Whether you're contemplating a romantic escape or a singles getaway for Valentine's Day, Los Cabos makes the perfect long-weekend destination. This arid resort area at the tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula consists of a hotel-lined strip of coast (The Corridor) that runs between two beach towns: traditional San José del Cabo and contemporary Cabo San Lucas.
Los Cabos is about doing (or not doing, as the case may be). Rather than sightseeing, this is a place for outdoor activities, spa treatments, and sunbathing beach- or poolside.
Regardless of itinerary, pay attention to the light. It's fantastic here, especially around twilight. Landscape colors are breathtaking, too: terracotta desert earth contrasts with azure blue sky, which often blends seamlessly on the horizon with the ocean.
Option 1: Romantic Escape
Intimate activities like snorkeling together in the Sea of Cortez or spotting migrating or calving whales ('tis the right season) on an excursion in the Pacific will no doubt lead to great shared memories.
Of course you can always just lounge side by side in a quiet poolside nook or indulge in a couples massage on the beach. Spas at the Westin (review), Esperanza (review) and Las Ventanas al Paraíso (review) resorts are just some of the places where beachside treatments are an option.
For romance laced with traditional Mexican flavor, visit San José del Cabo—day or night. There's great boutique shopping and a few lovely little restaurants and quiet bars. Also, be sure to sample the local liqueur, damiana, made from a shrubby indigenous plant. It's said to be an aphrodisiac.
Where to Stay
The Sheraton Hacienda del Mar (review), on The Corridor near San José, is a romantic, family-owned, colonial Spanish–style resort that's lushly landscaped outside and antiques-laden within. Rooms have private terraces, traditional tiles, and large whirlpool tubs. The spa has a For Him and Her package that's a particularly good deal.
Where to Eat
The Sheraton's De Cortez (link) steakhouse and Pitahayas Pacific Rim (link) restaurants are both critically acclaimed. The wine cellar here is also renowned. Consider pairing your food with a selection from the Valle de Guadalupe region of northern Baja. La Panga Antigua (review) is an intimate courtyard restaurant in San José that serves sophisticated Mexican fare, including great seafood.
Option 2: Singles Getaway
Top memory-making group—or solo—activities include ATV rides into the desert (where there are cactus forests), sportfishing excursions, and surfing. For that last experience you can rent equipment, get pointers on good spots, and take lessons at the Cabo Surf Hotel (review). Afterward, indulge in the Surfer's Sports package at the hotel's spa.
The town of Cabo San Lucas (aka Cabo) is undergoing infrastructure development and is newer than—and not as charming as—San José. Still you can spend a pleasant afternoon in the marina area, which is abutted by restaurants and shopping malls—one of them very high end.
At night, Cabo is party central (do try to keep your wits about you, though) with edgy rock clubs like Cabo Wabo (review) and Hard Rock (review) and over-the-top, not-for-the-prudish dance clubs like El Squid Roe (review). For a more sophisticated experience, head to the Passion Club (review), where top DJs keep the crowd moving. It's in the ME by Meliá hotel, making it a good solo-traveler option.
Where to Stay
The architecture is modern Mexican in style and palette and monumental in scale at the Westin Resort & Spa (review), on The Corridor near Cabo. There's not a bad sightline from anywhere here. Rooms have ocean-view terraces and the trademark Heavenly Beds and Baths (truly divine). Tennis courts and a seaside putting green are among the amenities here.
Where to Eat
Both the food and the view are outstanding at the Westin's award-winning Arrecifes restaurant (link). Dishes are sophisticated and eclectic—from New Zealand lamb chops to red snapper with an Asian twist. For authentic Mexican, check out La Fonda (review) in Cabo. Dare to try grasshoppers or ant eggs or simply tuck into tamer but true-to-tradition fare.
Airlines with regular service to San José del Cabo International Airport include Aeromexico, Mexicana, American, Alaska Air, US Airways, and Continental. Los Cabos is 2 hours and change from LA and San Diego. From New York, it's 5 hours to Mexico City and another 2.5 hours to Los Cabos.
From the west coast and parts of the southwest, nonstop flights are abundant. Most flights from the east coast and midwest make at least one stop—often in Mexico City or Los Angeles and often involving a connecting flight. That said, Continental has nonstop service from Newark, and American has it from O'Hare; expect to pay for the convenience.
Photo: (2) courtesy Westin Los Cabos