Los Cabos is a world divided in two: The action and energy of Cabo San Lucas, mixed with the local, artsy, laid-back living of San Jose del Cabo. The two combined make one of Mexico's most beloved beachfront destinations, but each holds unique magic and charm to provide a vacation experience on its own.
While Cabo San Lucas tends to attract the majority of U.S. travelers, drawn to its fine dining, five-star beach resorts and frenetic nightlife, San Jose del Cabo marches to a slower beat. Still, new developments (and old favorites) in San Jose are putting this destination more prominently on the map for boutique-style travelers who are looking to experience something a little bit different from the resort scene of Cabo San Lucas.
Proximity to the airport
I arrived in San Jose del Cabo on a new direct JetBlue flight from LAX. The roundtrip flights run daily on Airbus A320s, which offer free WiFi for the duration of the flight. The flight was practically empty, which was wonderful for social distancing (and speed of boarding) -- but likely won't remain empty for long, given the fact that the convenient and comfortable flight puts you straight from Los Angeles to Los Cabos in less than two hours.
One of the major selling points about San Jose del Cabo is that it is about as close to the airport as you can get when visiting Baja California Sur. While Cabo San Lucas is roughly 40 minutes from the airport, San Jose del Cabo is no more than 15 minutes away.
An art capital
Many travelers come to San Jose del Cabo for daytrips to take in its thriving arts scene. Tucked behind the historic main square and the main church in San Jose del Cabo lives the burgeoning Art District. In fact, San Jose del Cabo's Art District has become the cultural center of the destination, peppered with approximately 15 luxury art galleries brimming with paintings, photographs, prints, jewelry and sculptures by both local and international artists.
One gallery not to be missed is the Patricia Mendoza Art Gallery, curated by long-time art connoisseur and collector, Patricia Mendoza. Her gallery specializes in contemporary artists, with pieces from Jorge Marin and Julio Martinez Barnetche, among others. Visiting her gallery is a wonderful, welcoming experience. The white building is set back within a small courtyard, and visitors are invited to enjoy a glass of wine while browsing the intimate space. Mendoza hosts special events, like her "art to table" series that combines an art exhibit with a paired dinner and wines.
Of course, you do not have to choose just one gallery. San Jose del Cabo is known for its art walks, held every Thursday between November and June, allowing visitors to meander in and out of the galleries at their leisure, often combining the experiences with food, drink and live music.
Farm to table
Los Cabos overall receives top marks for its dining scene. Whether it's an elegant tasting menu overlooking El Arco in Cabo San Lucas, a decadent oyster and Champagne bar, or casual fish tacos in an open-air cantina, you are eating well in Los Cabos.
The cooking school at Los Tamarindos uses a space that dates back more than 100 years. Photo Credit: Meagan Drillinger
San Jose del Cabo specifically, however, is known for its fresh, chic and beautifully designed farm-to-table experiences. While there are many to choose from, three stand out in particular.
The first is the restaurant at Acre, a boho chic desert oasis resort that originally began as a farm-to-table restaurant. The property sits on 25 acres, the majority of which are devoted to a working farm. A constantly evolving menu is crafted based on what is grown and in season on the property, as well as whatever produce can be obtained from other farmers, ranchers and fishermen in the area.
Then there is Los Tamarindos, a 200-year-old farm that doubles as a restaurant, cooking school and small, but growing, guesthouse. Currently, there are three little farm-front bungalows, but the plan is to construct more, along with a swimming pool.
For now, patrons can dine at the restaurant or sign up for a cooking class. There is something quite magical about foraging in the on-site gardens for thyme, rosemary, sage, basil and passion fruit and using these ingredients in the recipes you then prepare at the hacienda, overlooking the fields and farm. Of course, you can skip the lesson and opt to simply relax and enjoy what is prepared for you. That, too, is perfectly delightful.
Finally, you have Flora Farms. This 25-acre organic farm is also home to Flora's Field Kitchen, the Farm Bar, Flora Farms Grocery and Flora Farms Celebration. It truly is a farm-to-table destination. Guests can also browse the Shoppes at Flora Farms, the Culinary Cottages and the Haylofts, which are straw bale luxury homes. Flora Farms is also home to the Farm Spa.
Coming soon ...
Keep your eyes peeled for Drift San Jose del Cabo, which will reopen in November following a renovation and expansion. The first in a series of Drift-branded hotels, the Drift San Jose del Cabo will reopen with a revamped outdoor pool, courtyard with mezcal bar and a rooftop with gorgeous views.
The hotel originally opened with eight rooms, but the expansion has raised the room count to 29. The hotel has also teamed up with Mezcal Exiliado, which helps the hotel highlight the liquor through mezcal flights and other mezcal-inspired cocktails. On Thursdays, the hotel will host a taco truck to the backdrop of live music, keeping in line with San Jose del Cabo's Art Walk Thursday tradition.