When we originally booked our trip to Cabo San Lucas, we planned to stay in downtown Cabo the whole time. In fact, every time I go to Cabo, we only stay in downtown Cabo. I didn’t even realize there were other places to visit that weren’t too far away and worth the trip to see.
Usually, when you visit Cabo San Lucas, you think of the resorts lining the beaches, the poolside bars and endless drinks coming from the cabana boys from the $100 or more a day all-inclusive fee. You think of solicitors, every two seconds trying to sell you something you will never need or use again. You think of tourist prices and haggling. You think and wonder about the safety and why this trip to Mexico is costing you more than a staycation in your home town. You think about tacos and wonder why you are eating Italian food from your all-inclusive hotel. The facade of Mexico that we think: cheap, dirty, unsafe, are all as true as they are untrue.
You can get that balcony hotel room overlooking the pool and beach and all of Mexico setting you back about $150 per night, and for an additional $99 per day you can eat and drink anything and everything all day long or you can do what we did – we went the Airbnb route. I’ve been annoyed with Mexico for years for costing more than I think it should cost, so when looking for an Airbnb, we went cheap. We found a room six blocks from the downtown area for $30 per night. We decided to try it out, why not? We only booked the room for 4-5 of the 10 nights we were staying there and thought we would extend our stay if we liked it or move on if we didn’t, but the plan was to stay in downtown Cabo.
There are two ways to do Mexico, you can layout at your resort, day drink, go to dinner, hit the clubs, go to sleep and repeat with a little exploration of the town or on the water in-between, or you can get out of your Americanized hotel and actually see Mexico. Trust me, you want to do both – there are some really really awesome parts to it. If it’s your first time in Cabo, do the downtown thing, but if you have been at least once – You have got to try these other places I am about to mention.
The next six places I will discuss are places that can deem as well worth places to visit on a day trip or as part of a road trip around the tip of Baja California, hence the title of the post, Just The Tip. But, if you happen to be staying at a resort on the beach, just a trick, opt out of the all-inclusive option, it will end up being cheaper and allow you to explore a bit.
Here are a few reasons why you should leave your hotel:
1. The first place on the list is Todos Santos. This can easily be a day trip or a 2-4 day stay. It’s about 45-60 minutes away by car from downtown Cabo. If I ever visit Cabo again, I’ll fly to Cabo, and go straight to Todos Santos to stay there and I’ll do a day trip out to Cabo if I really miss it. Cabo is one of the main towns on the tip of the Baja, claiming it to be one of the more dangerous places. Todos Santos immediately had a wonderful vibe with smiling local faces. We had one of our best tacos in Todos Santos – you can read about that and our other favorites here. The town seems small when you first arrive but as you walk or drive around there are endless streets and shops and restaurants. I even heard there was a rooftop bar – which if you have been following along on my Instagram you know I am a huge fan of rooftops and views. Also, not too far out is an awesome beach bar (definitely need to drive). I think this place can maybe* get touristy in the higher seasons, but it still had that small-town Mexican local feel which is what I look for when in a new place, not just the local tourista stuff as we were the only ones there – and that doesn’t bother me one bit. This town I would say was cheaper than in Cabo, safer, great food options and had a small night life.
2. For the second, I’m actually going to bring you back to downtown Cabo San Lucas for a minute to a hotel you for sure are not staying at (but you will wish you were when you see it). The hotel is called The Cape and not only is it a very nice hotel, it’s also a world-class surf spot. He wanted to check out this spot but had no idea what kind of hotel we had to go through to get to it. This is what you do to get in: You drive up to the gate attendant and nicely tell them you are wanting to have dinner (or drinks) at the restaurant. Don’t lie and say you are staying there, they will ask for your room number, not that I know from experience or anything… They also have a rooftop bar here which I am kicking my everything for not being able to get back to try, but you can take my word, that if you end up at The Cape, you will want to make your way up to the rooftop for drinks when it opens. OKAY now that you’re in, let loose! Ok jk, it’s still a fancy ass hotel and you need to keep your cool BUT it does seem like once you’re in, they don’t care where you go or what you do.
The drinks and food aren’t cheap, but if you are familiar with California pricing, you will be okay here and with how awesome everything is, you won’t mind spending the $12-$15 on a drink to enjoy them here. We had a few craft made cocktails and some awesome made guacamole at a restaurant called The Ledge. I think we could have even chilled around the pool if we wanted to. There’s another bar inward above the pool that also makes amazing craft cocktails (different drink menu) and there is a pool table there, that is in perfect condition, with no one playing it, and it’s free to play. People who actually stay at this hotel, are probably way too cool to be seen playing a game and having fun :b jk the people here weren’t all old and weird at all, they looked like young, fun, entrepreneurial people I would want to be friends with. The Cape will not disappoint if you want a “day trip” out of Cabo but don’t have a rental car.
3. The third is a total and awesome beach club. Okay so it belongs to another hotel in Todos Santos BUT even if you are not staying at that hotel, you are able to stay here for the day for just $15 per day and if you happen to be staying at that hotel, it is free to come here for the day. It had a restaurant, bar, infinity pool, spa, immaculate bathrooms, mini putting green, hammocks and swings in trees to lay, it was an awesome getaway for a day. If you are already staying at a resort/hotel, this may not be that cool to you as it does resemble the backyard of the hotels (but oh so different than the classic pool with a swim-up bar) It will be different than your hotel, and it may be nice to take a drive to a different resort but if you are already at a resort, this may not be your perfect day trip. However, if you do opt to stay at an Airbnb that doesn’t have a pool or if you got in an argument with some guy at the pool last night and you don’t want to show your face for a day or two, this is a great alternative to spend the day feeling rich and pampered and send those IG posts that make everyone jealous and on just $15 for the day, this place would be a great suggestion for that. Spa services and food/drinks are extra. I think some of the other hotels in town will also have a day pass available for you to use their pools and bars etc. as a heads up. So if you can’t necessarily afford to stay at the hotel, you can always pop in for a day pool party visit. Which in my opinion, is way more fun!
4. Cerritos Beach also made it to my top places to visit outside of Cabo San Lucas and here’s why. Rooftop bar with an infinity pool and locals/expats dessert bar in the middle of nowhere called Shakas Delicious Food, Cantina and Galleria – There was a pirate flag from far away and we drove up anyway, which seemed a bit scary at the time because it really is in the middle of the desert. Low and behold, a sweet ass party in the middle of the desert is what it was!
The rooftop bar, like any, wasn’t cheap, but we were going with the general theme of budget budget budget SPLURGE. So we went with it. This little beach town is also good for surfing of all levels. If you drive up toward what looks like the only hotel that sits on the edge of the point, you will also find another hilltop bar with a pool, overlooking the other side of Mexico. You can’t go wrong with either of these places for a nice relaxing drink for either a day visit or a stop along your Just The Tip road trip. There are only two restaurants, you won’t miss them!
5. I read a few things on Los Barrilles and Pescadore as they are small cute towns to visit. I feel like I had to have been given a more enticing reason to want to visit because when we got there we didn’t really understand why we were there. It was so tiny. However, AWESOME places to visit but I wouldn’t suggest you go to either just for a day of sightseeing from Cabo as they are far and really not much to see. What I would suggest though, is you stay a night or two in Los Barrilles, it’s safe and cute and small with good food. Then what you do is you get up early and you go on a sunrise drive. You start the drive 10-15 minute prior to actual sunrise time. You set your GPS to Pescadore, and it’s a 5-mile drive but it will take you 25-30 minutes to “get there” you will see why when you start driving and the drive is unbelievably amazing. One of my favorites I’ve ever been on. You have sandstone cliffs on your left and wonderful, beautiful drop down to the ocean on your right. This is not a paved road and it’s almost a one-way road. You may be the only person on this road all morning, until on your way back, when the workers start to come out. Besides beautiful scenery, you will also drive past a row of huge mansion type house to look at. They each are huge, have infinity pools, and seem mysteriously empty. Beautiful drive. One of the favorites I’ve ever done, did I already say that? Yeah, don’t miss this if you are wanting to escape the touristy Cabo San Lucas. Not a morning person? The sunset drive is just as beautiful, the sun just happens to rise in the east so you can actually see the sun come up but you see those amazing color combos at night as well. I loved it so much we did a sunset and sunrise right after the other. If you are lucky, on your way back you may even see 5-15 vultures in the trees and cacti sunning their wings. An incredible little adventure to go on alone or with your partner or family. Careful as you drive though, you don’t want to get stuck here.
6. Last but certainly not least is Cabo Pulmo. As small of a town as this is, and even though I said I wouldn’t recommend the last two small towns for just a day trip, this one, I would. Cabo Pulmo is a town that is so small not even an ATM can be found. And in Santiago- about an hour out where ATMs are supposedly found, the ATMs there are all out of money(So come prepared is what that means, you won’t need much but you will need cash). This town had a few restaurants, maybe 5. The whole town was walkable either by road or beachside and it took no longer than 8 minutes to go from side to side. You can rent a whole house on the beach here. Not only can you enjoy one of the best salsa bars I’ve seen yet at a restaurant beachside called Tacos and Beer, here you can rent ATVs and ride along the beach or what it is most famous for is it has the only live coral reef off of the United States.
There are more small towns I could have added to this list but trust me, like me, you would have been like… seriously? She made me drive out here for this?? I had a few moments like that when I was searching where I should visit as well as just following signs to random places hoping they would take me somewhere magical. You are still in Mexico, after all so just be careful what side streets you head down. This list above is not just a list of the places we went, but the best places outside of Cabo San Lucas to visit if you want to switch things up for even just a few hours.
If you’re in Cabo for three days and you have one day to go out and explore because you also want to enjoy the resort you just spent all your money on, I would suggest Todos Santos or Cabo Pulmo as day trips.
If you’ve just spent a few days in Cabo and thought it was awesome, but quite the tourist trap, do the following road trip over the next 3-5 days:
To do all of these as a road trip my suggestion would be to do them in this order: Visit #2 – The Cape, enjoy, then go back to your hotel in Cabo. Wake up and visit #4 – Cerritos Beach for lunch, go to the rooftop bar either with the pool, or the one by the hotel on the point. To get a more locals feel go to the desert bar for lunch. Walk along the beach or go surfing or relax on the sand if you want or don’t and then head to #1 – Todos Santos and find yourself an Airbnb. Enjoy Todos Santos that evening for dinner and walk around. If you see a man on the corner selling shredding meat tacos, get one!! The next day go to #3 – The Beach Club, and get your relaxation on again. The club opens at 11 am. Head back to Todos Santos to enjoy the town again for the evening. The next day drive to #4 – Los Barrilles. The town is small, settle into your Airbnb, walk around get some tacos and get ready for an epic sunrise drive. Set your GPS to Pescador and even when the asphalt road turns to sand, you keep driving. Make sure you pay attention to where you are driving you don’t want to end up in the deep part of the sand or running over any crazy rocks that may damage your tires. You’re in the middle of a super-rich feeling town if you were to pop a tire, but you’re still in the middle of the desert in Mexico.