Something magical happens at the point where the cool green Pacific Ocean crashes into the blue sapphire Sea of Cortez at Land’s End.
The fish that inhabit these waters drew the original visitors 30 years ago—wealthy Hollywood types who arrived by yacht or private plane to fish the Marlin Alley. Then the anglers began to bring their golf clubs, dive gear, and college-age kids.
Today stunning geography, perfect weather, endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, and federal funding from the Mexican government have transformed the area from a cluster of fishing villages into a full-scale tourist corridor.
From Cabo San Lucas to San José del Cabo and everywhere in between, landscaped highway exit ramps are replacing dirt-road turnoffs, new resorts and condo buildings are under construction, seaside golf courses are opening, and restaurant menu prices are reaching for the stars. Some say Los Cabos is well on its way (if not already there) to becoming Mexico’s most expensive destination.
Adventure travelers, fear not: Los Cabos offers much more than nine-bedroom villas and 100-foot yachts. Beneath the upscale veneer, quaint bed-and-breakfasts, modest hotels, free snorkeling beaches, authentic taquerías, and affordable panga boat tours invite exploration.
The tip of the Baja Peninsula consists of two large towns connected by a 29-kilometer-long stretch of white-sand beaches, exclusive golf courses, and luxury resorts—known as the Corridor—which the government has divided into several development zones or fraccionamientos. These towns and zones make up the Los Cabos municipio (county).
With its signature rock arch and large, protected harbor, Cabo San Lucas is situated on the west side of the peninsula, at the place where the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean meet. Cabo San Lucas is busier, noisier, more Americanized, and more touristy than unassuming San José del Cabo.
On any given day, multiple cruise ships may deliver thousands of day-trippers into the Cabo San Lucas marina. They mingle with expats, snowbirds, and the adventure-seekers who come to fish, dive, cruise, and party.
On the east side of the peninsula, San José del Cabo is quieter and prettier, with a historic plaza and numerous restored colonial-era buildings. Its growing art district holds a handful of well-respected galleries, representing artists from all over Mexico as well as some from the United States.
That said, San José is experiencing some growth pains of its own. Its new Puerto Los Cabos Marina has brought power, Internet, and a modern sewage system to the village at La Playita. But with these amenities come the owners of US$80 million yachts, the noise and mess of constant construction, threats to coastal wildlife, higher prices, and increasing traffic congestion. In many ways, San José is becoming unaffordable for the local residents whose families have lived here for generations.
The global economic recession continues to take a toll on Baja-based businesses. Construction on just about all major developments came to a halt, at least temporarily, and most of the workers’ camps were empty. Overall, business is down an estimated 30–50 percent, depending on whom you ask. In this climate, many businesses have had to close. The good news for visitors is that there are plenty of great deals to be found, even at peak travel times.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition