoy the beautiful gardens and views across Cabos.
Hang out with the stars
When celebrities including Jessica Alba, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, George Clooney and Nicole Richie are in town, the first thing they do is hit up the high-end boutiques at The Shoppes in Palmilla, a hacienda-style shopping arcade filled with one-off and designer boutiques where the stars pick up quirky artworks and turquoise jewellery, as well as stop for a bite at one of the dinky cafes – with Nick-San a favourite of Christina Aguilera. Head down to the beach and keep a weathered eye on the horizon, as the surf lessons offered up have proved popular with the likes of Adam Sandler, a regular visitor to Cabos with his family. For outstanding spa treatments, book into the spa at Las Ventanas al Paraíso resort, where Jennifer Aniston and J-Lo entrust their million-dirham bods to the talented therapists, whilst you’re likely to spot uber-mogul Simon Cowell lunching al fresco at the poolside Sea Grill restaurant. Across the way at the One&Only Palmilla, make sure you enjoy dinner at Michelin-starred Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Market restaurant, which has hosted the A-list likes of Oprah and Hugh Jackman; or dine alongside supermodels at Cindy Crawford’s fave 12 Tribes restaurant at the Casa Dorado resort on Médano Beach.
Filmed there The Heartbreak Kid, Troy, The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants
Make like director James Cameron and head beneath the waves to experience Cabo’s famed marine life aboard the Cabo Submarine. Cruise up to eight foot under the waves in this air-conditioned semi-submersible and catch sight of parrot fish, groupers, sea lions and sea turtles.
Jazz On The Waves
Book a spot with your family aboard the 65-foot Tropicat catamaran, which will take you on a sunset cruise along the coast and out onto the Pacific. And what makes this cruise stand out from the others are the smooth jazz sounds and premium wines and hors d’oeuvres the crew pride themselves on serving up. Approx Dh210 for adults, children aged five-11 half-price.
Dine in your own lighthouse
For the ultimate in luxe privacy, book the single VIP table at the top of the 90-foot lighthouse at the No Worrys Bar & Grill. The food is home-style comfort nosh, the attitude super-chilled and the second-floor Lava Lounge the ultimate place to relax with drinks after dinner.
Budget: Fairfield Inn by Marriott Los Cabos
Forty-five minutes from the airport and located in central Cabo San Lucas, the modern Fairfield Inn is just 300 metres from the bustling Marina and a 10-minutes walk to the beach. Enjoy free Wi-Fi, iPod docking stations and flat-screen TVs in the rooms and a free American buffet breakfast of coffee, cereal, hot sandwiches and fruit
each morning. Rooms from Dh300 a night.
Mid-Range: ME By Melia Cabo
Step out of your room and onto the beach at the five-star ME, which boasts rooms from Dh500 per night. With large family-friendly swimming pools, acres of tropical gardens and poolside cabanas for hire, the hotel’s restaurant, The Passion Club, is a firm favourite, and there’s also an on-site nightclub at which to dance away into the small hours.
Luxury: Esperanza-An Auberge Resort
This is where LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian honeymooned, as well as Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow; and it’s also a fave of Will and Jada, who rent out a private villa. For dining options, choose between the seafood at Cocina Del Mar, light snacks at
El Bar, authentic Mexican and La Palapa and casual eats at La Teraza Americana. Plus, their spa was named the number one spa in Latin America by Travel & Leisure.
Fly to Los Angeles with Etihad (www.etihadairways.com). Then, from LAX it’s just a short hop on Alaskan Airlines to Cabo San Lucas (www.alaskaair.com).