Where in the World: The Magic of Cabo San Lucas

Articles and Photos by Noreen Kompanik

In each issue, we challenge you to guess where in the world the photos were taken. Sometimes it will be easy and other times not so easy. In every case though, we bet that you will learn something about the place being featured. Remember NO PEEKING until you make your guess. Oh, you want a clue or two?

Known as one of Mexico’s premier vacation destinations, this charming paradise literally where the dessert meets the ocean.

Beaches, water sports, championship golf courses, and stunning shorelines make this a popular year-round getaway. The region is renowned for its diving, deep sea fishing, dramatic rock formations and some of the best whale watching experiences in the world. Seafood reigns supreme here, prepared by some of Mexico’s top award winning chefs. So, Where in the World are we?

We call it “the desert meets the ocean”. Our first trip to Los Cabos a few years ago was on a cruise ship, providing what we termed a “snap shot” of the area in our one day port visit. But, we really liked what we saw, and made it our goal to come back. On our first land-stay vacation a year later, my husband and I couldn’t help but notice the high energy of passengers on board our flight from San Diego bound for Cabo. 

Even the pilot got into the excitement as he jokingly asked passengers “are you ready for some fun?” After one week at this fabulous destination, we understood why people are crazy about Cabo! Located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, Cabo is known for its beaches, water sports and nightlife. Don’t forget suntan lotion. The sun shines an average of 350 days here. Average year round temperatures range from the low 70s to the mid-90s in August and September, and high season covers the winter to early spring months. What makes Cabo so appealing?

Perhaps it’s the whispers of Spanish conquistadors and plundering pirates from long ago still echoing through the harbors and brick lined streets of Cabo’s quaint Mexican communities. And it’s also the draw of the iconic El Arco, “The Arch”, a natural archway in the sea cliffs that is undoubtedly Cabo’s most photographed site. Whatever it is, we’re hooked.

Getting Around

Renting a car in Cabo is a necessity. Taxi service can get very expensive, and to really get the feel for this amazing piece of Baja paradise and its surrounding environs, having a vehicle provides the freedom to see and do more. Mexican insurance is a necessity and though the driving is fast, it’s not chaotic and roads are easily navigable.

Where to Stay

Flights arrive at the Los Cabos International Airport. Los Cabos is the combined nickname for the neighboring towns of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. Four main neighborhood zones define the area and many visitors have a preference on their favorite places to stay as each locale has its own distinctive ambiance. Most visitors to Cabo seek oceanfront accommodations, or at the very least, ocean views, which aren’t hard to find in the Baja California peninsula, which is surrounded on three sides by water.

San Jose del Cabo

With its 18th-century Spanish colonial architecture and laid-back local scene, San Jose del Cabo, provides a low-key Baja peninsula counterpart to fun-loving Cabo San Lucas 20 miles south. Its authentic old Mexican atmosphere encompasses a fascinating historic town with courtyard restaurants, charming architecture, boutiques, and a beautiful church facing the traditional town square. Even with its decidedly slower pace, San Jose del Cabo still delights visitors with its history, culture, and stunning vistas of the ocean and Sea of Cortez.

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The Corridor

The 20-mile stretch that connects Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo is home to some of the best beaches, championship golf courses and most luxurious resorts and villas in all of Los Cabos. Although development continues along this sun-drenched route hugging the southern edge of the peninsula, there are plenty of areas that still display the spectacular natural beauty of Baja. Because of its central location, it’s a very popular stay destination because you are reasonably close to everything. And the Corridor seems to offer the ideal blend of all Cabo has to offer.

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Medano Beach/Downtown

The place where you find all the action- the spring breakers, cruisers, serious partiers, along with the marina, bars, clubs, and the myriad of restaurants and shops downtown. Medano Beach provides ringside views of the cruise ships anchored just offshore. Most waterfront activities such as kayaking, jet skiing, and sailing adventures are centered in this region.

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Pacific Side

A perfect place for privacy and getting away from the crowds, resorts at this location boast quieter beaches and the stunning rock formations of El Arco, just a short stroll from most resorts and villas. The wild pacific surf and vastness of the ocean add an element of reflective remoteness, even though you’re really just a few short kilometers from downtown.

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Stunning Shorelines

Like pearls on a necklace, a string of sparkling beaches stretches through Los Cabos along the Sea of Cortez and into the Pacific Ocean. Its turquoise unspoiled waters contain a jewel box of tropical fish, forests of coral, and one of the world’s great whale migration destinations. Numerous phenomenal beaches in this Baja region make it difficult to choose our favorites, as each has its own unique loveliness.

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Lands End

The locals will say that if you have time for only one beach in Cabo, Lands End is it. Literally, where the land ends, this implausibly beautiful tip of the Baja peninsula divides the deep blue churning waters of the Pacific from the warmer and calmer Sea of Cortez.

Rolling waves ripple ashore into the deep, soft sands of Lover’s Beach (Playa del Amor). Snorkeling is popular around Pelican Rock, a giant boulder just off the beach, so named for the hundreds of deep-billed seabirds that roost on its surface. Fascinating natural stone-spired rock formations line both sides of the beach area. 

On the Pacific side, Divorce Beach is found through a gap in the rocks, and is so named for its rough, dangerous churning waters. Swimming off all the beaches on the Pacific side is dangerous due to swift sea currents and powerful, booming surf. 

Famous and fabulous El Arco, located at the peninsula’s most southern tip is reachable only by boat. Every four to seven years, low twisting tides, at the meeting of ocean and sea reveal a flat, temporary beach at El Arco’s base. Photographers know clearly well that this is a true Kodak moment.

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Medano Beach

Known as the location that rocks the fun and excitement of the ultimate beach party, Medano Beach is situated on a long stretch of deep golden sand, studded with some of Cabo’s top resorts, restaurants and nightclubs. One of the safest swimming beaches in Cabo, its calm aquamarine waters are perfect for families with kids.

Though the beach tends to be crowded when cruise ships are in port, it’s hard to beat the scenic views of those ships just off the horizon. Beachside views of Lands End are spectacular. And this is the top place for water activities, water sport rentals, and glass-bottom boats to El Arco.

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Chileno and Santa Maria Beaches

Even though these two beaches are not side by side, they are both located in the Corridor region of Cabo, a mere three kilometers from one another. Tucked into the rocky shoreline of the Corridor, what makes these beach locations so spectacular is that they are strictly local and are rarely crowded.

There are no hotels or restaurants built along these beaches. Chileno, a beautiful, horseshoe shaped beach is the largest of the two, with bathrooms, showers and palapas for shade. Its several reefs running parallel to the beach are home to over 80 species of marine life. Sea turtle sightings are common here. 

Santa Maria, a photographer’s dream, is more intimate with rocky coves perfect for a romantic or family picnic. One of the great features of this beach is the pinkish colored sand. Both are marine sanctuaries with shallow, crystalline-clear waters, ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and getting up close to tropical fish. 

Once again, the magic of Cabo enchanted us. People come for different reasons. Whether it’s tossing inhibitions to the wind, walking alone and finding your inner peace on a windswept beach, falling asleep to the rhythm of the ocean, chilling with a good book by the pool, or seeking newfound adventure, Cabo San Lucas has earned its reputation as one of Mexico’s premier destinations. Cabo has a way to feed the soul, quicken the heart, and create a lifetime of memories.


Noreen

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