At first glance, Cabo has become so developed it can feel a bit like Miami Beach. There are definitely many sides to Cabo- from the "party til you drop" bachelor(ette) scene to the vacation mecca for families from the West. It is a great place for surfers and golfers or both. The downside is many of the beaches are too rough to be swimmable, but there are plenty of other outdoor activities. And who can argue with great Mexican food, fresh-off-the-boat seafood and amazing tequila drinks?
For surfers, the vibe at the Cabo Surf Hotel is my favorite. The rooms are nice, the food is good, and the surfers are pretty chill guests. It is not eye-poppingly expensive like many of the other hotels. Old Mans, Zippers and the Rock are right out front, and the Mike Doyle Surf School has lessons and rentals in-house. The margaritas and tacos with a view of the surf breaks are off the hook!
One&Only Palmilla is just down the beach from the Cabo Surf Hotel. It is one of the grand dames of Cabo — a five-star option with great restaurants and shops, a fantastic beach club, all sorts of watersports, and one of the few swimmable beaches on property. Tropic Surf is in-house for surfing here, and the golf course is highly rated. The villas are spectacular for a very special occasion (that comes with a large price tag).
At Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts, the vibe is pure fun and family luxury... The food is excellent, and the pool scene offers beach volleyball and other games. There is a great hotel shop. The rooms are big and offer all of the amenities. Very few of them are on the ocean, so the views are not as majestic as at some other hotels.
The Cape, A Thompson Hotel is a superb option if traveling solo, as a couple or as a group of adults, but I don't recommend it for families. The pool scene is fun for sunbathers— lots of pool beds and floating drinks in the pool. There is a lively rooftop with live music, tasty drinks and apps every night. I would leave to surf early every morning, and they would have breakfast and my signature iced tea to-go waiting for me at the lobby desk at the crack of dawn. You can have a seaside massage overlooking the Monuments surf break. It is not as expensive as some of the other options but still offers all the amenities. The rooms are spacious and offer views of the arch and Monuments.
From May to November, spots in Cabo San Lucas, Cabo San Jose and the East cape are more likely to light up. Pay attention to surf reports because it can get pretty big during this part of the season. The water is generally warm, but you may want a shorty or a jacket if surfing in the early hours. The waves at this time of year are fun. With heavier crowds in town, you may want to take a journey to the East Cape. The waves can get big, and some spots are more technical than others, so do your research. You might even find yourself surfing with a humpback whale playing in the background. Bring some spare carrots or crackers for the hungry locals (see below).
From November to April, Cerritos and Pacific side waves are where it's at. I have not surfed these yet, but I visited them while they were flat just to see what the beaches were like. Cool points and beachys with fun little bars and beach scenes. I can't wait to get back and surf them.
The Wanderist, Matt Lindsay, is one of the best and easiest guys around.
"Mexican Pipeline" Miguel at Mike Doyle Surf School is a LEGEND- when you know you know.
Tropic Surf has a top-notch operation at Palmilla, but does surf trips all over Cabo.
On the Water
Around Cabo, depending on the season, there is a ton of large marine activity. Whale watching season brings humpbacks. There are colonies of sea lions amongst whom you can snorkel on the arch in the bay. The Mobula ray migration is a sight to behold.
There are plenty of other great dives and snorkeling spots right in Cabo San Lucas. If you want to adventure a little north, Cabo Pulmo is a marine park that offers the best Mexico has to offer in terms of diving. You can also venture a few hours to whale sharks from October to May in La Paz.
With big marine life comes deep sea fishing. World-class Marlin contests are held here every year as it is a playground for sport fishermen. It is also a playground for leisurely or party cruises. Day boating is quite popular in Cabo.
Cabo is a golfer's paradise with over 18 world-class courses to play designed by the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicholaus, Pete Dye, etc. The ones mentioned most often are Palmilla Golf Club, Quivira Golf Club, Cabo Del Sol, Querencia, Cabo San Lucas Country Club, Diamante Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos Golf Resort, to name a few. Bring lots of balls, because you will lose them. You will also encounter balls out of bounds sitting ever so close to the course, and you might be tempted to step out and grab them — until you see the signs with the rattlesnakes on them. I was not particularly scared and collected a ton of balls, thanks to those who were!
There are lots of opportunities for the typical Dune Buggy Tours, ATV Tours and Horseback Riding. Word of caution here — they are often off of the beaten path, and you are in a foreign country with limited medical care. Also, note that it's best to do the horse tours early or before sunset, or you will find yourself thirsty and sunburned on a horse that should not be forced to carry you around at that hour.
Eat & Drink
Acre is a hotel on the outskirts of Cabo San Jose that has treehouses for guest rooms. It also has a great farm-to-table restaurant with craft cocktails that is good for lunch, drinks or dinner. If you go for lunch with the family, they have a farm, complete with a pen full of puppies for the holding.
Flora Farms is a crowd-pleaser. The watermelon hibiscus margarita and bacon pizza are what dreams are made of. It is the perfect early lunch spot to follow up an East Cape dawn patrol. There is always live music — jazzy and light by day and more energetic at night, and the Surfers Band is a local favorite. It is also a great place for a special occasion, large or small, with lots of party spaces.
La Lupita in old Cabo San Lucas has a very casual, fun scene and tasty tacos, drinks and live music. It is hard to get a reservation, so plan ahead.
As far as hotels restaurants go — Cabo Surf (best tacos), Las Ventanas (best guacamole), El Pedregal (best photo ops and dramatic sea views), Cape Hotel Roof (more light bites), and Chileno Bay and the Viceroy Rooftop (best Insta ops and people watching) stand apart.
For traditional Mexican, Edith's and Mi Casa are two standouts. They cater to the tourist crown with Mariachis, music and a fresh take on typical Mexican fare. They both serve great margaritas, and the atmosphere feels a little more upscale. The decor is fab. Beware the large margaritas at Edith's!
Sushi in Cabo is FRESH and worth checking out. There is a Nobu, which is always solid, but plenty of other more local spots.
The Office is a great beachy, boozy lunch if you want a fun party vibe but are not up for the strip. Take a walk down the beach to get a taste of the party vibe (you can swim and jetski here)- it is just enough to feel it and then step away.
Visit the East Cape soon before it gets too developed!