There is no shortage of vacation spots in Mexico, but perhaps one of the most dynamic is the Southern Baja California Peninsula. Its desert landscape, towering cacti, majestic Sierra de la Laguna mountains, and incredible food make this destination—including Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo at the southern tip; Todos Santos, Cerritos Beach, and Pescadero slightly northwest; and La Paz to the northeast—has everything one needs for a relaxing, nourishing, and refuelling vacation. Here are some highlights.
Heads will rest easy at the luxe Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, where the beds feel like clouds and rooms all feature onsen-inspired wooden soaker tubs. Spend all day poolside (there are many pools, including a swim-up bar), play a game of bean-bag toss on the beach, or head to the onsite spa for an added dose of chill. There are also four restaurants, including an outpost of the famed Japanese hot spot Nobu Restaurant. The happy hour here is very much worth your time; order a Garden cocktail and nosh on fried rice cubes topped with spicy tuna, Wagyu beef gyoza, and yellowtail crudo.
Speaking of food, it’s one of the things that Mexico does best. Seafood is especially fresh in the Baja, so fish tacos reign supreme (hence seeing Baja-style fish tacos listed on menus all over North America). For a high-level experience, head to Manta; the restaurant, located at the seductive Thompson Hotel in Cabo San Lucas, is helmed by celebrated Mexican chef Enrique Olvera. The menu is full of nuance, celebrating Mexican ingredients through dishes like rice with sweet corn and suckling pig cochinitas. Whatever you do, be sure to order the black miso fish tacos for a humble street food done to fine-dining perfection.
Over in San Jose del Cabo, stop for a meal at Flora Farms; the 25-acre organic farm features a restaurant, a bar, a small grocery, and an ice cream stand, as well as a spa and a handful of tasteful boutiques like James Perse. Utilizing the ingredients grown right on the farm, meals here are truly fresh as can be—and paired with an idyllic outdoor setting, it’s a truly memorable experience.
And heading north to the Todos Santos area (about an hour from the Nobu), order the blackened fish tacos at Pacifica Fish Market; the enchiladas at Pescadero’s Hierbabuena (also located in an organic garden); and pork tacos at Carnitas Miguel (it’s the only thing they serve, and it’s delicious). Right in the heart of Todos Santos, be sure to stop for dinner at El Refugio: the menu here changes daily, but it’s sure to include fresh local ingredients such as fish and chicken, smothered in delectable sauces that are bursting with flavour.
To get those steps in, consider the Sugar Port Trail in Todos Santos. The hike only takes about an hour to complete, and the steady incline offers both cardio and an amazing view at the top, overlooking an old sugar port cove with stunning blue water and jagged rock.
Also in Todos Santos is Playa Las Palmas, something of a local secret. Located down an unmarked dirt road (you will need Google Maps for this one), it is only accessed on foot through a grove of palm trees. Once the short walk is done, find yourself looking out onto a stunning and uncrowded beach.
Nearby Cerritos is a surfer’s heaven, and there are places offering lessons right on the beach—so both juniors and sophomores can enjoy the crashing waves.
If looking to venture even further north, consider Playa Balandra in La Paz. This breathtaking bay is worth the drive, boasting turquoise water and soft sand; the best part? It’s so shallow that you can basically walk across the whole thing. Just be warned, the water’s cold.
Spend the day relaxing by the infinity pool of El Faro Beach Club & Spa, or walk a few steps onto the beach and take a snooze on one of the property’s swinging beds in the sand. This day club has everything you need for ultimate relaxation: a swim-up bar with a strong margarita, a restaurant serving up delicious tuna tartare, a spa for additional pampering, and amazing views of the ocean that may, if you’re lucky, reveal an afternoon of humpback whales breaching just off the shore.
For equally beautiful views of the beach but this time from above, head to Freesouls in Cerritos, where you can spend all day dipping in and out of the property’s rooftop saltwater pool while sipping on Mexican beers and watching the whales jump.
For a truly authentic experience, stop by Blankets Factory Justina. Right off the highway just south of Cerritos Beach, this establishment has traditional looms right onsite that are used to make a selection of gorgeous woven blankets. There are rugs and pillowcases, too, so you might want to bring an extra suitcase.
Loveleigh Designs is another great shop in Pescadero, featuring locally-made pillowcases, bathing suits, dresses, and more. Find a similar aesthetic at Nomad Chic in the heart of Todos Santos.
For a caffeine fix, visit Taller 17 cafe (do yourself a favour and get a cookie, too) or Doce Cuarenta in Todos Santos. There is also Baja Beans, the area’s main coffee roaster that supplies many of the cafes and also has its own outpost in Pescadero. If fruit is more your thing in the mornings, hit up nearby Cactus Cafe for creamy smoothies.
In the land of mezcal and tequila, you know the cocktails are also going to be good. Grab a classic margarita at Barracuda Cantina in Cerritos, or head to the expertly-designed Hotel San Cristobal in Todos Santos to have a spritz and watch the sunset (this place is another great option for accommodation if you’re looking to spend more time in this area).
Back in San Jose Del Cabo, visit the gorgeous Acre Baja property for The Acre: a show-stopping cocktail of the hotel’s own brand of mezcal, plus jasmine chocolate bitters, Aperol, and Cynar. The hotel property also has an animal shelter; it all started with an abandoned donkey and has since grown into a well-known dog rescue featuring some of the cutest cuddlers around. Even if not looking to adopt, guests are encouraged to visit the shelter and play with the animals to help socialize them. So if all else fails in the Baja (though it likely won’t), there are always puppies.