Known to most American tourists as a spring break destination or a stop on a Pacific cruise, Los Cabos has embraced its reputation as a party-centric locale. A stroll through downtown Cabo San Lucas turns up a slew of stalls selling cheeky T-shirts, an array of brightly colored bars and more than one bachelorette party parading through the streets.
But when it comes to an authentic Baja peninsula experience, it’s not all margaritas and piña coladas. Venture a little further up the coast to San Jose del Cabo and you’ll discover budding organic farms and restored historic buildings serving up something a little more authentic than nachos. Follow Forbes Travel Guide’s tips to discover a taste of the real Los Cabos.
Where to Stay
Up and down the aptly named Tourist Corridor, you’ll find a cluster of high-end hotels flaunting sea views and Baja sunsets. But to savor it all with minimal planning on your part, check into the all-inclusive Paradisus Los Cabos.
This picture-perfect property boasts a swimmable beach (a rarity in Los Cabos), a serene spa, seven restaurants and seven bars to help you unwind in style. For the ultimate stay, check into a Royal Service Swim-Up Suite that provides direct access to an adults-only pool, an exclusive lounge and VIP butler service.
The resort’s recently launched “Embrace Your Nature” campaign helps you get in touch with the region’s roots through curated dining experiences (expect a rotating array of guest chefs in coming months), wellness activities (daily morning yoga) and locally inspired adventures, like swimming with great white sharks and a private jet ride to some of the area’s top wineries.
Where to Shop
You don’t have to go far to find an original souvenir. A newly opened boutique at Paradisus sells hand-woven bags, lamps, fans and anything else that could possibly be made out of palm fronds. But what makes these pieces unique is that they are all crafted by local artisans through Project Beatriz, a humanitarian initiative offering jobs to women in vulnerable communities around the Mexican state of Guerrero.
When you’re ready to travel further afield, ask the hotel’s concierge to call you a taxi for the 25-minute jaunt to Flora Farms. This 25-acre working farm in San Jose del Cabo is not only Instagram fodder, it’s also home to a restaurant, grocery store, spa and small collection of shops. Browse around for local finds like earthenware pots made in the town of La Candelaria, clothes produced by beneficiaries of the Sarahuaro Center for the Development of Women, and organic Anne Sidora skincare products made with Baja ingredients.
Where to Eat
Shopping certainly works up an appetite, so grab a seat at Flora’s Field Kitchen to nosh on chef Guillermo Tellez’s seasonal cuisine — everything served at the restaurant was grown on the farm or its adjacent 150-acre ranch. Be sure to also swing by Flora’s Ice Cream Cart for a sweet treat on your way out.
To taste the talents of another local toque, head just up the road to Acre. The domain of Mexico City-born chef Alex Branch, the 25-acre farm/boutique hotel/event venue has a gorgeous open-air restaurant where mezcal tastings and lunches are popular pastimes. Grab a seat in the thatched-roof dining room to nibble on plant-forward fare like mushroom and hibiscus carnitas tacos. After lunch, visit the rescued goats, horses and puppies at the rear of the grounds.
For a meal with a side of history, head for Los Tamarindos. This restored 19th-century farmhouse serves as the alfresco dining room and kitchen for one of the most scenic cooking classes around — you can see the produce growing just outside the restaurant. Chef Enrique Silva’s farm-fresh plates (baked zucchini rolls topped with fresh lemon basil, and pork shank in green mole are both highlights) make the most of the property’s bounty. Don’t forget to order an adult beverage — the onsite mixology garden and recently opened bar ensure the tipples are top-notch.—Sarah Chanin