Cabo San Lucas’ proximity to LA (it’s a 2.5-hour flight) makes it the ultimate post-Oscar celeb flop spot. But it’s the scenery and wildlife that are the real stars of the show. Andrew Skwarek plots a perfect weekend
The best way to see Cabo’s barren, cacti-speckled landscape is from the back of a horse, so saddle up with My Cabo Experience; hour-long excursions start at 8 a.m. Alternatively, channel Laurence of Arabia on a camel safari through the Baja desert with Cabo Adventures; tours last 4.5 hours.
The waters off Cabo San Lucas are teeming with mahi-mahi, tuna, yellowtail and marlin (some weigh up to 600 pounds), so if fishing’s your thing, charter a boat for a few hours and see what you can hook. Or, swap the (relatively) small fry for whopping whales. Winter and early spring is whale-watching season, when you have a good chance of spotting humpback and gray whales breach.
About 35 minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas, the sleepy town of San Jose Del Cabo offers authentic Mexican culture and art. Alvaro Obregon Street is lined with galleries: La Sacristia, which sells pottery and silver jewelry, is the must-visit. Next, snag a table at the La Panga Antigua restaurant and order the ahi tuna with honey, rosemary, guajillo pepper over squash blossom and corn kernel rice. Then, move onto the low-key Tequila Restaurant, a local fave — and remember, this is Mexico, so sip your tequila, don’t shoot.
Kick off the day with a guided kayak trip on the luminous Sea of Cortez, from Santa Maria Bay to Tortuga Bay. Here, lace up your hiking shoes and embark on a 45-minute trek up the craggy granite formations, past endemic flora such as cardon and old man cacti. Take in jaw-on-the-floor vistas of the arid Sonoran Desert scenery before continuing your kayak excursion to Chileno Beach, where calm waters and excellent visibility yield favorable snorkeling conditions: you’ll see Moorish idols, parrotfish, pufferfish, sergeant fish and more.
If there’s one thing Cabo knows how to do, it’s pamper — see for yourself by spending this afternoon chillaxing at a spa with a view. Our favorite treatments include the two-hour Baja Herbal Infusion treatment at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, which starts with a moonflower Flor de Luna scrub and ends with a restorative rubdown, and Esperanza Resort’s 90-minute sun-baked stone massage.
Want to see how the other half vacations? Take a sunset cruise with Cabo Sails: as well as Land’s End and Cabo’s iconic stone arch, you’ll gawk at celebrity abodes high up on the bluffs and watch the fiery sun dip below the horizon — all with a cold cerveza in-hand.
Cabo San Lucas has its fair share of tourist-rammed, dancing-on-the-table bars, so choose carefully. The Office offers killer margs and a gentler vibe than most; then hit the laid back Bahia Hotel & Beach Club’s Bar Esquina, which has a 17-seat marble bar, Mexican-Mediterranean menu and outdoor deck with fire pits.
Welcome the rising sun with a stand-up paddle boarding session on the Sea of Cortez. You can rent gear through most resorts; if you’re a beginner take a lesson with Baja Outback; its three-hour sessions around the arch include round-trip transportation and start at $75 per person.
Make a beeline for Los Claros on Ignacio Zaragoza and get a couple of fish tacos to go (you won’t find better anywhere) before taking the water taxi from Cabo San Lucas marina to Lover’s Beach on Land’s End. Backed by colossal rock configurations, this stretch of sand has great snorkeling — just don’t venture to the Pacific Ocean side (Divorce Beach) for a dip – there’s a terrifying undertow.
Help Baja’s olive ridley sea turtles crawl safely to the water’s edge with non-profit Campamento Tortuguero Don Manuel Orantes, which releases upwards of 200,000 hatchlings a year on a protected beach next to the San Jose del Cabo estuary. The experience is unforgettable and the up-close photo-ops of these just-hatched reptiles are superlative. Afterwards, head to Flora’s Farm for an organic, guilt-free dinner: we loved the brown butter- and sage-seasoned gnocchi, and mahi-mahi with harisa and sweet chutney, with a signature heirloom carrot Farmarita. The open-air, farm-to-table restaurant has an enchanting Garden of Eden feel and is nestled at the base of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains.
This exclusive, French-flavored isle has long drawn bold-faced names, most recently Academy Award Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington, who saw in the end of the year on his yacht here, while American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and his sweetheart Julianne Hough kicked off 2013 with a standup paddle-boarding outing on the sparkling sea.
The old Rocky Mountain mining town of Aspen lures celebs with its rugged natural beauty, hot restaurants like Element 47 at The Little Nell and Matsuhisa Aspen, luxury boutiques and peerless pow. Recent celebrity sightings include Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon (with the twins, of course), and Uma Thurman.
With 750 miles of pristine coastline, it’s easy to find a stretch of Hawaiian sand to call your own — no wonder the celebs love it — and the lava-oozing volcanoes and cascading waterfalls add to the allure. Jessica Simpson (plus baby bump), Tom Brady, wife Gisele Bundchen and munchkins, and newly engaged Brandy have all vacationed on these idyllic islands over the past few months.
Slurp aphrodisiac oysters, sail down the Seine, gawk eye-popping architecture, shop chichi boutiques… the French capital has multiple options for celebs in love, as newly weds Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Mary-Kate Olsen and Français beau Olivier Sarkozy and Jen Aniston and Justin Theroux have found in recent months.
Just 81 miles south of Cancun’s chaos, the low-key, sugar-sand beaches of Tulum, a former truck stop, have become a fashionista and Tinseltown favorite in recent years. Demi Moore was seen showing off her svelte figure earlier this year at a Bikini Boot Camp that included mud spa treatments, and you couldn’t move for models and designers over the New Year.
Miami’s sultry SoBe is famous for its itty-bitty bikinis and sizzling nightlife, and the current hot spot is SLS South Beach. Singer-songwriter Rico Love threw his 30th birthday bash here in December with Diddy and Kelly Rowland in attendance, and Beyoncé and hubby Jay-Z have eaten at the hotel’s Sam’s Lounge.
Less than an hour from Salt Lake City, this ski destination, also famous for hosting the Sundance Film Festival every January, is a favorite with Hollywood’s who’s who. Before they both headed for splitsville, crooners Taylor Swift and One Direction’s Harry Styles and Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber were spotted shredding pow together on a pre-Christmas double date in the Canyons.
Rio De Janeiro
Mother-to-be Kim Kardashian and boyfriend Kanye West just returned from a trip to Rio de Janeiro, where they snapped a photo with Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado Mountain, enjoyed Carnival celebrations and hung with Will Smith. Expect a celeb onslaught in the next few years: the World Cup comes to town in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.