“I’m going to call this one ‘Octopus in the Mist.’”
I was at the Hilton Los Cabos Resort in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico and for once, instead of avoiding all activities offered at a hotel as I typically do, I decided to embrace my inner DIY artist and try them all — including towel origami — hence the unfortunate octopus incident.
But my carnage didn’t stop at towel folding. During my recent visit I also attempted to make corn-husk wrapped tamales, covered myself in glue during a tequila tasting/piñata making class, painted a landscape that could best be described as having tones of baby-poop yellow and needed help completing a flower arrangement. Looking back I’m just grateful they weren’t offering a tequila tasting/synchronized swimming class.
To say that most of my creations were epic fails would be an understatement, but there’s no denying how much fun I had and suddenly these experiences I’d been avoiding for years made complete sense.
But there is also a lot more to do in San Jose del Cabo than crafts, especially if you’re lucky enough to visit during whale season. Joined by a group of writers hailing from across the U.S., Mexico and Canada, we piled onto a catamaran for a whale watching excursion and headed out past the iconic arch of Cabo San Lucas, where sea lions lounged on rocks in the sun and where one of the huge mammals, likely mistaking us for a fishing boat, made a lumbering attempt to join us onboard.
Initially all we could see were distant spouts of water letting us know there were whales in the area, but also that they just weren’t ready for their close up. But then, ironically, as soon as we stopped searching the horizon a couple of massive humpback whales emerged from the waves right alongside our vessel making the tour an unforgettable experience.
I’d previously visited Cabo and enjoyed the noisy scene coming from the bars, restaurants and beaches that make up the waterfront, but this was my first time exploring the gallery district of San Jose del Cabo where we took in the weekly Art Walk held every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m.
And while the town was bustling with tourists and locals, the scene was a very different one than that of downtown Cabo. Instead of woo-hooing partiers hoisting souvenir glasses from Cabo Wabo, the family-friendly atmosphere in San Jose was made up of couples strolling down the street sipping on cold beer and wine, local vendors and musicians, artists, random dogs and a youth dance troupe practising their moves on a stage in the village square.
Back at the Hilton, our group was treated to meals created by executive chef Mauricio Lopez and his talented culinary team that often turned out to be gastronomic works of art almost too beautiful to eat — almost.
Our first breakfast at the Hilton took place on the lawn of the Black Marlin Terrace overlooking the ocean where authentic Mexican dishes, including the coffee, were prepared by hand using traditional cooking methods. And while that was impressive on its own, our meals became more elaborate as our stay went on. The Hilton’s special event catering team sets a great example of attention to detail.
Our “wellness infusion” dinner on the patio adjacent to the Eforea Spa included a wall of vines with tiny bowls of salad hanging from it, which we could cut off ourselves as we wanted. As well, colourful, edible flowers graced the small plates on offer, while a chocolate artist hand-painted delicate designs on dessert offerings.
An absolute highlight of my stay at the Hilton was the elaborate dinner on the terrace lawn on our last night in Mexico. As the sun began to set we listened to live music while strolling the lawn and choosing bites from individual carts offering delicious Mexican specialties, including the tamales we had made earlier during our cooking lesson — which we all gratefully passed on.
We then wandered barefoot down to the sand where an outdoor living room had been set up by the ocean, complete with sofas, a special-coffee bar, more live music, fire dancers and a fireplace complete with every s'mores fixing you could imagine.
And as much as I was tempted, I decided fire dancing was the one activity I should probably pass on.