Nightlife in Cabo San Lucas has several different settings, from high-energy dance clubs to laid-back cantinas. Even the word nightlife is something of a misnomer, since many beachside hangouts draw large crowds in the afternoon, and generous happy hour specials are a feature of most downtown drinking establishments. Nonetheless, good old-fashioned bars — lively and welcoming watering holes with honest drinks and good-time music — are relatively easy to find.
Many of the best bars in Cabo have local followings, and one of the easiest ways to gauge the quality of area establishments is by counting the number of expats and worker types holding down bar stools. Cabo Lounge is one of the most beloved local hangouts, with free Wi-Fi and phone calls to the U.S. and Canada, a $1 bar menu of pizzas, chicken wings and corn dogs, as well as flaming Cabo Fire shots and a small but popular pool table. Relative newcomer Cabo Blue also boasts a loyal following of locals, but draws plenty of vacationing visitors with their combination of value-oriented drink specials, excellent pub-style menu items, and late-night live music.
Giggling Marlin and Cabo Wabo are two of Cabo's oldest bars. Both have been around for more than 20 years, and still pull in the crowds. Beer lovers, meanwhile, will find it hard to resist Baja Brewing Company. BBC now has two locations in Cabo San Lucas, as well as their original spot in San José del Cabo, and serves up the best suds in Los Cabos.
10 Happy Ending
Happy Ending is one of the most popular bars in town, and it is pretty easy to see why. Their ongoing offer of two beers and two tequila shots for five dollars remains the best deal in town. Unlike many of Cabo's best bars, which don't really hit their stride until after midnight, Happy Ending is a popular spot to while away the afternoons and early evening hours, and is a great place to stop for happy hour. The sound system plays rock and country standards, their televisions show all the latest sporting events, and there is plenty of shaded seating. Free phone calls to the U.S. and Canada are an added benefit. ((624) 143-0707)
9 Giggling Marlin
Giggling Marlin is one of the longest running bars in Cabo. It's still a Spring Break mecca, and although it is not as popular as it once was, the place still retains an esteemed place on the party circuit. Things get crazy here after midnight, with jello shots and people being voluntarily hung upside down on a fish scale (getting their pictures taken for the "well-hung club"). But by day or night, this is a good spot to stop for something to eat. Their menu is simple but good, with many affordable options. Breakfast offerings run to breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros, while all-day options include tamales, enchiladas and chile rellenos. (624-143-0606)
8 Tanga Tanga
Tanga Tanga is a local's favorite, and a great place to hang out if you want to end up in a conversation with a grizzled charter boat captain or jewelry store owner. The bar is located at the Plaza de la Danza near the Wyndham Hotel, and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Tanga is one of the more popular places to watch sports, and the bar draws big crowds for hockey playoffs, football, and soccer matches from around the world. The outdoor section features umbrella-shaded tables, and offers prime people watching along Marina Boulevard. Pub-style food is available, with burgers and tacos being the best options. One of the best happy hour hangouts in Cabo San Lucas. ((624) 144-1504)
7 Cabo Blue
Owners Scott and Amanda Osborne have helped make this one of the most popular downtown bars, fusing great pub-style food and eclectic music to create a thriving late night party atmosphere in their courtyard location at Plaza Real (right next door to Happy Ending). The music varies throughout the day, with country music during the afternoon, hard rock in the evening, and dance music late night. The crowds are generally going strong well after midnight, and there is a hard rocking house band that plays four nights a week. But perhaps the best thing about Cabo Blue is that the bar not only draw hordes of tourists, but has also become popular with the local crowd via competitive prices and daily specials. The pub grub is very good, particularly the fish tacos. ((624) 143-7323)
6 Baja Brewing Company
Baja Sur's first craft brewery now has three locations - the original in San José del Cabo, a roof-top spot on the ninth floor of Cabo Villas on Médano Beach, and on the Cabo San Lucas Marina at Puerto Paraiso - all of which have proved exceedingly popular with tourists and locals alike. The restaurants are open for breakfast lunch and dinner, and have menus whose options range from hamburgers and gourmet pizzas to filet mignon and other high-end entrees. The beers are superb, and are available by the bottle or on tap, and you can order flights of the draught beer to get a sense of their offerings. If you can only visit one of their locations, check out the roof-top location at Cabo Villas, which offers excellent views of Médano Beach and Land's End. ((624) 143-9199)
5 Nowhere Bar
Nowhere is exactly where you want to be. That's the motto of the bar, and it's often true, particularly on Tuesdays, when Nowhere Bar hosts Cabo's best ladies' night. Ladies drink for free from 8-10 p.m., and single men might also want to take note, although they'll have to pay for their drinks. The DJs are great, not only for Ladies' Night, but just about every night, and the location is fantastic - on the Marina at Plaza Bonita - with great views of the pleasure yachts and fishing boats. People watching is also a popular sport here, as you can watch the pedestrian traffic along the Marina boardwalk. (624-143-4493)
4 Cerritos Beach Club and Surf
Cerritos Beach Club & Surf is the perfect place on the planet on Sunday afternoons. Jazz on the beach on a plywood stage, with surfers dropping into perfect barrels directly behind the band. Los Angeles Music Critics Circle award winner Diego Ramirez on keyboard, with statuesque San Francisco jazz singer Daline Jones providing the most positive and tranquilo vibe available. Few tourists make it this far. Those that do enjoy some of the finest seafood Baja has to offer. They have their own brand of tequila here, appropriately named Cerritos, and it is exceptionally smooth and potent. The vibe here is well worth the drive. Longboards may be rented for twenty dollars. Boogie boards are available for ten dollars. ((624) 143-4851)
3 Jungle Bar
The hard rock band here blows the doors off the place four nights a week. Monster, the lead singer, sings exactly like anybody he wants to at any time, whether it is U2, AC/DC, Offspring, or Mexicano rock and rollers that us gringos never heard of. Juanito, the long-haired Chuck Taylor wearing guitar player, is the Mexican version of Joe Satriani. They invite any tourist musicians with chops to sit-in on a regular basis. This is a great bar for night owls who want to avoid the disco/DJ scene, or who don't want to feel out of place in their ripped jeans and concert shirts. It's all rock, all the time, and gets better and better as the night goes on. ((624) 143-7401)
2 Cabo Wabo Cantina
Cabo Wabo has seen a lot of growth in the last twenty years, in Cabo and in its business, which has now spun off a tequila brand and several U.S. locations. The bar was started by former Van Halen and Montrose frontman Sammy Hagar, and has become a mandatory stop for just about everyone who comes to town. This is a local landmark and has been for over twenty years, with great live music, a pumping sound system, and good food and drinks. The cantina menu offers a lot of shrimps and ceviches, with the patio grill menu leaning towards burgers, wings and chicken fingers. (624-143-1901)
1 Cabo Lounge
This is the best local's bar in town, and draws an eclectic mix of patrons that include dolphin trainers, charter boat captains, timeshare salesmen, and the occasional tourist. There are many things to recommend the bar, beginning with owner Juan Tatemura, who is a sort of Mexican version of Sam Malone. Free internet and phone calls to the U.S. and Canada are a popular feature, as are the five high-definition televisions showing all the latest sporting events, with American-style football and hockey drawing the biggest crowds. Juan has created several popular "flaming shots," and also runs a small grill, with pizzas, chicken wings and corn dogs available for $1. ((624) 116-2238)
About Chris Sands
Chris Sands is the author of Bohemia by the Bay, and writes about wine, golf and travel for publications such as Baja.com, Fodor's Travel, Los Cabos Magazine, 10 Best, U-T San Diego and USA Today. He is a full-time resident of Cabo San Lucas.
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