After a ten year hiatus from going to Mexico (because of the raging drug wars), we just returned from Cabo San Lucas, Bahia, Mexico, vacationing there for 8 days. Having never ventured to the Baja, I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was something very close to what I consider my own personal paradise. It was sheer Heaven On Earth. We felt incredibly safe the entire time... at the hotel and in town. Apparently, there isn't much cartel presence on the Baja. Other Mexican beach destinations are still considered to be unsafe, so we decided it was time to experience Cabo.
I researched the popular Baja, Mexico vacation destination for almost a month before we left because there is a lot to know before you go. I wondered if Cabo was better than San Jose' (where the airport is) and what exactly the differences might be. As it turns out, both places are fantastic but do offer different Baja experiences. Cabo is a party town, with their hotels offering mostly All-Inclusive options that often turn into parties. There are endless bachelor & bachelorette parties to set the mood and are often quite entertaining.
On the other hand, San Jose' offers nicer restaurants, culture galore, museums, art galleries, and higher end souvenirs. San Jose del Cabo tends to attract the older crowd, while Cabo San Lucas mostly caters to the younger generation. Who wants to sit around watching other old people? Certainly not us. There are fewer All-Inclusive hotels to choose from as well. Needless to say, we chose Cabo. We like to watch people and Cabo was the place for that. This was the morning view from our room.
The first day we arrived we merely settled in. We walked around the massive Riu Santa Fe property and marveled at how so many people could be attended to and fed, all at once? Later I made an appointment to get my hair trimmed and reserved time for a couple's massage on the beach the next day. We weren't disappointed in any way. Listening to the crashing waves while getting a massage was quite a treat. And, my haircut is so cute I might have to go back, just for that.
One of the first things we learned is that you can't really swim in the ocean, at any of the Cabo hotels that are on the beach. First of all, there is a deadly strong undercurrent that has taken many lives of those who didn't believe. It was fine with me. These toes don't go into the ocean under any circumstances anyway. Second, the waves break right up against the beach and their force is powerful and scary. They could pull you out and under in the blink of an eye. Especially an old fart.
At our hotel, the Riu Santa Fe, it was rather a drop off from the hotel beach to the water which meant there were only lounges on the upper hotel part of the beach. There was also a lifeguard to keep people out of the water. It looked like a full time job to me. Interestingly, I discovered that the beaches are made of ground up granite, which is plentiful all around Cabo. The famous Land's End mountains and The Arch are also made of granite. In the following picture you can just barely see the yellow flag out, which means you can swim that day in the ocean as well as take water taxis to town. After the first day, we only saw red flags, meaning no one was allowed into the ocean.
Did you know they legalized pot in Mexico? I had no idea. It is now legal to possess no more than 25 grams, which I assume is around two cigarettes worth. We saw them selling it down on the beach in front of the hotel, even though they appeared to be discreet about their business. Our friends had to point it out to us since we just thought they were with the other vendors selling Cuban cigars and silver jewelry. Ha. What a couple of old farts we are. From what I understand, this *decriminalization* of marijuana is Mexico's attempt to curb the cartel activity. Good luck with that.
As far as the All-Inclusive goes, we like it for the free liquor 24 hours per day (you never know when the urge to have a shot of tequila will strike, right? HA!), the breakfast and the lunch. We always find the a la carte restaurants (only open for dinner) to be below our culinary standards (yes, we're food snobs), so we opted to take a taxi into town for some really delicious meals. We liked Alexander's so much that we returned three nights in a row. Personally, I think all of the food in Mexico has a *funny* taste so a trip to the beach in Mexico is always akin to staying at a spa for me. I always lose a few pounds. Bonus. I'd probably lose more if they didn't have bottles of liquor in every room and a fridge full of cervesa to boot.
At the hotel I had lovely spinach/mushroom omelets, bacon, fresh fruit and homemade bread every day for breakfast, with guacamole, pico de gayo and chips for lunch. What else could anyone possibly want? Believe me, our hotel had it all. The buffets were stunning with their array of offerings. Like any buffet, it was wisest to arrive early for the freshest goodies. Breakfast was my favorite but not if it had been sitting under the heat lamps for any period of time. Oddly, Mexicans don't like spicy hot food so when I asked for jalapenos, I was given sliced, canned ones. Made me kind of laugh. No fresh peppers to be had anywhere! In Mexico. Go figure. I think it's a regional thing because my roommate at boarding school was from Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico and her parents used to send her cases of spicy hot goodies in different forms. That was where my pallet discovered an attraction to the provocative hot pepper (the hotter the better).
Stay tuned for the rest of the story in a few days....