After our recent trip to Cabo, I decided it was time to update my Cabo travel guide, as I had many more amazing things to add to the list! I have more experience staying on the San Lucas side than I do in San José side, but after this most recent trip I can say I have experienced much more of what San José has to offer. (By the way, if you’re wanting to plan a destination wedding, I CANNOT recommend replicating Alycia and Matt’s wedding with ceremony + reception at Acre and room blocks at JW Marriott. More on that below! It was the trip of a lifetime for sure!)
Cabo San Lucas + San José del Cabo guide!
What’s the difference between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo?
Both are considered “Cabo” but depending on where you are in each area, can be 45 minutes + away from each other, so it’s important to know the differences!
Cabo San Lucas: I would call this the more long-standing tourist destination. Therefore it’s considered more “touristy” but that makes it sound bad and it isn’t a bad thing at all because I love San Lucas–it has tons of amazing restaurants and if you’re looking for the “traditional” vacation spot action, like nightlife, beach bars, activities and more–this is definitely the spot you want to be!
San José: Came onto the scene as a “destination” much more recently. It’s got a a big vibrant art scene and is known for their many farm to table restaurants. You’ve likely heard of Flora Farms, which is located here! It has more of a small-town vibe but still has tons of incredible restaurants and things to do, but probably not what I’d describe as a big “nightlife” spot. Another bonus is that San José is a much quicker ride to and from the airport! If you’re looking for a more zen vacation with more culture, this is probably the spot for you.
I truly don’t think you can go wrong with either one of these destinations.
Where to stay in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo:
Here’s a recap of all the places we’ve stayed in Cabo!
Resort Condo near San Lucas:
Anytime I’ve stayed in San Lucas, I’ve stayed at Villa La Estancia where my friend Courtney’s family owns an awesome condo. They were so gracious to let us stay there and I’ve also been back on a girl’s trip with her. (And also stayed at the hotel portion, Villa del Arco, when I was in high school!)
The pool is so nice–not crowded at all, and the drinks and food are always consistently good. The cool part about it is that there are actually three resorts in one, so you get access to lot’s of different restaurants, bars, and even a little grocery market and deli that are a quick walk–where you can get all your essentials. The spa next door at Villa del Arco is hands down the best spa I have EVER been to. (Yes, it blows even The Four Seasons out of the water).
Villa La Estancia is comprised of privately owned condos that are often rented out (think AirBnB, but with the amenities and security of a private hotel resort) so they have kitchens where you can cook on your own (great if you’re trying to make your trip more economical or if you have young kids) and really nice to make your own margaritas and lay out on the deck if you wish! Being so close to downtown also means you get the best views (with the famous arc close by!)
If you’re interested in vacation rentals in cabo, I’d recommend going through our friend Jane! (Who we are friends with through Courtney!)
She has been doing vacation rentals in Cabo for more than a decade and knows Cabo better than anyone else I know–she handles a lot of rentals at La Estancia!
**I would highly recommend this option if you have kids, as you can put baby down for a nap and lay out and read on the terrace during the day, and grill out after baby goes to bed at night. Even if you have older kids, I think being close to San Lucas is much more convenient as there’s just more to do that is family-friendly! It’s also a great option if you’re traveling with family–it’s nice to be altogether in a 3 or 4 bedroom condo vs in different hotel rooms, etc!
The JW grounds were spacious and I loved the beautiful details
Loved the sand setup right in front of the pool at the JW, overlooking the ocean–so you got the best of both worlds! (The beaches in Cabo are not soft sandy beaches and the undertow is usually pretty rough, so it’s not the most “beachgoer” friendly destination–although you can sometimes swim if the current isn’t too strong, and there is a net to play beach volleyball by the water–still, it was nice this resort had the best of both worlds!)
Resort hotels near San José:
We’ve stayed at two resorts near San José and had a great experience at both. If you’re going on a couples trip or a small girls trip. This is where we just were for the wedding and it was amazing!
Where we just stayed for our friends wedding at Acre. The JW is a really great hotel if you’re looking at planning a wedding in Cabo (especially if you’re looking to get married at Acre or Flora Farms–as it’s about 1.5 miles from there.) If you want a nice, but not TOO expensive resort with all the amenities, in San José, this is a great one. It’s not all-inclusive, which I’d recommend if you’re the kind of person who wants to go off the resort and try new places most nights!
We had great service here and the hotel was really conducive for big groups–at one point I think there were 3 different groups of weddings there but it never felt over-crowded and there were so many places to all hang out together, it was perfect. We never ate dinner there as we went out each night but breakfast and lunch were good!
Secrets Los Cabos:
If you want an all-inclusive resort and plan to stay on premise the majority of your stay, we had a great experience at Secrets Los Cabos! The resort is beautiful, service was top-notch, spa was wonderful. LOVED the jacuzzi tub on the balcony! It’s a great higher-end all-inclusive. You can read my review here!
Click play above to watch the video I made of our post-wedding trip to Cabo! The first half of the trip (when a lot of these videos were taken) we stayed at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Resort and the other half were from when we moved to La Estancia and did more outings later on in the trip! (You’ll also get to hear about our ridiculous wedding where everything went wrong – it was still quite raw then.)
What to eat + do in Cabo San Lucas:
This is hands down the most romantic place I’ve ever been in my life. It’s the cliffside restaurant/champagne bar you see at the end of our video. Truthfully, nothing does it justice. It’s so, so incredibly special. It’s VERY pricey, but completely worth it. (Seriously, a glass of champagne is like $30, but it’s unreal.) They’ll give you a pairing of different types of sea salt to taste with the champagne, and it’s the coolest experience.
Even if you just go for a glass and to take in the views–it will be an experience of a lifetime. The restaurant pretty much serves exclusively seafood, but when I told them I don’t like fish, the chef prepared a special appetizer, salad, and dinner course just for me! The service and the food was as incredible as the views were. If you’re on your honeymoon, you can’t NOT go here.
Delicious casual Mexican food, fun, colorful decor and a beautiful outdoor setup.
Same owners as Mi Casa, similar vibe, but Edith’s is more upscale–a beautiful garden setting with lanterns and string lights!
Doing a BIG 180 here–if you’re looking for authentic street tacos, you have to go to Tacos Gus. It’s a hole in the wall (but those are the best kind!) You’ll find plenty of locals here, so you know it’s good! They bring out four different kids of salsa and a huge tray of fixings so you can top your tacos with whatever you’d like. We were in heaven.
This is a fun place to go-to during the day or at night (although the crowds die down pretty early from our experience). They have live music and it’s always a really fun atmosphere!
Lunch at The Office during my girls’ trip a few years back
More of a bar than a restaurant, but it’s both, and right on the beach. You can’t get a cooler atmosphere than this one, with lights strung everywhere and tables in the sand!
Beautiful dinner at Sunset Mona Lisa
Sunset Mona Lisa:
You will feel like you’ve been transported to Santorini with the beautiful white buildings against the sea. Make sure to make your dinner reservation for sunset–as the name would suggest–you won’t find a more beautiful setting anywhere. Especially known for their fresh seafood dishes. I don’t remember what I ordered here (as it’s been a few years now) but I remember everything we ordered was good!
Cruise aboard The Risalina:
Highly recommend a sunset dinner cruise! There are many you can choose from, whether you want something more rowdy, low-key, or in-between. The one I have done twice now is the Risalina–which served dinner (Fajitas! They were really good!) and it was a really fun time–you get such a beautiful view of the scenery and the sunset is to die for! The boat doesn’t hold that many people (I would guess 25?) so while it’s not private, it doesn’t feel like a big touristy experience either. It’s lovely! You can also rent out the Risalina for a private group–they also do snorkeling and whale watching tours, which would be really cool to do as well!
What to eat + do in San José del Cabo:
Okay, heads up–the next three places are located up a very steep, rough, dirt road. The first time we went to Flora Farms we were a little alarmed that the driver had taken a wrong turn, but don’t worry. You’re in the right place, haha!
Cocktails at Flora Farms
My favorite Flora Farms shop where I got my favorite perfume: Anne Sidora
A better look at the beautiful grounds (taken during our last girls trip)
Regardless of where you’re staying Cabo, you MUST make a trip to Flora Farms. It’s one of my absolute favorite places. I actually have a whole post dedicated to it from my girls’ trip to Cabo–read my Flora Farms guide here! Honestly order everything–we’ve never had anything there that was less than stellar.
Make sure to get there early so you can explore the gorgeous grounds before it gets dark, and pop into the beautiful shops! (This is where I get my favorite perfume! It’s the ‘Sandovalis Jardin de Merida Perfume’ from the Anne Sidora boutique!) Note that I think many of the boutiques are closed on Mondays so maybe pick a different day for Flora Farms if you can!
At Alycia & Matt’s wedding at Acre! I’m wearing my Elisamama hibiscus dress!
Where our friends Alycia and Matt got married! WOW wow wow was it spectacular! It’s actually a hotel and restaurant so you don’t have to be a wedding guest to experience the magic. It’s owned by Flora Farms, so you’ll get a similar farm to table experience in a more trendy (read: less ‘farm’ more ‘chic restaurant’ vibe) environment. Everyone agreed the food at Acre was some of the best they’ve ever had.
Crew at Los Tamarindos (you can’t tell in this photo but the view looking out from the table was all open air looking out onto the farm!
Lesser-known than the above two, but no less extraordinary. I think the best margaritas we had were here–the guava margarita was to die for and not too sweet. The ribeye here was the best steak we had for sure. (I’m not one for seafood but everyone else we were with died over their seafood!) Plus, the service was really wonderful! Also set in a beautiful farm setting, everything was SO fresh and delicious. This was much more of.a quaint, more relaxed and less “trendy” vibe than the top two, but are located very close to one another.
Los Tres Gallos:
Many of the shops in the square hold a regular Art Walk (on certain Thursdays of the month) so if you can time it up right, I’ve heard that’s a really fun thing to do! There are tons of lovely restaurants in the downtown, we honestly didn’t get much time to explore but cannot wait to go back and do so. We only got to one restaurant there called Los Tres Gallos but it didn’t disappoint!
The cutest spot with the most wonderful service and delicious authentic Mexican food. Also, the mariachi band they had there was incredible. The guitarist was perhaps the most talented guitarist I’ve ever heard live. Truly amazing. Like every spot we went this past trip, everything was so fresh and we enjoyed their wine list of Baja California wines! (Which we’d never had, but we were impressed!)
More Cabo recess from readers:
La Lupita: Sad we never made it here because MANY people rave about La Lupita and their incredible tacos! Readers love the cheese crust taco, scallop taco, and the Mezcal flights. Another insider tip from a reader: there’s a hole in the wall cigar shop close by serving amazing mojitos. Ask your server or any local–they’ll know!
El Ahorcado in San Jose: Came highly recommended by two readers for dinner!
El Gallo Perdido in San Lucas: Known for their fresh, quality ingredients and amazing tacos!
Quivira property: Hosts a renowned golf course
Chileno Bay resort: A 5-star Auberge collection resort–one of the few resorts in Cabo with a swimmable beach!
Esperanza: Sister resort to Chileno Bay, has unbelievable views–which you can also experience at their restaurant!
San José Art Walk: A fun activity to check out in downtown San José!
Javier’s at Cabo Azul resort: A pretty spot for Mexican food without having to leave the San José hotel zone!
I hope this was helpful! Bottom line: I cannot recommend a trip to Cabo enough. I hope you enjoy!