Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are the two cities that are the area known as Los Cabos. Though they have very similar names, they are two different cities located about 30 minutes apart from each other. When you think of Cabo, you’re most likely going to picture Cabo San Lucas. Cabo San Lucas is the more touristy of the two, where you’ll find the iconic El Arco, lovers and divorce beach, and a lot of touristy bars. While San Jose del Cabo is known to be the quieter, more historic city, but it still has the same beautiful beaches and resorts.
No matter where you stay – you’ll love it! I guarantee it, here’s my travel guide to San Jose Del Cabo.
My Ultimate Travel Guide to Cabo
Where to Stay in Cabo
From huge resorts to small boutique hotels, to AirBNBs San Jose Del Cabo has a lot of different varieties of places to choose from. Cabo is known for its hospitality at any resort or hotel you stay at. We ended up staying at Secrets Resort, Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort, in San José del Cabo and we loved it.
The Secrets Resort in San José del Cabo is adults-only and all-inclusive, the resort is spread out over 18 acres so it never truly feels busy. With multiple pools on property (an activity pool, an adults only relaxing pool, and a spa pool) you have swimming options to suit any mood. You can also opt to be on the first floor with a swim out pool which I highly recommend. There is also direct access to 3 miles of secluded beaches.
The guest rooms give off a true baja feel with dark wood. Let’s also talk about the huge soak in bathtub and two sinks in the bathroom!
Where to Eat in Cabo
Just like I normally do, I’m giving you insider information on places we ate at and places we wanted to eat at.
Flora Farms: This restaurant is also a 25-acre organic working farm located in San Jose del Cabo — serving up farm-to-table food with live music in a magical garden setting. The menu is seasonal and constantly changing, but it’s always fresh, local, organic, and delicious. Not only is it an amazing restaurant, but they also have a hotel, weddings, and cooking classes. Flora Farms is known for its wood-fired pizzas and exquisite cocktails—everything on their menu sounds delicious and I had such a hard time picking! We’d recommend getting the hibiscus margarita and catch of the day, when we went it was the seabass. Others at the table got the fried chicken and pork chops which looked and smelled amazing.
Acre: With a similar concept (and location!) to Flora Farms, Acre not only has an organic farm and restaurant but it’s also a “treehouse” hotel and event venue.
An organic farm and restaurant, Los Tamarindos stands by Flora Farms and really does a great job at capturing San José del Cabo’s commitment to rustic-chic farm dining. In fact, this restaurant is in a refurbished 19th-century farmhouse. They use their own harvested vegetables and herbs in their small plates-centric menu. Be sure to try their ceviche of the day and turmeric hummus.
Sunset Mona Lisa: Everything about this spot oozes romance! The restaurant itself is carved into a cliff, overlooking El Arco with one of the best sunset shows in town! I do believe that Sunset Mona Lisa has long been an icon in Los Cabos that you must experience. I’d 100% recommend making a reservation in advance because this place fills up and it fills up fast. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.
The Office: This fun, colorful restaurant is located right on the sand with stunning views of El Arco — it’s a Cabo staple! It’s great for lunch or dinner — don’t miss the table-side Caesar salad service or oversized margaritas paired with guacamole!
Our hotel, Secrets San José del Cabo, had a lot of restaurants on the property to try as well from El Patio a traditional mexican restaurant, Himitsu a sushi bar and full on hibachi restaurant (also my personal favorite), Oceana for your seafood favorites, Portofino an Italian Cuisine which also typically does weekly wine tastings, along with the seaside/poolside grill with a variety of foods for lunch options. Needless to say, we didn’t starve.
What to do in Cabo
Whether you’re looking to have a relaxing vacation on the beach, get an adrenaline rush on an adventure, or drink/dance the night away, Cabo has it all. One thing to note is that the majority of the beaches in Cabo are not swimmable because of massive waves and undertows.
El Arco & Lover’s Beach– No visit to Cabo is complete without taking a trip to El Arco, the beautiful and iconic arch rock formation at the tip fo the peninsula where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet. Hire a water taxi for the trip out of the marina or beach! ake a Swim On Lover’s Beach (Playa del Amor)
Lover’s Beach and Divorce Beach are connected on their own little island along Land’s End.
Day Trip to Rancho Leonero– Rancho Leonero is a small fishing/resort style town about an hour Northeast of San Jose Del Cabo. You’ll get great views of white sand beaches, endless dreamy blue oceans, and some of the freshest seafood paired with the coldest beers. Rancho Leonero is a great place to really get the feel of how you’d vacation as a local, and it’s only accessible via dirt road.
Grab a Cocktail & Watch The Sunset– Sometimes when traveling you forget to really stop, slow down, and embrace the moment. While your vacationing in San Jose Del Cabo, it’s always a great idea to sit back relax, with a cocktail in hand, and enjoy the sunset.
Eat Your Weight in Chips & Guacamole– Chips & guac is a Mexican staple which you can never have enough of while you’re in Mexico. I could live off chips and guacamole which is why I’m a big proponent of the meal, appetizer, snack or however you want to eat it.
Pair your tacos with tequila, and you’ll feel like a local– Tacos and tequila should be included daily in at least one meal.
Dance The Night Away at El Squid Roe– Squid Roe is the bar scene in Cabo! It’s a must go, even if Jello shots aren’t your thing for at least one drink at one bar.
Go Deep Sea Fishing– Both San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas are top stops for deep sea fishing. There are so many different types of fish you can catch in Cabo including Grouper, Striped Marlin, Shark, Snapper, Tuna, and Yellowtail. We decided to go and went out with Catch Fish Cabo. We had such an amazing time on the ship and it was great because they took off from the dock right down the street from our hotel. We saw so many sea life animals! We saw the biggest pod of dolphins I’ve ever seen, manta rays, sea turtles, sharks, and of course we caught fish. We caught Marlins, Ahi’s, and a shark! I had never gotten sea sick in my life and I did on this trip, so I’d recommend taking some dramamine.
Tips for a Cabo Vacation
Here are a few things to be prepared for when you’re traveling to either San Jose Del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas.
Sunscreen – It’s super expensive in Cabo (I think my friend paid $20 for a spray can after hers ran out) and you should expect to use A LOT of it. Since I only brought a carry-on, I used these carry-on containers from Amazon to fill with sunscreen (and aloe) ahead of time. I also bring my favorite non-greasy face sunscreen on every trip.
Money – Don’t worry about switching your cash to pesos— everyone will accept dollars, although you should always travel with some cash on you. I brought a couple hundred in cash in case anything was cash-only, but I was able to use a credit card pretty much everywhere.
Water – Double check with your resort if the water is safe to drink. Just to be safe, we only drank bottled water. You’ll most likely be able to buy some from your hotel, but we got a much better deal at a local convenience store next door.
Cost – Mexico is known for being a fairly affordable vacation spot, so I was pretty surprised when food and drinks were comparable to the prices I’d find here in Chicago. I spent anywhere from $12-$20 on a meal, and drinks were usually around $10. We mostly went to local spots around the marina or near our hotel.
Phone service – My service provider offers free coverage in Mexico (to a limit), but double-check with yours to see if you’ll need to add coverage (usually a certain cost per day on the days you use data).
Notify your credit card companies – You should always do this while traveling, but you can always use a reminder!
Mexico entry form – You’ll be asked to complete a form when you arrive in Mexico and you have to hold onto it until you return to the airport. There’s a pretty decent fine if you lose this!
Time of year – Cabo San Lucas is an extremely popular spring break destination. Unless college spring breakers are your vibe, I’d avoid planning a trip during spring break season.
I love both San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas because it was a world away from everywhere else but just a short 2.5-hour flight from San Diego. It’s a desert surrounded by an ocean, where else do you get that? Plus you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise.
Traveling During the COVID-19 Pandemic
I traveled to San Jose Del Cabo in July 2020, which was right in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, and I got a lot of questions like, “what’s it like to travel to Mexico (or internationally) during the coronavirus. And here’s what I have to say..Mexico opened up it’s borders to travelers in June and we honestly didn’t really know what to expect. We hadn’t been much of anywhere during the COVD-19 shut down but were itching to get away.
Cabo, and Mexico in general had very low numbers in comparison during COVID, while yes, there was still a risk Mexico is being careful and diligent to keep that number low especially when much of their economy relies on tourism. You could tell how careful there were being. They are only opening to a maximum of 30 percent capacity — in hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses. Restaurants and bars close early, all staff members wear masks and they have sanitizing staff. They place plexiglass around check in desks and at restaurants.
Overall, they are being extremely cautious because the last thing the country needs for their economy is another shut down.
If you’re planning to travel to Cabo, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re heading out to Cabo, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
~ XOXO, the girl who’s still dreaming of the margaritas in Cabo, Amanda // Blonde out of Water