Friday, August 26, 2011


(includes Baja & California Sur)

Un-Cruise Adventures – 3826 18th Avenue West (Seattle, WA); 888-862-8881;; cruise Baja California Sur; 7-night exploration of Sea of Cortez.

CABO SAN LUCAS (includes Cabo Pulmo, Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo & Todos los Santos)
La Pastora – Todos los Santos; for surfing, especially.
Playa Los Cerritos – Todos los Santos; for surfing, especially.
Land’s End – 90' wall that leads down to underwater sand cascades; where Cortez Sea and Pacific Ocean meet.
Lovers Beach – for paddle-boarding, especially.

Bars & Nightclubs
Bar Esquina – Avenida del Pescador (El Medano Ejidal); 011-52-624-143-1890;; diamond in rough; urban-chic bar & restaurant.
Copa Wine Bar – 33 Legaspi (Todos Santos, Centro, at Todos Santos Inn); 011-52-612-145-0040;; in 870s sugar baron hacienda.
Hotel California – Calle Juarez (Todos los Santos, Centro); 011-52-612-145-0525;; people-watching.

La Anegada – 80' dive along wall.
East Cape – underwater mountain known for hammerhead schools.
Gordo Banks – maybe best dive site in Cabo San Lucas; deep dive, up to 130'; hammerheads & whale sharks.

Bahia Hotel & Beach Club – Avenida El Pescador (Medano Beach); 011-52-624-143-1890;; full-service boutique hotel in Medano Beach district; restaurant, Bar Esquina serves Mexican influenced, Mediterranean flavors using locally grown, organic products; recently remodeled.
Capella Pedregal – 1 Camino del Mar; 011-52-624-163-4300 or 877-247-6688;; 24-acre resort; beautiful; grand entrance through Pedregal mountain, through tunnel; vision of light reveals picture postcard perfection; impeccable modern architecture mingled with reflecting pools, low-lying cacti, and date palms; whale-watching by day and star-gazing at night; 66 rooms, suites, and family villas; Auriga spa.
Esperanza – Carretera Transpeninsular km 7, Manzana 10 (Punta Ballena); 011-52-624-145-6400 or 866-311-2226;; waterfront, palm and cactus-lined maze of clifftop, sand-hued, thatched-roof casitas; main restaurant is 3 terraces on waterfront.
Flora Farm – Las Animas Bajas (La Paz-San José del Cabo); 011-52-624-355-4564;; not easy getting there (way out past San José del Cabo marina, down pothole-riddled road, and up steep dirt lane); expensive; 4 cottages; also, cooking & gardening classes.
Hotel El Ganzo – El Tiburon (San Jose del Cabo, La Playita); 011-52-624-104-9000;; 72-room boutique hotel; see-through rooftop swimming pool; modern & stylish.
Hotel San Cristobal Punta Lobos – Carratera Federal No. 19, km 54.5 (Todos Santos); 011-52-612-145-0108;; 32-room beachfront hotel and restaurant on the beach.
Hotelito – Rancho de la Cachora (Todos Santos); 011-52-612-145-0099;; 4 private cottages & 2 homes, each unique.
One&Only Palmilla – Carretera Transpeninsular km 7.5 (San Jose Del Cabo); 011-52-624-146-7000 or 866-829-2977;; top-scoring property in Americas; beautiful; restaurant by Charlie Trotters; astronomer on Fridays.
Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Holistic Retreat & Spa – Playa El Médano; 011-52-624-142-9797 or 800-990-8250;; Zen-like landscaping, fountains, inlaid mosaic artwork, secluded but not boring; ocean views; excellent food and spa.
Todos Santos Inn – 33 Legaspi (Todos Santos, Centro); 011-52-612-145-0040;; built in 870s as sugar baron estate; only 8 guest rooms but unparalleled in comfort & design; pool deck lined with brick & hearty stone; painted walls in foyer depict fading, dusky scene; and gorgeous antiques are displayed throughout; attached Copa Wine Bar open in evening.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso – Carretera Transpeninsular km 19.5; 011-52-624-144-2800 or 888-767-3966;; hand-carved cedar doors, coquina tiles, and terra cotta fireplaces; excellent food.

Bar Esquina – Avenida del Pescador (El Medano Ejidal); 011-52-624-143-1890;; diamond in rough; urban-chic bar & restaurant.
Cafe Santa Fe – 4 Centenario (Todos Santos); 011-52-612-145-0340;; setting, with tables situated in overgrown courtyard, is appealing as food, which includes salads & soups made with organic herbs & vegetables, homemade pastas, and fresh fish with light sauces; many Cabo-area residents lunch here regularly; marinated seafood salad is sublime blend of shrimp, octopus, and mussels with olive oil and garlic, with plenty for 2 to share before dining on lobster ravioli.
Crudo – 1 Camino del Mar (at Capella Pedregal); 011-52-624-163-4300;; ceviche, sashimi & sushi.
Deckman’s – Transpeninsular Highway (San José del Cabo); 011-52-624-172-6269;; Georgia-born Chef Drew Deckman spent 10 years in France, Germany, and Switzerland (cooking with masters such as Paul Bocuse, Tommy Byrne, Gilles DuPont, and Jacques Maximin); awarded Michelin Star for work at Restaurant Vitus; dedicated to local, sustainable ingredients.
Don Manuel – 1 Camino del Mar (at Capella Pedregal); 011-52-624-163-4300;; signature restaurant; Mexican clasics.
El Farallon – 1 Camino del Mar (at Capella Pedregal); 011-52-624-163-4300;; new take on old-fashioned, outdoor fish market; “farallon” is “rock that juts out over water.”
Flora Farm – Las Animas Bajas (La Paz-San José del Cabo); 011-52-624-355-4564;; not easy getting there (way out past San José del Cabo marina, down pothole-riddled road, and up steep dirt lane); expensive; but, once you arrive, you see what looks like mirage amid barren Mexican desert: 10 acres organic herbs & heirloom vegetables; 12-seat, fine-dining restaurant; also, beer garden & outdoor bar that hosts live music; for complete immersion, sign up for cooking or gardening class.
Mi Cocina – 4 Boulevard Mijares (San Jose del Cabo, at Casa Natalia); 011-52-624-146-7100;; intimate, farm-to-table restaurant; for dessert, try hot dulce de leche lava cake.
Nicksan – km. 7.5 Carretera Transpeninsular (San José del Cabo, at One&Only Palmilla); 011-52-624-144-6262;; for decadent lunch, in particular.
Los Tamarindos – Calle Animas Bajas (San Jose del Cabo); 011-52-624-105-6031 or 011-52-624-147-0219;; restaurant; also cooking school & working organic farm.
Tequila Restaurant – Hidalgo (San Jose del Cabo); 011-52-624-142-1155; despite unimpressive name, 17 years of seafood preparation in lovely, romantic setting.

Cabo Expeditions – Boulevard Marina (Cabo San Lucas, at Hotel Wyndham); 011-52-624-143-2700;; for humpback whale tours (mid-December to mid-March) and/or whale sharks (October to February).
Los Tamarindos – Calle Animas Bajas (San Jose del Cabo); 011-52-624-105-6031 or 011-52-624-147-0219;; cooking school & working organic farm; also restaurant.

Sights & Sites
Cabo Pulmo National Park – Highway 1, km 31 (Cabo Pulmo); 011-52-624-168-2232;; national marine park on Baja Peninsula east coast, Pulmo Point to Los Frailes Cape, approximately 60 miles north of Cabo San Lucas; on oldest of only 3 coral reefs on North America’s west coast (estimated to be 20K years old) & northernmost coral reef in eastern Pacific; reef has numerous hard coral fingers occurring in progressively deeper water offshore.
Isla Los Islotes – for snorkeling with sea lions.

Casa Encinares B&B – km 92 Carretera Ensenada-Tecate (San Antonio de las Minas); 011-52-646-176-4736 (Mexico), 619-865-9464 (US) or 646-116-5107 (cell);; 25 minutes east of Ensenada in area encompassing 58 wineries (“la Ruta del Vino”); 90% Mexican wines produced in this area; 5-single, 3-double casita-style rooms & 2 3-room villas on hilltop for larger parties; place to relax and unplug; got its start 30 years ago as country home owned by brothers Arturo & Victor Horta; nice size pool, outdoor dining patios & little tree house; water is mineral rich and often appears milky in color but is clean; beautiful scenic highway that is in excellent shape and safe-ish; travel also provided from San Diego when staying at B&B.
Endemico – km 75, Carretera Tecate-Ensenada, km 75 (Valle de Guadalupe); 011-52-555-282-2199;; staggered among boulders on secluded hill, 20 luxury cabins bring guests into direct contact with nature; expansive mountain and vineyard views; just 1.5 hours from San Diego; each cabin has unobstructed valley views, private wooden terraces, with understated but comfortable furnishings; pool.
La Villa del Valle – km 89, Camino a Toros Pintos Ejido Francisco Zarco (Rancho San Marcos); 011-52-646-156-8007 or 818-207-7130;; poised on hilltop with 360° views; handsome, 2-story hacienda built in 2002 but looks as if it has been here forever; guest rooms are basic, but public areas are gorgeous, especially main living room, with its cowhide ottomans, pressed-tin lamps, and burnished-oak bookcases filled with bird-watching and wine guides.

Corazon de Tierra – km 89, Camino a Toros Pintos Ejido Francisco Zarco (Rancho San Marcos, at La Villa del Valle); 011-52-646-156-8007;
Deckman’s en el Mogor – km 85.5, Highway 3 (on Mogor-Badan Winery grounds); 011-52-1-646-135-5505;; fire-grilled food, house beer, and homemade ice cream.
Finca Altozano – km 83, Highway 3; 011-52-1-664-166-6839; large grill with views over vines.
Laja – km 83, Highway 3; 011-52-1-646-155-2556;; ingredient-driven, baja cuisine in elegant space.
Restaurante Manzanilla – Recinto Portuario, Teniente Azueta #139; 011-52-1-646-175-7073;; local, organic products.
Silvestre – km 73, Highway 3; 011-52-1-646-175-7073;; seasonal outdoor restaurant specializing in grilled meat; owned by Benito Molina and his wife, Solange Muriz, who also own-run Restaurante Manzanilla.

Sights & Sites
Ruta del Vino – Highway 3; wends through numerous vineyards.

Sights & Sites
Great White Sharks – 160 miles off coast; August-October is best time; reliable, on-board dive operator is Solmarv, P.O. Box 529, Topanga, California 90290, 310-455-3600 or 866-591-4906,

Playa Balandra – 11 Baja California Sur (Balandras); voted Mexico’s prettiest beach.
Ensenada Grande Beach – nearly deserted, pristine beach.

Hotel Catedral La Paz – 411 Independencia; 011-52-612-690-1000;
Costa Baja Resort – Carretera a Pichilingue km 7.5; 011-52-612-123-6000 or 877-392-5525;; 115-room boutique hotel & spa; sea-view tower with luxury condominiums, double & king rooms overlooking La Paz Bay.

Odayaka Sushi Bar – Carretera a Pichilingue km 7.5 (at Costa Baja Hotel); 011-52-612-106-7100;
Steinbeck’s – Carretera a Pichilingue km 7.5 (Costa Baja Hotel); 011-52-612-123-6000;

Espiritu Spa – Carretera a Pichilingue km 7.5 (at Costa Baja Hotel); 011-52-612-123-6000;
Grupo Fun Baja – Carretera Pichilingue km 6.1 (at Costa Baja Hotel); 011-52-612-106-7148;; multiple once-in-lifetime experiences daily; marine safaris around Baja California Sur traverse remote bays & islands; also arranges dives at all levels & angling adventures; can arrange luxury camping on Ensenda Grande Beach combined with whale shark viewing.

Sights & Sites
Isla Espiritu Santo – off Playa el Tecolote;; UNESCO Eco Heritage site; 31 square miles.

Villa del Palmar – Carretera Transpeninsular km 83 (Ensenada Blanca); 877-360-7945;; 3 restaurants, 20K square foot pool, and 150 suites.

Sights & Sites
Loreto Bay National Marine Park –; sea turtles, sea-kayaking, and whale-watching; also, 6' Humboldt squid.
Mission of Our Lady Loreto – Calle Salvatierra (at Calle Misioneros); 011-52-613-135-0005.
Mission of San Javier – 20 miles southwest of Loreto; 2-hour drive; road climbs past small ranches, palm groves, and Cerro de la Giganta’s steep cliffs; marked trails lead off road to Indian rock art; mission village is remote community (50 full-time residents), many of whom come outdoors when visitors arrive; mission church (circa 1699), set in orchards, built of gray volcanic rock and topped with domes and bell towers containing 3 bells from 18th-19th Centuries; stained-glass windows; gilded central altar; statues of St. Javier, St. Ignacio, and Virgen de los Dolores; 1700s vestments in glass cabinet; church often locked; ask anyone hanging about to find person with keys.

Rancho La Puerta – Carretera A, km 5 (outside Tijuana); 011-52-665-654-9155 or 800-443-7565;; cooking school is La Cocina Que Canta.

La Caja Galeria – 118-B Las Horas (20th de Noviembre); 011-52-664-686-6791;; dusty mix of big industrial buildings and small houses; art gallery, exterior of which covered in graffiti by street artists (Mexican and US).

Sights & Sites
Avenida Revolucion – historically, city’s booze and questionable entertainment core, known for its pasajes (half-century old covered arcades), many of which now renovated into arts establishments and cafes; for example, Pasaje Gomez rents out 60 spaces to artists, cafes, craft-shops, and galleries.
Casa del Tunel – 133 Calle Chapo Marquez (Colonia Federal); 011-52-664-682-9570;; art center that stands 20' from steel border fences where once ran sub-border tunnel; also, bullet-riddled car is permanent installation in front.
Mariposa – 158 Chapo Márquez (Colonia Federal); 011-52-323-574-9197; arts collective (gallery and museum, as well as studios); inside former motel that was human-trafficking base.

Isla Navidad
Grand Bay Hotel – Circuito de los Marinos; 011-52-314-331-0500 or 877-999-3223;
Las Hadas – Avenida Vista Hermosa (Peninsula de Santiago); 011-52-314-331-0101 or 888-559-4329;

Roca Partida – offshore pinnacles that attract giant mantas and schooling hammerheads.

Bars & Nightclubs
Hotel Los Flamingos Bar – Avenida Adolfo Lopez Mateos (downtown); 011-52-744-482-0690;; “coco loco cocktails”; unparalleled views.

Banyan Tree – 1 Boulevard Cabo Marques; 011-52-744-434-0100;; 47 pool villas; on rocky, wooded site that drops down to water.
Hotel Boca Chica – Playa Calletilla; 011-52-744-482-7879;; massively renovated, old school hotel; 36 rooms with hammocks and terraces; unobstructed bay views.
Hotel Las Brisas – Carretera Escenica (Fraccionamiento Las Brisas); 011-52-744- 469-6900;; 263 casitas with own pools.
Hotel Encanto – 51 Jacques Cousteau (Fraccionamiento Brisas Marques); 011-52-744-446-7102;; new, 44 suites; modern; spectacular; affordable.

Becco al Mare – Avenida Escenica; 011-52-744-446-7402;; dramatic, open-air terrace with unobstructed bay views; Italian specialities.
Hotel Mirador – 74 Plazoleta La Quebrada; 011-52-744-483-1155;; best view of La Quebrada divers.
Pampano – 33 Carretera Escénica (a Puerto Marques); 011-52-744-446-5700;; Nuevo Mexicano cuisine; sophisticated.
Zibu – Avenida Escenica (Fraccionamiento El Glomar); 011-52-744-433-3058;

Sights & Sites
Casa de Delores Olmedo – 6 Inalambrica Street (Cerro de la Pinzona); block-long, Diego Rivera mosaic.
La Quebrada – famed cliff, best seen from Hotel Mirador restaurant’s terrace.

COSTA CHICA (in Oaxaca; includes Huatulco, Mazunte, Puerto Escondido, San Agustinillo & Ventanilla)
Barra de la Cruz – near La Crucecita; long, undeveloped stretch with among area’s best breaks for surfing, backed by coconut and palm trees and weathered boulders.
Playa Cacaluta – near La Crucecita; idyllic cove used as setting at Y Tu Mamá También’s end; Huatulco National Park portion.
Playa Conejos – near La Crucecita; with single palapa restaurant serving excellent, simple seafood.

Camino Real Zaashila – 5 Bulevar Benito Juarez (Bahías de Huatulco); 011-52-958-583-0300;; family-friendly; enormous main swimming pool, plus additional 103 plunge pools; most rooms have sea views.
Casa Pan de Miel – Cerrada del Museo de la Tortuga (Mazunte); 011-52-958-589-5844;; laid-back experience; 5 rooms; insider’s secret.
Hotel Santa Fe – Calle Del Morro (Puerto Escondido); 011-52-954-582-0170;; for surf buffs; 70 rooms on Playa Zicatela; bedrooms are in need of update but good value; restaurant is best in town, especially for breakfast.
La Picuda – Huatulco; 011-52-1958-587-6539;; Carlos Herrera’s spectacular house (name means “Point”) on cliff top; triangular property with modern Mexican aesthetic; huge, sail-like property structure shading pool; from there, rocky trail leads to flat stone area by ocean, where guests can have dinner parties or picnics.
Punta Placer – San Agustinillo;;; 8 beautiful rooms in 4 circular structures under conical, palm-thatch roofs; wonderfully fresh, open-air feel with breezy terraces and screens of wooden slats for windows; beach right outside; buildings constructed with attractive local wood and stone; comfortably and stylishly kitted out with good beds, hammocks and mosquito nets; glass washing basins and neat natural touches like stone-lined showers (with excellent water pressure.
Quita Real Huatulco – Benito Juárez, Lote 2 Bahía de Tangolunda (Huatulco); 011-52-958-581-0428;; more intimate than Camino Real Zaashila (see above); just 28 suites on hillside overlooking Tangolunda Bay.
Un Sueno – Calle Principal (San Agustinillo);; 6 private beach bungalows on Mexico’s pacific coast.
Villas Carrizalillo – 125 Avenida Carrizalillo (Puerto Escondido); 011-52-954-582-1735;; stylish; in secluded spot overlooking little cove with gentle surf.
Zicaru – Huatulco; 011-52-1958-587-6539;; Carlos Herrera’s 2nd property; closer to water; melds beautiful design with strong sense of place; soaring open-air living space looks out onto infinity pool and ocean beyond; every window offers framed tropical gardens or water view; private beach where guests can be picked up for excursions by boat.

Hotel Santa Fe – Calle Del Morro (Puerto Escondido); 011-52-954-582-0170;; for surf buffs; 70 rooms on Playa Zicatela; bedrooms are in need of update but good value; restaurant is best in town, especially for breakfast.
Olas Altas – Playa (San Agustinillo, at beach’s west end); good food.
Onix – La Crucecita (Huatulco); 011-52-958-587-0520; overlooks plaza; innovative Mexican food.
Punta Placer – San Agustinillo;;
La Termita – San Agustinillo;; brick oven pizza.

Hidden Voyage Ecotours – Puerto Escondido; 011-52-954-582-2305;; bike or kayak tours of, for example, Manialtepec lagoon.

Arte Sano – Avenida Principal (San Agustinillo); artisan craft shop.

Sights & Sites
Huatulco National Park – Santa María Huatulco (west of Cruz Huatulco; 30K acres; in its low lands, 9K plant species; 264 faunal species, including armadillos and white-tailed deer; 701 bird species (including hawks, hummingbirds, and pelicans); 470 reptile species (Black Iguana, salamanders, and snakes); dolphins, turtles, and whales off coast; 100 amphibian species.
Manialtepec – Puerto Escondido; pristine lagoon surrounded by mangroves; amazing bird life.
Mexican Turtle Center – Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga (Mazunte); 011-52-958-584-3376;

Las Brisas – Playa Vistahermosa; 011-52-755-553-2121;

Haramara Retreat – Playa Escondida; 011-52-329-291-3038;; intimate and secluded oceanside adventure and yoga resort.

ZIHUATANEJO (includes Playa Icacos)
Playa Riva – Carretera Zihuatanejo-Acapulco (Juluchuca); 011-52-74-4109-2016;
La Quinta Troppo – Playa La Ropa; 011-52-755-554-3423;
Tides Zihuatanejo – Playa La Ropa; 011-52-755-555-5500;

Cuixmala – Careyes; 011-52-312-316-0300 or 866-516-2611;; on Pacific Ocean; here you can rent rooms or villas on Goldsmith estate, La Loma.

Garza Blanca – Barra de Navidad km 7.5; 011-52-322-176-0700;
Hacienda San Angel – 336 Miramar (Centro); 011-52-322-222-2692;; discretely tucked into Old Town hills; refurbished colonial home series (including one once belonging to Richard Burton); 20 suite boutique hotel.
Las Alamandas – Carretera Federal km 83, #200 (Quemaro, Costalegre); 011-52-322-285-5500;; beautiful boutique hotel.
Presidente Intercontinental Resort – Carretera a Barra de Navidad km. 8.5; 001-52-322-226-8800 or 888-424-6835;
Villa del Palmar – Boulevard Francisco Medina Asencio km. 2.5 (Zona Hotelera Norte); 011-52-624-145-7200 or 888-844-8169;
Westin Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa – 205 Paseo de la Marina; 01-52-322-226-1100 or 800-528-3025;

Cafe des Artistes – 740 Guadalupe Sanchez (Centro); 011-52-322-222-3228;; in old house downtown with exquisite gardens and alfresco outdoor dining; 20 years in business; chef Chef Thierry Blouet doles out French-Mexican fusion; very highly regarded.
Thierry Blouet Cocina de Autor – 740 Guadalupe Sanchez (Centro); 011-52-322-222-3228;; expensive Thierry Blouet Cocina del Autor is in dining area upstairs from Cafe des Artistes; French gourmet bistro fare.

Vallarta Adventures – 39 Paseo de Las Palmas; 011-52-322-297-1212;; for humpback whale watching mid-December to mid-March.

NAYARIT (includes Sayulita)
Pachamama – 4B Calle Delfín (Sayulita); 011-52-329-291-3468;; gypset lifestyle aesthetic; bohemian, surfstyle clothing boutique.

Casa Majani – Bahia de Banderas; 011-52-322-105-8339 or 877-784-2740;; house within Four Seasons resort; lovely.
Casa de Mita – Calle Playa Careyeros; 011-52-329-298-4114;; thatched roof estate with 6 guest rooms and 2 suites on quiet beach.
Hotel des Artistes – 5 Avenue Anclote; 011-52-329-291-6857 or 866-628-2693;
Imanta – near Four Seasons; 011-52-329-298-4242;; 7 stone villas overlooking 2 miles of private beach; on 250 acres; great spa.

Punta Mita Expeditions – 200 Avenida El Anclote (Nuevo Corral del Risco); 011-52-329-291-6649;; most popular trip is Marine Safari, which explores Marietas Islands, which have abundant, yet rare, blue-footed boobies and Hidden Beach (exposed crater lying midocean, accessible only through cave).

Sights & Sites
Marietas Islands National Park – 15-minute offshore snorkeling.

MAZATLAN (in Sinaloa)
Casa de Leyendas – 4 Venustiano Carranza; 011-52-669-981-6180 or 866-391-2301;; elegant wood furniture and inviting common spaces, including ocean-view rooftop lounge.
Hotel Machado – 510A Sixto Osuna (on Plazuela Machado); 011-52-669-669-2730;; good central location.
Old Mazatlan Inn – Pedregoso 18; 011-52-669-981-4361 or 866-385-2045;; large suites; beautiful pool; rooftop garden.

Beli St. Pub – 1406 Belisario Dominguez; no telephone available; Irish-themed bar.
Best Western Posada Freeman Express – Olas Altas 79 Sur; 011-52-669-985-6060; rooftop bar has great sunset views.
Café Bolero 1987 – 18 Venustiano Carranza; 011-52-669-985-0003.
Domitila – 515 Constitucion; 011-52-669-136-0436; for traditional chiles rellenos.
Modular Café & Bar – 24 Sixto Osuna; no telephone available.
La Tertulia – 1414 Belisario Dominguez; no telephone available.
Topolo – 629 Constitucion; 011-52-669-136-0660;; authentic Sinaloan dishes in colorful courtyard garden.

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