Los Cabos and Baja California offers a great vacation to almost everyone (except, perhaps, the budget traveller) - you just have to know how to select the best base for your trip there. Baja California, the peninsula that stretches hundreds of kilometres down the West coast of Mexico, has a plentitude of different vacation destinations - each catering to a different crowd. Due to it's proximity to USA, Los Cabos is particularly popular with North Americans - and a huge variety of different "gringos". Mexico's most luxurious beach resorts and hotels are found in Los Cabos. Different destinations cater towards the party crowd, retirees, beach lovers, whale watchers and family condos. Pick carefully.
In brief, Cabo San Lucas is for the young jet setters. San Jose del Cabo is for older more refined folk. San Felipe is good for families or those on a budget. Rosarito Beach is ideal if you just want to hop over the border. La Paz is perfect for whale watching. And Loreto is suitable if you seek a more charming, Mexican feel.
Cabo San Lucas
Party central in Los Cabos is Cabo San Lucas. Popular with the jet set and yacht owners, there's some seriously upmarket nightlife here, as well as fine beaches nearby. This is Mexico's most elite vacation resort, and caters heavily to the golfing crowd. It's also a very popular destination for big game fishing. There are now literally dozens and dozens of luxury hotels in Cabo San Lucas. There's dozens of late night bars and discos, making Cabo San Lucas Mexico's number one party destination. It's also Mexico's most expensive place to visit. When you hear about Los Cabos, it's usually Cabo San Lucas that is being referred to.
San Jose del Cabo
While the young trendy crowd heads to Cabo San Lucas, the folks wanting to retire or simply seek a less raucous and more polished alternative head to San Jose del Cabo. There's a huge expat crowd here, with plenty of North Americans drawn in by the lifestyle, great golf, fine climate (far too hot in summer though) and lovely beaches. San Jose del Cabo is very busy with tourists, but it does still retain a great degree of charm. With boutique shopping, fine art galleries, atmospheric restaurant courtyards and plazas full of musicians, it feels far more Mexican here than in neighboring Cabo San Lucas.
What used to be a sleepy fishing village has evolved into one of Baja California's more popular resorts. San Felipe is good for family vacations, and the tens of kilometres of beaches nearby are scattered with holiday homes. San Felipe is on the East coast of Baja, and is a good destination for whale watching tours in Mexico. Easily accessible from US, San Felipe is a little over two hours from the border. A variety of campsites near San Felipe make this a good option for budget travellers.
Pretty much next door to the border town of Tijuana, Rosarito beach is popular for precisely that reason - it's a skip over the border, and the different drinking age allows "piss ups" as we say in UK. Not much else needs aying about Rosarito beach - it's probably the best place to visit in Mexico if you simply want a drunken under-age beach vacation!
Elsewhere in Los Cabos
Beach lovers will adore the sleepy town of Los Barriles. It's home to a large expat artist crowd, has many fine restaurants and some of the peninsula's loveliest beaches. Los Barriles is also much better value than many other places in Los Cabos.
La Paz is relatively easy going by Baja California's standards, accommodation is good value and the beaches fine. It's also the ideal destination for whale watching.
Loreto is an almost quaint, historical town which offers many opportunities for travellers. For starters, it's the most charming town to stay in or visit in the region. The beaches to the south are just gorgeous. Plus there's plenty of options for seeing wildlife, some fantastic kayaking and plenty of scope to explore places inland.
Festivals in Baja California & Los Cabos - Best Times to Visit
It really must be pointed out that Los Cabos is oppressively hot during summer. From May to September the heat really does feel like you're in the desert. None the less, people party year round. So when is the best time to visit Los Cabos?
Harvest Festival in Valle de Guadalupe - fiesta style wine tastings and parties from late August to early September.
Todos Santos Arts Festival in February.
Feria de San Jose - a week of general madness involving everything from cock fights to carnivals. This is one of San Jose de Cabo's most entertaining weeks (end of March).
Carnival in La Paz - this usually tranquil town hosts Baja California's best carnival, the week afer Lent.
Spring break in Cabo San Lucas - great partying and general misbehaviour in Mexico.