It's desert, beach, blue surf and big fish along the southern tip of Baja California. Cabo San Lucas is the entertainment hub and the end of the road, where the peninsula goes off a cliff into the sea. San Jose del Cabo is the old town, and exudes classic Mexico. In between the two cities, the resort-fringed coast is slathered in sunshine. Cruise visitors will find that Cabo is fine, the shopping divine, and the beaches all shine. Lover's Beach is a great place to see the arch at Land's End. Medano and Chileno beaches are placid and lovely. Las Playitas is a series of mini-beaches tucked into weathered coves.
Your first impression may be of a cosmopolitan western-Mexico beach city serving up great weather, venerable iglesias, and an array of beaches. But immerse yourself a little bit and the city gets ever more remarkable. Cliff divers wait at the top of a rocky outcrop for the right wave then plummet 45 feet into the sea. Sunlight filters in through myriad panels of stained glass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Waves crash on the esplanade along Olas Altas beach, providing a soundtrack for an evening stroll. And, mmm, the shrimp. Mazatlan serves it up fresh: Try some al mojo de ajo (with garlic) or in the shell with a tangy squeeze of lime.
Puerto Vallarta squeezed into the thin space between Banderas Bay and the verdant folds of the Sierra Madre. It's no longer the well-kept secret of the artists, writers and Hollywood stars who first "discovered" it in the 1960s, but "PV" (as it is affectionately known) still retains the essence of the fishing village it once was. Viejo Vallarta, the old town, is a mix of red-tiled buildings, cobbled streets, chic shops and busy open markets. Other highlights include Mismaloya Beach, Gringo Gulch, and Conchas Chinas, the Beverly Hills of Vallarta. Head inland for more adventure, up into the rugged canyons and luxuriant jungles of the mountains.
Beautiful, brilliant San Diego has the sun, the beaches, and the climate to die for. But don't let that fool you – the city is a power. It's the sixth-largest city in the U.S. and a center for military industry, trade, and biotechnology. Of course, it's a great place for cruise visitors. The San Diego Zoo is one of the world's best. Balboa Park is both a natural space and a collection of wonderful museums. Old Town is a colorful gaggle of shops and restaurants. Oh, and the beaches: Coronado, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla. The forecast is for a high of about 75 degrees. Every day. Sigh.
September - March