Apr 2

A couple of years ago I had a cleaning lady nervously ask me about Cancun. She and her family were spending two weeks at an all-inclusive and none of them had ever been out of the country before.

I’ll admit it, I’m biased.  I hate all-inclusives.  I think they rob both Mexico of its indigenous culture and vacationers of an authentic experience.  Sure, I attend my share of friend and family weddings at pristine mega-resorts on the Mexican Riviera.  I sport my colored wristband, eat and drink my face off, and watch my peers struggle through their 11th grade Spanish class leftovers while trying to communicate with a wait staff that speaks near perfect English.  Sure, I do.  But that’s not how I like to spend my vacations.

So when my cleaning lady mentioned “all-inclusive”, I twitched a bit inside.  But then I reminded myself of the unfortunate reality that there are a lot of Americans who would probably like Mexico a little more if it had just a bit less Mexico and a tad more America.  I had a feeling my cleaning lady was one of those people

“Well,” I said. “I know the hotel you’re going to.  Everyone speaks English and there is a Wal-Mart, a Rite Aid and a Pizza Hut within walking distance.”

“Oh perfect!” she said.  “Thank you so much!”

I may have rolled my eyes inside, but those things were important for my cleaning lady to feel comfortable and have a good first experience in Mexico.  And while I definitely judged her a bit, this brings me to the substantive part of my review of the Cerritos Surf Colony.  Let’s get the important information out of the way first:

  • It is not an all-inclusive.
  • There isn’t a Wal-Mart, Rite Aid or Pizza Hut anywhere nearby. In fact, there isn’t anything nearby.
  • If you happen to run into any staff, they probably don’t speak English.
  • There are no tv’s, no phones and no internet.
  • This place is awesome.

Los Cerritos, nearby El Pescadero and Todos Santos have all thus far dodged a major bullet in that they haven’t been overrun by American tourism.  That isn’t to say they’ve remained undiscovered.  Surfers from all over know this place and there were plenty of other vacationers around.  In fact, most of the other guests we ran across were Americans too.  But even so, everyone seemed committed to keeping Cerritos the quiet speak-easy that it is.

You’ll need to have a real conversation with yourself about what kind of experience you want to have and what you’re ok giving up, because the hotel isn’t perfect.  But if you can deal with that, and if you want empty white sand beaches, cold beers & sunburns, and not much to do after the sun goes down – this is your place.  Just be prepared.

Be prepared for your rooms to not be perfect. We had two, two-bedroom units, right on the beach.  And although they appeared to be identical, a closer look revealed dozens of curious differences.  The hot water didn’t work in one of the bathrooms.  One unit didn’t have curtains.  The oven didn’t work in the other.  The water wasn’t anything you want to drink.  Don’t get me wrong, the rooms are cute and just what you need if you’re spending your days out in the sun and your nights sitting up with friends or sleeping.  But they aren’t luxurious, that’s for certain.

Be prepared to be disconnected.  The rooms don’t have televisions.  There aren’t any phones.  There is no internet.  There is rumored to be wi-fi around the pool.  It never worked for us and frankly we didn’t care much. In fact, we didn’t care about not having any of those things.  We always spend the $20 (or whatever it is) for the Mexican phone coverage while we’re there, just in case, and we did it again this time.  Totally worth it.  We have Verizon and just call them before leaving.

Be prepared to have to work a little for food.  There is a restaurant at the pool and there food is great.  But you’ll have to decide if you want to eat there every day.  We didn’t.  There are kitchenettes in the rooms and markets in Pescasdero and Todos Santos.  We made good use of stockpiling the basics – eggs, juice, cereal, lunchmeat, beer/tequila/vodka – and generally cooked breakfast ourselves. There are two other restaurants within walking distance that we went to – the Cerritos Beach & Surf Bar and Free Souls.  The former is right on the beach – look for the huge Dos Equis sign. It’s a nice place to spend the afternoon drinking beers with friends.  The few vendors that exist hang around the perimeter, hocking their trinkets but they aren’t overly aggressive.  Free Souls is behind the Cerritos Beach & Surf Bar and a small walk up a dirt road.  We sat outside overlooking the ocean, listening to great music and enjoyed a spectacular meal here.  It’s definitely pricey, given everything else in the area, but we walked away happy and would go back.  Lastly, there are a handful of great restaurants in Todos Santos.

Be prepared to rent a car.  You need one.  Period.  If you don’t rent a car you are going to be stuck on the same mile-stretch of beach the entire time (which may be fine). But there aren’t any taxi’s around.  Going into Todos Santos is worth it.  Or you may want to drive into Cabo one day.  Maybe you’ll want to go ride ATV’s on the beach.  Just get a car, you’ll be glad you did.  (And while I’m at it – rent from Cactus at the airport {set it up in advance}). Renting a car in Mexico can be a nightmare.  This was my first time using Cactus and it’s the first place I’ll go next time.  No hidden charges, easy to deal with, etc.

Ok – so bottom line: We loved this place, this region of Mexico and our overall experience.  Imperfect as our rooms were, that experience was completely eclipsed by the empty beach, blue sky, sleepy town, amazing food and complete amnesia of our state-side lives.  Is that transferable to other travelers?  Sure – some.

Here’s where you have to be honest with yourself.  Who you are and how you like to travel are huge ingredients in the type of experience you’ll have at Cerritos Surf Colony.  If you can get outside of your comfort zone, surrender a few creature comforts and enjoy an as-is experience in another country – you’ll totally dig this place.  But if you want your home experience of English speaking, Bud Light and dance clubs superimposed on a sandy beach background – you’ll hate it, but good news is that there are tons of nice places in Cabo San Lucas that want to help you have a good time.  And that’s ok too.

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