Travel the length of the Baja California peninsula in Western Mexico and you'll find the region of Los Cabos, home to two contrasting but equally appealing visitor hotspots: the serene town of San Jose del Cabo and its wilder sister, the vibrant community of Cabo San Lucas. While San Jose celebrates old Mexico and San Lucas pleases the luxury yacht and cocktail crowd, both share the turquoise coastline of the Sea of Cortez and top-notch accommodations for every budget. When you can dine on fresh lobster, sail under incredible rock formations like El Arco, and practice your golf swing on the cliff tops, you might well believe you've landed in paradise.
To squeeze the most fun out of the Baja Sur, Cabo San Lucas can't be beaten. Fast-paced and packed with guests from all over the world, this energetic town is known for its with world-class nightlife at joints like Cabo Wabo, as well as adrenaline-pumping adventures both on top of the water by canoe and ski-doo, and beneath the waves amongst the sea turtles and manta rays at Cabo's dive sites. Accommodations here are defined by chic all-inclusive resorts that can cost between $100 and $300 a night, but you can find some bargains around the $50 mark.
For a more laidback vibe with a historic twist, you'll want to stay in the quaint San Jose del Cabo. Along its narrow cobblestone streets, visitors will find cozy cantinas serving budget-friendly “Menu del Dias,” high-end galleries and traditional adobe homes. The atmosphere is more mellow, and though prices are similar to Cabo in terms of hotels, the same poolside spa treatments and ocean views are available at the resorts here.
At the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas, El Arco, a unique rock formation that juts out at the point where the Sea of Cortez collides with the Pacific Ocean, is a must-see attraction and a great spot to witness the sun sink into the sea. The best way to see El Arco and the surrounding beaches is by boat, though keen scuba divers can explore deeper.
To experience authentic Mexican culture, plan to spend a few hours exploring the old streets of San Jose del Cabo. Located in the center, tree-lined Plaza Mijares is the heart of the town. Here, you'll find the Iglesia San José, a charming historic church and monument to Mexico's colonial past.
On the Pacific side, sugar-grain sands, towering rock formations and unobstructed views of the water make Playa Solmar worth a visit when you're in the mood for a peaceful day. Because beach vendors aren't allowed to do on-site sales, Playa Solmar is rarely crowded.
For a livelier beach scene, you'll want to head to Playa Medano, the most popular stretch of sand in Cabo San Lucas. Crowds come here to enjoy all-day happy hours, incredible views of the water and some of the safest swimming in Los Cabos. With easy access to a variety of activities —ranging from on-the-water parasailing and kayaking to beach volleyball —Playa Medano is a top attraction for thrill-seeking travelers.
While the busiest time period here falls between mid-December and Easter break, Los Cabos hotels can get busy when visitors arrive for the sport fishing season in October. For fair rates and great weather, book between April and June, when hotels are being prepared for the summer and the temperatures outside are around the mid-80s. To get the biggest discounts for late spring, start your search in the winter.