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Cabo San Lucas is a lively resort city on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Just a two-hour flight from Los Angeles makes it a popular destination for southern California families celebrating birthdays, graduations and other special events. And though Cabo is known for its active nightlife, it’s so much more than that. Just 10 minutes from the bustling hub are family-friendly resorts like Hacienda Encantada Resort & Spa. The cliff-side Mexican hideaway is minutes from downtown featuring family fun in Cabo San Lucas’ waterfront, marina, restaurants and shops.
Family Fun in Cabo San Lucas
Located on the southern tip of Baja California peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is one of the easiest cities to navigate in Mexico. You still need a passport. But English is spoken nearly everywhere and the U.S. dollar is the commonly used currency. Cabo is best known for El Arco, a natural archway in the sea cliffs. Beaches, water sports, and a vibrant downtown make for family fun in Cabo San Lucas. It’s especially relaxing when your stay is in the luxurious Mexican hideaway, Hacienda Encantada, located minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas.
Why Cabo San Lucas?
My family and I have visited Cabo numerous times via Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles. Recently I had the opportunity to spend three nights at the Hacienda Encantada Resort & Spa, built into granite cliffs. The location is ideal because it’s just a 10-minute, free shuttle ride to Cabo’s marina and bustling waterfront. Yet far enough away to feel like a cozy Mexican hideaway.
For couples, it’s a romantic haven. For families, a comfortable resort with kid-friendly amenities. I got a great overview of the property and enjoyed a couple of excursions in downtown and on the water.
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Location of your Mexican hideaway
From Los Angeles, Cabo San Lucas is just a two-hour flight to the San Jose International Airport. Then an approximate 40-minute drive through the desert to the oceanfront Hacienda Encantada. Several buildings are sprawled throughout the property giving guests a choice in accommodations from studios to villas. My spacious studio had a balcony and overlooked the Sea of Cortez. Guests can choose from a European plan (room only) or all-inclusive. The all-inclusive is handy because it includes numerous restaurants onsite and in downtown Cabo. A free minibar (stocked with water, soda, and beer), and various resort activities are also included in this plan.
Hacienda Encantada Resort & Spa’s Onsite Activities
Though the resort is an oceanfront property, there’s no swim beach. You can stick your toes in the water, but a rocky shoreline and strong currents deter swimming. However, there are many fun onsite activities. I traveled with a handful of journalists and we found plenty to do. We relaxed in the ocean-facing infinity pools, swim-up
I traveled with a handful of journalists and we found plenty to do. We relaxed in the ocean-facing infinity pools, swim-up bar, and Jacuzzis. We sipped margaritas and lounged on hammocks. The resort offers cooking classes, pottery painting, yoga and other organized activities. Babysitting, a Kids Zone, and children’s pool make this is a conducive resort for families, too.
Simply strolling the lush grounds is pleasant. Mexican art and water fountains create a delightful ambiance. Since the resort straddles the cliff-side property, it can be a walk to restaurants and the lobby. But you can also ride in a golf cart (a great option if you’re wearing heels!).
Cooking Classes and Tequila Tasting
Our little group donned chef hats and aprons for a cooking class at Barolo Cucina Italiana, an intimate open-air restaurant. The chefs asked for a volunteer to assist in making traditional fish tacos. The rest of us watched as two chefs sliced sea bass into strips, and chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Efficiently prepared, we soon sat down together to enjoy fresh guacamole and tacos.
Next, tequila tasting. We took bites of lime and orange with each of the four Don Julio tequila tastes – one white, three gold. Sommelier Christopher, who also oversees tequila tasting, described the aging process, which ranged from 12 – 36 months.
I chose the Mayan Massage. a deep tissue treatment that includes cupping therapy. This ancient practice entails putting a flammable substance in a cup and setting it on fire. After the fire goes out, the cooled cup is placed on your skin to create suction and increase blood flow. You can also request a spa treatment in a beach cabana or other exotic location at this Mexican hideaway.
Hacienda Encantada’s free shuttle makes it easy to get to Cabo’s waterfront and back. It brings you to the resort’s sister property, Marina Fiesta, in the heart of downtown. This hotel is convenient for those who prefer staying in a lively environment. Guests staying in either hotel have access to restaurants at both properties. Restaurants, shops, and little markets surround the pretty marina. It’s also the launch pad for boating excursions.
All Ways Cabo Boats
One of the most popular Cabo excursions is a boat trip to El Arcos, Cabo’s claim to fame. The unique rock formation is at Lands End, where the Pacific meets the Sea of Cortez. On this snorkeling trip we sailed with All Ways Cabo Boats, which includes drinks and lunch on its tours. What I didn’t expect is a history lesson from Captain Ricardo. It was news to me that actor John Wayne played a big role in funding hotel construction in Cabo San Lucas. In fact, Cabo was apparently a hangout for Hollywood stars after World War II.
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Near the arch is Pelican Rock, where we snorkeled for a bit. Afterwards, we warmed up in the sun and enjoyed a picnic of deli sandwiches, chips, fruit, and margaritas. Just as we finished, Ricardo pointed to a baby whale breaching near us. It was the perfect way to end a day on the water.
Los Deseos is among a handful of restaurant options in the all-inclusive plan. Located on the waterfront, the restaurant has a fabulous, traditional Mexican cuisine. Our tasty, freshly prepared guacamole and fried quesadillas were meals in themselves. Menu items include lobster and shrimp enchiladas, and cuts of meat with chipotle sauce.
Dining Adventures in Cabo San Lucas
It’s hard to beat the location of the Sunset Beach Dinner at Hacienda Encantada. The gourmet meal, served in a cabana on the beach, is one of three themed dinners available to guests. The four-course dinner begins with salad and Prosecco and is paired with wine.
The luxury resort has several casual eateries and fine dining restaurants. Some of the restaurants are tucked into the cliffs, providing cozy nooks and stunning ocean views. Among them: Las Marias, serving an elaborate breakfast buffet. The most secluded (and romantic) dinner spot is at La Mesa del Patron at Los Riscos, providing a true Mexican hideaway.
Wake up to Ocean Views
Falling asleep to the sound of waves and waking up to ocean views never gets old. My spacious studio had a balcony with pool and ocean views. I could even see Cabo’s famous rock formations. I slept well in the king-sized bed with fluffy pillows. Other room styles include luxury suites, and one- and two-bedroom suites. Large groups can opt for three-bedroom villas with private kitchens. No matter which type of accommodation you choose, you’ll feel pampered at this Mexican hideaway.