Mexico: Los Cabos | Water Sports, Luxe Retreats & Sultry Sands

by Patrick Soran

Fun in the surf and sun is the life of Los Cabos, an area that stretches between the town of Cabo San Lucas to the west and San Jose del Cabo to the east along the southernmost coast of Baja California, Mexico. In between lies the "Corridor," a string of cozy hotels, five championship golf courses, winding horse trails, and white-sand beaches (note: a sneaky undertow renders many of them too rough for swimming).

In A Word: Fish

Whether you're catching one or communing with hundreds, the more than 800 species of fish that ply the waters off Los Cabos, where each year sport fishers reel in thousands of marlin and sailfish (to photograph and release, or have mounted, frozen, or smoked), are the main attraction. Underwater sightseers will love Playa Bahia Chileno, an underwater preserve; Bahia Santa Maria, a picturesque cove surrounded by cliffs; Gordo Banks; El Arco, called "Land's End," where sea lions dart about; and Cabo Pulmo. Experienced divers can brave The Blowhole for a close encounter with a whale shark or hammerhead.

Why We'd Go: Five Features You'll Never Forget

  • San Jose Del Cabo: The quieter of the two main towns, San Jose is an old Mexican village built around the Colonial-style church Iglesia San Jose and a charming town square still filled with vendors. Just around the corner, the lush and serene 125-acre Estero de San Jose, a freshwater estuary, hosts more than 200 bird species. Visit the nearby Regional Museum to glimpse the area's past.
  • Cabo San Lucas: Once the anchorage of choice for celebrities seeking a quiet getaway, this lively town is now the mecca for those who seek a fishing charter (most Corridor hotels also have their own fleet of boats), whale-watching excursion (December to April), glass-bottom boat ride, or snorkel or dive trip. Nightlife and shopping are big draws. Be forewarned that cruise ships anchor here, bringing crowds of passengers and hawkers.
  • Outdoor sport: Fins don't float your boat? Take a spin on a parasail or try your hand at windsurfing (it's harder than it looks). Horseback riding is a lazy way to see the sites on land; hoof it on foot in the pine, oak, and pinion woodlands of the Sierra de la Laguna, then pick a bouquet of wildflowers in the valley below.
  • Shopping ops: In San Jose del Cabo, Boulevard Mijares is lined with craft and artisan shops overlooking a block-long splashing fountain. Don't miss Copal for carved animals crafted in Oaxaca and masks from Guerrero. Venture down side streets for stores such as ADD, which features beautiful hand-painted dishes from Guanajuato and carved-wood furniture from Michoacan. In Los Cabos, browsing is best done near the marina, in Plaza Las Glorias or Plaza Bonita. Visit Cuca's Blanket Factory to design your own blanket to snuggle up in the next day.
  • Rowdy nightlife: Watch the sun set from Land's End (south of Cabo San Lucas), at the clifftop Whale Watcher Bar at Hotel Finisterra, then head into town to dance and drink.

Pucker Up: Best Place To Smooch

Where else but Playa de Amor (Lover's Beach, accessible only by water taxi), near the rocky and hauntingly beautiful El Arco (the arch) in Cabo San Lucas, where opposites -- the serene Sea of Cortes and the crashing surf of the Pacific -- attract in a dramatically romantic way.

When To Go: Los Cabos At Its Best

  • Best weather: October through May
  • Best prices: June through October; exact dates vary by hotel
  • Festival highlights: Semana Santa, which begins in March or April, leads up to Easter and is celebrated with parades and passion plays; Cinco de Mayo (May 5) commemorates the defeat of the French in 1862; Saint John the Baptist Day (June 24) is marked by "blessing" anyone within splashing distance with water; Mexico's independence is celebrated in mid-September with fireworks and parties; and Christmas festivities begin in mid-December. For details, check out the Los Cabos Tourism Board websiteFor more information about Mexico, contact the Mexico tourist board, (800) 44-MEXICO.

Photo: Mexico Tourism Board

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