DESPITE ITS LONGTIME reputation as a quick Mexican beach getaway for residents of the U.S. West Coast, today’s Los Cabos has matured into an enticing destination offering more than just cheap margaritas and sling chairs in the sand. Today’s visitors indulge in state-ofthe-art spa treatments and a range of other upscale amenities. Named for the slender cape extending eastward from Baja California’s southernmost tip, the town of Cabo San Lucas boasts the only marine preserve in Mexico that falls within city limits. Created in 1973, the 14-square-mile patch of protected sea and shore designates special boat lanes, boating speed limits, and restricted fishing and recreation-craft areas, all under the watchful eye of Grupo Ecológico de Cabo San Lucas. Nowhere else among Mexico’s top-drawing seaside resorts will you find such pristine beaches within so short a distance (five to 10 minutes by boat taxi) of the town center.
Author Joe Cummings Photography Dave Lauridsen
DAY THREE / Start the morning with an authentic Mexican breakfast at La Perla, a local coffee shop and one of the few eateries in Cabo open before 8 a.m.
It’s back on the road today for a 47-mile drive up the Cape Region’s scenic Pacific coast to Todos Santos, Baja’s “unknown” destination. Paved, two-lane Mexico 19 heads west out of Cabo San Lucas before making a long, lazy arc to the north.
After passing several virtually deserted beaches, including lengthy Playa Migriño, you’ll arrive at Todos Santos, a town wedged between Arroyo de la Reforma and the foothills of the lofty Sierra de la Laguna. Spanish priests established a farming community here in 1724 to supply the arid La Paz mission community with fruits, vegetables, sugarcane, and wine. Virtually abandoned when the local springs dried up in 1950, the town’s decaying brick and adobe mansions began renting after the water miraculously returned in 1981. Behind the century-old brick and adobe façades lives a small colony of artists, surfers, and organic farmers who have found Todos Santos the ideal place to follow their independent pursuits.
Among the dozen or more art galleries in town, Galería de Todos Santos specializes in the work of contemporary Baja painters and is the best art gallery in the entire region, possibly in all of Baja. Look for work by resident Todos Santos artists Gloria Marie V., Derek Buckner, and Michael Cope.
At the nearby Centro Cultural, home-grown exhibits chronicle the town’s surprisingly rich history, culture, and art. The museum’s pottery collection includes classic local ranchware, as well as rare older ceramics produced by Pericú Indians.
For lunch head to Café Santa Fé, housed in a 160-year-old casona (large house) with 18-inch-thick adobe walls, where the menu emphasizes local seafood and fresh herbs and vegetables grown by owners Ezio and Paula Colombo. A favorite with visiting Hollywood insiders, the Santa Fé is often booked up during the peak season in December and January.
Although Cabo San Lucas itself is chock-a-block with crafts shops, few compare in quality with Todos Santos’ Mangos, a small locale with an excellent selection of arts and crafts carefully collected on the Mexican mainland by an American expatriate.
If you’re in the market for reading material, El Tecolote stocks all manner of books on Baja, Cabo, and Mexico, including children’s and hard-to-find titles.
It’s always difficult to tear oneself away from idyllic Todos Santos, but you’ll want to head back to Cabo San Lucas while it’s still light. On your last night, opt for excellent Japanese cuisine with a Mexican twist and sidle up to a table at Nick-San, near the harbor. After delighting in inspired dishes such as fresh sea bass sashimi marinated in an infusion of cilantro and chili, cap off your three perfect days with a starlit walk along the town’s spiritual heart, Bahía de San Lucas.
Joe Cummings first arrived in the Cape Region in 1993 to research Moon Handbooks: Baja and ended up building a house near the beach in Todos Santos.
This tropical desert’s weather delights are on display even in winter. Cool, dry westerly winds dominate January. Days are sunny and mild, with highs in the 70s. An occasional warm spell can push temperatures into the 80s, but humidity is pleasant. Dry air cools quickly, so pack a light jacket, as temperatures plunge into the 50s or 60s in the morning. Spring is the driest season. Summer is very hot and humid, as prevailing winds turn southeasterly. Nineties are the norm, and inland locations see temperatures above 110. August and September are the rainiest months, coinciding with the peak in hurricane season. Although direct hurricane hits are infrequent, at least one tropical storm brushes the southern Baja each season.
Weather information is provided by The Weather Channel. For more Los Cabos climatological details, visit weather.com.
Taxi and shuttle van services are available at Los Cabos International Airport. The best way to spend three perfect days in Cabo is to hire a car at the airport and drive yourself. Traffic is relatively light. Taxis can be hired in every town in the area and between towns as well.
A Playa Escondida (Hidden Beach) Next to the old cannery pier and popular with families because Dad can fish from the pier while the kids play in the calm water
B Playa Chileno Well-endowed with public facilities, including water-sports equipment for rent. Palms provide natural shade, something missing at most other local beaches.
C Puerto Paraíso The third floor of Cabo’s only enclosed shopping mall has a bowling alley, cinema, video arcade, and children’s play area.
D Buccaneer Queen A ship once used as a movie set, with snorkeling tours, cruises, charters, and whale watching (Tel: 52-624-144-4217)