Cabo San Lucas 2011

Recently, it’s been cold and dreary in San Diego, and it was about time that my family and I had another family vacation. Every other year we go to Cabo San Lucas (A mere 2 hour flight from SD) to spend a week in the sun, fish, and enjoy some good street tacos. Cabo San Lucas is located at the tip of Baja California, and is a prime tourism location due to the warm weather, sport fishing, and the wide variety of animals that call the area home. Cabo is also featured in many movies as the Land’s end arch is right outside of the marina.

Land's End Arch, and Lover's Beach at 6:30 in the morning

The 6 of us met up at the San Jose del Cabo airport on Saturday (12/3) and took a private taxi to the Pueblo Bonito Sunset resort which costed us 90 dollars. On the way, we stopped by Costco to get some supplies for the week’s meals, where for some odd reason I went crazy and bought 10 pounds of bacon and chorizo. After the hour drive and 30 minute stop from the airport to the resort, we checked in and were able to get an upgrade from a one-bedroom executive suite to a one-bedroom executive suite with a hot tub. Initially, we were told that they had upgraded us to a bigger suite and when we found out that we were just given a hot tub, we were a little annoyed, but the sleeping arrangements worked out as there were 2 beds, a futon, and lounge chairs outside. While we were getting settled in, we tried to set up the internet, only to find out that the resort had discontinued to provide free internet to the rooms, and the wireless internet that they set up would cost $5/hour. This put almost everyone into a murderous rage! What kind of 5 star resort chargers their timeshare owners for internet? After almost a half hour of pestering the front desk to get a suite upgrade and free internet, we realized there was nothing they could/would do for us, so we just stopped and watched TV and enjoy the hot tub that they provided to us.

Pueblo Bonito Sunset

The next day, after enjoying a little sun at the Skypool located at the top of the resort, we headed into town utilizing the resort’s complimentary shuttle to the sister resort, Pueblo Bonito Rose. Downtown Cabo is a 5 minute walk from the resort, and has it’s own ‘strip’ where many of the big bars and clubs have set up as well as the high end shopping plaza called the Puerto Parasio Mall that is connected to the marina where all the fishing boats and cruises dock. While we were walking along the marina, we were looking for a captain to take us out fishing on a panga for tuna, mahi mahi, and anything else that we could take back to eat. We had heard from one of my mom’s colleagues that the last time he went out 2 years ago, the panga costed him $150. This sounded like an amazing deal, as the past 3 times we had gone to cabo, the boats that we took were $400-500, granted they were 30+ ft long. Pangas are much smaller (20-25 ft in length), open and generally only have a 1 person crew. The first captain we talked to told us that he could do a trip for 250, which includes bait and license. We proceded to walk away as we were looking for a boat for 150. They chased us down and told us 200, but we insisted on 150 and we walked farther down the marina. After talking to a few other captains, we met Joel, who has a shop within a plaza next to the Wyndham hotel. He wanted to do 175 for a 5 hour fishing trip + bait + license, but we still wanted 150 for everything. Eventually we agreed on 165, 65 up front, 100 the next morning at 6:30 am. After dealing with the logistics, we went back to the main road, got some gelato and sorbet at Senior Sweet Bistro, and went to the grocery store to buy bolillos (amazing bread rolls) and other ingredients that we couldn’t get at Costco. We then got a taxi cab and headed back to the resort to enjoy some supper.

View from the skypool towards the lighthouse

Pueblo Bonito Rose

The next morning, my mother and I went to get a taxi at 6 am, and got to the marina around 6:15, where we met up with Joel. Joel then took us down to the docks where he introduced us to Nayo, our captain for the day. We immediately left the marina and went to verify with the Mexican wildlife and game officers that we had our licenses and then we got our bait (Seven 6-8 inch fish). Finally we were on our way to the deeper Pacific waters where we passed Lover’s beach and the Land’s End Arch. We set 3 lines out with lures and within 15 minutes, we had a hit. After a quick battle where I apparently messed the rod up and the line got tangled, we had a ~18 inch Skipjack Tuna, or as the Mexicans called it ‘Bonita.’ We then trolled up and down the coast and within an hour of the first fish, we had another hit on a lure. After fighting with the fish for a few minutes, we saw it jump in the air, which allowed us to identify it as a Bull (male) Mahi Mahi, aka ‘Dorado.’ As it was far away when it jumped, I thought it was going to be similar in size to one I had caught 2 years ago. Eventually, we got the Dorado on board, and saw that it was bigger than we had anticipated. We trolled for a few more hours, but didn’t get any bites, although we did see a large pod of dolphins, fended off hungry seals trying to eat our bait, and 3 whales migrating further south to their mating and calving grounds. We then went towards the coast where we tried to catch Sierra Mackerel and Rooster fish. We saw a few rooster fish going after our lines, which is an amazing sight as they have these huge dorsal fins that rise out of the water as they chase their prey. We also had a few sierra mackerel, but their sharp teeth tore the lines and they escaped. While we were close to the shore, we saw little black dots at the surface of the water, and when we looked closer, we saw that they were baby sea turtles. On the beach, only 20 yards away was a man releasing the turtles that we figured he had been protecting since they had been laid mid summer. We kept fishing and hooked another dorado, but it was so small that we had it in the boat only a few minutes after it hit the lure, and we ended up releasing it so that we could catch it again when it was bigger.

This demonstrates why the Mexicans call the Mahi Mahi the 'dorado' which translates to 'golden'

Displaying the fins

We headed back to shore and kept trying to catch fish, but nothing else hit, so Nayo cleaned the fish while I steered the boat to the marina. Once we were in the bay, a wildlife game boat stopped us and asked to see our licenses, and I guess Nayo had lost it early in the morning when he was showing the first officers our licenses since he couldn’t find them. After chatting with the officers they let us go on our way. We docked, met up with Joel and said our goodbyes and gave our tips. The previous night, we told the rest of our family to meet us at Captain Tony’s at 1:30pm so that they would cook the fish for us. However, we had arrived around 12pm, and I decided that I wanted to filet and cook the fish myself. While we were walking around the marina, all of the restaurants were trying to get us to let them cook the fish for us. We stopped at a restaurant to eat a quick lunch while waiting for the rest of our group, and we met Hiram, who said that he would do another fishing trip for 150 which was tempting, but we had plenty of fish. We met up with the rest of the party, and went to Soriana (a local supermarket) to get more groceries and then headed back to the resort, although it was pretty chaotic trying to get a large cab from Soriana, as the larger taxis are only in the more touristy areas of town, while this supermarket was in the middle of the local area. I then spent the next few hours hacking away at the fish and cooking it in a butter garlic sauce with the suite’s dinky electric 2 burner stove with their lacking kitchen supplies and inadequate knives. The other nights, I marinated the skipjack with soy sauce, sugar, and pepper which was subsequently pan fried. For the mahi mahi, I either steamed it the ‘cantonese’ style, or did a simple salt and pepper pan fry. I did make a aromatic broth with the bones where the bones were panfried, then water was added, and when the broth was almost ready, a splash of milk was added as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Skipjack and Dorado on ice

The rest of the trip we spent either at the resort’s main pool by the beach, or going into town and doing a little shopping. Although, I did get major fishing fever, and was bought a fishing set up for $50 from Jansen’s offshore tackle shop. I would go out every morning around 6:30-7am and trying to catch fish. Although I had the right set up, I never actually got any bites, which is frustrating when you see fish chasing your lure. It was extremely frustrating when one morning, I was out, and I saw these 2 guys pull in mahi mahi from the shore that were the same size as the one I had caught on the boat. This was a rare occurance as mahi mahi rarely boil that close to shore (they were within 50 feet of the shore!). I talked to the guys and one of them didn’t even know how to clean and gut the fish that he had caught (facepalm). Alas, this just goes to show you that fishing is simply about being at the right place and the right time, and it doesn’t matter how much or how little experience you have. I even tried during the late afternoon and evening, and didn’t catch anything. I thought I would be able to see the ‘Green flash,’ a phenomenon when the sun sets where light refracts from the water creating a green flash, but no luck with that either.

Sunrise at 6:30 am

We were able to visit a few of the restaurants that we have found that we liked over the years, Tacos el Conde and Mariscos Mocambo. Tacos el Conde has amazing street tacos while Mariscos has awesome seafood. I really enjoy Tacos el Conde as it is a hole in the wall place that doesn’t have too many outsiders visiting, and I am a firm believer in the mantra that ‘You know you’re at the right place when the locals are eating there.’ Although at Mariscos, it’s all gringos since its so expensive.

Tacos el conde

Al pastor, Menu (15 pesos/taco ~1.15 dollars/taco), Taco plate (Chorizo, Lengua, and Tripa)

At Tacos el Conde, those of us that stick to the regular menu just get the Carne Asada and Al Pastor, while those who like the more unusual bits typically order the Tripa and Lengua. They have a great selection of condiments, which consists of red salsa, chile verde, guacamole (which is far more liquid-y than those that we are accustomed to in the states), and the produce (limes, cabbage, radishes, and cucumbers). Mariscos’ menu was all seafood, although our favorites are the catch of the day which consists of a whole snapper that is either grilled, fried, or charcoal grilled. This time, we opted to get the charcoal grilled, and it was delicious. We also had chicken fajitas (mediocre), octopus ink rice with seafood (amazing), and grilled shrimp (awesome). They also provided chips, tortillas, and salsas which were tasty as well. I did notice, at all of the restaurants I went to, the Horchata (Mexican rice drink made with cinnamon) was very grainy and not like the horchata I’m accustomed too in the states.

Clockwise from top left: Mariscos Mocambo, Octopus Ink Rice, the leaf-roofed building (they have a lot of fish models inside), Charcoal grilled snapper

Family

For the other meals that we had, if we weren’t eating by the pool, or at senior sweets bistro, then we were cooking the groceries that we had gotten from Costco. On our last day, we did try the buffet at the resort, and it was extremely overpriced as well as being very lacking in the quality of food.

Mojito and Mango sorbet

The main theme that occurred throughout the trip was ‘I would tell/show/find out for you… but we don’t have internet.’ This ended up being a great thing as we spent more time together, whether it be watching TV, hanging out by the pool, or just shooting the breeze. Had we had internet, I would have just been chatting with my friends online, while the rest of my family would have been on Skype talking to friends back at home. We also spent a lot of time socializing with other families at the resort. We met a family from Alaska whose 4-year-old daughter was fearless and would dive to the bottom of the 4-foot pool to grab her toys even though she couldn’t really swim yet. The girl and my little 5-year-old cousin spent a majority of the time playing together. There was another family from Edmonton, Alberta who found out my Uncle and his family were from Lethbridge. That family then made a video with my uncle, to tell the owners of a well known restaurant in Lethbridge to give my uncle and his family free food for life!

Free Indian food for life!

Eventually, we had to leave, and we all left by Saturday, 12/10/11. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but I feel that we all needed to go back to our own beds. Before I leave you, here are a few things I learned on the trip:

  1. Tip: Everyone is working for a tip, and if you don’t tip whoever was serving you, don’t expect to be able to leave without a scene. With this in mind, bring a lot of 1 dollar bills.
  2. Don’t go to any timeshare presentations: For all of the activities that you do (scuba, snorkeling, fishing, zip-lining, eating…) someone will tell you that they can knock down the price by at least $100, or even give it to you free if you simply go to a painless breakfast and listen to a timeshare presentation for 75-90 minutes. Sounds like a great idea right? Wrong, they will keep you there for hours and hours, and sometimes you don’t even get the ‘gifts.’ So unless you actually want to get a timeshare, I would say to stay far far away, because no matter how strong you think you are, they will break you.
  3. Bargain: The price that people tell you here is subjective, and do not be afraid to bargain and ask for a lower price. Keep in mind that you have the money and that’s what they ultimately want, since someone else will always have the same product if not similar. Also, walking away from a deal is the ultimate bargaining strategy.
  4. Go to local restaurants: I’m always looking for food that the locals eat because it is usually amazing, and not only that, you typically can’t find the same food in the States, or where ever you’re from. Be sure to watch for where all the locals go, and try to stay away from the places the tourists go as it is typically americanized and overpriced. Going to local restaurants also means getting off the main road. As fun as it is to do all the touristy attractions, there is nothing better than getting to know the locals and understanding the culture of the place that you’re visiting. This also allows you to see the country for what it is, and not what the travel ambassadors want you to see.
  5. Fish in a Panga: Pangas are much cheaper than regular boats, and do not retain the diesel fumes. The last time I did a big boat trip, I almost threw up because of the fumes. I find that Pangas are just as effective as the regular boats, and if anything, the amount of fish you catch depends on the competence of your captain.
  6. Talk to fellow travelers: It’s always fun to talk to other people and see where they came from, as well as what they’ve been doing while they’re there. We had many pleasant conversations with people from around the world while we were at the pool, fishing on the beach, or even just walking on the marina.
  7. Bring a plastic cooler: If you plan on fishing, then you should bring a cooler so that you can bring your catch back home. When you bring the fish back, make sure that the fish is frozen and put into sealed plastic bags. Some places in Cabo do this service for you where they freeze and vacuum seal the fish. While I didn’t know this, Alaska Airlines sells these cheap cardboard ice coolers. Now there is some concern that US customs won’t allow you to bring meat back into the states, but they do allow you to bring fish back as long as it is packaged properly.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my travels!

The only fire station I know that has a real dalmatian on premises

We will cross paths again little mahi mahi

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Comments
5 Responses to “Cabo San Lucas 2011”
  1. beccatang says:

    oh man….i REALLY have to catch me a mahi mahi. this post makes me want to travel and fish.

  2. kamelican says:

    It was interesting to learn about Cabo San Lucas through your travels!

  3. It’s remarkable for me to have a website, which is useful in support of my knowledge. thanks admin

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  1. […] preparation for the event, I defrosted some bonita and mahi mahi that I had caught in Cabo this past winter. Normally, I would not use such high quality fish for bait, but because I was […]



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