Travel | 8 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Hola… Buenos Dias!
Here we go again… down south to Mexico in search of warmth climate during the winter in Canada, because here in Edmonton we already had a first cold spell and lots of snow to shovel. Our destination this time was Baja California and old town of San Jose del Cabo.
The Mission San Jose del Cabo Añuití
Sadly, it’s been too long since my last trip to Mexico. Looking back at my previous travels, I am reminded not only of the good and bad times abroad, but also of how thankful I am to document all of my adventures and mishaps along the journey. I write now from the cozy all inclusive hotel Posada Real in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Vera and I flew into the southern tip of the Baja peninsula on Sunday, from snowy Edmonton and its -15 degrees temperatures (and winter officially hasn’t started yet!). This vacation was definitely in the “mandatory” category of my life.
Arriving at Los Cabos International Airport
After a long, but unremarkable journey from Edmonton via Vancouver to Baja, aboard Westjet Boing 737, which by the way didn’t have any TVs and we were unable to watch movie during the flight, we landed in a warm and sunny San Jose del Cabo, that same afternoon.
The Cabo San Lucas airport is actually located about 13 kilometers north of San Jose del Cabo or 20 minutes drive. This also means the Los Cabos airport is about a 40 minute drive from Cabo San Lucas proper, which is on the western end of “the Corridor”. One major thing to know about the Los Cabos Airport is that they now have three terminals which are placed at a fair distance from one another. Third terminal is used by Westjet among other air companies and was opened only two weeks before our arrival (November 2012). New terminal at the airport is very modern but the design seems pretty difficult to navigate. When you deplane at the international airport in San Jose Del Cabo, you’re ushered trough Immigration first, than collecting your luggage and getting checked out by customs. There were no lineups at Customs as they checked our passports, but our luggage didn’t arrive with our plane so we spent one hour searching for the ‘lost luggage’ desk, praying that Mr. Antonio Miranda of Cactus rent a car, hadn’t abandoned the airport pickup task in lieu of a good day of surf.
Finally someone directed us from arrival floor to the departure area on the first floor and Westjet official delivered our luggage which, it turned out, arrived even before we did, aboard Sunwing flight directly from Edmonton. Officials were there to help us but certain procedures are still not in place. Once we’ve been given the go-ahead from customs, we exit the airport and had to pass through a barrage of time-share salespeople and other vendors. Admittedly, this process can be annoying and intimidating.
Gazebo on zocalo – San Jose del Cabo main square
Panoramic view of San Jose del Cabo
Cactus Rent A Car – Antonio Miranda
Thankfully, though, as soon as we stepped out into the warm breezy desert, we saw our man – Lopez from Cactus, waiting for us with a big sign and my name on it. We shake hands, and 5 minutes later we were sitting in Cactus headquarters, only about 2 kilometers away from the airport. I would highly recommend Cactus car rental and Antonio Miranda services. What he promises in his email, he delivers. No hassles with the price eather. Rental Cars in San Jose del Cabo are usually around $50 a day.
Cactus headquarters near the SJD airport
Renting a car in San Jose del Cabo can be a great way to explore the San Jose del Cabo area and the Baja California Sur. While the actual town is mostly walkable, its sister town of Cabo San Lucas is about 30 minutes away. There are plenty of side-trips from San Jose del Cabo that you can explore by car.
Traffic circle on highway 1 in San Jose del Cabo
We received a nice silver VW Jetta (older model) in good shape and went cruising down the highway toward San Jose. Like I said before, San José airport is about 13km from the San Jose del Cabo and about 41km drive from Cabo San Lucas. I studied the map before our trip, so once in town I knew we had to get to the main circle by Mega store and turn left towards our hotel ‘Posada Real’, which was just around the corner. Traffic was no issue, but it was slow and we still made it to our hotel in about 20 minutes.
Hotel Posada Real and their cactus garden – view from our room
All Inclusive Cabo Posada Real Resort Hotel
We booked nine days stay in Posada Real hotel. A small all inclusive full-service resort hotel on the beach, Posada Real Los Cabos is an oasis of blissful convenience. Services and amenities are designed to meet your Los Cabos vacation needs. This includes a mid-size swimming pool ringed with comfortable chaise lounges, two full-service restaurants and bars, tennis court, putting green, beach volleyball court, private beach area with shaded seating, masseuse and dining service, car rental office, activities agency, and a mini market for sundries, snacks and souvenirs.
View from our room towards ocean
We were received by very friendly bilingual personnel, ready to assist us in any way possible. We had booked a standard bedroom with the partial ocean view that was facing the cactus garden and pool area. Yes, the resort isn’t as big as the others but it definitely has a quiet relaxing atmosphere. Staff was great and always friendly and catering to our needs.
Hotel Posada Real from the beach
Next day (Monday) was a lazy day, started off with a beautiful run down to the beach and estuary to get acquainted with the area. We spent most of the day around the hotel pool. We quickly realized this hotel didn’t have many guests. This was definitely not a busy season for them which is the reason why we booked at this time and got a good deal on package price. In the evening we walked the beach towards Royal Solaris hotel to meet our Canadian friends who were staying there.
Since we have rented a car, our general plan was to drive around and explore this part of Mexico. At first we wanted to explore San Jose del Cabo and its surroundings. For the following days we’ve planned to make a day trip to Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos and La Paz with the stop at Los Barilles. By the end of this short vacation, we did all of this and more…
San José – City Layout
San José technically spreads from the airport halfway to San Lucas. The city has old el centro, or downtown, with restaurants, the Art District, historic inns and budget hotels, and the hotel waterfront (zona hotelera), lined with all-inclusive resorts.
From the highway, Zaragoza is the main street leading into town, all the way to the central Plaza Mijares, surrounded on two sides by most of the centro’s attractions. Paseo San José, the principal avenue of the zona hotelera, runs parallel to Zaragoza and the beach a mile to the south. Bulevar Mijares, peppered with restaurants and shops, connects the two areas north to south.
San Jose del Cabo vs. Cabo St. Lucas
Although they share a coastline and are a mere 20 minutes (or about 28 km) apart. Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo are as different as night and day. Both are located in medium size communities with lots of shopping at either location. San Jose del Cabo can serve as the primary destination for those looking for a more laid-back vacation like the two of us. San Lucas is a “new” town that has sprung up in the last 40 years. San Jose is an old colonial town dating from the 1600′s with many old colonial buildings. San Lucas is the party town where the cruise ships stop. San Jose is a family oriented community. There are plenty of activities there but not as much partying, which perfectly suited us.
Zocalo in San Jose del cabo
More About San Jose del Cabo
The first expeditions to explore this area were carried out by Hernan Cortés, as early as 1535. San José del Cabo was officially founded as a mission in 1730. The colorful history of San José del Cabo includes the murder of a priest, treasure (and water) seeking pirates and more than a few violent Indian uprisings. Life was a little rough for the first settlers here. Life has changed for the better in San Jose del Cabo and this city enjoys a tranquil lifestyle that is getting difficult to duplicate in many places in the world.
Beautiful park in downtown Cabo
Today you often hear the words “quaint”, “mellow” or “charming” most often used by visitors to describe San Jose del Cabo. The old buildings of the historic center, the ever present stature of the beautiful church and the friendly family atmosphere that radiates around the town square seem to make each of these descriptions accurate. San Jose del Cabo instills a sense of tranquility into the desert landscape and the beautiful Sea of Cortez coastline that define this area of Baja. Old customs and traditions prevail and time seems to be nothing more than a symbol that applies to the rest of the ever busy world. Funny thing though… almost all visitors seem to feel that time goes by way too quickly during their visit.
A natural estuary covers a large area in the southeast part of the city. Over 100 species of birds inhabit the estuary along with a variety of turtles, fish and a few marine mammals. Bird watching can be incredible here and is easily accomplished from a variety of angles. The easiest way to get to the estuary is to go the far east end of the hotel zone, past the Hotel Presidente, there you will find a viewing area. To get the best view walk along the path, next to the hotel, and out onto the beach.
Puerto Los Cabos
Puerto Los Cabos is the sparkling new world class marina that is located just to the east of the city center, right next to the ever tranquil village of La Playita. The Puerto Los Cabos marina includes over four hundred slips. Two eighteen hole golf courses laid out on over two thousand acres are also on the drawing board, with eighteen holes presently open. The development includes private homes, condominiums, a private beach club and a boat yard. There will be commercial centers, boutique hotels and full service, resort style, hotels built around the marina. All of this in a carefully thought out, master planned community, that fronts on the Sea of Cortez. The developers graciously saw fit to make a special area, within the marina, for the very popular panga fleet that was located on the beach in La Playita, seemingly forever.
Luxurious private homes in Fundadores are out of this world!
Zdenko at Fundadores private Beach Club
Puerto Los Cabos and La Playita are now connected to San Jose del Cabo by a massive bridge that spans the arroyo, hopefully relieving the area residents of being cut off from the city center during the brief summer rainy season.
Activities abound in San Jose and the new marina has made it much easier for visitors to pursue sport fishing from the local pangas, and now, larger cruisers. But there are so many activities in this area that most people will discover it is a difficult choice as to what to do with your vacation time. Most of the hotels have an activities desk and you can find brochures all over town.
The hotel zone, along the Sea of Cortez is home to about a dozen beachfront hotels, condo complexes and timeshare resorts. This area stretches all the way from the estuary to the surfing beach at Costa Azul. The beaches along the hotel zone are known for strong undercurrents, so it is not such a good idea to swim here, no matter how inviting the water looks. The beach at Costa Azul marks the beginning of the beautiful 28 kilometers long ‘The Corridor’. This is an area of top rated hotels, including a few with 5 stars, private residences, golf communities and wonderful beaches. At the western end of ‘The Corridor’ you will find yourself in Cabo San Lucas, at the very tip of the Baja peninsula.
On the east side from San Jose del Cabo is area called ‘East Cape’. San Jose del Cabo is the southern gateway to the East Cape region of Baja. To get to the East Cape from San Jose involves a 80 kilometers long stretch of terrible not paved road, that leads to some of the most incredible beaches in southern Baja. Needless to say the fishing, surfing and camping possibilities are close to endless. This mind boggling drive will take you all the way to the smaller fishing resorts of the Los Barriles area. Along the way you will find adventure and you will find “The Real Baja”. This road is not for the timid or the weak of heart.
There is an easier way to get to Los Barriles, via paved road. Just head north from the airport on Mexico 1, you will be in Los Barriles in about an hour.
Highway 1 connects San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas
Driving up the coast
No matter where you choose to stay, a car is a must if you want to experience both Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo or take a side trip. Car rental agencies can be found at most hotels, in the airport and downtown. We rented a car from ‘Cactus rent-a-car agency’ and were driving around in silver VW Jetta. The smooth four-lane Corridor highway connecting San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas has been improved, now with more safety features. The drive is a breeze from the airport to either town, but surrounding areas are still under development.
Entering Cabo San Lucas on highway 1
From San José del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas and everywhere in between, landscaped highway exit ramps are replacing dirt-road turnoffs, new resorts and condo buildings are under construction, seaside golf courses are opening, and restaurant menu prices are reaching for the stars. It bugged me that you can’t see any of these most elite communities because they are all private and secured guard-gated communities. Every time I made an exit from the highway we were stopped two hundred meters further at the gate, where the security guard would not let us go through, and we had to turn around and go back on the highway. Some say Los Cabos is well on its way (if not already there) to becoming Mexico’s most expensive destination.
We made several trips to Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos and all the way to La Paz. In a different blogs I will try to describe these trips and our other adventures in Baja California.
Every day’s forecast: Sunny and warm!
The weather was boring for the full 9 days we were there. It must be easy to work as a weather man in the Cabo area. Every day the temperatures stayed the same which is between 26 – 30 Celsius, under the clear skies… just wonderful! Not cold and not overly hot.
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