Article by Sabrina Lear - March 2006
With “what happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo” the longtime mantra, you can expect just about anything on a sultry Cabo night. Let me qualify this - when I say Cabo, I mean the town of Cabo San Lucas, which is completely different from the 20-mile-long Los Cabos Tourist Corridor, and Cabo’s sister town of San Jose del Cabo, on the northeastern end of the Corridor. Together, these three distinct areas make up the tourist-oriented zones in Los Cabos. For those unfamiliar with the area, Los Cabos is a large municipality at the southern tip of Northwestern Mexico’s long narrow Baja California peninsula, located almost 1,000 miles southeast of San Diego, California.
Each area is decidedly different, making Los Cabos a versatile destination, with something to appeal to just about anyone. Cabo San Lucas’ nightlife reputation is legendary. Not only is it THE party town on the Baja California peninsula, it is considered Mexico’s Wild Wild West of hedonism.
Club and bar hopping on foot is easy in compact Cabo San Lucas, but through the Tourist Corridor you’ll need a car or taxi to get from resort to resort. In subdued and sophisticated San José del Cabo, there are enough nightlife choices to stay put and enjoy the “quiet side of Los Cabos,” but you’ll have to go to Cabo for Los Cabos’ three most famous clubs Cabo Wabo, El Squid Roe, and the Giggling Marlin, and other hot clubs like Zoo Bar & Dance.
Cabo San Lucas CLUBS AND BARS
Cabo San Lucas, known internationally as a big party and Spring Break destination, has a good mix of nightclubs, piano bars and jazz clubs, hip international venues, sports bars, Latin dance clubs… sharing the scene with Cabo Wabo, the Giggling Marlin, and El Squid Roe. And for a slice of local nightlife, you’ll find the most popular clubs geared to Mexican clientele listed here. Many bars and clubs in downtown Cabo San Lucas are within a ten-block radius. San Jose del Cabo, or San Jose, has a smaller downtown, with most bars and clubs within a few blocks of each other.
The most famous club in Cabo San Lucas is Cabo Wabo, owned by the Red Rocker himself, Sammy Hagar. Air-conditioned, Cabo Wabo’s large main room is dark with a raised stage and a high ceiling, giving the club a concert venue feel. The long busy bar, good-sized dance floor, and VIP lounge upstairs keeps everyone from celebrities to wanna-be’s coming back for more. The house band plays loud and proud hard rock and cover tunes, with Sammy making impromptu appearances. You never know when he might show up, along with famous guest musicians dropping in to jam.
Cabo Wabo is easy to find, with its landmark lighthouse on Guerrero Street off L. Cardenas, and a back entrance close to Marina Boulevard inside Plaza de Los Mariachi. Don't be disappointed if you can’t get in, this is Cabo’s numero uno club. One of the world’s most successful rock venues, each October Sammy throws a weeklong birthday bash, with first come, first serve tickets. (Reserve dinner tickets and skip standing on the sidewalk all night). The waiters know how to keep you happy, the patrons are one layer away from clothing-optional, and Sammy’s signature tequila keeps everyone well lubricated, or as Sammy says, “Waboed.” If you feel like dinner first, Chef Dustin Meeker whips up a great meal in the dining room up a level (also open for breakfast and lunch), off the club’s back entrance. Between the main entrance and the club, an open-air taco grill, with a bar and patio seating offers fast service and an alternative place to hang out during the day, or take a breather from the club at night. Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Tequila Company is launching an Anejo Reserva, Cabo Uno ~ Un Perfecto Tequila, in a crystal decanter packaged in a beautiful wood and leather box in Spring of 2007.
El Squid Roe
On the other side of town, and around since the 1980s, El Squid Roe guarantees hot and wild Cabo nights. Usually packed with bodies from 18 to 80 (yes, there is life after 40 in Cabo), “the Squid” has two floors above the open-air street level dance floor, which is adjacent to the restaurant and bar. You can be a part of the action, or get your voyeur kicks watching from above. The antithesis of Cabo Wabo, the Squid has a tropical, beachy flavor, with irreverent graffiti on the walls, and smooth waiters plying the crowds with tanks of Squid Busters, tequila and Jell-O shots. The canned music is curiously stuck in the ‘80s and ‘90s, with a few fresh tunes thrown in. With a Squid Buster-fueled, girls gone wild-style table dancing and a perennial spring break atmosphere, like Cabo Wabo, it doesn’t get rocking until after 10 p.m. A voyeur's heaven and totally outrageous, the Squid is definitely not for prudes. Located across from Hard Rock Café, this is one club where the waiters deserve danger pay.
The Giggling Marlin Bar and Grill
Another pioneer party spot and Cabo landmark since 1984, the Giggling Marlin Bar and Grill gets going earlier, so it’s worth checking out before you hit the other clubs. Known for its dirty dancing-style floorshow, helped along by audience participation and the legendary Skip and Go Naked cocktail (drink it all and its on the house) the two floor shows start around 8 p.m. Short skirts beware: nights get very loose, with partiers strung upside down on the fish scale and photographed for posterity. Other Giggling Marlin attractions are impromptu conga line dancing, dancing on the bar, and the usual “what happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo” naughtiness. Tunes are canned and run the gamut from the ubiquitous La Bamba to classic vanilla rock standards (no ‘house music’ here). Located on Boulevard Marina across from Pizza Hut, the Giggling Marlin open all day for breakfast and lunch. Drinks pack a punch, the food is CalMex, and there's a cover charge at night for the floorshow.
Zoo Bar & Dance
New to Cabo, Zoo Bar & Dance is where “all the animals meet by night” across from Plaza Bonita on Boulevard Marina, and just around the corner from El Squid Roe, Hard Rock Café and The Nowhere Bar. The offshoot of a famous and very hip Puerto Vallarta club known for celebrity sightings and Mexican rock stars dropping in to the VIP room, Cabo’s Zoo has a good mix of tourist and locals hanging out in this spacious wild animal-themed venue. Thursdays are Ladies Night, bringing in a good crowd with plenty of gorgeous Latinas coming by for the open bar and big dance floor. (Men pay a $25 US cover for the open national bar.) Music and ambiance at Zoo is hipper than at the Squid or Giggling Marlin, with mixes from Kaskade, Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Liquid People, Groove Junkies, Bon Garcon… giving Zoo some of the freshest dance music in town. With free margaritas for ladies every night from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and the all day - all night two for one happy hour on national drinks, the management is working hard to make Zoo a cool and affordable place to party, open 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily.
Nikki Beach and The Passion Lounge and Nightclub
You’ll find the Cabo location of this internationally known club with its signature white teepees and lounge beds inside the Melia San Lucas Hotel on Medano Beach. A popular hang during the daytime, Nikki Beach also throws great themed and special events every month and offers a sophisticated ambiance at night. The house specials are mojitos and excellent sushi, with sexy music ranging from house and chill to global grooves… think Bobby Hughes, Audio Traffic, Café del Mar…. The latest from Nikki Beach at the Melia San Lucas is the Passion Lounge and Nightclub, sporting a separate lounge, nightclub, and VIP room, with super premium bar, live jazz Wednesdays and Sundays in the lounge (open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.), and a DJ spinning the latest dance grooves in the club (open Thursday to Saturday from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.). Look for the lanky - and gorgeous - Frenchman Jerome Dupuis of Nikki HQ, who has moved to Cabo with the goal of making Nikki and Passion one of the globe’s hottest destinations. Happy hour is 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly. Cabo San Lucas Nightlife article continues.
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