Celebrities constantly post about Baja and Los Cabos resorts top every ‘Places to Go’ list. While all the media attention is alluring, these buzzy nicknames aren’t even on a map of Mexico. That’s part of the mystique, of course, which is why it took several visits before I could guide anyone else around Mexico’s wildly popular region of Los Cabos.
Orientation to Los Cabos
Many travelers who have heard of “Baja” don’t realize that the 1,000-mile-long Baja California peninsula is divided into two Mexican states. Baja California is the northern state next to the California border, best known for the towns of Tijuana, Ensenada and Mexicali.
Baja California Sur, the southern half of the peninsula, includes the towns of Loreto, La Paz, Todos Santos, San Jose del Cabo and the well-known party and deep-sea fishing resort of Cabo San Lucas. For the purposes of this story, we use the term Los Cabos Peninsula to refer to Baja California Sur. The Los Cabos International Airport is 20 minutes’ drive outside San Jose del Cabo.
Understanding The Different Los Cabos Resort Areas
The Los Cabos beaches face east to the Sea of Cortez (also called Gulf of California) and the Mexico mainland, or west to the Pacific Ocean. The water can be rough with very strong currents. At most San Jose resorts, the sandy strip is at the foot of steep palisades and hard to access.
Dozens of beachfront resorts line the Malecon, a coastal route heading southwest between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. Most are all-inclusive but some are budget-oriented condo style apartments. Some resorts have small beaches in protected coves where swimming is possible.
Land’s End, the tip of the peninsula in the heart of Cabo San Lucas, is home to Los Arcos, a natural arch cut into the rocks. Cruise ships dock and whales migrate where the Sea of Cortez and Pacific meet. The Cabo San Lucas port is busy, commercial and tacky. In the hills above, there are quiet neighborhoods and a Waldorf-Astoria resort.
About an hour’s drive north of Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos has more accessible beaches, but the Pacific Ocean currents are also very strong. The commercial town of La Paz is north of San Jose del Cabo on the east coast.
When To Visit Baja and The Los Cabos Region
The Los Cabos weather reflects its elevation, about 2,000 feet above sea level. It is classified as a subtropical desert climate and feels dry and warm most of the year. Daytime temperatures hover in the mid-80s except for the summer, when it can reach the mid-90s. Evenings are cooler, in the 70s most of year and dropping to the 60s in winter. Yes, it does rain in the fall, humidity rises and there are occasional hurricanes. December to March is considered the high season at the posh resorts. May to August is the high season at family and surfer resorts.
Despite the summer heat, people love the Los Cabos region. Keep in mind that visitors come to enjoy the sights and sandy beaches. This is not the place if you love ocean swimming, because the water is too rough and unpredictable for swimming.
How To Choose Your Perfect Baja And Los Cabos Resort
Families usually prefer beachfront hotels because they’re easy. Forgotten toys, a stash of mystery novels and even baby’s nap time are nearby when you need them. With older kids who enjoy swimming, good pools should be a consideration. Surfers have several hotel options catering to them with access to the region’s famous surf breaks.
There are many Los Cabos all-inclusive resorts where rates include alcohol, lots of on-site activities, a wide choice of restaurants and nightly entertainment. When traveling with small children, you probably won’t take advantage of all of it. On the other hand, all-inclusives are a great option for travel with teens. They will want to try new sports and can safely explore while parents relax on the beach or at the spa.
Baja And Los Cabos For Culture And Mexico Lovers
Culture lovers and fans of Mexican cuisine, art and traditional architecture will like the small Baja towns. Downtown San Jose is a great option for couples or those who want to explore the galleries, clothing and jewelry shops and fine international dining options. Cabo San Lucas is ideal for those who want to shop, enjoy cheap tacos, tequila shots and buzzy nightlife.
In 2022 and 2023, my family planned a destination wedding in San Jose del Cabo. We collected firsthand reports from relatives and explored the region in depth.
To learn more about the Los Cabos region, when to go and which towns are best for you, read on. For reviews of where to stay and great places to dine, please refer to our other local guides (below).
To discover more about magical San Jose del Cabo, its resorts and restaurants, please start with this guide.
Explore ever-popular Cabo and the top Cabos San Lucas resorts in this blog post.
To learn more about the small town of Todos Santos facing the Sea of Cortez, read our guide to the quieter side of Cabo. It’s actually a special, bucket list destination for adventures in nature.
Word to the Wise: Don’t Rent A Car In Baja And Los Cabos
My family would not recommend renting a car because it is an exhausting responsibility. There are five reasons we say this when traveling to Baja and Los Cabos resorts.
- It’s very hard to park in the historic part of San Jose del Cabo or the downtown marine area of Cabo San Lucas.
- Street signs are infrequent and night lighting is poor, so using a map is difficult.
- With our U.S. cellular account, the GPS signal went in and out depending on how close to town you were, which meant we often lost navigation directions.
- The locals basically drive down the middle of the roads — ignoring the lane markers – which can be dangerous.
- Ubers are everywhere and very inexpensive. They are fast, know their way around and average US$5-$8 for rides. Your biggest expense will be from the airport to downtown Cabo San Lucas (about 45 minutes with traffic) which costs about US$80.
We recommend you only rent a car if you are a larger group and want to explore widely in the Los Cabos region.
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