Los Cabos is unlike any place on earth, thanks to a unique blend of beach, desert and mountain terrains, as well as the awe-inspiring abundance of marine life nurtured by the remarkable conditions at the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortés.
As one might imagine, the views and vantages from this sun-kissed tropical paradise on the southernmost rim of the Baja California peninsula are indeed spectacular. But it’s not just the unusual and picturesque conjunctions of land and sea that make the place special, but the almost limitless opportunities for fun and adventure they open up.
How many places are there, after all, where you can you spend the morning fishing for marlin, play golf on one of the best courses in the world during the afternoon, dine barefoot on the beach with delicious local seafood prepared by a celebrated chef, then party into the wee hours pairing margaritas with live music and dancing?
In cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, that’s a Tuesday.
Yes, Los Cabos is a place unlike any other, but it also offers lifestyle opportunities that simply don’t exist anywhere else.
The cape cities and their connecting 20-mile coastal corridor are home to dozens of beautiful beaches, from Blue Flag certified playas like Palmilla, Chileno and Santa María to surf meccas like Costa Azul, Acapulquito and Monumentos to party-friendly hotspots like Playa El Médano, the largest and most popular beach in Cabo San Lucas.
The area’s signature beach, however, is Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach), a golden sand beauty at Land’s End that is only reachable via water-based transportation like pangas (water taxis).
Blue, black and striped marlin continue to be the most eagerly sought out prey among local anglers, although due to conservation concerns the local fleets promote catch and release policies with trophy billfish. Those desirous of the freshest of fresh local seafood can still get their hooks into delicious food fish like tuna, wahoo and dorado, however, and have it cooked to order by any local restaurant.
The fishing season is year-round, but the many tournaments for which the region is famed take place between June and early November. Bisbee’s is the most notable tournament promoter, hosting three in Los Cabos each year. The oldest of these, Bisbee’s Black & Blue marlin fishing tournament, is sometimes known as “The Super Bowl of Sportfishing” and “The World’s Richest Fishing Tournament”, monikers richly earned with over three decades of million dollars plus payouts.
Baja’s most famous event, however, remains the Baja 1000, a bruising off-road endurance race that’s sponsored each November by SCORE. The race’s history stretches back over 50 years, during which time it has been run by everyone from Formula One drivers to Hollywood movie stars like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. Intrepid sorts with an itch to try off-road racing can do so with a variety of local companies, either in dune buggies or actual Baja 1000 style race cars.
Adrenaline-racing activities like bungee jumping, zip-lining and parasailing are also easily arranged in Los Cabos. Cabo Adventure offers the longest and fastest zip-line in Mexico in their mountainous course at Boca de Sierra, plus an array of rugged obstacle course style challenges. Wild Canyon, meanwhile, boasts an entire theme park at El Tule premised around bungee jumps, zip-lines and off-road thrills.
For a true once-in-a-lifetime adventure, however, visitors can dive one of the oldest and largest living coral reefs in North America at Cabo Pulmo on the municipality’s less-developed East Cape. Cabo Pulmo’s colorful reef is part of a protected marine sanctuary with the highest concentration of marine life in the Sea of Cortés. Offshore islands in the Revillagigedos chain offers even more amazing encounters with large pelagic creatures like great white sharks, but require week-long trips aboard boats like the Solmar V.
Whale watching is the most popular of Los Cabos’ many seasonal activities, as each year thousands of the world’s largest creatures migrate from their Arctic feeding grounds to breeding grounds in coves and inlets around Baja California Sur.
From mid-December to mid-March, whale watching cruises are offered by every major tour operator and cruising boat in Cabo San Lucas, with the water-based transportation options ranging from small and speedy Zodiac inflatables to enormous motorized catamarans.
One needn’t book a cruise to see some of the transiting cetaceans, however. They’re often visible from vacation villas, golf courses and beaches. Humpbacks are the most commonly sighted in Los Cabos and exhibit the most spectacular breaching behaviors.
Seeking to evolve beyond its early reputation as sportfishing capital, Los Cabos began, in the early 1990s, to redefine itself as a beachfront luxury destination, complete with championship-level golf courses and world-class spas. Jack Nicklaus set the standard for the former with his early designs at Palmilla and Cabo del Sol, which he envisioned as “Palm Springs by the Sea” and the “Pebble Beach of Baja”, respectively. As of 2018, Nicklaus has designed six courses in the area, most recently a cliffside masterpiece at Quivira. Other legendary champions have since followed in his footsteps, including Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Davis Love III and Fred Couples.
There are currently 16 operational courses, with as many as four more slated to open by 2020. Publicly playable layouts include Palmilla, Cabo del Sol (Ocean and Desert Courses), Cabo San Lucas Country Club, Vidanta and Questro (Puerto Los Cabos, Campestre and Cabo Real). Quivira, Chileno Bay, Twin Dolphin and Diamante (Dunes, El Cardonal and Oasis) are playable by guests at select resorts. Eldorado and Querencia are strictly private.
Since the 1990s every new beachfront resort has also come complete with its own pampering spa, and the trend has proliferated to the point that privately-operated spas may be found on virtually every downtown block in Cabo San Lucas.
Los Cabos now dominates rankings of the best spas in Latin America, and many of its finest wellness centers showcase their own unique treatments, from wine-based vinotherapy at Grand Fiesta Americana’s SOMMA WineSpa to healing rituals based on phases of the moon at The Resort at Pedregal’s Luna y Mar.
The Spa at Esperanza remains the gold standard for resort-based spas, renowned for its expanxive relaxation facilities and signature Pasaje de Agua experiences. Suzanne Morel Face & Body Care, meanwhile, boasts the top mobile spa, delivering soothing services directly to clients in their homes, condos or rental villas.
Yes, Los Cabos also has its share of famous chefs now. Enrique Olvera is the most celebrated of the group, with two restaurants – Pujol in Mexico City, and Cosme in New York City – currently ranked among the 100 best in the world. Olvera’s Manta premiered at The Cape Hotel in 2015 and has been garnering rave reviews for its Pan-Pacific fusions and Land’s End views ever since.
Modern Mexican culinary master Richard Sandoval’s global collection of restaurants now includes two in Los Cabos: Toro Latin Kitchen & Bar and La Biblioteca de Tequila.
Famed French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has taken the steakhouse concept to another level at SEARED, a benchmark showcase for Kobe, Wagyu and other fine cuts at five-star One&Only Palmilla.
Sidney Schutte earned two coveted Michelin Guide stars while helming Librije’s Zusje at the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam, but his epic 17-course pairing menus now come courtesy of Cocina del Autor, the signature restaurant at the new Tourist Corridor based luxury resort Grand Velas.
The local record holder for Michelin stars, however, is Martin Berasategui, who has been awarded eight total, the most ever for a Spanish chef. His Gastrobar is a highlight of Paradisus Los Cabos, the post Hurricane Odile rebranding of the resort formerly known as Meliá Cabo Real.
These globetrotting superstar chefs aren’t in Los Cabos all the time, but each makes regular visits, and their quality standards have helped to raise the bar for the region as a whole.