While many are familiar with the party town of Cabo San Lucas, its sister town, San Jose del Cabo, known as the “other Cabo” is not as well known yet offers great low key vacation opportunities for those fortunate enough to discover this traditional Mexican town. While Cabo San Lucas was designed literally from ground up by the Mexican government to be a tourist destination resort a couple of decades ago, San Jose del Cabo has been an outpost on the tip of the Baja California peninsula for hundreds of years.
San Jose del Cabo was officially founded as a mission in 1730. The first expeditions to explore the area were carried out by Cortés, as early as 1535. The rich and colorful history of San Jose del Cabo includes pirates, Jesuit missionaries and Indian uprisings. Today, the town offers the best of traditional Mexico with its blocks of unhurried streets and graceful tree covered sidewalks, its scores of shops, galleries, fine restaurants, boutiques and total absence of popular franchises like McDonalds. It’s a place to explore, unwind, and treasure. San Jose del Cabo offers something for everyone and activities include horseback riding, golfing, surfing, boating, fishing, swimming, scuba diving, para-sailing, snorkeling, sea kayaking, water skiing, glass bottom boat cruises, wave runners, wind surfing, whale watching, shopping, biking, bird watching or just exploring the neighborhood.
The town square, or Zocolo, is home to the Parroquia San José church, a reminder of San Jose del Cabo’s vivid history as a mission. You can often enjoy traditional Mexican bands, Latin dance and rock music in front of the church during the evenings. The plaza is also home to a Victorian bandstand and a newer outdoor stage for larger performances.
The Zocolo also offers great opportunities for shopping. Choose from wood carvings, unique objects made of pewter, hand painted clothing, jewelry, pure vanilla or designer sportswear at duty free prices. Browse the galleries that display the works of talented local artists or relax at one of the numerous sidewalk cafes, bakeries or ice cream parlors in the neighborhood.
A beautiful protected estuary covers a large area on the southeast edge of the city. Over 100 species of birds inhabit the estuary along with a variety of turtles, fish and some rather exotic marine mammals.
The new Puerto Los Cabos Marina is the gateway to the Sea of Cortez and the world’s finest sport fishing grounds. Here you can find Marlin of the blue, black and striped variety, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna. There are restaurants, a championship golf course and even a Dolphinarium to enjoy.
The nightlife is somewhat subdued when compared to neighboring Cabo San Lucas however, that does not mean that you will not be able to have an enjoyable night on the town. Many of the restaurants and bars feature live entertainment presenting everything from jazz to rock. Mariachi bands have also been known to roam the restaurants in the evenings.
As far as the beaches are concerned, Costa Azul, an area consisting of resort condos, is probably the most popular beach in San Jose del Cabo. The very west end of this long stretch of beach is home to San Jose’s popular surfing breaks. To the east of San Jose is La Playita, the popular starting point for the area’s panga (fishing charters) fleet. To the east of La Playita lie miles and miles of deserted beaches, in an area known as the East Cape. There are also many quiet beaches and coves located in the Corridor between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.
Like most areas in Baja California, San Jose del Cabo has an arid climate although hurricanes/ tropical storms occasionally coming in from the south bring very heavy rain falls.
For many tourists, after visiting fast and hectic Cabo San Lucas the first time, San Jose del Cabo ends up being their destination of choice for future visits. Indeed most folks come to Mexico to get away, take it slow and appreciate the ambience as found in San Jose del Cabo.