Cabo San Lucas, Bahia California Sur
Cabo San Lucas is in—for its rowdy nightlife, its slew of trendy restaurants, and its lively beaches. The sportfishing fleet is headquartered here, cruise ships anchor off the marina, and there's a massive hotel on every available plot of waterfront turf. A pedestrian walkway lined with restaurants, bars, and shops anchored by the sleek Puerto Paraíso mall curves around Cabo San Lucas harbor, itself packed with yachts. A five-story hotel complex at the edge of the harbor blocks the water view and sea breezes from the town's side streets, which are filled with a jarring jumble of structures. The most popular restaurants, clubs, and shops are along Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas (the extension of Highway 1 from the Corridor) and Boulevard Marina, paralleling the waterfront. The side streets closest to the marina are clogged with traffic, and their uneven, crumbling sidewalks front tourist traps jammed side by side. At Playa Médano, tanned bodies lie shoulder to shoulder on the sand, with every possible form of entertainment close at hand. The short Pacific coast beach in downtown San Lucas is more peaceful, though huge hotels have gobbled up much of the sand. An entire new tourism area dubbed Cabo Pacifica by developers has blossomed on the Pacific, west of downtown. There's talk of a new international airport in San Lucas, along with golf courses and more resorts. San Lucas may soon be Mexico's gaudiest tourism capital.
Cabo San Lucas is known for its rowdy nightlife, and, though much of the fine-dining scene has moved to the Corridor and San José, there are still some solid choices in Cabo. A pedestrian walkway lined with restaurants, bars, and shops anchored by the sleek Puerto Paraíso mall curves around Cabo San Lucas harbor, itself packed with yachts. The most popular restaurants, clubs, and shops are along Avenida Cárdenas (the extension of Highway 1 from the Corridor) and Boulevard Marina, paralleling the waterfront.
J&J Casa de los Habanos
J&J Casa de los Habanos sells Cuban and international cigars, lighters, and ashtrays as well as tequila, Cuban coffee, and clothing. You can schedule a tequila tasting while you shop for cigars.
Pepita's Magic of the Moon
Magic of the Moon is a favorite among locals and Cabo regulars, featuring clothing designed by Pepita Nelson, the owner. If you can't find anything that fits you or your style, she will design an outfit for you and finish it in three days. Also check out the handmade ceramic jewelry, beaded bustiers, and colorful bathing suits.
H2O de los Cabos
H2O de los Cabos offers bathing suits ranging from skimpy thongs to modest one-piece suits, all with a bit of Mexican flair.
Golden Cactus Gallery
The Golden Cactus Gallery, run by painter Celyne Poupart, has been showcasing local artists' work (paintings, lithographs, and many colorful gifts) since 1997. Bill Clinton has been a customer.
Mercado de Artesanías
Mercado de Artesanías is at the far western end of Marina San Lucas, where the fishing boats drop anchor to weigh and photograph the few fish still brought in. This crafts market sells pottery, blankets, jewelry, and Mexican sombreros. It's a great place to find souvenirs for the folks at home.
Arte de Origen
Arte de Origen is a standout among the shops on the increasingly hip Madero Street. Pan-American cultural traditions inform the original decorative art in this richly colored open space. Painting, ceramics, and inventive, painting-like collages are applied to a wide variety of objects like boxes, tables, and mirror frames. Small sculptures, jewelry, and some textiles are also part of a collection of art that is clearly meant to be part of your living space. Another location can be found at the Puerto Paraíso Mall.
Playa del Amor
These days, lovers have little chance of finding much romantic solitude here. The azure cove on the Sea of Cortez at the very tip of the Land's End Peninsula may well be the area's most frequently photographed patch of sand. It's a must-see on every first-timer's list. Water taxis, glass-bottom boats, kayaks, and Jet Skis all make the short trip out from Playa Médano to this small beach, which is backed by cliffs. Snorkeling around the base of these rocks is fun when the water is calm; you may spot striped sergeant majors and iridescent green and blue parrot fish. Seals hang out on the rocks a bit farther out, at the base of "El Arco," Cabo's famed arched landmark. Swimming and snorkeling are best on the Sea of Cortez side of Lover's Beach, where the clear, green, almost luminescent water is unquestionably the nicest in Cabo San Lucas. The Pacific side is too turbulent for swimming but ideal for sunbathing. Vendors are usually present, but it's always best to bring your own snacks and plenty of water. The beach is crowded at times, but most people would agree that it's worth seeing, especially if you're a first-timer. To get here, take a five-minute panga water-taxi ride ($7–$10) or the half-hour glass-bottom boat tour. Opt for the latter if you wish to have some time to photograph the arch from the Pacific-side view. Both boats leave with relative frequency from the Cabo San Lucas marina or Playa Médano.
Foamy plumes of water shoot from Jet Skis and dozens of water taxis buzz through the water off Médano, a 3-km (2-mi) span of grainy tan sand that's always crowded. When cruise ships are in town, it's mobbed. Bars and restaurants line the sand, waiters deliver ice buckets filled with beer to sunbathers in lounge chairs, and vendors offer everything from silver jewelry to hats, T-shirts, and temporary henna tattoos. You can even have your hair braided into tiny cornrows or get a pedicure. Swimming areas are roped off to prevent accidents, and the water is usually calm enough for small children. But be aware: there are quick shoreline drop-offs, so life preservers are a good idea for the little paddlers in your group. Hotels line Médano, which is just north of downtown off Paseo del Pescador. Construction is constant on nearby streets, and parking is virtually impossible. The most popular spot on the beach is around the Baja Cantina Beach Club, where more than half a dozen bar-restaurants have set up beach chairs and tables. This is a hot spot for people-watching (and for singles seeking to be doubles). Be prepared to deal with the many crafts vendors cruising the beach. They're generally not pushy, so a simple head shake and "no, gracias" will do.
Huge waves crash onto the sand on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas. This wide, beautiful beach stretches from Land's End north to the cliffs of El Pedregal, where mansions perch on steep cliffs. Swimming is impossible here because of the dangerous surf and undertow; stick to sunbathing and strolling. From December to March, you can spot gray whales spouting just offshore; dolphins leap above the waves year-round. The beach is at the end of Avenida Solmar off Boulevard Marina—an easy walk from downtown Cabo San Lucas. Four resorts—Solmar, Terrasol, Playa Grande, and Finisterra—are all on this beach, making it easy to stop for a meal if you get hungry. Crowds are minimal, as guests tend to stick to the hotel pools.