A palm tree lined estuary in San José del Cabo

A palm tree lined estuary in San José del Cabo. Photo © Alejandro Cabrera, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Once upon a time, the typical Cabo visitor chose this destination for one reason: to catch big fish. These days, any number of pastimes might inspire a journey to the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. At Los Cabos International Airport, retirees mingle with tipsy spring breakers. Newlyweds wait in line with artists and anglers. And scuba divers roll bags full of gear through the crowd.

What brings them all to a remote peninsula that early explorers thought to be an island? Miles of white-sand beaches and a tropical-desert climate, luxury resorts with championship golf courses, protected marine preserves, and the promise of an eco-adventure. Surfing, kayaking, and snorkeling are among the most popular activities. Kiteboarding, golfing, mountain biking, and conservation work are possible, too.

Increasingly, travelers are discovering cultural attractions. Local chefs are shaping a distinctive bajacaliforniano cuisine, and the art districts in San José del Cabo and Todos Santos are thriving. Meanwhile, historic ghost towns and the state capital of La Paz offer opportunities to experience Baja California’s colonial past.

Map of Los Cabos, Mexico

Los Cabos

Los Cabos is more than the sum of its culture and history, however. In the last decade, dozens of local, national, and international organizations have teamed up to protect its fragile ecosystem. Together they are working to protect sea turtle habitats; rescue whales, sharks, and dolphins that get caught in commercial fishing nets; promote sustainable fishery management; clean up beaches; and teach local residents to be ecotourism guides. From Cabo San Lucas to La Paz, their efforts are making a difference.

Longtime Baja travelers will tell you that Cabo has changed–that it’s not the offbeat destination it once was. In many ways, they are right. As one of the most popular, fastest-growing, and most expensive destinations in Mexico, Los Cabos is more upscale and Americanized than ever. Although they may pine for the days of deserted beaches, these seasoned travelers still return year after year to enjoy the beautiful scenery and relaxed pace of life. There are many dimensions to this ever-changing destination, and it’s become much more than an angler’s paradise. With a sense of adventure and willingness to explore, you’re sure to discover a part of Los Cabos that captures your imagination.

Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon Los Cabos.