Wild Cabo San Lucas

Shots of tequila are poured out at Mango Deck on Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. (Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register, MCT / June 6, 2012)

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico - Medano Beach is the waterside Times Square of Cabo San Lucas - a sandy, wet, crowded, noisy, naughty world of wall-to-wall suntan-oil-slathered flesh.

Up from the water's edge are a string of sand-hugging bars where Jell-O shots and buckets of cerveza rule. From the relatively sedate blue umbrellas of The Office to the party-all-the-time Mango Deck, it's often hard to find a sober soul well before noon.

All around is the mildly debauched communion of men and women dancing a conga line to "Tequila," waiting to get to a guy in front who will pour an orange boozy concoction straight down their throats.

For many people heading to Cabo, the party atmosphere is the magnet. They are seekers of Cabo's wild side.

"I plan on having a fantastic time partying, drinking and sunbathing," said Tara Kimmins, 38, a first-time visitor from Laguna Niguel.

Kimmins was smart to bring along a slew of friends, some of whom knew how to navigate the different watering holes.

"Our ritual is to spend a good part of one day at The Office," said Holly Hoffinger, 39, of San Diego. "We'll go into town to Cabo Wabo, but not Squid Roe - that's a bit too much."

For travelers like Kimmins and her crew, central Cabo San Lucas is home base. The town wraps around the bay and harbor, backed by stacks of condos and hotels, ranging from budget to American chains to high-end timeshares that look like they have been teleported from the cliffs of Southern California. From there it's a stroll down (and a stagger back) to Medano. On the recommendation of a colleague, I checked into Casa Dorada, a mid-to-upper level timeshare resort tucked behind Mango Deck.

Stepping from a hotel lobby onto Medano Beach is like stepping into the middle of a circus - water scooters roared around the waves, passing boats pulling parasailers into the air. The Carnival Splendor sat at anchor, farther out than Attessa, the mega yacht of Montana billionaire Dennis Washington, complete with a helicopter on the aft upper deck. The yacht has received an upgrade over the years, but the outlines were the same from when it starred in the Goldie Hawn comedy "Overboard."

In Cabo, you'll hear "Hotel California" played at every bar, residue of the largely debunked story that the hotel that inspired the song is in nearby Todos Santos. The second most popular song is "Tequila." But a close third is a song rarely heard north of the border. "Cabo Wabo" is an homage to excess at Land's End that rocker and sometimes Cabo resident Sammy Hagar recorded during his stint in Van Halen.

The chugging tune starts out with a bit of tourism office-worthy braggadocio, with Hagar saying he had been all over the world and thought he had "hit it all" until he landed in "a sleepy town lies South of the border." After extolling the girls and the beaches, it gets down to the main drawing power of the town at night, including Hagar's own club named after the song: getting hammered on booze.

"Face down (Face down)

Down in Cabo

Take me down (Take me down)

Down to Cabo. Uh!

Face down (Face down)

Down in Cabo

Doin' the Cabo Wabo, ow!

Take me down (Take me down)