Where’s the best place to stay in Cabo and what’s the deal with San José?!
Before I got the opportunity to really spend time in and around Cabo San Lucas, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the lay of the land. How far is San José from downtown Cabo? Which vacation homes are located on swimmable beaches? Where are said beaches, in relation to downtown? What’s the difference between homes on the “Pacific side” vs. homes on the “Marina side?” What the heck is the “Corridor?” Sound familiar? Well, I’m happy to say I finally mastered Cabo’s layout and am here to share my newly-acquired knowledge. And, yes, it is all that it’s cracked up to be (just in case you were wondering)!
Okay, so let’s get started. When you fly into Cabo, you fly into Los Cabos International airport, which is about 20 minutes inland from the coast. You have two choices once you enter into the heart of San José: you can continue straight through the roundabout into oldtown San José, or turn right onto the coastal highway to make your way up the coast to Cabo San Lucas. If you choose the former you will enter into San José‘s Hotel Row (beautiful hotels and condos that line the SWIMMABLE beach in SJ). This area has a more authentic “Mexican” feel than downtown Cabo, so if you’re looking for that experience, you should stay on Hotel Row (ex. Costa Azul Resort or Las Mananitas condominium) or at least make a day trip from Cabo to check it out. If you choose to go straight ahead into Cabo you will pass through the area between San José and downtown Cabo: the “Corridor.” You won’t see many homes because they are hidden on either side of the highway, however, this is where most of the SWIMMABLE beaches are located. You can stay along the Corridor and be anywhere from 10-30 minutes from downtown Cabo. Beaches are the Corridor‘s main attraction and is a great area for those looking for quiet and privacy.
Continuing past the Corridor is downtown Cabo. Downtown is not very large, about a 20 min walk from end to end, but it’s full of shopping, bars, restaurants, and hotels (Pueblo Bonito Rose & Pueblo Bonito Blanco and the 5 star Hacienda Cabo condominiums are just behind the beach and great for a central location). Medano beach is the place to be if you are looking for water sports, day drinking or maybe interested in the singles scene. Also, if you are staying in downtown Cabo, Medano is really your only option for a SWIMMABLE beach. In addition, it has the best vantage point for viewing The Arches – unless you take a boat out to see them, which I highly recommend!
Now, if you continue along the waterfront (Bay of Cabo San Lucas), you will enter the Marina. This is where the fishing boats, charters and boat slips are located. There are also several restaurants ranging from Ruth’s Chris to local fare. Most gringos dine here at night and have a few drinks before hitting the clubs (i.e. Giggling Marlin, El Squid Roe – all located just behind the Marina, downtown). The food is good and all restaurants have outdoor seating. Two blocks inland from the Marina is Pedregal; a gated hill community comprised mostly of homes owned by the local gringo population. The homes on the lower side of the hill are only a couple of blocks from downtown, making it convenient to walk into town.
Now, here’s where it can get confusing: Pedregal is a hill with homes located on all sides. It is split up into two areas the “Pacific side” or “Marina side.” If your vacation home is on the west side of the hill, you are on the Pacific side; if your home is on the east side, you are on the Marina side. Homes on the Pacific side have expansive views of the ocean and tend to have light later in the day. Anything facing the Marina or the east has views of the Sea of Cortez. The Pacific Ocean is not swimmable in this area. Should you stay in Pedregal, it’s easiest to catch cabs to and from town unless you choose to rent a car for day excursions. There are a few hotels on the Pacific side, such as Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica and the Monte Cristo Estates. They are located just behind Pedregal and offer beautiful beach access (though not swimmable). This location is perfect for weddings, large groups or couples that wish to spend most days by the pool, enjoying one another’s company. The hotels are all full-service and the villas have private pools and kitchens, so the need to leave the premises is minimal. From here, you are about a 15 minute drive to downtown.
So, that pretty much sums it up, from San José to Cabo, the ins and outs. I hope that this was helpful!
– Noelle Michaud, Destination Expert