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Trip Report Six days in San Josè del Cabo at the end of our California Trip

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This part of our family trip follows on from 20 days in the USA - if anyone is interested there is a separate Trip report in the US Forum.

We boarded our flight to Mexico wondering if we had been wise in embarking on this last part of our journey. It would have been much easier to spend the extra 6 nights in the States visiting Laguna Beach and San Diego and despite all the info from Fodor’s we were still not sure whether we would like Los Cabos.
We landed on a sunny but quite chilly day and after a long wait eventually picked up our pre-booked rental car from Alamo. We had chosen a SUV but apparently it hadn’t been returned yet. They gave us another car and promised to deliver our Nissan later in the day to our hotel. Hmmm……by 5pm the car arrived! No complaints.
We drove the 15 odd km to San Josè and immediately got a good feeling from the place. We were in Mexico! We checked into our pool villa at El Encanto Inn. Thanks Michelle Y for recommending this. We loved the hotel, it was exactly our kind of place. Small, intimate, well kept gardens, amazing pool, huge suite with large airy rooms, an enormous living room and kitchen, balcony, fans, big fridge and absolutely ideal location right in the Art District of San Jose. We immediately set off exploring the town which is small, colonial and absolutely charming. Plenty of good restaurants, a very dignified central square with cathedral and Mission (Plaza Mijares), lots of bars, breweries, shops and art galleries. At first it seemed a little too touristy and quaint but in the next few days we were to discover a more “hidden” and interesting San Josè.
We had our first meal in one of a series of similar restaurants: upmarket Mexican food in stunning open courtyards under the palm or fig trees with fairy lights and attentive service. Despite the odd Mariachi and high prices we never felt as if we were in a tourist trap. In all three, Meson del Anjel, La Panga Antigua, and El Comal (I think) we ate reasonably well, drank great cocktails and had a good time but none really stand out as extra special. The two tacquerias we tried were, on the other hand, memorable – El Fogon and Las Guacamayas in nearby Chamizal were great in terms of food, atmosphere and surroundings and of course for a tenth of the price!
Other places we liked in San Josè were the art galleries – definitely a notch above average, the delicious croissants at French Riviera, a few of the shops, the local market where the kids did all their souvenir shopping and the Baja Brewing Co. which had live music in the evening. The boys also managed to join local fiestas at night and come back late having made new Mexican friends.
One day we went to San Lucas and rented a sail boat (pre booked through www.daysailcabo) and Captain Bob took us for a 3-4 hour sail to the usual spots El Arco and Playa Amor hoping to see some whales. We were not lucky and the weather was cloudy and cold. Fortunately we had brought blankets instead of towels! The trip was nice but too long. We spent the rest of the day in Cabo San Lucas but were not overly impressed and we were quite happy to return to San Josè and with the choice we had made to stay there.
The following day we decided, against all advice, to drive the dirt coast road to Cabo Pulmo. It was crazy but we are so glad we did it! At the beginning you pass through interesting new developments, fancy villas and fun looking places like Buzzard’s Grill and Palapa. But soon we were in the middle of nowhere with no cars or people in sight for miles. Whenever we did see someone we would ask if we were in the right direction for Cabo Pulmo and they would laugh! It took us hours but the scenery was fantastic – rugged and rough with huge cacti, the odd donkey and fantastic beaches. We stopped every now and then to test the water but it was cold and windy. Occasionally we would meet some surfers camping but mostly it was deserted. We are so glad we did the drive because that was the highlight of the outing as Cabo Pulmo was pretty non descript with just a couple of shacks and a diving centre. We had a nice fish lunch at the diving centre bar but nothing to write home about. It was interesting to read Steinbeck and Rickett’s Log from the Sea of Cortez written about their trip here in the 50’s.
We also visited some of the beaches in “the corridor” La Playita and Santa Maria but it was too cold to really enjoy them and I would imagine they would be quite busy in high season with all those huge resorts close by.
On our last night we went to Deckman’s where there was a Blues Night with a great band from Canada and US. This was a really friendly place where we talked to lots of people and ate and drank very well.
Overall we really liked San José – it reminded us a little of an Ibiza for older people (with San Luca = San Antonio) although on a smaller and less trendy scale. We could have easily spent some more days here, especially if the weather had been better, and are glad we went as it is so far away from Rome it is unlikely we will ever be back. It was also a completely different experience from the rest of our trip and a good way of winding down before getting back to cold wintery Europe.

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