It had been 376 days since I set foot on a plane. I know because keeping track became my new hobby. Not that it was something I loved, but it was mind blowing to me how much time I had been quarantining in my New Jersey home. I was so desperate to travel I could taste it.
One afternoon I was so sick of complaining about our lack of travel to my husband that I decided to look up flights. The CDC had just lifted travel restrictions and my husband and I were fully vaccinated; now was the time to seize the moment. Our 5th wedding anniversary was also on the horizon and it served as the extra incentive I needed to pull out my credit card. Admittedly Los Cabos wasn’t on my list. I knew the desert destination was perfect for a girls’ trip (remember when Megan Thee Stallion got her entire life there?) but would it be just as awesome for a family of four? I did my research. Turns out, it was the relaxation and the renewed sense of hope in getting back to normalcy my family needed.
Before I get into details, you should know I’m acutely aware that traveling with small children in the middle of a pandemic sounds insane. There still aren’t vaccines for kids and let’s be honest, anytime you travel to a new place these days there’s a certain amount of risk associated with it…especially when you have a toddler who licks and eats anything on the floor. I get it. But with our masks in tow and social distancing at the forefront of our minds, we were willing to take a chance in the name of family fun.
Here’s what we did on our first family vacation during a pandemic:
Where to Stay
Cabo is a resort town located in the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula that specializes in the best resorts you’ll ever experience. Even after hurricane Odile, the most powerful ever to strike the area, destroyed much of the resorts in 2014, the town is still bustling with top-notch resorts like never before.
If luxury high-end accommodations are what you’re after, look no further than Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection. The stunning resort is part of the Auberge Resorts Collection and is located on one of the most coveted swimmable beaches in Los Cabos. Simply put, two words describe this resort: absolute perfection. At least that’s what I said when we entered the property. It’s the type of place for Instagram—every nook and cranny is well designed and artfully curated with stunning greenery and exquisite architecture. We spent the first night lounging by our private pool in our two-bedroom villa listening to the birds and soaking in the sun. The next few days were spent on repeat. Lots of swimming, eating, and relaxing with the faint sound of waves hitting the shore in the background. The beach is open most days (provided it was safe enough to swim) but the real draw is the central three-tiered pool that every age will enjoy.
My kids found happiness splashing in the kid pool or enjoying the kids club, while hubby and I escaped to the adults-only pool, and gorged ourselves with tacos at the beach bar, TnT (Tequila and Tacos). Even if you don’t decide to stay here, promise me you’ll at least visit Comal restaurant for good food in an elegant yet casual resort vibe. Be sure to also check out the spa where we cleansed our body, cleared our mind, and jumpstarted our relaxation process.
If you want a sophisticated place that’s moderately priced, you’ll want to go for an Airbnb in Pedregal. Pedregal is a private residential community, but if you can nail an Airbnb, it’s the right move. It’s home to cobblestone streets, stunning views, and a casual, tropical vibe. I did a bunch of research and by far the best bang for your buck is staying at Casa Tina. The private, Black-owned property comes with a private pool, concierge service, a cafe steps away from the property, and is a brief car ride from the hottest nightlight in the area.
What to Do
Cabo is bustling with a palette of experiences. From scenic golf courses (including one from Tiger Woods) to breathtaking landscapes and bustling nightlife this side of Mexico is the place for nonstop fun.
To get a true sense of the area, and if you’re down for vendors approaching you, head to the main Medano Beach for a bevy of water sports, snorkeling, and local dining options. The area is also prime for safe swimming and endless beach parties. The atmosphere is upbeat but tranquil, and just enough for you to relax and feel like you’re in the mix.
On the second day, we took a day trip to Enclave Beach Club at Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort, a full-service beach club that seriously takes entertainment to the next level for day party fun. It’s outfitted with a lively rum-centric bar, four private cliffside bungalow cabanas, eight oceanfront cabanas, and sunken fire pits for nighttime relaxation, and it’s all along Cabo’s swimmer-friendly beach that my kids adored. There’s also a tapas-style menu complemented by a wide selection of cocktails served by the best mixologists around. Of course you can stay here for the duration of your trip, but you can also rent the bungalow for a day.
For a hip crowd, with access to nearby snorkeling, jet skis, massages, and a quick boat trip to see the arc, we headed to SUR Beach House where we grabbed a beach chair and sank our feet into Medano beach’s sun-warmed sand. If good vibes only were a person, this would be it.
The overall aesthetic screamed fun, and I was down for the cause in my stylish Hypeach swimwear. We left the kids at the resort with the sitter for this excursion, but kids are always welcome to soak up some sun there, too.
Since we were traveling with little ones, we wanted to make sure a dolphin experience was on our list. Our rising kindergartener is into animals, and finding a moment for him to enjoy them was high on our list. That’s why we opted for Dolphin Discovery where they could get in the water to feed, touch, hug, and give dolphins a handshake. There’s also food on the property and transportation to and from your resort if you’re staying in the main areas of Cabo. There are lockers and showers available because walking around in a wet suit is never a good idea. We also loved that if you purchased the exclusive ride and royal swim package, lunch and non-alcoholic drinks are included. Just be sure to book an excursion in advance to guarantee your spot.
For those planning to squeeze in time alone without kids, the only babysitter service you should truly consider is Baja Babysitting. Whether you need a sitter for just one night or your entire vacation (including overnight) they have everything you need. I was slightly hesitant at first, but after a Zoom call with our sitter Marisa before the trip, I knew I made the right decision to have her hang out with us for a week. Marisa jumped right in, caring for both children as if they were hers. By the third day, my four-year-old asked if she could come back home with us. By the last day, I made her an offer. She refused, but I was willing to make room in my New Jersey home to accommodate her. She was just that good. Spending $22 an hour for her to care for my kids was well worth it. I had peace of mind while swimming in the pool (alone!) while Marissa entertained them with crafts, snacks, and endless activities. The best part, hubby and I were given a cell phone to keep track of their whereabouts whenever we were away. Truly priceless!
Where to Eat
If you’re in Cabo, you’re probably on the hunt for tasty tequila and tacos. For this, head straight to Edith’s, a quaint restaurant that’s arguably the most popular venue that offers a combination of Baja California cuisine with a Guerreran flair, featuring a fusion of steaks and seafood with local ingredients. You’ll want to stop there not only for the tasty dishes, but the view of Medano Beach is seriously breathtaking.
Speaking of views, you’ll want to check out Sunset Monalisa for a more distinctive experience with the best sunset in town. It’s elegantly carved into a cliff that overlooks the Bay of Cabo with the best view of the famous arch at Land’s End. Sunset Monalisa presents a culinary experience to those seeking excellence in food and service. When you go, don’t look at the menu, just trust the expertise of chef Jacob Ramos who specializes in world-class Mediterranean cuisine to deliver a tasty 5-course meal with wine pairings ($132 per meal). We started dinner with scallop sashimi and duck sausage pappardelle, followed by leeks, wagyu filet, and pineapple and chocolate dessert. Everything was more than delicious.
We also enjoyed the new cocktail menu inspired by natural elements, (try the Typhon cocktail) designed by mixologist TizianoTasso. And if you have extra time—because of course, you do in Cabo—be sure to enjoy a nightcap at Jazz on the Rocks, the first jazz club in Cabo, that’s located at the top of the restaurant. Last year Steve Wonder made a surprise visit and sang “Overjoyed” and “Never Had a Dream Come True.” I can’t promise he’ll be there again, but a brush with fame is always possible in Cabo.
For quick delicious Mexican food on the late-night (you know, to sop up the margaritas), go to El Gran Pastor. There aren’t any shortages of tacos and marinated pork. But there aren’t any seats, so don’t expect to get comfy.
There is still a long way before COVID is completely behind us, but in the meantime, my family and I will be basking in all of the glory of international travel. There’s something undeniably exquisite about Cabo, and for a family of four fresh out of quarantine, it was clear that Cabo is the perfect place to turn daydreams into real-life adventures.
Other Things to Know Before You Go
- You do not need a COVID-19 test to enter Mexico, you do however need one to enter the US. Most resorts offer COVID testing as well as the airport.
- Los Cabos is on Mountain Time (MST), an hour later than Pacific Time.
- Spanish is the official language of Mexico, but English is widely spoken in Los Cabos.
- Electrical outlets are the same as those used in the US.
- US Dollars and Mexican pesos are accepted in most locations. Credit Cards are welcome at most major restaurants and hotels.
- Whale watching can be experienced from December to April.
Editor’s note: If you decide to travel to Los Cabos, Mexico stay up to date with local government COVID-19 restrictions as requirements frequently change.