Los Cabos Travel Guide: What to Do in This Luxury-Focused Resort Town

A party-hardy beach town to some, this gem on the Baja California peninsula is also a sophisticated celebrity hangout where Sandra Bullock and Robert De Niro go for a luxury getaway.

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February 03, 2020
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Photo By: Los Cabos Tourism Board

Photo By: JW Marriott

Photo By: JW Marriott

Photo By: Paradisus Los Cabos

Photo By: Paradisus Los Cabos

Photo By: Los Tres Gallos

Photo By: Sunset MonaLisa

Photo By: Los Cabos

Photo By: Maureen M. Evans

Photo By: Courtesy of The Cape

Photo By: San Jose

Photo By: Los Tamarindos

Photo By: Cabo Adventures

Photo By: Garza Blanca Resort

Photo By: Los Cabos

Photo By: Jazamango

Los Cabos, Mexico

There's a reason Los Cabos, on Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, has become a celebrity magnet for the likes of Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, Oprah and the Bieb. Its proximity to Los Angeles for one, at only a 2-hour plane ride away. But add in internationally renowned restaurants featuring everything from farm to table fare at Tamarindos to the kind of elevated cuisine at Gastro Bar you'd find in New York or Paris, gorgeous beaches and a chill-but-sophisticated vibe, and you have the makings for not just a movie star paradise, but anyone's vacation dreams.

JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort and Spa

Where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean on the Tourist Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo is lined with gated resorts, each more beautiful than the next. But there is something special about JW Marriott Los Cabos which manages to balance intimacy and glamor with its iconic design by Jim Olson from Olson Kundig in collaboration with Mexico City-based design firm IDEA Asociados. Built to blur the line between inside and out especially in its striking open-air lobby and six swimming pools, and to embrace the local land, sky and incredible desert foliage of Los Cabos, the resort debuted in 2015 but feels timeless. The design of the 229 guest rooms and suites blends seamlessly with the landscape and features remarkable sight lines that often end in a striking piece of contemporary art. The international art collection incorporated into the design is a marvel of its own with painting and sculpture from artists in Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland and Cuba mixed in with work by local artisans in the guest rooms. Rooms are spacious and contemporary in feel and integrate works by Mexican artisans. There is a beautiful spa on site that offers an ancient temazcal sweat-lodge experience as well as award-winning Chef Thierry Blouet's renowned Café des Artistes though for my money, the incredible breakfast buffet featuring both Mexican treats (like fresh guacamole and made-to-order quesadillas with an array of local fillings) and European pastries was worth the stay alone.

BOOK NOW: JW Marriott Los Cabos | Hotels.com, $297/per night

Memorable Art in Place

A striking feature of the JW Marriott Los Cabos is its striking architecture combined with incredible contemporary artwork. The international art collection incorporated into the design is a marvel of its own with painting and sculpture from artists in Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland and Cuba mixed in with work by local artisans in the guest rooms. Shown here, Spanish artist Jaume Plensa's "Soul XII," which beckons guests with its dramatic, sea-facing placement.

BOOK NOW: JW Marriott Los Cabos | Hotels.com, $297/per night

Destination Dining

A jewel box located within the Paradisus resort, Gastro Bar is definitely worth a trip whether you are staying at the resort or simply looking for an unforgettable dining experience. The (recommended) tasting menu melds European haute cuisine with the flavors of Mexico. The restaurant embraces its surroundings and offers an incredible array of wonderful Mexican wines that you aren't likely to find outside of Mexico including a delicious chardonnay and shiraz along with French and Italian picks. Settle in for a long, enjoyable evening of surprises, because the skilled chefs and wait staff take their time, allowing guests to indulge in that rarest of things in the modern world: a slow, contemplative, thrilling appreciation of ingredients, technique and presentation. The menu features a surprising array of tastes and textures, including an egg with a liquid herb salad that is a characteristically surprising combination of savory, herbacious flavor and silky texture. Nothing is expected, from the lobster ravioli with coffee foam to the jalapeno foam, black garlic ice cream, cucumber mayonnaise and cod fritter that our waiter offers careful instructions on how to taste and experience. What might feel stuffy in another high-end restaurant feels like an communal adventure at Gastro Bar, informed by the gentle guidance offered by the enthusiastic, attentive sommelier and wait staff. In other words, don't miss it.

BOOK NOW: Paradisus Los Cabos | Hotels.com, $503/per night, all inclusive

Paradisus Los Cabos

A luxury beachfront resort on the Sea of Cortez that incorporates some of Los Cabos' burgeoning sustainability efforts (the property even has its own sustainability manager), the stunning Paradisus features a program where hotel guests can observe and interact (with careful supervision) with a nesting colony for three species of turtles that the resort maintains to support endangered turtles. The resort also supports the local economy by regularly featuring area entertainers and hosting local artisans who sell their goods on property. The all-inclusive resort features seven on-site restaurants, but worth the trip even if you aren't staying at Paradisus is Gastro Bar, a singular gastronomic experience.

BOOK NOW: Paradisus Los Cabos | Hotels.com, $503/per night, all inclusive

Los Tres Gallos

If you're craving something hyper-authentic, local and chock full of charm, look no further than this downtown Los Cabos restaurant with a lovely, festive feel and some of the best food you are apt to find. The restaurant features an extensive mezcal and tequila selection and enough spirits knowledge to steer you toward something you'll love. Homemade tortillas, probably the best chili rellenos you'll have in Los Cabos, incredible guacamole, powerhouse mole, Mexican coffee even this tea drinker loved and a magical, welcoming vibe makes Los Tres Gallos as idea for families as it is for couples. Los Tres Gallos will make you feel like you've experienced the true heart of Mexico: deeply hospitable, warm, creative and full of life. If you are the type who cringes when you see strolling musicians headed your way, don't. The unbelievably talented troubadours here know everything from Sinatra to grunge and only add to the restaurant's winning, special spirit.

Instagram Heaven

The stunning restaurant Sunset MonaLisa features a whitewashed patio and spectacular ocean views that will make you feel like you are on a Greek island. Offering a view of Los Cabos' famous Arch and natch — breathtaking sunsets — this one-of-a-kind spot features Mediterranean cuisine from chef Jacob Ramos including pasta and seafood.

Art About Town

The resort town of San José del Cabo located close to several resorts including the JW Marriott Los Cabos may be small, but it's loaded with incredible artisanal and art treasures. Each Thursday night the town hosts an art walk where you can get acquainted with the variety of work on offer, from contemporary photography to folksy handicrafts and hip, DIY T-shirts and home goods. You'll forget you're in a quaint Mexican seaside town at one of San José del Cabo's most notable shops, Caravane. This combination gallery and concept store brings a savvy design sensibility (the owner is an interior designer) to its curated home pieces, locally-made perfumes and refined Mexican crafts and artworks.

Rock Star Chef

Chef Enrico Olvera is an international food celebrity with destination-restaurants around the globe so renowned foodie types travel to sample them. From Pujol in his native Mexico City — ranked the number 13 restaurant in the world — to New York City hot spot Cosme, Olvera's restaurants have redefined Mexican food, bringing a thoughtful, reverent treatment to the populist cuisine of his native Mexico. But fans of his haute approach to Mexican cuisine won't want to miss the lovely Manta the signature restaurant in the uber-cool boutique hotel The Cape, a Thompson Hotel with a surfer-cool, open lobby vibe you can soak in as you proceed to Manta in the rear of the space. Notable for not just top-notch food, but a broad selection of natural wines and a stunning setting with floor to ceiling windows that let the light and ocean in, Manta boasts one of the best views in Los Cabos. Manta naturally takes its cue from the churning surf below, and blends a seafood-forward menu with a nod to Asia. Rice “chicharrones,” are a luscious, fun start to a meal that embraces the freshest imaginable ceviche, sashimi and octopus and supplemented with Mexican flavors of chorizo, avocado, habanero and corn to create a memorable fusion of the freshest flavors of East and West. A tasting menu offers a sampling of Olvera's exceedingly creative menu. Waiters are hyper-knowledgable and deeply personable and the vibe of the space is warm, funky and built for a long, luxurious evening.

BOOK NOW: The Cape, a Thompson Hotel | Hotels.com, $474/per night

Raise the Roof

Toast the sunset (and the occasional fireworks display — be sure to ask your hotel’s concierge if a show is planned during your stay) high above the beach on The Rooftop, a bar and lounge perched atop The Cape (a sleek midcentury-inspired hotel). Settle in for a DJ set with a local beer or a Bitter Piña (dark and light rum, pineapple, passionfruit purée, coconut and Angostura bitters) from mixologist Hector Ramirez.

BOOK NOW: The Cape, a Thompson Hotel | Hotels.com, $474/per night

San José del Cabo

The charming town of San José del Cabo is filled with galleries and artisanal shops featuring a surprisingly sophisticated mix of indie goods, handmade housewares, beauty products and clothing. The town features colonial buildings and the San José missionary church (shown here) which faces Plaza Mijares where local artists often sell their original art.

Los Tamarindos

Los Cabos is home to a number of farms that incorporate cooking lessons, restaurants and other activities into their programs. Flora Farms is one, but locals say the program at Los Tamarindos feels more authentically Mexican. With advance reservations guests can enjoy a cooking class at a long communal table where they work with local produce to create unique recipes. A dinner or lunch follows, featuring some of those recipes. The farm also hosts weddings and farm dinners and dining options if you want to just stop by for a meal in a gorgeous setting.

Camels in Mexico?

While none of it makes sense in the middle of Mexico, the local tour company that dominates Los Cabos' many activities, Cabo Adventures offers a very novel hybrid-adventure involving a camel ride, a guided tour of local plants, a tequila and mezcal tasting and a homemade lunch, all rolled into one half-day Outback and Camel Ride Safari experience. More jaded, sophisticated tourists may balk at the touristy-vibe of the camel ride (which includes photos with the camels you can purchase after your ride), but the tequila and mezcal tasting with charismatic, knowledgable Mexican guides is a great communal activity. And kids will probably love the chance to commune with the lovable camels. A bonus: Cabo Adventures offers round trip transportation in an air-conditioned van from most hotels in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.

Garza Blanca Resort & Spa Los Cabos

Debuted in 2019, this all-inclusive resort designed to be family-friendly with most rooms featuring pull-out sofa beds and kitchens, Garza Blanca is another sparkling, luxury gem with attentive, friendly staff and incredible service halfway between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Part of the luxury-hotel boon that has overtaken Los Cabos in the past few years, Garza Blanca also features hyper-modern restrooms with Toto toilets and glam ballrooms if an upcoming event is in the cards.

BOOK NOW: Garza Blanca Los Cabos | Hotels.com, $736 per night/all-inclusive

Todos Santos

An hour north of Los Cabos, the artsy, under-the-radar (for now) town of Todos Santos is a hub of art, creativity, surfing and culture including a Hotel California name-checked in an Eagles song that draws tourists like flies to honey, plenty of galleries and a gorgeous 18th century church. Home to Texas-based Bunkhouse group's Instagram-hip Hotel San Cristobal, one of the more under-the-radar local treasures is the indie art gallery La Sonrisa de la Muerte, filled with original — and affordable — contemporary prints from Mexican and South American artists. There are also cool T-shirts with Mexico-inspired graphics that make great souvenirs. The paradisiacal farm to table restaurant Jazamango close to downtown is a chance to linger over sustainably sourced food in a gorgeous setting.

Jazamango

Farm-to-table food in a lush, garden setting, the Todos Santos restaurant Jazamango feels like eating in the garden of Eden with the beautiful landscape laid out before you. A wood-grilled oven means you can enjoy sea-meets-sand chocolate clams grilled in butter and green chili or wood-grilled oysters. Pastas and pizzas as well as grilled tacos, grilled octopus and chili relleno campirano play the field between familiar comfort food and local delicacies. There is an on-site shop to pick up some locally made foodie items. The only downside of a lovely meal and location is a staff that seems slightly mystified by a woman dining alone, a strange reaction considering the cool, international hippie vibe.

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