This was nothing new – it felt nearly identical to the weather we had recently left at home in the suburbs of Ottawa, Ontario. The main difference was the setting we would call home for a week; the cab ride through the scorched and barren desert of the Baja California peninsula ended in the most visually stunning and relaxing travel destination I have ever experienced.
I had questioned travelling to Mexico in the summer – Canadians tend to try to time out their beach escapes for the cold months – but it was the only time of year that it worked out for my husband and his entire family to meet from various sides of the continent. It also coincided perfectly with the 40th wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law, which was the impetus for our celebratory trip.
And let’s face it; if you’re going to be stuck with a solid week of high temperatures and humidity, you might as well have a pina colada in hand and a gorgeous pool within a hop, skip and a jump – not to mention a heavenly view of the ocean waves crashing against the beach.
I have to credit a huge portion of our idyllic stay to our amazing hotel – we were at the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort. With breath-taking views from virtually every angle, each guest room in the hotel offers an oceanfront view. Our good fortune for staying at such an incredible place was due solely to the incredible generosity of my in-laws – who treated the whole family in honour of their landmark anniversary.
My husband and I literally spent the first couple of days struggling to absorb the calibre of the holiday we had been given. Our room was beautiful, every single meal was outstanding, even the temperature of the pool was perfect – a tepid bath that disposed of that awkward, easing-into-the-cold-water feeling.
While the adults were transitioning, our kids jumped right in – literally. Our nine-year-old and five-year-old daughters were thrilled to spend their days splashing in the huge hotel pools and jumping waves in the ocean with their younger cousin. In fact, it turned out to be a challenge to get them to take breaks – for meals and sunscreen reapplication – during their many hours in the water.
Los Cabos is the perfect place to go to relax; there is really not a whole lot to do beyond sitting by the pool and jumping waves in the ocean (there were some good surfing opportunities for the ambitious and athletically inclined; our group stayed closer to the shoreline and watched). When we bored of lying in the sun with our novels and enjoying margaritas and freshly-made guacamole at the swim-up bar, we took excursions to the local towns on either side of the resort – Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
Historically a fishing port, Cabo San Lucas was revitalized in the 80s and 90s to become a tourist destination for nightlife – something comparable to the party atmosphere of Cancun. For university students it might be appealing, but our daytime family visit revealed a lot of garish nightclubs and tacky souvenir shops. For us, the highlight was definitely an hour-long boat tour which took us past the gorgeous, rocky arch called El Arco de Cabo San Lucas and a number of other well-known rocky structures and beaches in the area.
San Jose del Cabo was a study in contrast, offering more history, art and culture than Cabo San Lucas. The buildings and the Parroquia San José church gave a sense of old Mexican charm to the town, which was officially founded as a mission in 1730. We browsed a few of the many galleries and ceramic gift stores, and enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner at La Panga Antigua.
The worst part about our family vacation was leaving our new-found paradise; after the initial disbelief, I must say I had transitioned quite nicely to the pampered life. Although I love our life in Ottawa, coming back to reality – complete with laundry, yard and meal duties – was a bitter-sweet pill to swallow. But I can always dig my toes in the kids’ sandbox, crack open a Corona and dream that I’m back in paradise.