Part 1-Cabo San Lucas Mexico

Cabo San Lucas Arch

Cabo San Lucas Mexico

Now that it is official, no more work, we thought maybe we should buy a winter place, somewhere hot, where we could get away from our harsh Canadian winters. After doing a little research, then a bit more (and some soul-searching) the thought of investing in one location started to seem impracticable. I mean, it’s a big world out there, and after doing the math and with all the headaches associated with owning a foreign home, it didn’t seem sensible to go back to the same place year after year.

We decided to rent not buy.
We decided to experience something new every year.

Our first year had to be Mexico. Seemed simple enough but Mexico is a huge country, the destinations endless. Mexico is literally surrounded by ocean—the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California. Each region caters to northern visitors looking for destinations that offer hot weather, incredible beaches and enough activities to keep you busy for weeks. Cancun & Playa del Carmen in the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta & Mazatian on the Pacific Ocean and Cabo San Lucas on the Sea of Cortez, the Gulf of California. In our working years we took advantage of those crazy all-inclusive deals to Mexico that included your transportation, accommodation and the “all you can eat and drink” in ten days vacations. Sure it was wonderful but now we were staying two months and with our already expanding waistlines, unlimited food and booze was the last thing we needed.

We spent hours researching for the perfect Mexican location for our first winter get away.

We settled on Cabo San Lucas

for a variety of reasons.

First all, unlike the other two Mexican tourist regions, we had never been to Baja California’s Cabo San Lucas before and we had heard how wonderful it was from others.  Secondly, there was a direct flight from Kelowna, BC Canada—no airport transfers, no USA customs to deal with, just board an early morning flight and in four hours you are sandals on the ground outside a terminal with an icy margarita in hand.

Sounds simple, but not so fast.  Booking a flight is one thing, finding a place to stay and transportation in a strange town is another. When you’ve never been to a place before, it felt risky parting with our hard-earned cash for a long-term rental before we even arrived, but there is no option. Knowing what you are after is key. We narrowed our requirements down to renting a condo with a full kitchen with all of the amenities of an apartment, within a reasonable distance from grocery shopping and restaurants.  We looked through VRBO but it didn’t help—other than VRBO offers purchase insurance if your rental goes sour.  Luckily, through a connection from someone who had rented long-term in Cabo before, we ended up with “Cabo Property Management and Rentals”, a local company located right in Cabo San Lucas.  Through email, we connected with property agent Kristen Bravo who made some suggestions based on our requirements and budget.

Kristen manages several properties in the area including some right in the town of Cabo San Lucas (if you like the hustle and bustle of the town, chaos, vendors, and party beaches) as well as quieter condo properties off the beaten path. We were torn when presented the options. Although we’d be the first to admit that we are past that party beach and night club life style we didn’t want to live like monks either.

Kristen suggested an oceanfront condo at Misiones—a privately owned complex located ten minutes by car from the heart of Cabo San Lucas.  Misiones is part of a residential area of condos and homes perched high on a cliff overlooking Playa El Médano (Cabo’s main tourist beach) and El Arco, a natural archway in the sea cliffs.

Misionies - Cabo San Lucas Mexico

Misionies – Cabo San Lucas Mexico

Misiones is inhabited by a mix of full-time residents and guests who have rented from condo owners—short and long-term.  The complex consists of six buildings, a small convenience store, two pools, including one with a swim up bar managed by Pepe.  We soon learned that Pepe’s bar opened daily from noon to eight, offered hot cooked local cuisine and was essentially the centre point for meeting other people, mostly Americans—an older crowd.  Sounded right up our alley.

Once we settled on a condo in Misiones, Kristen then contacted and negotiated the fee with the owners and handled the payment between us through Pay Pal. There was no commission to be paid on our part but I suspect the owners were responsible for this.  The bonus was she also offered us a contact for transportation (at a lower cost than taxis) from the airport and suggested we use a grocery service that delivered our favourite food items including fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, snacks, liquor and ice to our condo before our arrival.

Misiones is on a cliff so I worried that we would be deprived of a beach but our fears were unfounded.  It turns out that Misiones has access to a private sunny beach at the foot of the complex—no services, but no hawkers either, yay.  The couple who owned our condo were kind enough to leave us beach chairs, beach towels and two sets of snorkelling gear.  Craving hot sun on our backs and sand between our toes we immediately headed for the beach.

Misionies - Cabo San Lucas Mexico

Private Beach Misionies Cabo San Lucas

We found the water warm, calm enough for swimming, and it turns out, great for snorkelling. So many species of fish, so close—blue shelled crabs on the rocks too!

Misionies - Cabo San Lucas Mexico - Snorkling

Snorkling—Misionies’s Private Beach

When we weren’t in the water, the soft sand beach became a front row seat for whale watching.  In the near distance, you could clearly see the dorsal fins of the mammoth migrating grey whales surfacing—water spouting forcefully from their blow holes to catch their breath.  Argg. I forgot to bring binoculars—and you can’t buy them here.

On our first night, from our balcony, we witnessed the magic of a massive full moon slowly rising over the ocean horizon into a shimmery light beam illuminating the vast sea before our eyes.

From that same balcony we were treated with a spectacular fireworks display originating from a small resort down the beach—a regular occurrence we were to find every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday throughout our stay.

Living here for two months had us concerned about replenishing our supplies. No problemo. Costco was a five-minute drive, Walmart ten.  Which brings me around to transportation.  We didn’t have a car. We looked into renting one for the two months but the cost would have been around $5,000.00 (CDN)—almost the cost of our condo!  Taxi’s are a great option as they are literally everywhere. Always on standby at the entrance of our complex, we would grab one of the several taxi vans to get to the store but we soon found a cheaper alternative—the bus! It paid off taking the time to learn the bus system, which really wasn’t much of  a stretch. The buses run along what they call “The Corridor” from the two main tourist towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. The buses are clean, air-conditioned and run approximately every 15 minutes from 5:30 AM to 10:00 PM every day. The fare is 12.50 pesos—around $2.50 for both ways (don’t forget to keep your ticket for the ride back) and although there are official bus stops, just flag down the bus from the side of the road—that’s how it’s done here—and just tell the driver where you want to get off.  For grocery shopping we would take the bus, or walk, then grab a cab home. Walmart and Costco have plenty of taxis on standby too but not so fast, you’ll need to tip the person at the exit who calls for your cab or you’re not getting one.

While breakfast and snacks in our condo were great, we didn’t want to restrict our dining experience to our BBQ on the patio. To truly experience Mexico you have to indulge in the local cuisine.  Having 6 restaurants within steps of our condo made it simple.  I’ll say it now. We should have waited to the end of our stay to dine at the Sunset Da Monalisa steps away from our apartment as resistance from that point forward was futile—we just can’t stay away.

 Cabo San Lucas Mexico Sunset MonaLisa

Sunset MonaLisa Cabo San Lucas

Classified as “one of the top 5 coolest restaurants in the world” by the Tribune International, Michelin-trained Chef Paolo Della Corte serves up world-class Mediterranean cuisine in a venue with a breathtaking view.

 Cabo San Lucas Mexico Sunset MonaLisa

View from the Pizza & Wine Bar at Sunset Da Monalisa

Carved into a cliff overlooking the Bay of Cabo, of the three dining areas available, the Pizza and Wine Bar is our favourite. I constantly dream of that wood fired pizza with porcini sauce, beef fillet strips, roasted potatoes, provolone cheese with a scent of truffle oil—gosh I’m hungry again.

Another favourite steps away from our complex is Big Kahuna’s Hawaiian BBQ. We spotted (and smelled) their wood fired BBQ smoker and just had to try their famous smoked brisket, topped with cheese and sautéed onions served with their special Brisket Au Jus and home-made rolls. It was out of this world.

By now you might be getting the impression that there are no Mexican cuisine options close by. Not true. The local convenience store has a kitchen that serves up excellent tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and on Wednesday nights, Pepe’s bar prepares a delicious Mexican buffet in addition to his regular menu of shrimp/fish tacos and quesadillas. Did I mention Walmart? I know this might sound weird but they have the best fish and shrimp tacos I’ve ever tasted. They make them right there while you watch and you help yourself to the condiments—but you had better sit down at one the tables they provide because they are messy!

It’s only been a few weeks into our two month stay and we can honestly say that we are very happy with our selection.  Misiones is proving to be an amazing choice for long-term rental. It’s affordable. It’s close enough to the town, shopping and restaurants and it’s quiet with the bonus of having a scaled down resort like atmosphere.

Tomorrow we are renting a car and plan to explore La Paz. I’ll let you know how it works out.

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