A Trip to Remember – Cabo San Lucas
My husband is amazing. Not to brag or anything, but he really is. We didn’t meet until we were both pretty well established individually – me just having purchased my first home (a row house on Capitol Hill in DC that I still miss to this day), and him freshly divorced and truly single for the first time since high school. We were both in our 30s and had a pretty quick courtship – from our first date to our wedding date was a year and a half – and I was pregnant 4 months later. All this is to say that we really didn’t get the chance to travel much before we jumped headfirst into the crazy world of parenting, so for big occasions (you may have read about our 5th anniversary trip to Toronto), we take off, sans kids (of course).
A birthday, especially a big birthday (like 40!) is one such reason. My mother in law has always offered us a week every year to travel somewhere as a family, but we’ve never taken her up on it. However, last July, I called her to ask if we could book something for her son’s 40th, then spent the next 2 weeks voraciously searching the RCI website, trying to find something that I could book in a desirable location. We opened the trip out to lots of friends and family, so knew we’d need a location that allowed us at least a suite or multiple adjoining rooms. Add in a complicating factor of several people in our circle with very high standards, and this exercise, as it turns out, was quite difficult. I finally found the type of accommodations we were looking for in Cabo San Lucas, a place I visited just before I met my husband and vowed to return to ‘someday.’ My husband hadn’t ever been, and I found a fab resort with a suite and an additional one-bedroom. So last July, I booked the trip!
Our travel group consisted of 7 of us in total, which is pretty good considering every single one of us had to fly with a layover! So, without further ado, here’s a bunch of reasons you should check out Cabo, and a few words of caution.
What We Loved
THE BEACH! Taking a beach vacation wouldn’t be complete without days on the beach, and Cabo does not disappoint. Their beaches are pristine, the ocean is so clean (you can literally see fish when you swim), and the water is fabulous.
Timeshare presentations seem like a huge waste of time, but you can get so many free things from them that it’s actually worth it. If you go into it aware that there’s pretty much no circumstance left these days where a time share is a value-holding investment (unless you want to return to the same place every year and pay up-front for it for all eternity), you can agree to a timeshare presentation or two for some travel perks that would otherwise run you several hundred dollars. We negotiated for transportation to/from the airport, (this is actually pretty pricey) transportation to another hotel, 4 massages, and a glass-bottom boat tour for 7, and free breakfast in exchange for one of them – not a shabby exchange for 2 hours of time.
The Glass Factory is a very cool place to visit. They use recycled glass to create hand-blown everyday things (glasses, plates, cups, pitchers, Christmas ornaments, etc) and they have a huge warehouse full of merchandise to purchase. We went for a glass blowing presentation & left with quite a few souvenirs.
Cabo San Jose gets a bad rap, but we honestly aren’t sure why. If you ever ask friends about Cabo, they will undoubtedly tell you to make SURE you’re staying in Cabo San LUCAS and not Cabo San Jose because ‘all the fun stuff’ is in Cabo San Lucas. That is almost definitely true for (almost) everyone in their 20s, probably lots of folks in their 30s too, but for us? We would have loved more time Cabo San Jose! We only spent a few hours there (we took a day trip over on our last day in Mexico) and we found ourselves wishing for more. There’s an art district there, a beach filled with surfers, gorgeous landscaping, and lots of history to explore and learn about. It’s less expensive and less touristy than Cabo San Lucas as well. If we ever go back, we’d stay there instead!
Deep Sea Fishing was something my husband was really excited to try in Cabo, and it did not disappoint! The boys all got up at 5AM one day to try their hand at it. I truly thought they would come home empty-handed, but they ended up with a 120-lb marlin! What do you do with 90+ lbs of fish steak on vacation, you ask? Great question. As it turns out, you take only some of it (they keep the rest) and choose a marina restaurant to prepare it for you, and you pay them to do it. I remain convinced that if we weren’t tourists and we had actually thought through a plan for that catch, we’d have come up with a better way to sell the fish steaks, but we were on vacation. Instead, we had the freshest marlin ceviche & tacos EVER that day – it was incredible.
Glass Bottom Boat Tours are totally worth it. They’re touristy, of course, but wow are they fun. Our first one (something we negotiated with the timeshare presentation) went out into a huge school of stingrays and we saw hundreds of them leaping into the air in rapid succession – something we never would have seen had we not taken a boat out past the rocks. The glass bottom is a bit of a joke, though – you’re really on the boat to be on a boat, not to look through the bottom of it.
Chamuyo Argentinian Steak House is a must in Cabo. It’s hands down the best meal we had (well, aside from the fresh marlin ceviche on the pier). Seriously, go there. Go there more than once even.- I wish we had!
What we wouldn’t recommend …
Our resort. We booked our rooms at the Pueblo Bonito Sunset Resort & Spa – an absolutely GORGEOUS resort located on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula. The Pacific side is a non-swimmable beach because the undertow is seriously dangerous, but it’s stunning, and for those of you who decide to go to Cabo in the winter months, it’s perfect for whale watching. We spent the first day we arrived going gaga over the view, basically. But, like anything, that initial impression wore off, and the resort itself left quite a bit to be desired.
Here are a few reasons why I wouldn’t recommend any of the Pueblo Bonito resorts. There are more of them, but these are the big ones:
1) They’re RELENTLESS about asking you to attend vacation club presentations. Absolutely relentless. We attended one and they STILL asked us to do it again (and again, and again). No thank you.
2) They claim to have a free shuttle over to their other properties on the swimmable side (The Sea of Cortez), but that shuttle is a joke. You have to book tickets for it WAY in advance to get on anytime before 2PM – not what I’d call user-friendly. You also can’t book tickets for a shuttle before 7AM on that same day, so to actually use the shuttle, you have to get up at 7AM and book tickets for your entire group or you’ll miss out. We didn’t catch the thing once in the entire week we were there as a result, and we spent a small fortune on taxis that we did not intend to spend. For me, this was a major faux pas for a 5-star resort.
3) They have several restaurants on-site that take part in their all-inclusive meal plan, something that about 60% of our group participated in. One of the restaurants, the steak house, has an additional $30 on top of the meal plan, but because that steak house was one of the highest rated restaurants in Cabo, we requested a table there for our entire party on my husband’s birthday the day we arrived. The only available time was 9PM (we actually checked multiple times to see if there was a cancellation or if we could move the time up – no dice), so we took it. We had balloons sent to the table in advance. Well, when we finally arrived, they were clearly unprepared for us. The balloons weren’t out (again, major faux pas), and the server told us that they were out of both filet mignon and ribeye. When I complained to the manager and asked for our extra $30 to be forgiven as a result, they ‘miraculously’ found more of both. To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement.
4) We saw a quite a few roaches, at least 3 in our suite and many in the hallways.
All Inclusive Resort Fees. The resorts use these to hook you into timeshare presentations. They inflate the fees astronomically high at check-in (almost $200/day in our case) knowing you won’t pay that, then staff the lobby full of representatives to offer the fees ‘discounted’ if you agree to a timeshare presentation. Here’s the thing, though – it is always a better idea to just pay for yourself if you ever intend to leave the resort, and if you’re traveling to Cabo from Ohio, you should definitely be planning to leave the resort! Don’t fall for this.
Sunset Dinner Cruises are underwhelming and expensive. If you want to spend time on a boat, charter one. Seriously.
Vacations are more fun with friends, so we will DEFINITELY plan another trip like this in the future! However, we learned something really important on this one that we’ll keep in our back pockets for next time: time share & vacation club owners USE AIR B&B! Save yourself the hassle of trying to go through RCI or another rental facility and just look for nice places on VRBO or Air B’n B – they’re the same places at half the price and none of the hassle.
However, until our next trip, we’ll have to just keep enjoying the pics of this one!
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