You’ll swear you’ve jumped onto a postcard when you drop into Los Barriles, literally “The Barrels”. Nestled along the verdigris waters of the Sea of Cortez, Los Barriles, once a quaint fishing village, has become a destination for those who are into action, relaxation, or the sublime salutations of the coral-crimson sunrise. This bustling beach town is about an hour’s drive north of the Los Cabos International Airport in San Jose del Cabo and offers a plethora of outdoor adventure, water sports, off-road riding, restaurants and more. It couldn’t be more different than Cabo San Lucas, which is a much larger town and known for its annual spring break atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of margaritas flowing in Los Barriles, but that and so much more!
You can either take your chances of renting a car, (this process takes about 3 hours — even with a reservation, and will cost more than you bartered for after all the mandatory insurance policies have been signed), or prearrange a shuttle from one of the friendly local Los Barriles drivers, who will greet you right outside the airport and drop you at your lodging. Most are happy to allow you to pick up some groceries on the way and often will offer you ice-cold beer and water for the drive up.
Once in town, the best way to get around is to rent an ATV, and there are about six or seven local ATV rental operations. We have used Quad Man for the past 15 years or so, and we highly recommend them, however, there are many options.
https://www.quadmanbaja.com/ (Ask for Ron or Alphonso)
ATVs, BICYCLES, HIKING, SNORKELING, KITEBOARDING
Once you arrive, unpack quickly because you’ll want to head straight out to start enjoying the sites and sounds of the surf and the many nearby restaurants. Miles of beach stretch along the coast for strolling, sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, kiteboarding, windsurfing, and snorkeling. The coastal road beckons to be explored on foot, mountain bike or ATVs for incredible vistas of the sea and a mighty good workout. (The beach road is not nearly as fun or friendly for cars.) And, the arroyos are a diversion all unto their own. Hop on your quad and spend an afternoon getting lost in the depths of the wild and scenic arroyos, stopping for a picnic lunch and a dip in the swimming holes fed by beautiful (and seasonal) waterfalls. There are two main arroyos just outside the town of Los Barriles, and you can take the second arroyo all the way to St. Bartolo, a town to the north in the direction of El Triunfo. There is a roadside restaurant, which is also a great little spot to have lunch before you venture back to town. (For kiteboarding schools please see info box below.)
DEEP SEA FISHING
Offshore sport fishing excursions are aplenty, where you can catch dorado, yellowtail or wahoo. You can find signs for fishing boats and captains throughout the town and along the beach, but just inquire at the Hotel Palmas de Cortez and they can point you in the right direction as well. (See INFO BOX below)
Then take your catch to Smokey’s Grill & Cantina, where they will clean, smoke, or flash freeze your fish to take home. While in town, visit the many shops, grocers, and restaurants for your fill of tacos, chilaquiles, and guacamole, the goddess of green dips! There are at many restaurants visible from the streets, and even more that are hidden gems, tucked away in someone’s yard or on the beach. Every time we are in town, we notice a new dining establishment that we’ve never seen before! Last time we were in town, we counted roughly 25 restaurants, taco stands, bars, and cafes. To name a few: Roadrunner Cafe, Beans & Rice Tako Bar, La Casita, Triny’s Campestre, Taqueria El Viejo, La Terraza de German Restaurant & Grill, Cafe Maria, Tio Pablo’s, Smokey’s Grill & Cantina, La Fogata, Willy’s Bar & Grill, Ochoa’s Chicken, Caffe Encinalito, Caleb’s Cafe, El Gecko Beach Club, Loncheria y Taqueria and Tres Palapas Cafe.
There are several grocery establishments in town, including one major grocery store, Chapitos, which is on the main road as you turn off the Transpeninsular Highway (Mexico Hwy. 1). There are also several smaller specialty shops. We like Joe’s Deli for meat, fresh bread and cheese and the produce market on the main strip through town, which has excellent produce as well as some standard American fare like sliced turkey, chocolate chips, sundried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts! Joe’s is at the corner just before you head toward the arroyos and the beach road. We always pick up plenty of bottled water, to be on the safe side, although, we honestly have never relied on the local water, except for brushing our teeth and have never had a problem with that. We also wash our veggies with the tap water, so I guess it’s not too bad. Still, get some bottled water and you’ll have no worries!
Los Barriles has a beautiful, world-class pickleball complex, Tres Palapas, https://trespalapasbaja.com/ with 10 courts, instructors, a coffee/smoothie bar, plus a full-service restaurant and bar. You can drop in for a few games or play all day, and they offer three prices depending upon how long and what time of day you drop in. TP is open six days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m and closed on Sundays. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a tournament, which makes for spectatorship, or join in a round-robin session, where you can play with an assortment of people at your own skill level.
For scuba diving, head south to Cabo Pulmo, which boasts one of the few living coral reefs in North America. Cabo Pulmo is situated about halfway between the airport and Los Barilles and is worth a day trip for sure. The drive is mostly along dirt beach roads and boasts some glorious views of the sea and the mountains as you pass by one cove after another. On this journey, you can even see some fairly large inland lakes to the east along the road. Once you arrive, you will find about seven scuba diving operations to choose from and several restaurants for lunch or dinner. You will drive right past Tito’s Restaurant & Bar on your way to the waterfront, which serves amazing seafood tacos, especially their shrimp tacos. And, La Palapa restaurant is right on the water, surrounded by several dive operations, and with an incredible view of the sea. If you head back to the west, there are some great hiking and mountain bike trails up on the mountain just behind the town. Or, you can always hike south along the coast towards Los Frailes.
Cabo Pulmo Scuba Excursions
East Cape Tackle
011 52 624 141 0366
East Cape Charters
East Cape Bicicletas
David Siqueiros Mendoza
Shop Phone: 52 (country code) 624 124 85 26, or52 624 182 79 36
Cell Phone: 52 624 168 85 46
ExotiKite Kiteboarding: http://www.exotikite.com/
Chapitos Supermercado-Groceries (on the main street (Valentin Ruiz) into town)
La Pitahaya Frutas y Verduras-Produce Market and Specialty Foods (on the main street (Calle 20 Noviembre) once in town)
Joe’s Deli-Meats/Bakery and Specialty Foods (At the corner of 20 Noviembre and the curve heading out to the arroyos)
Wine Shop: Greenberg and Guzman Casa de Vinos y Licores (in the Hotel Palmas de Cortez complex)
Airport Shuttle Service
Alphonso Mesa (our favorite driver): 52 (country code) 624 174 3843
Where to Stay
Hotel Los Pescadores
Los Barilles Hotel
011 52 624 141 0024
Captain Nemo’s Landing-casitas and tee-pees