More often than not we find ourselves in Cabo San Lucas on Halloween. In Seattle it’s rainy and cold and our tans are starting to wash off. In St Augustine, Florida we might be dripping sweat or running from lightning. The cure for this is to get into the sunshine quickly and build back up the tan and vitamin D. What better way to do this than to spend a week or two in Mexico? Answer: there is no better way. You should spend Halloween in Cabo San Lucas and experience how they do both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, but we’ll focus on the former.
Favorite Mexican Foods Around Dia de los Muertos
While there may not be specific savory dishes that you can only find during Dia de loa Muertos, there are a few highlights that make an appearance more frequently during this time. Whether it’s because there are more street vendors during the Halloween and Dia de los Muertos season or because there are more family gatherings so people are mixing it up a bit more, you can look for these wonderful Mexican foods during Dia de los Muertos.
Savory Mexican Foods during Dia de loa Meurtos
Nothing says Halloween like having food served to you in a little cauldron. Or being given a plate of hell-roasted peppers (maybe just fire roasted). One of the tastiest meals in Mexico is the molcajete. It’s a stew with nopales (cactus) and is served in a stone bowl (cauldron). It’s so delicious and fun to eat with tortillas. The other fiery delight is roasted peppers. When cooked over an open flame, they become a little more sweet and smoky, and make a great appetizer… if you can stand the hellish heat. And be sure to look for Pan de Muerto, a popular Dia de los Muertos food.
Tip: always ask for a recommendation when you’re at a smaller restaurant in Mexico. Just like anywhere else, everybody has a secret recipe and you never know when you’re going to stumble across the best thing you’ve ever eaten.
Mole is another favorite Mexican food that seems to be much easier to find during Dia de los Muertos. While it’s usually on nicer restaurant menus, it’s much more available during this season. Mole is a dark brown sauce that is a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy and very chocolatey. It’s delicious, either as a topping sauce for meats or to have the meat actually cooked in it.
Another interesting food to eat during Dia de los Muertos is huitlacoche. If you watch the Food Network you’ve no doubt seen huitlacoche show up in the baskets of Chopped! or any variety of shows. If you’re not familiar, it’s a fungus that grows on corn (corn smut) and when properly prepared is delicous, especially with cotija cheese. It’s very rich, but worth tryin!
Lastly, tamales are a favorite Dia de los Muertos food that, again, is available year round but is prevalent during this time. Tamales are a corn paste that has meat or pineapple mixed into it or in the middle, and then is wrapped in corn husk and cooked. They are usually served still wrapped in the husk and then you unpeel them and enjoy! Because there are so many small festivals and more street vendors during Dia de los Muertos you’ll find a wide variety of tamales as you explore Cabo San Lucas or other small towns in Mexico.
Best Mexican Sweets to Find in Cabo (and elsewhere)
Candy in Mexico is really hit or miss for Americans. There are some great things you can get all year, but at Halloween you also can get sugar skulls. They’re pure sugar…but yummy just the same. These are the most typical candy you’ll see to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. There are so many types and we try all of them. They’re typically not as sweet as American candy, so you have to appreciate the textures more.
Our favorite, besides the skulls, are these amazing coconut squares. They’re muy delicioso and every bite is a surprise. You’ll see that the candy makers, in the Cabo San Lucas area and beyond all around Baja California Sur, like to put their own twist on different traditional sweets. You might find something you recognize and then discover that it includes chili flakes or spiced chocolate.
Tip: if you see a pop-up candy stand, check out what they’ve got and ask which is locally made. Don’t be surprised if they have to cut you something from a large tray and if the presentation isn’t packaged to travel well. The dulces are best enjoyed soon after they’re served.
Our consistent favorite sweets and candies to eat during Dia de los Muertos in Cabo San Lucas include:
- Calaveras (sugar skulls)
- Pan de Meurto (semi-sweet bread)
- Dulce swirls (sweet coconut, chocolate and sometimes beans w/ pecans)
- coco blocks (often pink and white)
Why we go to Cabo San Lucas for Halloween
For some reason or another, pirates are becoming more and more associated with Halloween. Well, Cabo is happy to capitalize on that…with a pirate ship tour. There are a few options for it, but all include swashbuckling beverages and pirate fun for kids. Going on the Buccaneer Queen or a like snorkeling cruise is a great way to get on the water and enjoy some Halloween fun at sea… or any other time of year it’s good too.
Tip: if you can’t make it to Cabo for Halloween, any time in November is good. The sun is crazy hot and the water is still extremely warm, as the chilly northern waters haven’t swirled down into the Sea of Cortez yet. Also, the beginning of November is just before Cabo becomes more expensive, as many people want to enjoy the holidays on the beach.
And yes, once more I need to call out how wonderful the street vendors are in Cabo San Lucas during Dia de los Muertos and Halloween. There is much more food than trinkets during this time and really, the many food is where the culture here shines.
Trick-or-Treating in Cabo San Lucas
Cabo is a funny place. In general everything is catered to the tourists. And then Halloween happens and it’s just hilarious. So, you go out to dinner and while you’re dining, loads of the local kids come up to you with bags and pumpkin bowls and say “Halloween! Halloween!” and hold out their containers for the tourists to fill. Cabo is a place where people have timeshares and come back at the same time each year…so they are well prepared to dump oodles of candy out for the kids.
Tip: dine out on Halloween night and come prepared with a bag or two of candy. Set you bag or Halloween bucket in clear sight and you’ll get Trick-or-treaters.
Dia de los Muertos in Cabo – yeah or nay
Is Cabo a good place to experience Dia de los Muertos celebrations? Maybe, but we’ve yet to discover a great local festival, even when venturing out into the neighborhoods. We always enjoy the bazaar they put on in the touristy downtown area, but it’s not like what you’ve seen pictures of with parades and colorful costumes. The art and the decorations are wonderful, but it’s still not the cultural bonanza you hope for.
With how much Cabo has grown in the last twenty years and how much more interest there is in cultural tourism, hopefully Dia de los Muertos in Cabo San Lucas will grow and be something visitors can appreciate and take part in.
If you venture northward from Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos you’ll find a few more events and MANY more decorations than you will in Cabo for Dia de los Muertos. Todos Santos is already a beautiful, colorful town and then when you add the street decor, vendors and events in the plaza (across from the mission) it’s much more of what you might expect to find for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos in Baja.
All in all, Halloween in Cabo San Lucas is fun and a welcome change to the typically chilly northern holiday, but it’s not a destination for experiencing enchanting traditions first hand. Head down with the expectation of getting a tan instead of getting wet, wearing a swimsuit instead of a zombie costume, and you’ll have a great time!
And if you are inspired, check out options for where to say in Cabo San Lucas. You’ll find there is an option for nearly every price point.
I hope you’re excited to pop down into Baja California Sur, and specifically Los Cabos for Halloween. You’ll love the warm weather just when much of the USA and Canada is starting to get extra chilly, and the colorful treats and events are fun. If you have any questions or have your own tips to share about Dia de los Muertos or Halloween in Cabo San Lucas, please leave a comment or send us a note!