Derrik Chinn

Correspondent

  • Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

Derrik Chinn is a correspondent who lives in Tijuana, Mexico and covers Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa for Forbes Travel Guide. A former entertainment reporter and photographer for The San Diego Union-Tribune (now known as The U-T San Diego), the Cincinnati native did something a little out of the ordinary — he moved to Mexico. Chinn now operates Turista Libre, a day-trip company that brings foreigners to sights in Tijuana usually reserved for locals only.

  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    What are the best things to see and do with kids in Los Cabos?

    Los Cabos can be a dream destination for kids; there are many fascinating things for them to see and do, most of which involve nature they’re not likely to experience at home. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors are here to help by narrowing down the five best kid-friendly activities in this outdoor paradise:
     
    1. Go whale watching. The winter months send the gray whales packing on a transcoastal commute from Alaska to give birth in the warm waters off the coast of Baja California. January through March yield prime spottings, and tour outfits like Cabo Sailing get you nearly close enough to touch without harming the peaceful giants; group tours run $65 for adults and $30 for kids.
     
    2. See some wildlife. Eagles, orioles and egrets are just some of the nearly 300 species of winged wildlife that call San Jose's Estuary and Bird Sanctuary (located on Paseo San Jose) home. A marshy oasis that spans 2,000 acres, it's the largest body of freshwater in Baja California Sur and definitely deserving of a sunrise stroll or kayak tour.
     
    3. Head to the sand. Beach time is an obvious given for any visit to Baja. The catch with a place like Cabo, however, is that many of its ocean currents are too strong for swimming, which means at many beaches the fun, unfortunately, goes only as far as the dry sand. Of the few that are considered safe for water play, centrally located Playa El Médano (Dune Beach) is the most popular among families and spring breakers alike. Wander in either direction if you're looking to escape the noise, or rent a car and head out to Playa Palmilla at kilometer 27 or Playa Chileno at kilometer 11 on the San Jose-San Lucas corridor.
     
    4. Stop by a street festival. Religion isn't all Roman Catholic fire and brimstone south of the border. The patron saints of both Cabos receive weeklong celebrations in honor of their respective feast days: San Jose's happens on March 19 followed by San Lucas' on October 18. The family-friendly street festivals make for multi-block parties starring plenty of food, live music, carnival rides and local folklore galore.
     
    5. Watch sea life from the water. Take a glass-bottom boat ride out to El Arco, the famous arched rock formation that marks the aqui-border between the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez. En route scenery includes sea lions napping in the sun and fish viewed through the floor window. Hour-long treks depart Playa Medano and run $10 to $15 per person.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    What’s the best way to see the Baja Peninsula?

    The best way to get the real Baja experience is to drive it from tip to tip. It's a legendary odyssey that illustrates just how majestic and rugged the Baja terrain really is. The journey is doable in as few as three days but can easily consume an entire week if traveled at a leisurely pace. But contrary to what the monster-tired Baja 1000 racers would have you think, the well-maintained Transpeninsular Highway makes it doable in any rental car.
     
    We suggest the following route: From San Diego, cross the border early into Tijuana and head to Ensenada, Baja California's northernmost port city about 80 miles south on the Pacific Coast. Do fish tacos by the docks at the Mercado Negro seafood market followed by a round of pint-size yet extremely potent margaritas at Hussong's, a Wild West cantina that claims to be the birthplace of Mexico's cocktail ambassador. Stop for the night just south of the Baja California Sur state line in Guerrero Negro and soak up the surreal vistas at the abandoned lighthouse and salt refinery south of town the next morning.
     
    From there the road cuts across the peninsula to Santa Rosalia, a storybook mining town on the Sea of Cortez that was originally colonized by the French in the 1800s. Its mix of Mexican and European architecture — which includes a metal church supposedly designed by Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) — make it one of 56 historic preservation sites in Mexico and the only in Baja California Sur. Get a good night's sleep before moving on to spend an afternoon on the vacant beaches of Mulege, whose turquoise waters serve as the go-to spring break spot for Baja Californians looking to escape the annual migration of gringos gone wild that once roared into Tijuana and Rosarito. From there, it's another six hours to La Paz, the state capital, and just two more to Los Cabos.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    What is the best thing to bring home from Los Cabos?

    It may not be the easiest souvenir to transport home from Los Cabos, but it's one less kitschy knickknack that'll wind up in the basement, and chances are it'll be a hit back home: a case of Baja Brewing Co. beer. Not only is it the first and only cerveza to be produced in Baja California Sur, it's nearly impossible to find outside of Mexico. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend boxing up an assortment of the Baja Black (a medium-body, lightly bitter brew with hints of roasted coffee); the Baja Razz (a sweet berry beer, a popular champagne substitute, according to the Baja Brewing folk); the Baja Red (an amber ale that's high on the hops); the Baja Blond (the light Goldilocks of the family); and the Baja Stout (which, at 7 percent ABV, is the strongest of the bunch), as a tasty souvenir of your visit to Baja.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    What are the best Los Cabos food experiences?

    Beyond the tourist-trap Mexican restaurants, you can find authentic food experiences from street food to farm-fresh produce — and even craft beers — in Los Cabos if you know where to look. Try these top five Los Cabos food experiences handpicked by our Forbes Travel Guide editors for a taste of Mexico that’s off the beaten path for many visitors:
     
    1. Street eats. March's Feria de San Jose in Plaza Mijares is a smorgasbord of huaraches (the true Mexican pizza, despite the claims of any and all big-name Mexican fast food chains), tacos, taquitos, sopes, tortas, nopales (cactus), elote (corn), churros and other Mexican street eats that, unless you live in east L.A., you would never find back home.
     
    2. Mexican microbrews. Craft brew culture is on the rise south of the border, and Baja is quickly earning its rep as the star of the scene thanks in part to its proximity to San Diego, America's unofficial craft beer capital. Taking the movement all the way to the end of the peninsula, Baja Brewing Company in San Jose — run by four Coloradan expats — produces a blond, black, red and stout and a raspberry brew. Sip your way through samples of all five at their brewery tasting room and work in a tour if time permits.
     
    3. The wine and food festival. Capella Pedregal hosts its annual wine and food fest in mid-July, a four-day stretch of cooking demonstrations with star chefs, wine and cheese tastings, a five-course dinner and cocktail mixers in the sand.
     
    4. Fresh food at the farmers market. Hit up the Cabo farmers market — open Wednesdays and Saturdays until noon at the Mar Adentro Spa — for organic produce, bread, pastas, pastries, chicken, spices and sauces.
     
    5. Eat something you hooked yourself. Local fishermen will clean your catch for a small fee — some will even cook it for you — and nothing tastes nearly the same as fresh Baja Sur seafood slightly marinated with a little congratulatory pat on the back.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    Where is the best nightlife in Los Cabos?

    For the best nightlife in Los Cabos, if it happens to be a Thursday between November and June, Forbes Travel Guide’s editors recommend heading into San Jose del Cabo early for its weekly Art Walk at the 15 galleries housed in colonial homes west of Plaza Mijares. But if you’re looking for a full-fledged party, base yourself in Cabo San Lucas, where places like Pink Kitty, El Squid Roe, The Giggling Marlin, Mandala, Passion Club and Cabo Wabo fall somewhere in between the spectrum of Vegas-style bottle service clubs and the sort of bars where one's life goal of winning a tabletop wet T-shirt contest can easily become a reality. Whenever you're ready for a change of pace, pop into Mambo for more of a Latin beat or Two for the Road for live jazz and Manhattans.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    What’s the best way to see Los Cabos in one day?

    The best way to see Los Cabos in one day is to start with an early nine holes of golf, followed by a late breakfast of chilaquiles or banana-walnut French toast at Mama's Royal Cafe on Cabo’s Calle Hidalgo — a favorite among famished tourists and locals alike. Chase your meal with a double dose of Dramamine while en route to Playa Médano and hop aboard a glass-bottom boat tour out to the El Arco rock formations. Majestic vistas of the coast wildlife abound, so don't forget the camera.
     
    Once back ashore, plop down in an empty plot of sand for an afternoon siesta in the sun; you've earned it. Head back to home base for a shower and a change and take a colectivo taxi to San Jose for dinner in the village center around Plaza Mijares. Walk it off with a stroll around the nearby art district and pop into any galleries that catch your eye before heading back to Cabo. Celebrate a day well-played with a round of palomas (tequila and Fresca), Cuba Libres (rum and Coke) or mojitos at any of the bars and nightclubs that line Playa Médano. Choose according to whatever place seems to suit your decibel preference.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    Where is the best shopping in Los Cabos?

    For the best shopping in Los Cabos, Forbes Travel Guide’s editors recommend first checking out Cabo San Lucas. Though Cabo’s shops stock plenty of the bypassable bric-a-brac common to any Mexican tourist destination, it's not all kitschy shot glasses and ill-fitting T-shirts bearing crude one-liners. The glitzy Plaza Puerto Paraiso mall houses a slew of international brands including Cartier, Hermés, Bulgari, Ferragamo and Tiffany & Co., plus a 10-theater cinema, a bowling alley and an arcade.
     
    For more of a local flavor, head to San Jose del Cabo’s historic downtown area — the streets surrounding Plaza Mijares and the nearby art district, namely — for boutiques specializing in jewelry, ceramics and other artisan work from around Mexico.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    What are the best things to do with kids in Los Cabos?

    Los Cabos can be a dream destination for kids; there are many fascinating things for them to see and do, most of which involve nature they’re not likely to experience at home. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors are here to help by narrowing down the five best kid-friendly activities in this outdoor paradise:
     
    1. Go whale watching. The winter months send the gray whales packing on a transcoastal commute from Alaska to give birth in the warm waters off the coast of Baja California. January through March yield prime spottings, and tour outfits like Cabo Sailing get you nearly close enough to touch without harming the peaceful giants; group tours run $65 for adults and $30 for kids.
     
    2. See some wildlife. Eagles, orioles and egrets are just some of the nearly 300 species of winged wildlife that call San Jose's Estuary and Bird Sanctuary (located on Paseo San Jose) home. A marshy oasis that spans 2,000 acres, it's the largest body of freshwater in Baja California Sur and definitely deserving of a sunrise stroll or kayak tour.
     
    3. Head to the sand. Beach time is an obvious given for any visit to Baja. The catch with a place like Cabo, however, is that many of its ocean currents are too strong for swimming, which means at many beaches the fun, unfortunately, goes only as far as the dry sand. Of the few that are considered safe for water play, centrally located Playa El Médano (Dune Beach) is the most popular among families and spring breakers alike. Wander in either direction if you're looking to escape the noise, or rent a car and head out to Playa Palmilla at kilometer 27 or Playa Chileno at kilometer 11 on the San Jose-San Lucas corridor.
     
    4. Stop by a street festival. Religion isn't all Roman Catholic fire and brimstone south of the border. The patron saints of both Cabos receive weeklong celebrations in honor of their respective feast days: San Jose's happens on March 19 followed by San Lucas' on October 18. The family-friendly street festivals make for multi-block parties starring plenty of food, live music, carnival rides and local folklore galore.
     
    5. Watch sea life from the water. Take a glass-bottom boat ride out to El Arco, the famous arched rock formation that marks the aqui-border between the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez. En route scenery includes sea lions napping in the sun and fish viewed through the floor window. Hour-long treks depart Playa Medano and run $10 to $15 per person.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Derrik Chinn answered the question: Derrik Chinn

    What are the best things to do in Los Cabos?

    As to be expected from a place with so many natural wonders, most of the best things to see and do in Los Cabos revolve around outdoor adventures. Whether you prefer more active pursuits like surfing, fishing or golfing, or simply want to sightsee, you won’t be disappointed when you try any of the best things chosen by our Forbes Travel Guide editors:
     
    1. Ride a wave. Cabo is, essentially, the southernmost tip of southern California, so it's no surprise that wet-suited surfers are nearly everywhere you look. The Fletcher Los Cabos Classic — the first major surf competition, held in 1991 — gave rise to the modern surf scene, but seekers of the Endless Summer began flocking to Cabo as far back as the '50s. The world-famous Zipper and La Roca breaks make Playa Costa Azul (south of San Jose at kilometer 29) the most popular surf beach in Baja California Sur. Baja Wild Baja Outback offers guided day trips and lessons, but if you decide to go solo, keep in mind that waves break on the east side of the peninsula during spring and summer and on the west side during fall and winter.
     
    2. Spear a fish. Long before the resorts arrived, Cabo was a fishing town and continues to hold strong to those roots today. If hooking gilled life in the traditional sense lacks luster, try spearfishing, an ancient technique that winds up being more of a fair fight as the hunt happens under the water. No worries, you'll be outfitted with appropriate handicaps: fins, a snorkel and a speargun, namely. Or drop in for Bisbee's Black & Blue, a three-day stretch in late October that's dubbed the "world's richest fishing tournament." Entry fees start at $5,000 but whoever manages to haul the heftiest marlin out of the water — usually in the range of 350 to 400 pounds — walks away with $100,000. No worries, it's an eco-friendly feat: Competitors release more than 90 percent of the catch back into the sea.
     
    3. Visit a mission. Sordid tales of old-school religion and new-world conquistadors seep out of the stone walls at each of Baja California's missions, a string of more than 50 Catholic outposts established by Spanish priests that date as far back as the 1680s. The trail stretches the length of the peninsula and across the modern-day border, all the way to San Francisco. Originally built in 1730 but later moved inland after a dispute over polygamy led the founding padre to his grave, Cabo San Lucas' installment — officially known as Misión Estero de las Palmas de San José del Cabo Añuití — is the southernmost.
     
    4. Tee up. Prime real estate alongside the Pacific and Sea of Cortez make Cabo the go-to golf mecca of not just Mexico but all of Latin America, with options aplenty for holes in uno. Cabo del Sol houses a desert and an ocean course (the former designed by Tom Weiskopf, the latter by Jack Nicklaus), but the crowd favorite without a doubt is Diamante, thanks to its sand dunes, sapphire water vistas and a sweeping horizon that's free of (at least for now) man-made obstructions.
     
    5. Go off-road racing. The Baja peninsula's rugged terrain sets the perfect scene for what's arguably the most challenging off-road race on the planet: the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Every year desert racers line up for the nonstop trek that starts in Ensenada, about 80 miles south of the border, and Cabo just so happens to be the finish line. Wide Open Baja Racing Experience gives amateur daredevils a little taste of the action behind the wheel of a $100,000 Baja Challenge car. Have a go at a few laps on their eight-mile off-road course or head all the way to La Paz, with partial and multi-day tours that range from $500 to $5,000.