Dance The Night Away . . Cabo-Style
The night starts with sunset and for some, it's the most magical time. While sunset may be viewed from any number of bars and restaurants in Los Cabos, for diehards, western facing vantage points are a must. Up above, perched on the craggy cliffside, is the Hotel Finisterra's Whale Watcher Bar with good drinks and appetizers. On the other side of Bahia San Lucas, a few miles outside of town, upscale Da Giorgio is unbeatable for sunsets. A popular restaurant, they will also accommodate guests for drinks and snacks. Da Giorgio is perched cliffside overlooking the arch and the bay and is more formal than most places in Los Cabos; you may want to dress up a bit. Many weddings and receptions are held here and reservations are recommended if you're staying for dinner. To catch the sunset, make sure to arrive by on winter nights. Bring a wrap, it can be cool on the multi-level terraces. From this side of the bay, the sun sets behind the spine of Land's End in the winter months, painting the sky a vivid fuchsia.
During the early evening, happy hours abound in Cabo San Lucas, and this is the time to bar hop. For a small town, the list of watering holes is staggering. Some places start happy hour as early as , while others favor the more traditional cocktail hours. All around the marina are bars of every flavor. Near Plaza las Glorias, try the Baja Cantina, Solomon's Landing and Captain Tony's. Over at the other end, from Plaza Bonita around to the mouth of the bay, there's Margaritavilla, The Nowhere Bar, Olé Olé, La Concepcíon and the Rainbow Bar. Around town, the choices would fill an entire week's worth of happy hours alone: Latitude 22, Squid Roe, Hard Rock Café, Carlos 'n Charlies, Giggling Marlin, Cabo Wabo, The Elbow Room, Casino Real. Where you end up later will depend on how lively or subdued you want to be. Around the marina, you'll also find floating bars: from rowdy sunset booze cruises to elegant motor yachts and quieter, more romantic charters perfect for honeymooners.
Happy hour is also the perfect time to sample the ample variety of Mexican beer, called cerveza, at two for one prices. Many people don't think of Mexico when they think of beer, but immigrants of German origin began brewing in the late eighteenth century. Today, two producers dominate the market, The Femsa Group's Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, and Grupo Modelo, both among the largest beer producers in the world.
Nearly all happy hours have a special house drink and the most popular is the Margarita. While the traditional Margarita is made with tequila blanco, limejuice and orange liquor, and served in a salt-rimmed glass, its origin is claimed by several sources. Whether it was invented in 1942 by Pancho Morales of Cuidad Juarez or in 1948 by Margarita Samas in Acapulco, one thing's for certain, if you're not used to tequila's potent punch, drink your Margarita with plenty of water on the side and frequent protein snacks. Most of Cabo's bars feature seasonal fresh fruit varieties like mango and papaya, in addition to the old lime stand-by.
While bar hopping for Margaritas may be fun, true tequila connoisseurs sip it straight and there are many to sample. Some say it's an acquired taste, but quality 100% Weber blue agave tequila, whether your choice is blanco, reposado or añejo, is much smoother and palatable than the blends available in the U.S. and Canada. While it's assumed tequila is made from cactus, the blue agave is actually related to the lily. Agave plants need up to ten years to reach maturity and produce a 100-150 pound core called a piña. Piñas are split in two and cooked in large ovens. Once cooled, they're crushed and strained to produce a juice called agua miel, which is then fermented and distilled. Most agave is grown within a hundred or so mile radius of the town of Tequila in Jalisco state, where almost all of Mexico's distilleries are located. Much of the gold tequila sold north of the Rio Grande is a blend of 51% agave and 49% cane sugar with added caramel coloring, and cannot be compared to the real thing. Before you sample some of the finer añejos, check the price.
The Giggling Marlin, one of the oldest and most popular tourist restaurant-bars, offers risqué floor shows mid-evening with dancing waiters and a lot of audience participation. Located on Boulevard Marina across from Pizza Hut, they're open all day for breakfast and lunch. Short skirts beware, nights get loose with many patrons strung upside down on the fish scale or dancing on the bar. Drinks pack a punch, the food is CalMex, and there's a cover charge at night for the floorshow.
Air-conditioned Cabo Wabo Cantina, on Guerrero Street with a second entrance in Plaza de los Mariachis, plays its rock loud and proud until the party's over. The club, owned by Sammy Hagar who performs occasionally, is large with an elevated stage and good service. Also open all day for breakfast and lunch, Cabo Wabo has a new full dinner menu in their Tequila Factory restaurant, open daily from to Live music happens some weekends throughout the winter months with both Mexican and imported bands playing all night long.
Plaza Bonita has several more hot bars both inside the plaza and out along the marina. The Blue Agave, opened in the spring of 1999, features a spacious, contemporary setting with delicious food, full bar and live music on weekends. Marina side, check out Ole Ole for Spanish tapas and frosty drinks, and The Nowhere Bar, very popular with locals. Next door, Margaritavilla open from for breakfast lunch and dinner is an excellent vantage point to sample one of the best Margaritas in town with a killer marina view.
In San José del Cabo, nightlife is confined to a handful of restaurant-bars and clubs but that doesn't mean you have to go to Cabo San Lucas to party. The Tropicana Bar and Grill on Boulevard Mijares, does a brisk happy hour trade and features live Mexican bands on weekends. The "Trop" is air-conditioned and is as packed during the hot summer nights as it is during high season. There's more action down the street at Cactus Jack's, with live music and munchies until or later. Piso 2, on Doblado a few blocks up from Mijares, is a nightclub popular with Gen X'ers and plays disco, Mexican rock and rap every night 'til or until the party's over.
Havana, across from Costa Azul beach, is the home of salsa music, seafood and Cuban rums. With a good ocean view, Havana regularly features live salsa and Latin music on weekends and is open from to , much later when the music's live. The Rusty Putter, across from the Fiesta Inn, has live bands on weekends through the winter season with a great Sea of Cortéz view, good eats and plenty of TV's for sports fans with a laid back attitude.
So, don't forget to take that afternoon siesta. In Los Cabos the hottest times are happening well after , and in some cases, the action doesn't stop until dawn.