A Tame Time in Cabo San Lucas
Girls gone wild, wet t-shirt contests, and stumbling drunk kids are usually what comes to mind when someone mentions a trip to Cabo San Lucas, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
While Cabo does offer the Spring Break experience for many, it also attracts families, corporate retreats, and retirees with beaches ranging in color from translucent turquoise to deep sapphire, Marlin fishing, golf courses, spas, and whale watching, according to the Cabo Tourism site.
Vacationing in Cabo is not a new trend. Many have been visiting Cabo for years like the couple I sat next to on the plane.
They’ve been coming down to Cabo for over 15 years at least twice a year and stay in their timeshare. Hailing from Denver, they were ready to spend the next week relaxing, golfing, watching the beautiful sunsets, and enjoying the warmer weather.
Cabo is a great destination to unwind, recharge, and relax, but as more people discover the city on the tip of this elongated peninsula, people like the couple on the plane are finding the increasing crowds creeping in on their vacation. The State Secretary of State Tourism reported a significant increase in number of visits to Cabo for 2015 with a record-breaking 1.82 million visitors to Cabo, an 11.2 percent increase from 2014. It’s no wonder the couple struggles to find peace and quiet.
The Cabo San Lucas shoreline is decorated with resorts and hotels all offering sparkling pools and views of the beach that look like they came from a postcard. If looking for a more isolated vacation, houses are the ideal option. Home rental sites like HomeAway, VRBO, and Air BnB have a constant listing of vacation homes that have everything a hotel does with the added perk of privacy. Maids tidy up and replenish fresh towels while you work on your tan, a chef can prepare a decadent spread for one or all of your meals removing any stress of cooking and cleaning from your vacation, and a driver will chauffeur you anywhere and also do your grocery shopping if you do decide to use the equipped kitchen.
Hector Gomez Gutierrez has been a driver for a house called Hacienda de la Cruz for 10 years.
“I’m here to make sure you have a fun, safe trip and I’m here if you need anything,” Gutierrez said to us in effortless English. This even included fixing the pool heater and figuring out how to open the safe after we accidentally locked our most valued possessions away without a code.
Gutierrez asked that we send him a grocery list before our departure so that our fridge and pantry were stocked with our favorite bulk buys from Costco upon our arrival. He bought us cases of water but also said the water flowing through the house is filtered 11 times and is perfectly safe to drink, and we confirmed that when we were not sent home with Montezuma’s revenge.
The roster of possible activities in Cabo is endless, but a pleasant catamaran ride complete with snorkeling, snacks, and drinks serves as both an extra sightseeing opportunity and an excellent break from lounging on the beach. The Pez Gato boat launches from the marina where sea lions can be seen perched on the stern of fishing boats returning from excursions as they bark at the men cleaning the fish persuading them for the scraps bound to return to the water.
A two-hour outing includes snorkeling, snacks, a full bar, a tour of the bay area with plenty of time to see and photograph the iconic Arch of Cabo. Just after departure, a crew member walked out with two wooden bowls big enough for an infant to comfortably bathe in brimming with bright green guacamole and pico de gallo, which were accompanied by an equally sized bowl overflowing with tortilla chips.
“You have no idea what real guacamole tastes like until you’ve had this,” said the chef. And he was right. Nothing compares to fresh, perfectly ripe avocados.
Proximity to the ocean means excess seafood options when eating out. Cabo has many critically acclaimed fine dining options ranging from Italian to Japanese. However, fine dining can be extraneous and after a long day on the beach and sometimes something a little more casual is preferred.
Constantly bustling with people, The Office seduces customers with its blue umbrellas shading diners from the powerful afternoon sun, brightly colored table cloths each different from the next, dishes that satisfy the Mexican food craving and the seafood soul, and its extremely convenient location. Literally on the beach with tables and chairs in the sand, it forces leg workouts on the waiters as they navigate their way efficiently through the thick sand.
Enchiladas, quesadillas, and burritos are prominent on the menu as are noteworthy seafood dishes like octopus, deep fried whole red snapper, and fresh steamed lobster and crab. Their margaritas have achieved the precise ratio of fresh ingredients making all the house margaritas you’ve had in the past look like an artificially dyed bottle of corn syrup.
The octopus in garlic sauce is a simple dish, yet also complex and complicated to execute properly. The eight-legged sea creature is perfectly tender with a little bit of fat and releases the taste of the sea as you chew. There isn’t much of it, but the garlic sauce is full of garlic flavor but not overpowering and seasoned with the exact amount of salt. Spice makes its way into the dish with medium heat, red wine-colored julienned chili as a garnish.
Crowds typically tend to stumble their way to The Office after spending an extended period of time drinking buy-one-get-one-free from Mango Deck just a few establishments down the beach. Herds of people minimally clad in swimsuits crowd under their shaded deck and spill out onto the beach in front of the stage where entertainment ranges from DJ sets to wet t-shirt and dance contests. Bringing cash is strongly advised as you will be served quicker and won’t have to deal with the hassle of running a credit card.
Strobe lights flash in synchronization with the bass vibrating through the throngs of people waiting to enter Squid Roe for nightlife entertainment. Four stories of club seem a sufficient amount of space, but there always seems to be a line of people waiting to enter due to capacity limits.
An open roof with a view of the night sky and a view of all the lower levels is an indicator you made it to the top floor. It’s rather shocking how well you can see the crowds on the lower levels. People think they hide in the anonymity of a darkened corner, but all is visible from this vantage point. It bears a shocking resemblance to the circles of hell as described in “Dante’s Inferno”.
The drinks are what you would expect, over-priced, sugary, and require a shoving match to get to the bar even though they’re on each floor. However, you get to take home an obnoxious souvenir cup if you spend just a little more.
There are other night clubs in walking distance of Squid Roe like Mandala and No Where Bar all offering the same experience: dark clubs with loud music and aggressive crowds. If taking a taxi home, travel in groups and confirm the rate before getting in. Cabo is relatively safe, but, as always, be aware of your surroundings and keep track of your belongings or you just might have your phone stolen from your purse by the guy standing right next to you in line while waiting to get into Mandala.
Nightclubs and partying all day can be exhausting and isn’t for everyone, so don’t forget you can always follow in the footsteps of the couple on the plane. Lay on the soothing beach with its squawking seagulls and endless horizon or play golf on the meticulously manicured courses and finish the day off gazing at the sunset and treat yourself to an early bedtime.