Day 3 of 500 words a day/30 day experiment via @Kale&Cigarettes #500wordsaday
I've been wanting to chronicle some of my trips over the border to Baja. A lot of friends comment on how many times Frank and I have been to Cabo. Some joke it's become our second home. Yes, I want to travel the world and my list is a mile long. But for a quickie R&R trip nothing beats it. Cabo has been one of those treasures that I love going back to for a few reasons.
1. It's a quick two hour flight from Tijuana. I fly on Volaris airline and get their deals and special travel sales via email. If you haven't flown out of Tijuana airport yet, you're in for a surprise. You can get a drop off from a friend that's willing to cross or has a Sentri card. If not, get dropped off at the Otay Border and cab it to the airport. It's a short taxi ride for about $10-&15. I've gotten fares to Cabo for about $200 round-trip.
2. We rent a car to get around if we're not staying right in the heart of downtown, Medano beach area. This trip we had a FREE 3-night stay at Cabo Villas on the main beach. This was the first time we stayed right in town and we took advantage of going on a timeshare presentation on our last trip and got a free stay so why not? We didn't drive at all while staying in town and it was a short walk anywhere we wanted to go from the hotel. We got a car rental deal by using our credit card miles. We paid for the insurance once we got down to the rental place. It's easy to get around there. There's a toll road to take you from the airport in San Jose to Cabo San Lucas. Pretty much one way in and out.
3. The beautiful beaches and the warm waters on the Sea of Cortez are so tranquil. I love being near the ocean even at home but I'm not too thrilled with jumping into the cold Pacific. In Cabo, the sun is beating down and the best way to cool off is with a cold cerveza and a dip. We spent some time lounging on Medano beach, ordering fresh guac and beers and bathing in the refreshing sea.
4. Fresh Seafood and Upscale options beyond the taco stand, not that there's anything wrong with that. When on vacation, I'm all about the food. Where do the locals eat? What is the signature drink or dish? We like to keep it economical but high-quality and when we splurge it needs to be worthwhile. That's easy to do in Cabo where the cuisine options vary from street carts to upscale three-course sit down meals. I have to shout out Los Claros restaurant that specializes in toritos, chiles gueros (yellow chili peppers) stuffed with smoked marlin and cheese served in a piping hot tortilla. The chiles gueros aren't spicy but offer up a perfect empty slate for the star of the dish, the marlin. It has a deep, smoky flavor that goes so well with the cheese and chile. We were a little hungover one day and headed over for lunch one day. We both ordered a refreshing and perfect hangover drink, the Mex version of the Bloody Mary; a Clamato preparado. Just imagine the perfect mix of Clamato and Tecate with a squeeze of fresh lime juice served in a Tajin (chile powder) rimmed glass. That hit the spot and paired with the scallop ceviche on a crunchy tostada topped with generous slices of avocado, we were back at it in no time.
5. Snorkeling in the clear waters of the Sea of Cortez is one of our favorite things to do. We've paddle boarded and kayaked from Medano beach to Pelican rock near the famous Arco. Now, they've cracked down on that because they've had some accidents between kayakers and boats or jet skis on the busy waterways. So, unless you want to pay a grip on a private tour you may want to take a $10 water taxi across and bring your own snorkel gear. The taxi drops you off for however long you want and they pick you up at the same location. At Pelican Rock you can scope out a spot to set your cooler and stuff high on the rocks and set off on an underwater adventure. We also love a spot at Chileno Bay Beach that has hundreds of tropical fish amongst the rocks.
6. The service and hospitality is amazing in Cabo and in Mexico in general. I'm in my comfort zone when I go to Mexico. I grew up bilingual in the melting pot of New York with South American parents. But, living in San Diego for so many years has formed a kinship between me and my Mexican peeps. Enjoying many visits al otro lado has made me feel comfortable navigating around and exploring Mexico. Cabo is a very touristy place but if you take the time to talk with and ask the locals for the best places to go, they'll be happy to point you in the right direction. You have to get away from the big tourist trap resorts and venture out on foot and talk with people. It's helpful to know a few words in Spanish and everybody knows the tourist lingo English anyway. Even though everybody is hustling to make a living and trying to sell you something, I've always found that a respectful No, gracias goes a long way. Just don't walk around like an entitled, snotty American and you'll be aight. You'll never hear a No, we can't do that or No, sorry we can't make that. If you show some respect, you can get or do whatever you want. The hospitality industry strives to make everyone that visits is happy and keeps coming back.
7. Nightlife. Let's talk nightlife. That is after you've taken a siesta or cat nap after all that day drinking. And you've had something to eat. Most of the bars and clubs are geared towards the raunchy, spring-breaker American or the older crowd that loves to hear 80's rock. There are alternatives to El Squid Roe but we pop in there to get a beer and people watch. Si te animas, if you feel the urge to dance on top of a table, you can. If you're more in the mood for a cool people watching and dive bar where people meet up, then go to Monkey Business. It's in the Marlin Plaza on the way to Cabo Wabo (a place I have no interest in ever going into). We were walking around one night and saw a sign for a 70-minute massage for $20. Yes, $20 USD for a 70 minute massage! Monkey Business Bar is right there and was the perfect place for Frank to wait for me while I was getting an awesome massage by Rosy the owner of Destiny Spa Pacific. It was a clean place and legit by the way. While I was in another world, Frank was making friends at the bar and had mariachis serenade the ladies for Mother's Day. After I came back, I had a massive margarita waiting for me. Luis and Victor were the fun bartenders and we had a nice convo about tequila.
Frank wanted to catch a Mets game at one of the bars nearby so after a quick snack of Belgian Fries from a little shack down the street we walked into a tiny bar called Sangria's Bar. There are only a few barstools and the bartender was only too happy to welcome us in and put the game on for Frank. I ordered a margarita on the rocks and asked about the sangria. He asked, you wanna try it and I said sure. He got a bottle of red wine and poured a shot into my margarita. So, I guess that's the sangria then. Well, I asked. We started to request some songs because we were getting burned out on the old school rock and pop. He put on some urban reggaeton music by J. Balvin, Pretty soon, people started coming in and dancing on the sidewalk, joining us and we got the party going. At the end of the night, we paid for our drinks, super cheap tab, cash only at this place.
One night, we took a dinner cruise and wanted to go out for a drink or two but wanted a low-key bar. I'd heard that Bar Esquina at the Bahia hotel had live music and an upscale vibe. We went and sat at the wraparound bar, lit by the lanterns overhead. I ordered a blueberry martini and it was fresh and pretty. We chilled there for a bit. There were some people having dinner. They had the menus written on the chalkboard painted walls. We had a view of the kitchen from our bar stools and it was a cool place for a date night
8. You feel like you have the whole place to yourself. In the early morning, there's very little activity going on. We're usually up early and have found that most people sleep in. We've enjoyed early morning walks by the water, yoga on the beach and exploring the reefs all by ourselves. At one of the places that we stayed out on a cliff overlooking the coast, we've walked down and around the rocks and been pleasantly surprised to enjoy the sound of the waves with no one else in sight. We had a yoga practice on the sand. It was a little overcast so it was perfect to move and practice without the sun overpowering us. We ended in meditation and Frank found a natural pool formed by the rocks. He brought his snorkel gear and went in to explore while I meditated on the rocks.
9. Entertainment in Cabo. The possibilities are endless. There are lots of activities, water sports, live music and adventures to be had. When we've gone before with the kids, we packed our days full of activities and tours. We've gone parasailing, riding quads on the beach, jet skiing and snorkeling. We've gone on crazy booze cruises. This time we went on a dinner cruise that included a 3-course meal, open bar, live band and a post-dinner flamenco, mariachi and ballet folklorico show. We had drinks up on the top and listened to the band while we headed out on the sea. They played and we drank as we toured the famous Arco and Lover's Beach. We were served dinner below in a dining room with white tablecloths and silverware. It was nice to mix it up and get a little dressed up for the occasion.
10. It's simple. I'll wrap it up with this. Cabo is affordable, convenient and you get treated like a king and queen. It's super casual and low-maintenance. It takes very little effort to throw some beach gear and flip flops into a bag and go. You can do as much or as little as you want. You can make travel friends or not. You can join the crowd or enjoy the peace and quiet. It's all up to you. You can watch the fisherman in the morning as you enjoy your freshly made green jugo. They've overcome a lot this year after Hurricane Odile. I was amazed at how quickly they rebuilt and kept things moving. Cheers to being unstoppable and Cabo strong.