Playing in Cabo San Lucas
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Playing in Cabo San Lucas
Playing in Cabo San Lucas: A city of extremes.
We arrived in Cabo at 9:00 a.m., passing the famous rock formations, which include Arch de Cabo, called El Arco, by the locals. Another Viking Cruise ship had already taken position in the harbor, arriving at 6 a.m. and scheduled to depart at 2 p.m. The Neptune took position between the other Viking ship and a beautiful sailing mega yacht. Cabo is a destination for the rich and famous and almost rich and famous. The harbor was packed with large luxury ships, both mooring and taking up space in the congested marina.
There are so many great things to do in Cabo San Lucas, which has led to its popularity. Sport fishing, diving, and golfing are all big attractions in Cabo. I would have loved to dive here as it is renowned for its reefs and large pelagic species. However, Bob and I decided to go golfing instead. We had missed out on a golf trip to Cabo over twenty years earlier when work got in the way. I did put it on a list of must-do dive spots for Danielle, my daughter, and me to visit another time.
The ship’s excursions were interesting, including camel safaris, ATV rides, sport fishing, catamaran whale-watching experiences, taquilla tastings, and trips to surrounding. towns for sightseeing and cultural immersion. Although we would typically been interested in any number of these excursions, we headed off the ship on our own with our clubs on the first tender. This was our first tender ride on the Neptune, and I have to say, the tender was large and spacious, with lots of ventilation. It was comfortable even though it was filled to near capacity. We arrived in the center of the marina at a dock surrounded by gorgeous private yachts. Wow! We proceeded down the pier, past the seals on the dock to the immigration check point, who didn’t even look at our ID.
We stupidly forgot to drop a pin in google maps before leaving, thinking the marina area was not that big and we would have no problem finding the tender and return to the ship. We would pay for that mistake later in the day. Tip: Always drop a pin on your Google Maps before leaving in any foreign country!
We proceeded through a typical crowded tourist area to a small circle street where several men were hawking cab services. We were told that Uber operates in Cabo, but taxis were plentiful. One of the taxi hawkers asked where we were going and told us to pay $30 and to follow a driver standing near him. Upon arrival at the cab, he asked where twe were going, and we replied Palmilla de Cabo Golf Resort. He said it would be $45. We told him the guy on the street said $30. He answered the resort was 45 minutes away, and the cost was $45. The old bait and swtich game. Ughh. However, he was nice about it, apologizing for the mix-up. The Uber charged $40 and was 8 minutes out, so we went ahead and took the cab heading to the course. The driver spoke good English and pointed out several of the beaches and famous homes along the ride to the course, including Michael Jordan’s beautiful home located up on one of the cliffs overlooking the ocean.
Riding through the streets of Cabo was a lesson in contrasts. The locals lived in very modest homes, and there were signs of poverty surrounded by commercial areas, nightclubs, and large estates and resorts on the outskirts of town.
We arrived at the course with plenty of time to hit some balls and practice putting, which I always need to do. It had been several weeks since Bob and I had played as we shipped our clubs out a few weeks ahead. The golf course was embedded in an exclusive housing community. It was not very busy, and the clubhouse was a modest but friendly facility. We signed in, paid the balance, and headed to the driving range. When we returned to the starter for our tee time, we were happy we were not being paired with other golfers and could start immediately.
The course resembles Arizona’s desert courses, where we often hit from one part of the fairway over waste areas to another section of the fairway. There were also several elevated tees, which are always fun to hit from. The fairways were typically wide, and the greens were fast but didn’t have much break. We played through one group of four on the 3rd hole, and then the course was ours until we arrived at the 17th hole and played through a couple of beginners. The course was enjoyable, but there was a lot of construction surrounding the middle holes. It was also very hilly, with large waste areas planned into the course built to accommodate large amounts of rain washout. I wouldn’t want to drive on that course during an extensive rainstorm.
We had a good time golfing, hitting our usual variety of good, bad, and ugly shots, but our scores were respectable, and we played in three hours, which is always a bonus. The weather was a perfect 72 degrees with a light overcast. We had views of
the ocean on many holes and beautiful homes in others. Lunch was free at the very nice halfway house. They were cooking sliders on the terrace. It turned out to be a great experience. The cost was pretty expensive, and we both agreed the course was a little overpriced due to the ongoing construction.
When we finished playing, I checked on the availability of an Uber. There was one close for $37.00 to return to the marina. I ordered it, and within two minutes, he arrived to pick us up and headed back. The driver did not speak English very well. We drove back into town, and several things looked familiar, so we didn’t blink when he pulled up to a circular drop-off area and let us out. We quickly realized he had dropped us off on the wrong side of the marina, and it looked like a long trek with our clubs to go around. We opted to jump into another cab and told him we needed to go to the other side, where the cruise ship’s tender came in. A nice Spanish-speaking American helped with the transition, and we were soon on our way. It was about a five-mile trip through traffic and around large condo apartments to get where we needed to be. Good thing we didn’t try to walk.
The Viking banners and staff were quickly found on the dock. However, we wanted some time to walk around and maybe have a snack before getting back on the Neptune, so we left our clubs with the Viking staff and headed back to the tourist area to look for a magnet and a restaurant. We found both. Wizzies was a second-floor bar that looked good and had Margaritas and nachos. PERFECTO! I drank my margarita, and Bob had his beer while we enjoyed a delicious plate of nachos, looking out over the marina. It was a great day in Cabo!
Note about the ship’s excursions in Cabo San Lucas:
We talked to several people who had gone on several of the Viking excursions.
- The whale-watching trip was a huge hit. They saw many whales breaching and playing and got great photos of whales and El Arho! They rated that excursion as five stars.
- The sport fishing excursion was equally as successful. They caught two marlins and lost another after a twenty-minute fight. They also saw a large Dorado. The seas were calm with a long, slow roll, so no one got seasick.
- Folks on the ATV trip had a blast covering desert areas and beaches. No phones or cameras were allowed, but they could buy a picture of themselves for $25.
- I was interested in hearing how the camel ride went. Our group is not the youngest, but several daring folks headed out on this excursion and reported having lots of fun, but they had the same camera restrictions and had to buy their pictures.
- The last excursion was a boat trip to Lover’s Beach to be positioned in the right spot to get a sunset picture through El Archo. However, I am unsure if the sunset was the right time for them to capture the picture. Unfortunately, this meant we departed Cabo in the dark and got no additional images as we left.
It was a fun day for us all, and I want to return for the diving at another time.
Playing in Cabo San Lucas: Cruise Excursions
Your Own Big Fish Story — Set off on an exciting fishing expedition with some of the most experienced reelers in Cabo. Early inhabitants of the Baja Peninsula relied on the sea’s bounty for survival, setting off into the waters prepared to cast nets and lines to bring in their catch of the day. Today, world-class sports fishermen and women flock to these waters, many setting world records for the size of their catches. The plankton-rich seas attract one of the world’s richest marine life diversities, creating a playground for those eager to test their skill with big fish. To join in the fun, you will board a catch-and-release fishing boat in search of the marlin, the spear-snouted fish that can grow up to 1,500 pounds and 16 feet long and reach top speeds of 50 miles per hour. It is a thrilling excursion of man versus fish.
Cabo by Land & Sea
Natural and Cultural Beauty at Land’s End — Tender ashore to meet your tour boat, embarking on a sojourn on the sea that traces the dramatic rocky coast of Land’s End, the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula. Admire an icon of Cabo—the famed El Arco, a natural rock formation that creates an arch over azure waters. Next, head out for a drive to San José del Cabo—a Spanish mission founded in 1730, replenished galleons, making the long journey to the Philippines. Walk through the central plaza, taking in the charming mission and the artistic flair of the adobe homes, and visit a glassblowing factory and art galleries to admire their wares amid a rich colonial atmosphere. Afterward, board your coach for the return journey to your ship.
Mexican Outback & Camel Safari
Outback Journey and Traditional Mexican Dishes — The Sierra Mountains are your constant companion as you trek through the outback on a desert exploration that provides an unforgettable experience. Your vehicle will take you on an eco-adventure safari in a small group while you admire the spectacular views. Arrive in Tierra Sagrada, where you will embark on a 20-minute camel ride. These gentle giants will take you across the white sandy beach as you keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales that gather around these shores. After a guided nature walk, enjoy an authentic ending with the true taste of Mexican cuisine as you savor a range of locally prepared specialty dishes accompanied by freshly made tortillas and tasty salsas.
Explore Charming Locale on the Baja Peninsula — Meet your guide at the pier and set off by motor coach to charming Todos Santos, founded in 1724 by Jesuit missionaries. It remained a sleepy village until its peak during the late 19th century, when it enjoyed a thriving economy due to sugar cane production. Learn about its history during a guided tour, view the historic buildings and art murals, and explore local art galleries and boutique stores. Continue to the Tierra Sagrada Ranch, where you will meet its friendly camel herd, pausing for photos with these gentle giants of the desert. Cap your tour with a stop at a traditional restaurant to savor a tasty Mexican buffet-style lunch, accompanied by beer and a tequila sampling. After your visit, return to your awaiting ship.
ATV Desert Experience
Drive Your Own ATV — These vehicles will allow you to go off the beaten track as you enjoy an exhilarating trip across the trails and through hillside passes. Your all-terrain vehicle is semiautomatic, has hydraulic brakes and independent suspension for a fantastic ride. You will receive all your equipment, including a bandana, helmet, goggles, and instructions to begin your great Cabo ATV tour. Follow your guide convoy-style past the spectacular canyons and through dry river beds to enjoy breathtaking views of majestic beaches and dunes by the Pacific Ocean. During this unforgettable ride, you will drive through canyons, dry river beds, and hills. After your journey, you will return to your ship.
Sail, Snorkel, and paddleboard in the Sea of Cortez
Leisurely Cruise Around the Baja California Peninsula — Meet your skipper and crew at the pier and board your vessel.
After a short safety briefing, sit back and relax as you sail toward El Arco, an iconic landmark and rock formation at the end of the Baja California Peninsula. Keep your eyes peeled for playful, inquisitive sea lions that nest at the nearby colony and other wildlife. Drop anchor in a secluded bay and dive into the crystalline waters for a refreshing swim. You may also don your snorkel and mask to observe the underwater marine life. Or you can try your hand at paddleboarding in the vicinity of your boat. Back on board, enjoy lunch, and sip on a refreshing beverage before the crew hoists the sails and cruises along the coast back to your awaiting ship.
Whale Watching in the Sea of Cortez
Marine Life Encounter and Coastal Scenery — Known as the “aquarium of the world,” the Sea of Cortez is famously home to several species of marine life, including magnificent humpback whales. Meet your crew and skipper, and embark on a leisurely cruise along the coast, admiring the famed El Arco, a natural rock formation at the end of the Baja California Peninsula. As you round into the Sea of Cortez, keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, blue and sperm whales, and bottlenose dolphins. If you are lucky, you may glimpse a leaping whale breaching the water and majestically returning beneath the surface. Please note: wildlife sightings, although likely, are not guaranteed.
Introduction to San José del Cabo
An Authentic Side of Cabo — The oldest Spanish mission on the Baja Peninsula, San José was an important city during the Spanish colonization and a stopover destination for ships heading farther into the Pacific Ocean. You will tender ashore and meet your guide for a drive along the highway that connects all the resorts between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Set out on a guided walk to explore its charming mission, inviting town square, and low adobe homes that evoke an old colonial atmosphere—a Spanish mission founded in 1730 replenished galleons, making the long journey to the Philippines. Walk through the central plaza, enjoy the town’s artistic flair, and browse the many art galleries before returning to your awaiting ship.
Land’s End & Whale Watching
One of the Most Diverse Seas on the Planet — Cruise the legendary Sea of Cortez, viewing the region’s spectacular coastal beauty and magnificent creatures. Tender ashore and embark on an expedition by boat, casting out into pristine waters heralded as the most biodiverse on Earth. Even Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world.” As you leave Cabo San Lucas behind, admire its famed El Arco, a natural rock formation that creates an arch over azure waters. Rounding Land’s End, the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula, you will cruise into the Sea of Cortez. As you sail, your crew will watch for blue, minke, humpback, and sperm whales, as well as bottlenose dolphins. Famously, the gray whale swims 5,000 miles here from its feeding grounds in the Arctic to breed in the winter. Watch for the California sea lions that often gather in these plankton-rich waters.
Culinary Journey from Field to Feast on Mexican Farm — Embark on a scenic drive to Los Tamarindos, meet your host, and set out to enjoy an authentic farm-to-table experience. Learn about the farm’s history and the agricultural processes practiced here while harvesting the fresh ingredients needed for your hands-on class right from the fields. Continue to a beautiful kitchen terrace with stone walls and wooden ceilings, where you will begin your guided three-course cooking class centered around creating local favorites. Afterward, sit at a common table with your classmates and savor the fruits of your labor, accompanied by refreshments, while enjoying the view of the fields and the breeze off the Sea of Cortez. Enjoy free time for photos after lunch before returning to your awaiting ship.
History and Tasting of Mexico’s National Drink — The roots of tequila stretch back to the mighty Aztec Empire during the second and third centuries. Considered Mexico’s national drink, it is made from the cooked and fermented juice of the agave, a plant similar to a cactus. Upon arriving at the venue, you will receive a short welcome briefing, then learn about the colorful history of tequila and how its ingredients are grown, processed, fermented, and distilled to create this famous spirit. You will also discover tequila’s many different classifications, then enjoy an opportunity to sample three of Mexico’s finest, accompanied by gourmet appetizers. Following your tasting, you will receive an extraordinary “Tequila Ambassador” certificate before returning to your ship.
Witness a Glorious Mexican Sunset
Evening Sail Around Baja California Peninsula — Meet your skipper and crew at the pier and embark your vessel. After a short safety briefing, sit back and relax as you sail toward the setting sun. Glide across the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez toward “El Arco,” an iconic landmark and rock formation at the end of the Baja California Peninsula. Keep your eyes peeled for playful, inquisitive sea lions that nest at the nearby colony and other wildlife. Watch the sun shimmer across the rippling water as the sky turns from golden to red and the sun slips beneath the horizon. Savor a selection of appetizers and sip on a refreshing beverage before your memorable voyage ends and you return to your awaiting ship.
Cabo San Lucas: A Tapestry of History, Geography, and Modern Culture
Nestled at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas stands as a captivating jewel in Mexico’s coastal crown. Its history is as rich and diverse as the landscape that surrounds it, and its modern culture reflects a harmonious blend of tradition and cosmopolitan influences.
Cabo San Lucas has a storied past that predates the arrival of Europeans. The indigenous Pericú people were the original inhabitants of the region, leaving traces of their existence in the form of cave paintings that can still be found in the surrounding areas. These paintings offer a glimpse into the spiritual and cultural practices of a civilization deeply connected to the land and sea.
The arrival of Spanish explorers in the 16th century marked a new chapter in Cabo’s history. The region became a strategic stopover for explorers and traders navigating the treacherous waters of the Pacific. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the Jesuits established a presence, building missions and introducing Christianity to the native population.
Throughout the centuries, Cabo San Lucas remained a relatively isolated and sparsely populated outpost. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the area experienced significant development, driven in large part by the emergence of tourism as a global industry.
Cabo San Lucas owes much of its allure to its breathtaking geography. The meeting point of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California, commonly referred to as the Sea of Cortez, creates a stunning contrast of deep blue waters and rugged desert landscapes. The iconic Arch of Cabo San Lucas, a natural rock formation carved by the relentless force of the sea, stands as a testament to the region’s geological wonders.
The Baja California Peninsula itself is a narrow strip of land that stretches over 1,000 kilometers, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Gulf of California to the east. This unique position results in a diverse climate, with the western side experiencing the cool influence of Pacific currents and the eastern side enjoying the warmer waters of the Gulf.
The surrounding waters of Cabo San Lucas are renowned for their biodiversity. The Sea of Cortez is often referred to as the “Aquarium of the World” due to the abundance of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, playful dolphins, and majestic whales. These natural attractions make Cabo San Lucas a haven for nature enthusiasts and marine biologists alike.
Modern Culture and Tourism
In recent decades, Cabo San Lucas has transformed from a quiet fishing village into a world-class tourist destination. The area’s natural beauty, coupled with an array of modern amenities, has attracted visitors from around the globe. The development of luxury resorts, golf courses, and marinas has contributed to Cabo’s reputation as a playground for the affluent.
One of the main draws for tourists is the region’s vibrant nightlife. The bustling Cabo San Lucas Marina is a focal point for evening entertainment, featuring an array of restaurants, bars, and clubs. Visitors can revel in the lively atmosphere, enjoying live music, dancing, and sipping on locally crafted cocktails while overlooking the shimmering waters of the marina.
Cabo’s culinary scene is another aspect of its modern culture that has flourished. From humble taco stands to upscale seafood restaurants, the local cuisine reflects a fusion of traditional Mexican flavors with international influences. Fresh seafood, in particular, takes center stage, with dishes like ceviche and fish tacos becoming staples for both locals and tourists.
Despite the influx of tourism, Cabo San Lucas has managed to retain some of its authentic charm. The historic district, with its cobblestone streets and colonial architecture, provides a glimpse into the town’s past. Local markets, such as the Mercado Mexicano, offer an opportunity to experience traditional crafts, textiles, and artisanal products, providing a counterbalance to luxury resorts and high-end shopping centers.
Challenges and Sustainability
The rapid growth of tourism in Cabo San Lucas has not been without its challenges. The increased demand for water, energy, and infrastructure has put a strain on the region’s resources. Additionally, the delicate marine ecosystems are vulnerable to the environmental impacts of mass tourism, prompting efforts to balance economic development with sustainability.
Local initiatives, such as beach cleanups and conservation projects, aim to preserve the natural beauty that draws visitors to Cabo. Sustainable tourism practices, including responsible whale-watching tours and eco-friendly accommodations, are gaining traction to ensure that future generations can continue to appreciate the wonders of this coastal paradise.
Cabo San Lucas, with its rich history, stunning geography, and vibrant modern culture, stands as a testament to the resilience of a region that has undergone profound transformations. From the ancient Pericú people to the modern-day tourists seeking sun and adventure, Cabo San Lucas continues to captivate all who are fortunate enough to experience its unique blend of tradition and luxury. As the town navigates the challenges of sustainable development, the hope is that Cabo will preserve its natural wonders for generations to come, maintaining its status as a gem on the shores of the Baja California Peninsula.