Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is Los Cabos’ party town, in contrast to the more laid-back San Jose del Cabo. It is anchored by Medano Beach, easily the best and most consistently swimmable beach in the municipality, with its lineup of tourist hotels and beach-front bars and restaurants, and by its inner harbor, packed white-hulled boats and ringed by a wide variety of restaurants, bars and tourism service providers. On the hillside above town is the Pedregal, the first of Los Cabos’ large gated tourist residential communities, crossing the ridge and continuing down to the water on the Pacific side reminiscent of an ocean-side town on the Mediterranean – a beach that is subject to ocean waves and is extremely dangerous and almost never swimmable. Finally, in the downtown behind the harbor there are still more restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops of all kinds.
In the “Corridor,” a roughly twenty-mile stretch between the two main towns, think in terms of golf and luxury, beach-front living, and relief from the more hectic atmosphere of downtown Cabo San Lucas that is at the same time more upscale than San Jose. It is bisected neatly by the Arroyo Seco, a usually-dry wash (the name means “dry wash”) about a quarter mile wide, spanned by a matched pair of highway bridges carrying cars on “the four-lane”.
North of the arroyo, moving southward from Costa Azul and San Jose, are found: the One and Only Palmilla resort hotel and luxury real estate development with its 27-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course (three nines, to give unnecessary but welcome variety); El Dorado (another Nicklaus design, eighteen holes with spectacular finishing holes on the beach, in a very private and exclusive club); the Marquis, Hilton, Melia Cabo Real and Las Ventanas luxury hotels (with Cabo Real’s eighteen-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed golf course on the slopes above), along with Casa del Mar’s boutique hotel and condo development plus other private homes and home sites and smaller hotels.
San Jose del Cabo
San Jose del Cabo is almost Old Mexico in feel, and very low-key compared to Cabo San Lucas. Many buildings in the downtown core date back into the mid-1800s, and the downtown remains largely a walk-around area, centered on its well-used town square and a small core of downtown streets, including tree-lined Antonio Mijares (named for the commander of the Mexican forces who died defending it from the Americans during the Mexican-American War) and a nearby “art district” a block off the main plaza that is home to weekly “art walks” throughout the main tourist season. Its beach-front, about a mile outside the town core, hosts several luxurious resort hotels and a burgeonining commercial area – but the water there is generally not swimmable due to harsh surf.