When planning a vacation to Baja Sur, Mexico, you’ll probably consider the beautiful resort city of Cabo San Lucas or, if you’re a bit more adventurous, maybe an “un-cruise” on the Sea of Cortez, like Plum Deluxe editor, Margo.
Either of these destinations can easily be combined with a visit to San Jose del Cabo, San Lucas’ low-key and charming sister city. But San Jose also makes a great standalone destination, offering a vibrant art and food scene, gorgeous beaches, and unique boutique hotels, as my husband and I discovered on a recent visit.
Where to Stay
While nearby Cabo San Lucas is filled with large, showy resorts, San Jose del Cabo offers more intimate and unique accommodations that don’t skimp on comfort. Here are two great options:
We spent a few glorious days at this art- and music-filled knockout of a hotel in the Puerto Los Cabos area of San Jose. Hotel El Ganzo boasts a bohemian philosophy and rustic-meets-modern aesthetic, complemented by luxurious guest comforts.
The hotel is designed so that each of the 72 suites offers an unobstructed ocean view — a major bonus if you’ve ever been wooed by the ocean-view photos on a hotel website only to arrive and discover your room faces a parking lot.
Each suite offers a king-size bed with fine Italian bed linens, free WIFI, smart TVs, generously-sized local and organic bath products, and even an iPad with an interactive hotel directory. We stayed in one of the “large suites” which features a dining and living area, indoor and outdoor showers, and a soaking tub with water views.
If you manage to coax yourself away from the comfort of your room, you’ll be treated to an incredible 2,013 square foot infinity pool and glass-walled Jacuzzi. On our last morning at El Ganzo, I had a seriously hard time pulling myself out of the pool, which looks out over the marina and the sparkling Sea of Cortez.
We loved having sushi and cocktails in the rooftop lounge area and fresh seafood in the lovely main restaurant. Hotel El Ganzo also has a spa, a state-of-the-art gym, and its own private beach which guests can access by water taxi. The beach is in its own little protected bay offering quiet, calm waters. Guests can swim, snorkel, kayak, or stand up paddleboard.
In addition to all of these features, Hotel El Ganzo beckons to travelers who love art, music, and culture. Creativity is a central aspect of the hotel, including bold, exuberant art work created by artists-in-residence, an in-house music studio (accessed through a trapdoor in the dining room), and weekly concerts and movies.
The French-owned Casa Natalia is a charming boutique hotel combining Mexican hospitality with European flair. Each of the 19 rooms is beautiful but unpretentious, decorated in fresh whites and deep blues with pops of vibrant color, and each comes with its own private patio and hammock. There is even a heated half-moon swimming pool.
Casa Natalia offers a quiet, intimate hotel experience with personalized service you won’t find at any mega resort — right in the center of historic San Jose del Cabo, within walking distance to all of the galleries and shops. There is a gourmet restaurant on site and complimentary breakfast is included in the room rate.
What to Do
Every Thursday evening during high season (November-June), San Jose del Cabo’s central art district hosts a very lively art walk. As you stroll through the romantic cobblestone streets and past pastel-colored colonial buildings, you will feel a million miles away from the aggressive timeshare salesmen and loud nightlife of Cabo San Lucas.
Pop in and out of art galleries, sample free tequila, and end your night with chicken mole with fried plantains and a tamarindo margarita at Salsita’s, my favorite dinner spot in San Jose.
Every Saturday during high season, San Jose del Cabo has a huge organic farmer’s market. Here you can grab everything from local organic produce to all-natural beauty products to unique hand-crafted gifts for your friends and family back home.
Huerta Los Tamarindos is an organic farm-to-table restaurant and farm offering fresh local cuisine, as well as cooking classes. Classes include a tour of the farm and a recipe book and are truly hands on, with students gathering their own fresh ingredients in the garden before the cooking lesson. Have a blast learning new recipes and then enjoy your delicious creations via a four-course meal in a glorious outdoor setting.
Or, just enjoy my favorite thing to do San Jose del Cabo: very little. Grab a fresh mango popsicle from a sidewalk paleteria, sit on a bench in the main square, and soak in the sunshine and some people watching. Ahhhh.
Editorial Disclosure: The author received a media rate at the mentioned hotel for purposes of writing an unbiased review. All opinions featured are that of the author.
All photos are courtesy of the author except 2nd and 3rd photo from Hotel el Ganzo.