Resting at the tip of the Baja Peninsula are the sparkling resorts of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, known as "the capes," or Los Cabos (los-KAH-bows) in Spanish.
Once used as a frequent provision stop for pirates awaiting passage of the Manila Galleons, today Los Cabos is headed for resort stardom. In the last fifteen years, it has evolved from a sleepy hideaway for recluse fishermen and yacht owners into one of Mexico's most popular resort destinations. This is due largely to improved roads and air access, plus heavy investment by FONATUR (the government's agency in charge of new resort development) and the private sector.
Los Cabos differs in many respects from its "Mexican Riviera" counterparts. Because of its geographic separation and isolation from mainland Mexico, Los Cabos' visitor industry developed with closer ties to the U.S. (mostly California) than to the rest of Mexico. A "north-of-the-border" atmosphere and attitude give the area an appealing cultural duality. American products fill store shelves, dollars are the preferred currency, U.S.-made cars are everywhere and much of the resort development has been dominated by North American enterprises. Despite these foreign trappings, there's no denying the resort's strong Mexico-by-the-sea atmosphere.
Los Cabos is also unique in its striking desert landscape, dry climate, and "great outdoors" unspoiled beauty. Visitors are surrounded by dramatic coupling of endless cactus desert, backed by cinnamon mountains, and bordered by miles of white sandy beach and clear, azure waters.
Los Cabos is one of Mexico's largest destinations in terms of its layout. Basically there are three areas of concentration. San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas anchor the area's resort strip. The two towns are separated by The Corridor Region, a 29 km heavenly stretch of lovely beaches sprinkled with much of the area's new resort development.
San Jose del Cabo is a pleasant city of meandering streets and lush palm groves with the languid pace of a colonial village. The area was first visited by Cortes himself in 1535. But it was missionary zeal, not conquistadors that first brought European civilization to San Jose. A Jesuit mission was built in 1730 to indoctrinate the Percu Indians of the region. In the nineteenth century San Jose slowly evolved into a modest center of commerce for passing ships. Today it is a town of 30,000 people that has a handsome Municipal Palace, charming courtyard restaurants, shops, boutiques, and a lovely tropical estuary. The atmosphere here is subdued compared with the more rowdy town of Cabo San Lucas.
Cabo San Lucas, as the tip of the peninsula and about 30 kms. West of San Jose, is a boom town just beginning to emerge. Dusty streets still prevail, but don't let that fool you. Cabo boasts some fine restaurant, sophisticated shopping, a slick 300-slip marina, and active nightlife. Cabo is tops with fishermen, divers, and those wanting to be close to assorted dining and nightlife. Nearby Medano Beach is a heavenly stretch of calm, crystal clear water, and white sand. Just off shore is El Arco - the area's signature landmark, and one of the world's most awesome natural wonders.
Between these two towns is The Corridor Region, the site of major resort development and some of Baja's most beautiful beaches. This zone is where Los Cabos is staking its claim as Mexico's premier golf destination, with several new courses under construction.
Today the resort attracts a broader range of visitors than ever before, and has gone to great lengths to diversify its offering of activities and attractions. Of course, sportsmen continue to flock to Los Cabos for world-famous fishing, outstanding diving, and game bird hunting. However, the area draws beach lovers, golfers, honeymooners, families, and "eco-tourists".
Outdoor recreation is the resort's main activity, since historic/cultural sightseeing is limited. The area is world renowned for its deep-sea sport fishing, with over 40,000 marlin and sailfish hooked each year. Excellent scuba diving and snorkeling sites are sprinkled throughout the region. Surfing and windsurfing are practiced, along with the latest in water sports gadgetry. Relatively new to the scene is the area's stunning assortment of championship golf courses. At present there are 108 holes open, with a master plan calling for an eventual 207 holes. Dramatic course layouts by some of golf's premier designers take full advantage of the region's striking landscape.
The area's lodging scene has also improved dramatically in the last five years. Although somewhat limited in number, accommodations are first-class and feature some of Mexico's finest properties. Because of the resort's sprawling layout, selecting the right location is critical to vacation planning.
Despite being one of Mexico's most savvy destinations, Los Cabos has remained relatively unknown outside of its primary west coast markets of California and Pacific Northwest. The introduction of non-stop air service from Houston via Continental Airlines and Dallas via American Airlines broadened the area's accessibility, while Alaska Airlines serving the west coast and America West's flights out of Phoenix are bringing in Midwest visitors.