Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or you’ve never fished a day in your life, there are plenty of options near San José . For newbies, your captain and crew will find the right spot for the day, rig up the bait, and handle boating the fish. All you have to do is reel and smile for the picture. Later, top off the day by taking your fresh catch to a local restaurant to have it prepared to your liking.
Fishing boats for hire fall under two general categories: pangas and cruisers. Cruisers are the larger boats you’ll see in the marina slips. They’re often equipped with tuna towers, enclosed cabins, a bathroom, and other amenities. Pangas are the ubiquitous open launches, powered by outboard motor and sometimes featuring a sunshade and center console.
If you see a panga with a newer four-stroke outboard, center console, sunshade, and mounted radio, jump in—you’ve got a winner. The fish don’t care what kind of boat you’re in, but the cruisers can handle the larger game fish and a non-fishing passenger in comfort.
Don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, water, food, waterproof camera, sandals, and a windbreaker. Take motion sickness medicine the night before and morning of the trip if you are prone to seasickness (or if you aren’t sure).
All hotels in the zona hotelera can arrange guided fishing trips. Well-known Francisco’s Fleet (formerly Victor’s Sportfishing, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/521-2281, www.jigstop.com ) is based at Palmilla Beach. A six-hour super-panga trip for two or three people costs US$195; bring your own food and drinks.
Gordo Banks Pangas (Pueblo La Playa, tel./fax 624/142-1147, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/408-1199, www.gordobanks.com ) launches out of La Playita and rents 22-foot pangas for US$210 (six hours, 1–3 anglers) or 23-foot super-pangas for US$250 (six hours, 1–3 anglers) and cruisers for US$380–470.
Jaime Castro (Pueblo La Playa, cell tel. 624/154-9110, U.S. tel. 858/922-3355, US$200–280 per boat) runs panga fishing charters by day and manages the kitchen at Buzzard’s by night. Boats depart at 6 A.M. daily from B dock at the La Playita marina and return at noon. Bait, lunch, drinks, and fishing license cost extra. Reserve online.
There are a few extra costs to factor into the planning: Tips for the captain and fish-cleaning crew are the norm. Live bait is often not included in the cost of the panga, so expect to pay US$20 per boat. Fishing licenses cost US$8 a day or US$20 a week. You do not need a fishing license to fish from the shore. Licenses can be purchased online through the state tourism office at www2.ebajacalifornia.gob.mx/Pesca.
For tackle, bait, and fishing books, head to Deportiva Piscis (Castro and Green, San José del Cabo, 1 block south of the Mercado Municipal, tel. 624/142-0332, 8 A.M.–7 P.M. daily).
San José visitors must head to the East Cape , the Corridor , or Cabo San Lucas  for suitable snorkeling and diving sites. Expert divers who are comfortable in strong currents and choppy seas and interested in exploring the offshore Gordo Banks seamounts may be able to hire a panga from La Playita; however, be aware that even groups of experienced dive instructors have run into complications when attempting to turn an angler into a dive-boat captain for the day. The safer approach is to book a trip through one of the PADI-certified dive shops in Cabo San Lucas.
Summer is the peak season for catching waves in Los Cabos, but good-sized swells occasionally roll through as late as mid-November. Playa Costa Azul  has three of the best-known breaks anywhere in Southern Baja. Enter from a sandy beach but beware the rocks at low tide. You can scope out the scene from a lookout on Mexico 1 before taking the plunge.
Longboarders and beginner surfers favor the Playa Acapulquito (Old Man’s) reef break, in front of the Cabo Surf Hotel. Directly below the lookout, The Rock is another right. Localism is alive and well at Zippers, but only when the waves are pounding. The rest of the time you can easily paddle out to enjoy this short and fast break. Just flash a smile and be prepared to wait your turn.
Several shops near San José rent boards and other equipment. The Cabo Surf Shop (Km. 28, Carr. Transp., San José del Cabo, tel. 624/172-6188, U.S. tel. 858/964-5117, www.cabosurfshop.com ), located at the Cabo Surf Hotel, offers private or group instruction on Playa Acapulquito through the Mike Doyle Surf School (8 A.M.–6 P.M. daily, until 7 P.M. in summer, group rate US$70 pp for two hrs., private lessons US$95/hr.) as well as board rentals. Drop-ins are welcome.
The Costa Azul Surf Shop (Km. 28, Carr. Transp., Plaza Costa Azul, San José del Cabo, tel. 624/142-2771, 8 A.M.–7 P.M. Mon.–Sat., 9 A.M.–5 P.M. Sun.) rents short boards, hybrids, and longboards to experienced surfers, as well as beginner boards with rubber fins, and offers lessons. Stop in for beach umbrellas, beach chairs, and snorkeling gear, too. You can also rent boards right on the beach, next to Zippers Restaurant.
Most of the now world-famous golf courses are located in the Corridor between San José and Cabo San Lucas; however San José proper has a few courses of its own. Centrally located in the hotel zone, the Mayan Resorts Golf Course (tel. 624/142-0905, US$130/18 holes) is a convenient and affordable option for beginners and intermediate players. Rates are considerably lower for resort guests (US$90). Discounted twilight rates (US$70) begin at 2 P.M. The clubhouse is located on the south side of Mexico 1, between Paseo de los Cabos and Paseo Finisterra.
At Km. 119, Club Campestre San Jose Golf (tel. 624/173-9400) is an 18-hole, par-71 course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus is also the mastermind behind the Puerto Los Cabos Golf Club (Paseo de los Pescadores, Pueblo La Playa, tel. 624/144-1200), an 18-hole, par-72 course.
San José  now has about a half dozen yoga studios, but some instructors seem to come and go each season. Caryl Leffel (tel. 624/137-3278, www.kaleidoscopeyoga.com , US$10–25 per class) teaches yoga classes in two locations: Cabo Danza (Plaza Tamarindo on Calle Gonzales, 7:45 A.M. and 6:20 P.M. Mon., Wed., Fri.), a private dance studio, and Laguna Hills (9 A.M. Tues. and Thurs.), on a beachfront terrace along the East Cape.
Ixchel Salon & Spa (Morelos 133, San José del Cabo, tel. 624/142-2330, www.elencantoinn.com/Spa/Archivos/Spa.html , 9 A.M.–8 P.M. Mon.–Sat., 10 A.M.–6 P.M. Sun.), inside the El Encanto Inn, offers a full menu of treatments, including massages (50 min. for US$70), facials (50 min. for US$80), manicures, and pedicures. In addition, the Hola Grand Faro, Grand Mayan, and other resorts have on-site spas that are open to the public.
Most Los Cabos hotels have an activity desk with a binder full of brochures advertising guided tours, excursions, and recreational activities. You can choose from whale-watching cruises, snorkeling tours, ATV tours, horseback rides, sunset cruises, and more. Hotels generally do not charge an additional fee when they book these activities for their guests.
A note for the environmentally aware: Ecotours have overtaken spas as the latest marketing tool for companies looking to earn a share of your tourist dollars. This means just about every operator will tell you they offer eco-something. This does not necessarily mean that every hotel and outfitter in business follows a safe and low-impact approach with their trips and has experienced guides who really understand the fragile Baja ecosystem. Do some homework before you book: Understand where the business buys its supplies, how it supports the local community, what materials it reuses and recycles, and what kind of training it requires of its guides. Emergency training and environmental education should be top considerations.
Here are a few of the larger and better-known outfitters:
Baja’s Activities (Paseo del Malecón, San José del Cabo, tel. 624/142-2922, www.bajasactivities.com , 9 A.M.–6 P.M. daily) organizes horseback rides along the estuary and beach (US$35/hr., US$55/2 hrs.), snorkeling tours to Santa María Bay (US$35 pp), and ATV tours of the East Cape (US$65/single, US$85/double).
Rancho Tours (tel. 624/143-5464, www.ranchotours.com ) leads walking tours of La Paz and Todo Santos for US$65 per person, as well as glass-bottom boat tours and ATV rides near Cabo San Lucas.
Baja Wild Outfitters (tel. 624/172-6300, www.bajawild.com ) leads a variety of adventure trips, including kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, ATV, Jeep safaris, whale-watching, and turtle-release programs. Half-day trips range US$70–85, and all-day trips are US$110–650, depending on the activity. Group and multisport packages are available.
Desertica (Km. 61.8, Carr. Transp., tel. 624/146-9601, www.desertica.com.mx , US$35) has brought its amusement-park style of outdoor entertainment to Baja, with canopy tours on eight different zip lines, plus trails for ATVs, buggies, and horses. Four-hour tours begin at 9 A.M., noon, and 3 P.M. daily (minimum age seven and maximum weight 250 pounds).
You can also tour the back roads of Baja in a fleet of Hummers with Baja Outback (tel. 624/142-9200, www.bajaoutback.com , US$135–183 pp). Single- and multiday tours go to Todos Santos, Santiago, Rancho La Verdad, and Rancho Antares (btw Cabo Pulmo and Los Frailes).