Downtown and the Marina
Cabo San Lucas Marina
Much of the Los Cabos tourist activity takes place at or near the Cabo San Lucas Marina and along a wide boulevard that wraps around the harbor. The most popular bars and restaurants are clustered here along the waterfront. You can hire water taxis and book all kinds of recreational tours from the many vendors who compete aggressively for your business. Many snorkeling tours and sunset cruises depart from the main dock, located on the southwest side of the marina, near the mouth of the inner harbor.
Several plazas along the marina contain cafés, shops, and service businesses. At the north end of the harbor, the Puerto Paraíso is a three-level shopping center with a cinema, bowling alley, art galleries, boutiques, and American food chains such as Häagen-Dazs and Johnny Rockets. Plaza Bonita has an outdoor coffee stand and Internet café.
The Wyndham Cabo San Lucas Resort, with its labyrinth of hallways and passages, occupies a long stretch of the marina on the southwest side of harbor. Nearby, the US$40 million Pabellón Cultural de la República, or Cultural Pavilion, opened in 2011 with great fanfare. To date, the center has hosted musical performances, theater productions, and a few movie screenings during the Baja International Film Festival. A museum and parking structure are in the future plans.
A gray five-story cinderblock building remains an unfortunate eyesore on Boulevard Marina. It was abandoned in the late 1980s and has been in an ownership dispute ever since.
On busy days, multiple cruise ships shuttle thousands of passengers into this downtown area. They wander the streets looking for souvenirs and familiar shops like Diamonds International. But at day’s end, they return to their cabins, leaving the nightlife to those who’ve arrived by air and car.
Plaza Amelia Wilkes
Set back a few blocks from the tourist corridor, the original town plaza (btwn. Hidalgo and Av. Cabo San Lucas, cross streets Madero and Lázaro Cárdenas) has a pretty gazebo and several benches where you can enjoy a break from the frenzy at the marina. The plaza hosts various festivals, often with live music and dancing.
It is also home to a small natural history museum, Museo de Historia Natural Cabo San Lucas (tel. 624/105-0661, firstname.lastname@example.org, 10am-2pm Mon., 10am-7pm Tues.-Fri., 10am-2pm and 4pm-8pm Sat., 10am-8pm Sun.), that has been open since 2006. Exhibits in seven different rooms cover the astronomy, geology, paleontology, archaeology, biodiversity, and history of the region. In one quick visit, you’ll learn about plate tectonics, the Pericú, the Jesuit missions, and the flood of 1939. Admission is by donation.
Across from the plaza on Avenida Cabo San Lucas is the unassuming Iglesia de San Lucas, which dates back to the 18th century and holds regular worship services today.
One boutique hotel (Casa Bella), a popular coffee shop, and several trendy restaurants line the streets surrounding the plaza.
Finisterra (Land’s End)
You know you’ve reached the end of the road in Baja when the towering granite rock formations and signature arch at Finisterra, or Land’s End, come into view. Just about every tour boat that departs the Cabo San Lucas Marina heads to the 62-meter El Arco to stage a postcard-perfect photo op. In most conditions, the boat captain can pull right up to the arch. On rare, exceptionally low tides, sand appears under the arch and you can walk through the passage. Nearby rocks host a colony of sea lions, while pelicans congregate at the Roca Pelicano, a popular snorkeling and scuba diving site.
If you’re the sort of traveler who avoids the well-beaten tourist path, consider making an exception for this sight. It’s generally not as crowded as you might expect, and the dramatic effect of sunlight dancing on the cliffs and wildlife playing in the sea spray is truly spectacular.
Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon Los Cabos.