In and Around San Jose del Cabo On a Budget

by  Alex Schechter | Feb 21, 2014
 Lands End in Cabo San Lucas Mexico
Lands End in Cabo San Lucas Mexico / Aneese/iStock

Ah, Mexico. In a country known for beautiful beaches, delicious food, and lively street festivals, it can be hard figuring out just where you'd like to spend your time. Perhaps a villa in Riviera Maya? Or a walkabout through historic Mexico City? Or maybe it's a week hiding out in enchanting San Jose del Cabo, the "gateway to the Los Cabos Corridor," as well as the town nearest to Los Cabos International Airport. Though lesser-known than its nonstop-partying neighbor to the west, Cabo San Lucas, it turns out the scenic coastal stretch of San Jose del Cabo is ideal for leisurely bike rides, seafood feasts, and carefree drives up the coast. All on a budget, of course. Here's how to do it...

Get around efficiently
Cabo is a slightly disjointed place. If you're content to sit by the pool all day, that's fine, but what if you want to explore beyond the confines of your resort? For the purpose of exploring around San Jose del Cabo, you generally have two options: hiring a taxi, or renting a car. Considering the former can cost upwards of $15 per ride ($60 per day if you're making multiple trips), then the rental is often a better option. Spend just $42 per day on a basic set of wheels to dash between your hotel, town, or even a day trip up to a locally-recommended beach.

A daytrip to El Cardonal
It may come as a surprise, but along the Baja peninsula's southern tip, you'll find only two public-access beaches; the rest are all claimed by various resorts, hotels, and private estates. Our advice? Take your rental car out on the open road up the Gulf coast to El Cardonal, a fishing village 70 miles north of San Jose del Cabo. Trust us, the hour-and-a-half trip is worth it. Between the $4 burritos, hop-in-hop-out kayak rides, and secluded clear-water beaches, you won't even notice the time passing.

Play at the hotel
Planning an action-packed day may not be at the top of every traveler's list, but for those seeking a little adventure, it's worth doing the research ahead of time to ensure your hotel offers a suitable range of on-site activities. For example, at the newly-opened Hotel El Ganzo, guests have access to free bikes, which can mean a perfect sunset ride around the marina, ending up at the hotel's Beach Club for some volleyball, paddle boarding, kayaking, or snorkeling. And speaking of the marina, local fishermen have been known to recruit curious guests on board for a day of bait-and-tackling. If you're lucky, you could end up catching your own dinner.

Eat fresh, eat cheap
If spending several hours with a rod flung over the side of a ship isn't your idea of fun, San Jose offers plenty of other wallet-friendly ways to fill your belly. Of the town's impressive mix of low-key, taco-and-a-beer-type joints, one of our favorites is the slightly off-the-beaten-path Blue Fish. Specializing in locally-caught seafood dishes like octopus ceviche ($9.40) and lobster tacos ($6.40 for two), the tiny but delicious eatery is concealed inside a corporate plaza along the Transpeninsular Highway.

Show up for Thursday's Art Walk
Unpretentious and full of charm, San Jose del Cabo offers a quiet downtown area filled with interesting boutiques, cafes, and art galleries (in other words, the polar opposite of non-stop-partying Cabo San Lucas). Perhaps the best way to soak up the town's old-world village feel is to show up for the weekly Art Walk. Held every Thursday night from 5-9 p.m. (November through June), the seasonal event is a chance to explore the historic district, meet locals, and even pick up a locally-crafted souvenir in the form of a painting, print, sculpture, or piece of jewelry.

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