Late summer storms bring a strong south swell to the Los Cabos coast, and several breaks offer fairly consistent rides. Close to Cabo San Lucas, Monuments breaks left over a rock reef located below the Misiones del Cabo condo complex at the west end of Playa Cabo Bello. Expect a crowd on good days, and beware the rocks and urchins.
El Tule is a dependable right at Km. 16, and the right point break at Punta Palmilla (Km. 27) may be worth the long paddle on a super big day.
Bahías Santa María (5–18 m) and Chileno (9–21 m) both have rocky reefs for underwater exploration. Due to the crowds, sea life near the shore is limited compared to what you’ll see in protected marine parks elsewhere on the peninsula.
These two bays are best suited for snorkeling or shallow beginner dives. Offshore from Bahía Santa María, a site called the Blowhole (12–30 m) features a wall dive where divers often see giant mantas, sea turtles, and schooling jacks and grouper.
Punta Palmilla (Km. 27) is another good spot to put on your mask and fins. A zebra eel slithered about in broad daylight during a recent snorkel here.
Designer golf courses have popped up all over Southern Baja, luring players away from the competition in Arizona and California. Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones II, Tom Fazio, Tom Weiskopf, and Roy Dye all have had a hand in shaping the Los Cabos golf experience.
Gray water irrigates most of these courses, but even so, keeping all those fairways groomed and green in a desert environment doesn’t come cheap: Greens fees average US$250 for 18 holes. Discounted twilight rates begin at 2 P.M., earlier in summer. Rates typically include tax, use of a golf cart and driving range, bottled water, and club service, and prices may vary according to the travel season and day of the week.
Palmilla: Jack Nicklaus was the mastermind behind the arroyo, mountain, and ocean courses at the One&Only Palmilla (Km. 26, Carr. Transp., Palmilla, tel. 624/144-5250, US$200 for 18 holes), which form the center of a 384-hectare resort community. Most of its 27 holes have views of the ocean. Palmilla is known for a 440-yard, par-4 Mountain Five hole, which challenges the golfer to a long drive across two desert arroyos. Callaway rental clubs cost US$55.
Cabo Real: Open since 1989, the 18-hole, par-72 Cabo Real Golf Course (Km. 19.5, Carr. Transp., Cabo Real, tel. 624/144-0040, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/795-8727, www.caboreal.com, US$180–280 for 18 holes) covers 6,400 meters with three oceanfront holes. Guests of the Westin Los Cabos, Meliá Cabo Real, and Casa del Mar resorts get 10 percent off the greens fees. King Cobra–brand golf club rentals are US$50.
Jack Nicklaus designed the world-renowned 18-hole, par-72 El Dorado Golf Club (Km. 19.5, Carr. Transp., Cabo Real, tel. 624/144-5450, US$280 for 18 holes) with an oceanfront driving range and clubhouse. Although it was initially designed as a public course, the El Dorado has now gone private, and four of the nine original oceanfront holes have been converted into home sites.
Cabol del Sol: The golf community at Cabo del Sol (Km. 10.5, Carr. Transp., Cabo del Sol, tel. 624/145-8200, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/703-4394) includes two separate courses, with more in the plans. The ocean course (US$265–350) was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1994. Built to preserve a natural look and feel, the course extends from a kilometer and a half of oceanfront property, with 7 of the 18 holes on the water.
This is the only course in Mexico named to the 2007 Golf Magazine Top 100 Courses in the World list (#88) and one of only two courses in Mexico on the Golf Digest list of 100 course outside the United States (#28).
The adjacent desert course (US$165–220) was designed by Tom Weiskopf, his first anywhere in Mexico. TaylorMade clubs at either course rent for US$65. Guests of the Fiesta Americana and Sheraton resorts in Cabo del Sol receive a 10 percent discount.
Cabo San Lucas Country Club: Palo Blanco trees, cardón cacti, and other desert flora form the backdrop for a challenging 18-hole course designed by Roy Dye (Palo Blanco 501, tel. 624/143-4653 or -4654, toll-free U.S. tel. 888/298-1132, www.golfincabo.com). Enjoy stunning views of Bahía Cabo San Lucas, including the rock formations at Land’s End. Winter greens fees are US$105–204; summer rates are lower.
The adjacent Los Cabos Golf Resort (tel. 624/145-7100 or 877/496-1367) has rooms with kitchenettes starting at US$235. The largest units have three bedrooms and full kitchens.
Most of the resorts listed in this travel guide have their own spa facilities, with treatments from body wraps and massages to facials and pedicures. Services are typically offered inside or under a tent on the beach. Standouts include heavenly body wraps at The Spa at the Westin Los Cabos (Km. 22.5, Carr. Transp., tel. 624/142-9000, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/598-1864, www.westinloscabos.com), and the indoor steam caves and waterfalls, plus holistic treatments using local fruits and vegetation, at Esperanza Resort (Km. 7, Carr. Transp., Punta Ballena, tel. 624/145-6400, toll-free U.S. tel. 866/311-2226, www.esperanzaresort.com), where 90-minute treatments cost US$235–250.
The Marquis Los Cabos (Km. 21.5, Carr. Transp., tel. 624/144-2000, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/238-9399, www.marquisloscabos.com) also boasts a gorgeous 929–square meter spa with six additional massage tents on the beach. A 50-minute facial runs US$100–115; deep-tissue, Shiatsu, Thai, or sports massage services are US$115–125 for 50 minutes; mud therapy treatments are US$115 for 50 minutes; and body scrubs are US$79 for 25 minutes. Nonguests can use the spa facilities (steam room, whirlpool tubs, and spa swimming pool) without reserving a treatment for US$25.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition