Reconnecting With Old Friends from LA to Cabo


Feeling grateful today because I chose to be a YES to traveling safely to Cabo San Lucas! To share I was hesitant to fly since the pandemic and drawn from travel inspiration through road trips usually no more than five to six hours from my home in Los Angeles. When the invitation from Los Cabos Tourism was extended for a three-day adventure including an inaugural flight, I couldn't pass it up. My trip was a FAM excursion, a travel industry group of professional advisors, journalists, and influencers to share about the region through their platforms. To say I was honored to be part of this three-day trip with four other like-minded I would be traveling with was an understatement.


As I prepared for my first flight in over sixteen months I became very present to how much I missed packing my luggage, downloading a boarding pass, and dusting off my passport. To be fair this wasn't a crazy long flight. This was a two-hour flight to Los Cabos! It took me longer (five hours) on a Friday afternoon to drive from LA to San Diego a few weeks ago for my mom’s 80th birthday weekend getaway. To be continued. Back to Cabo. The flight and airport experiences were positive, LAX was definitely cleaner than I remembered, and if you haven't seen all the construction at LAX, wow! Fingers cross LAX becomes the airport we've always wanted it to become.


This wasn't any regular flight I was onboard the inaugural JetBlue direct flight from LAX to San Jose del Cabo, Airport in Mexico. This could have been the most fun ever on a flight! It was a festive atmosphere at the gate with a ribbon-cutting send-off, musical performance serenading us, serving chips, salsa, and drinks pre take-off. This was the perfect reintroduction to flying post our recent pandemic. It felt almost normal and comforting to have air travel back in my life.


"Being back at the airport was like running into that old friend I hadn't seen in so long but we picked right back up where we left off."


Onboard the flight fun continued with raffle prizes from Los Cabos Tourism and JetBlue including activities, dinners, and hotel stays in Los Cabos. *Note to all tourism boards, tour operators, and hospitality brands let’s get this to be a part of the traveling experience.


When we landed in Los Cabos the awesomeness continued with a water cannon fire truck salute over the plane. The water cannon experience was definitely a bucket list moment that I didn't know I wanted. That was pretty cool!


To my New York, New Jersey, and east coast friends JetBlue launched JFK to CABO direct flights with the very first flights departing the same day as my flight from LAX.


Pictures: Inaugural JetBlue send-off cand landing in Cabo from Los Angeles International Airport, June 17th, 2021.

My travel companions for over the next three days, Lindsay Myers, from Get Lost With Lindsay and her producer/partnerJimmy Salabert, Nutritionist and Wellness Expert Rachel Harshfield, Health and Fitness authority Jill Chapman and Susie Najera from Los Cabos Tourism who brought us all together. I am a huge advocate of solo traveling but in the past year I've been craving community and coming together with this incredible group had me super excited for the adventure ahead!


Hello Los Cabos!


If reconnecting with air travel after a sixteen-month break was like seeing an old friend, then my first time back to Cabo in twenty-five years is a trip down memory lane with an old love I could not wait to see! My memories of Cabo take me back to Spring Break parties with gorgeous beaches and lots of young people. Amazing memories! : ) But not what I experienced on this magical trip. Yes, we made memories, had so much fun by exploring culture as we embarked on many local businesses excursions for all we experienced. There was newfound energy of Los Cabos, which is considered San Jose, and Cabo has evolved to be a world-class destination. San Jose provides a traditional inviting feeling with a slew of upscale, but very affordable large to mid-size hotels along the stunning Sea of Cortez. Most hotels are either all-inclusive or European plan, which means breakfast included.


Pictures: Our walking tour In the heart of San Jose.


We had a pretty packed schedule of daily activities to explore and experience as much as possible. Trust me I’m not complaining and there is something very refreshing about not having to plan and trust our next activity or meal is going to be awesome because it will be. Normally when I travel I have an idea of things I want to do but tend to be more carefree with limited plans. The structure of the FAM trip was actually very enjoyable for me and is another reason why I’m an advocate for small group travel. We maximized the adventure in two and a half days. I'm still so blown away by all we did and how much Los Cabos has evolved since my last visit.


Los Cabos really has something for everyone. Sure, if you want to just drink poolside and hit the clubs at night there's that, but what I experienced was SO MUCH MORE! From world-class culinary dining at Sunset Mona Lisa with stunning views of the Sea of Cortez to regenerative farm tours and cooking class with chefs who have pioneered the Mexican farm to table conversation at Tamarindos. Painting classes at Patricia Mendoza Gallery with a local artist Juan Cesar Carlos that was super fun! Even a non-artist painter like myself had a blast and made something worthy to take home and hang on my wall. We had a full adrenaline off-road rush driving ATV's and dune buggies exploring the hundred fifty acres of Baja desert as part of Wild Canyon Adventures. No trip to Los Cabos is complete without time enjoying the Sea of Cortez, the team from Cabo Adventures made sure our cups were filled, literally with constant drink service as we sailed the coastline, stopping to swim, have lunch, and more drinks. Keep reading below for full details on more fantastic places to eat, stay, and adventures in Los Cabos! As you plan your vacations ahead Los Cabos should be high on your list!


Pictures left to right; Our group's art class at Patrica Mendoza Gallery, dining at Sunset Mona, & Cabo Adventures boat adventure.


It's not where you go, but who you meet along the way.

- The Wizard of Oz


What I was really most excited about was connecting with people. I've spent the past year in a small bubble of friends and family. Although my small bubble of people has been expanding over the past few months I was ready to meet new people, learn about other cultures, and just have conversations with people coming from different backgrounds. This is where I feel most alive when traveling. I LOVE talking with people, travelers, and locals asking them what travel means to them. Most people have no idea I'm going to ask them a question or what I'm going to ask making the encounter authentic. When talking about travel from a personal and in some cases professional context people share from their heart and what you get is well, magic. These conversations and connections reminded me WHY I started Travel With Meaning and inspired me to keep sharing what travel means to people I meet along the way.


Watch the video from a few of my memorable moments from my Cabo Conversations.



Shared Experiences


My group on the trip were five very different people, six including me. All of us filled with the passion for travel, trying new experiences, and connecting with others. There were a few times when I sat back and listened about some of their impactful past travel moments someone was sharing where I had been before. They might have had different experiences in that country, but the memory and experience were an instant bond. One of the things I talked about during the pandemic on the Travel With Meaning Podcast was how much travel bonds us, now I was experiencing it again in real life, IRL as the cool kids say.


I think there is nothing more powerful than shared travel experiences. What I mean by this is, it's important to do solo travel as a confidence builder and personal exploration but sharing a travel experience with another person or small group creates a special bond. Connection with like-minded travelers in a location outside of your normal comfort zone and routine is a unique and special experience. After the isolation, most people had in 2020 I am a strong advocate for small group trips to build community and make meaningful and memorable moments together. Though my group was only together for three days we now have memories together to last a lifetime! There's already talk of a reunion, and I am incredibly grateful for the shared experience and the new friends I now have.


If I could encourage people to travel in any particular way post-COVID, explore a small group trip or retreat. Lean into being uncomfortable, meet new people, step outside of your comfort zone and you'll be amazed at what memories and bonds you create. *If you want suggestions on small groups ideas, retreats, shared experiences, or trip planning services feel free to reach out to me at hello@travelwithmeaning.com.


Pictures: Our three days in Los Cabos mash-up photo collage!


Where we stayed


Hotel Ziva, an all-inclusive resort in San Jose and a short jaunt from the airport. From the moment you walk in and see the ocean, pool, and sunset shimmering through the entrance that deep breathe came through and a calmness washed over me as I soaked it all in. The grin of happiness could not come off my face. We were warmly welcomed by Guillermo, the Sales Manager. Upbeat and always smiling, he could have been one of my favorite people from this trip. The rooms were extremely clean, spacious, modern, comfy, and reminded me how much I've missed a great hotel experience. The property was bigger than a small boutique hotel with six pools including an adult-only pool and gorgeous beachfront lounging area. This hotel was also very centrally located in San Jose with ease getting to the airport or to different restaurants, activities, or the heart of Cabo. I'd recommend Hotel Ziva for groups, families, and couples offering a little of everything for any type of traveler. A big bonus with Hotel Ziva is the full schedule of daily activities from bingo poolside, classes for the kids to workout classes. We took a stretch yoga class early one morning on the beach and it was well needed. I love a good stretch. Our instructor was fun and positive and I'm not just saying he had the best energy, he did! This was a great way to get moving for the day and help work off the appetizers and margaritas we enjoyed from the night before the hotel provided us upon arrival.



Picture: Hotel Ziva


One thing to know about me is I love a good visit to the spa and in a past life/career would make it weekly self-love practice. Due to COVID I haven't had a massage or been to a spa in forever and was ready to take the plunge. The Zen Spa at Hotel Ziva exceeded my expectations with services, cleanliness, and wonderful treatments. If we didn't have other activities I might have stayed zenned out in the spa for a few more hours.



Picture: Zen Spa at Hotel Ziva


One great offer from Hotel Ziva, most hotels in Los Cabos are doing this, was the option for COVID insurance. Travelers heading back to the U.S. have to show a negative COVID test within 72 hours, the property has free onsite testing. If you receive a positive test with the insurance, they will house you until you receive a negative test. I thought this was a great option to allow travelers to know they will be taken care of instead of feeling helpless in a foreign country. Spoiler alert, no one in my group tested positive (good news) so we didn't have to try out the protocol quarantine.



Site Visit

As part of being on a FAM trip, we had the opportunity to have a site visit of the new Cabo Villas hotel in the heart of Cabo. Very chic design and epic rooftop with infinity pool overlooking the harbor, the Sea of Cortez, and the arch of Cabo San Lucas. We sat with Sales Manager Fernando Del Torro on the rooftop enjoying incredible mezcalitas which was voted, "best drink" on the trip by my group, and some very tasty snacks they provided. If you're looking for a hotel in the heart of Cabo with action nearby and upscale vibes check out Cabo Villas....that rooftop is so worth it.


Picture: View from Cabo Villas rooftop.


Activities


Cabo Adventures - The beauty of the Sea of Cortez is almost everywhere you look in Los Cabos and getting time in and on the water is not to be missed. We spent a relaxing day with the crew from Cabo Adventures. The good vibes started from the moment we got on board with tasty margaritas and snacks served by Tomas and his team. Sailing from the heart of Cabo harbor, stopping by the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas to capture the much-needed picture in front of the arch. We then headed north up the coast stopping at various coves to diverse the sea life while Tomas and team picked out the best and safest spot for us to drop anchor and splash around for a few. The moment the anchor dropped I was jumping in to enjoy the warm waters of the Sea of Coretz. Taking a moment pre-jump to be present, grateful, and happy! Time to jump in!




Picture: Happiest in water images. Thank you Cabo Adventures!



Los Tamarindos -

One of the pioneers of the Mexican farm-to-table conversation is Chef Enrique Silva, who is the Founder of Los Tamarindos. We enjoyed a tour from General Manager Ubaldo Martinez who shared about the incredible and expanding farm, there are cottages on site that will be available for rental in the coming months. We learned about their plans for immersive experiences at the farm to share more about the culture, history, and regenerative farming practices they do on a daily basis. The farm was a beautiful thriving ecosystem with an abundance of gorgeous fruits and veggies, look at the video below of the incredible yellow tomatoes that were so tasty!




Pictures: Our Farm tour and cooking class at Los Tamarindos


Heading to the main kitchen we took part in a cooking class. Chopping ingredients and preparing herb-infused olive oil rub for the Ceviche sauce. We enjoyed homemade margaritas with the meal we all helped prepare together as we gazed over the beautiful farm. The food, cocktails and conversations were some of my favorite memories of the trip, and wish I could have stayed in the moment a little longer, but alas we had another terrific activity ahead.


* Note Tamarindos Farm was only twenty minutes from our hotel and well worth the adventure. Highly encourage the farm tour + cooking class experience when you visit Los Cabos.



Painting Class - I've never been much of an artist, or at least that's what I always believed. All of this changed when we visited the Patricia Mendoza Gallery in the heart of San Jose. Sipping on an Aperol Spritz under the supportive and very patient eye of local artist, Julio Cesar Celoso we all channeled our inner artists. Our assignment was to paint the iconic Arch of Cabo San Lucas. I wasn't sure how I was pulling this off, yet so fun to be around very encouraging new friends. In the end, I was very impressed with everyone's paintings while I was so proud of mine that it hangs in my home entryway. Patrica Mendoza Gallery painting class is a wonderful late afternoon activity for a small group with a very cool take-home gift. Have a few drinks, paint, learn about local artists and then walk down the street to one of the many restaurants in San Jose.

Local Shopping – not having to go far, the Patricia Mendoza Gallery not only sells local art but also locally made gifts. Patricia, owner of the gallery shared a story about the local prison inmates were making bags and purses using recycled plastic. She was so intrigued by this she visited the prison unannounced to meet these prisoners with artistic aspirations. Patricia now sells the handbags in her gallery and gives back to their families. The gallery continues to support the local community. My partner, Nicole loves her handbag gift!



Pictures: Patricia Mendoza Art Gallery painting class


Wild Canyon Adventures -

I've always wanted to race in the Baja 1000 famous off-road race, spending the day on ATV's and razor dune buggy Wild Canyon Adventures might have given me the thrill I needed. With over one hundred acres of Baja desert to explore this was an awesome way to see a different side of Los Cabos.


Our group started on ATV's making our way through different trails and terrains following the lead guide who took us all the way down to the beach. I had ridden ATV's in the past and felt comfortable even though had been a few years. There were people in our group who had never ridden an ATV before and had no problems and loved the adventure.


For the second part of this experience, Wild Canyon Adventure had us pair up with someone from our group and hop in a razor dune buggy. The ATVs were fun, but this was AWESOME! I was able to push my razor and get some speed on the trails and turns. It helped that I was in the first car to be able to set the pace! The big finish to the course is crossing a long suspension bridge over a deep canyon. Yes, this is safe but so gnarly and fun. My co-pilot, Rachel had been dreading this moment. She was on the fence about doing this activity, to begin with because of the bridge crossing. I honestly didn't think she was going to do it. In the end, I kept Rachel smiling, laughing, and singing throughout the course of the ride, we all created an amazing moment together and literally crossed a bridge together. Make sure you check out Wild Canyon for the rest of their amazing offerings including crazy zip lines courses and always evolving courses.


Pictures: Off-Road fun with Wild Canyon Adventures!




Eats


Sunset MonaLisa - The best part of this restaurant is the location with truly stunning views overlooking the Sea of Coretz and being serenaded by singers around the restaurant as the sunset show begins to set. Chef Jacob Ramos five-course tasting menu was a culinary journey of local delicacies from the farm to the sea. The innovative pairing of exquisite cocktails or fine wines is a perfect complement to any palate. This wasn't a dinner it was an experience and I'm still thinking of the incredible vibe, unreal food and delightful conversation. This is a restaurant not to be missed on your visit to Los Cabos especially for a romantic night.

El Merkado - This is a universal food experience and not a traditional restaurant. This upscale food hall has something for everyone, really no matter what your group eats they'll have something for the picky eater. We had some local beer from El Beer Shop, delicious pizza Mexican inspired at Pan Di Baccoto and fresh sushi from Akira. We could have stayed here for hours trying all the great food and drinks!


Tres Gallos - This open-air family-run restaurant offers traditional Mexican cuisine in the heart of San Jose. Nightly serenades from the mariachi band make this a high vibe and tasty experience. Perfect place to go after walking around town or taking a painting class.


Pictures; Me and my new friends at Tres Gallos, View from Sunset MonaLisa and El Merkado Food Hall in full bloom.


Here are some ways to go explore, and travel with your group.


Mexico Planners - Planning excursions, activities, and meals for a group travel which is not always easy and sometimes takes the fun out of it. We were so lucky to have Erika Lizama from Mexico Planners as our destination manager taking care of all details. I can't stress enough how having people on the ground who know the area makes your adventure so much more enjoyable.


Trans Cabo - Getting from point A to B is not always easy, especially if you have a group and trying to get everyone in a cab is not how you want to spend your holiday. TransCabo took incredible care of us in comfort and style. Our TransCabo driver gave us a wonderful walking tour of San Jose town square and always had water waiting for us in the van. This might seem silly, but I can't stress enough it's the little things when you travel with a group like planned transportation that make the trip memorable and smooth.


This trip was seamless, enjoyable, all with the ease of a two-hour flight from LA to be present to amazing experiences, meals, and inspiring conversations. Travel is back, when you look at where to go to make up for lost travel, go visit my friends in Los Cabos and let me know what travel means to you. ENJOY!


See you on the open road!

Mike





68 views0 comments