And now to the quieter side of Los Cabos that goes a little quietly under the radar: San José del Cabo. Less known to tourists and populated mainly by locals, San José del Cabo is the pedestrian, artistic and picturesque city that aesthetically resembles Mexico. From the architecture to the cobbled streets, the unique colors of the buildings and the flags in the sky, cultural authenticity shines here. This is the type of city where locally owned businesses have been served generation after generation and locals walk the streets to stop at different restaurants, small bars and art galleries to say hello because everyone knows everyone.
San José del Cabo is the quieter of the two cities and is much less traveled by tourists. It is a picturesque and more authentic Mexico, in terms of architecture and population. Fewer locals speak English and the area is not intended to serve foreigners. Starting with the best known name, Cabo San Lucas just a few decades ago was nothing more than a charming fishing village.
However, there is also a smaller airport located in Cabo San Lucas, which is mainly reserved for private charter flights (Jeff Besos' plane lands here). San José del Cabo is the seat of the municipal government, so in the main square you will find a town hall. For some reason, San José del Cabo is mostly visited by domestic (i.e., Mexican) tourists, while Cabo San Lucas is preferred by international tourists. When people think of Los Cabos, they probably think that it refers to a specific city in Mexico, but the truth is that Los Cabos is a municipality with many cities and towns, the two most prominent being Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.
When deciding whether to stay in San Jose del Cabo vs Cabo San Lucas, there are a few key factors to consider. San José del Cabo is quiet, serene, authentic and is a perfect anecdote for its fun counterpart Cabo San Lucas. Along with the marina that is made up of restaurants and bars, Cabo San Lucas has famous clubs and bars in the city center, beaches full of lively day clubs, restaurants and much more. If you want cheap bars with big parties, Cabo San Lucas is the place, but if you prefer cocktail bars, craft beer and rooftop bars, it's better in San José (in my opinion).
Keep in mind that most tours depart from Cabo San Lucas, so check to see if transportation adds an additional cost to the tours you book. Most of Cabo San Lucas's beaches face the Pacific Ocean, while the beaches around San Jose del Cabo face the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California). Due to its geographical location, it is impossible to see a sunrise in Cabo San Lucas in the same way as it is impossible to see a sunset in San José del Cabo. From Cabo Adventures to Cabo Expeditions and many others, Los Cabos has some of the most enthusiastic tour guides you'll ever meet, who truly love their work and are extremely passionate about this part of the world.
The area known as “Los Cabos” or “Los Dos Cabos” contains both Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. From incredible diving to beautiful beaches and, of course, a great fun environment, Cabo San Lucas brings more than just its nickname. If you're someone who likes a lively scene, easy walking access to tours, shops and restaurants, then Cabo San Lucas may be for you.