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Cabo San Lucas Article on the In's and Out's of Dining, Entertainment and More

Worthy Splurges - And Bargains, Too

Up on the roof

Skip the beach scene and book the rooftop suite at Casa Natalia beside Plaza Mijares in San Jose. Your terrace, $465 a night and buried in bougainvillea, comes with hammocks and a hot tub; handcrafted masks and tapestries brighten the simple, white room, furnished with a cozy couch, art books and a king-sized bed. At night, the inn's Mi Cocina courtyard restaurant glows in the light of flaming torches. Guests feel so at home that they return for anniversaries and romantic escapes.

Sushi

Set the menu (and the soy sauce) aside if you happen to get a seat in front of co-owner Angel Carbajal at Nick-San sushi bar in Cabo San Lucas. Let the master decide how to prepare his freshly caught tuna or wahoo - but make sure he adds his signature cilantro sauce to at least one dish. You'll spend a small fortune on plates of tiny tidbits (about $50 for one), but you'll remember it forever.

Beside the pool

Los Cabos has precious few safe places to swim in the sea because of riptides. If you plan to spend most of your time in the water, choose a hotel with a spectacular pool. At the Marquis Los Cabos, a ribbon of water slithers snakelike just above the sand, reflecting clouds and palm fronds in a pool that seems to blend into the horizon. A waterfall splashes into a second pool by Dos Mares restaurant (great seviche), and the casitas have private pools.

Indulge

Spa treatments at the private villas at the One&Only Palmilla are the ultimate indulgence. Hidden behind gates, the villas have whirlpool tubs, rain showers, daybeds, and spacious treatment rooms where expert therapists perform miracles on weary muscles (one-hour deep-tissue massage, $140 with hotel room).

Get out

Take a Baja Wild (www.bajawild.com) off-road Jeep safari ($410 for four) into the Sierra de la Laguna to small mountain ranches, deserted wilderness and a cool waterfall. Or join the company's snorkeling trip to Cabo Pulmo, a small village where fish swarm over coral reefs just offshore.

Artful shopping

Instead of buying bundles of souvenir trinkets, pick up collector-quality folk art at Veryka, a San Jose branch of the famed Oaxacan gallery by the same name. The shiny black pottery, intricate tree-of-life sculptures, and embroidered dresses are displayed as if in a museum. Don't miss the Day of the Dead altar in October.

Nature

Leave Los Cabos behind for at least one night to sample Baja's natural side at Posada la Poza in Todos Santos. Snowy egrets, blue herons, and black-necked stilts frequent the lagoon in front of the seven-suite hotel. Frigate birds, ospreys and brown pelicans skim the surf within view of the secluded pool. Guests paddle boats and kayaks through the lagoon to the beach, spotting whales spouting in the Pacific. Binoculars are available in the suites; TVs are nonexistent and hardly missed.

Budget tips

Travelers on tight budgets have a hard time enjoying Los Cabos. But there are ways to stretch your dollars and have a bit left over to sample the high life.

Hotels: Skip the fancy resorts. Room rates at Los Milagros, a delightful 12-room inn on a quiet side street in Cabo San Lucas, start at $85 a night. Siesta Suites, also in San Lucas, charges $69 and up for a double. The sheets may not be Frette, but rooms at both places are clean and comfortable, and the staff and guests are eager to share money-saving tips.

Enjoy the heat: Room rates drop as temperatures rise above 90 degrees. At Las Ventanas, the least expensive garden-view suite drops from $725 to $500 per night in late May. At the Marquis Los Cabos, the rate for an ocean-view suite drops from $470 to $380 on June 1. The summer heat can be intense, but early morning and evening are pleasant, and these plush suites are lovely hideaways during the middle of the day.

Take the bus: Taxi fares are the biggest boondoggle in the land of $800-a-night suites. Drivers charge $40 or more to travel between San Jose and San Lucas, and $20 from most Corridor hotels to either town. The public bus runs between the two towns every half-hour and stops near most Corridor hotels. The fare is less than $2. If you must take a cab, gather a group to share the fare.

Rent a car: It helps to have wheels when you want to explore, but you won't need one for your entire stay. Hang around town at the beginning of your trip and walk to beaches, clubs and restaurants. Rent a car for the last few days and save the equivalent of one day's rate by arranging to drop the car at the airport, rather than taking a cab. Rates are typically lowest online - if you didn't plan ahead, stop by an Internet cafe and arrange your rental online.

Eat like the locals: Wander a few streets away from the tourist areas to find taco stands, cafes and markets with low prices marked in pesos rather than dollars. Among the taco stands, Taqueriia el Ahorcado in San Jose is packed with locals at dinnertime, as is El Michoacano in San Lucas. Pick up a roasted chicken, beans, rice and tortillas at Pollo de Oro outlets in both towns for a low-cost feast, and shop for bread and pastries at panaderiias and produce at the Mercado Municipal in San Jose.

Splurge wisely. Instead of indulging in a full dinner at the French Riviera, visit its Patisserie in San Jose. The crepes, pastries and ice creams are sublime, and the clientele sipping espressos includes artists, musicians and professionals from the pricey hotels. Also: Stick with the catch-of-the-day entrees at pricier restaurants. The steaks, lobster and other costly fare usually aren't anywhere near as tasty. Linger over late lunches and rely on groceries for breakfast and dinner.

Hotels and spas

Starting rates over $200 a night

Cabo Azul Resort & Spa

$275

1-877-216-2226

www.caboazulresort.com

Casa Natalia

$295

1-888-277-3814

www.casanatalia.com

Las Ventanas al Paraiso

$725

1-888-767-3966

www.lasventanas.com

Marquis Los Cabos

$470

1-877-238-9399

www.marquisloscabos.com

ME Cabo

$279

1-888-956-3542

www.Mebymelia.com

One&Only Palmilla

$650

1-866-829-2977

www.oneandonlyresorts.com

$195 and under

Siesta Suites

$69

1-866-271-0952

www.cabosiestasuites.com

Los Milagros

$85

718-928-6647

www.losmilagros.com.mx

Posada la Poza

$195

www.lapoza.com

Getting there

American, Continental, Delta and US Airways fly to Los Cabos from Philadelphia International Airport with one stop. The lowest recent round-trip fare was about $550.

More information

Los Cabos Convention

& Visitors Bureau

1-866-567-2226

www.visitloscabos.travel

- Maribeth Mellin

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2008 4:07 PM by Nick Fong

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