San Jose del Cabo
At the tip of the Baja Peninsula stands a craggy rock formation, in the shape of an arch, that towers over the ocean. El Arco is like the gateway to the ocean and has a majestic appearance, reminiscent of another world. The arch has been carved over time, as rough winds and the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez erode the rocks away. This part of the Baja Peninsula, also known as Land’s End, is one of the most popular attractions in Cabo San Lucas.
See if you can spot sea lions on the rocks. If you come here on a glass-bottom boat cruise, you can also admire the tropical fish that are so abundant in this area. As you get to the arch, don’t miss the opportunity to photograph it from the water, the best vantage point.
Make it a day trip and visit Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach), which is a secluded stretch of sand. Snorkel or scuba dive out in the water, or laze on the beach. Stroll along the shore and watch El Arco change color as the sun sets. Look out to the sea and imagine how pirates roamed this area in the 1500s. They were hiding behind the rocky walls, waiting to steal gold from the incoming Spanish ships.
Between December and March, watch whales as they migrate from the cold Arctic to the warmth of the Baja Peninsula. The shallow, warm water makes the bay the perfect spot for whales to give birth and raise their young.
To get to the arch, book a water taxi from the Cabo San Lucas Marina. If you feel fit, rent a kayak from Cabo and paddle to Land’s End instead. Facilities at El Arco are limited, which adds to the quiet, natural feel of the place. Beach vendors sell snacks and souvenirs and rent out sun umbrellas on busy days, but bring your own supplies just in case. Be aware that the currents on the Pacific Ocean side of Land’s End are often too strong for swimming.
During the passing years, as explorers and cannoned warships, whaling ships and clipper traders running the West Coast stopped, some crew were left behind. Some of the old families in San Jose del Cabo and other communities in Baja Sur have English and French derived surnames from ancestors who were buccaneers before jumping ship and becoming ranchers and fishermen.
San Jose del Cabo is best enjoyed on foot. The town is proud of its historic district, an area of back streets devoted to the bustling Art Walk event that takes place seasonally, November – June, on Thursday nights, with wine tastings, artists in attendance and gallery openings. The many art galleries showcase both traditional and modern works from renowned masters as well as young artists with sculptures, paintings, crafts, and jewelry.
Fronting the Mission San José Church is the renovated town plaza complete with gazebo that has retained the atmosphere of days gone by, where people meet and greet, hear strolling musicians and attend many fiestas. A visit to the Spanish colonial-styled city hall has murals of old Baja inside its corridors and a two-story courtyard shaded by a huge Mexican laurel.
An exciting blend of culinary delights can be experienced in the many restaurants that line the streets, from seafood to Mexican to continental to international flavors such as La Dolce, an Italian Bistro adjacent to the plaza where you are likely to feel transported to Little Italy by the food and décor. The motif and charm are undeniably characteristic of Italy. Chef Tadd Chapman is responsible for introducing three eateries to the area. Those that are high on the restaurant scene under his corporate command are Habanero’s Gastro Grill & Tequila Bar, a sidewalk cafe specializing in a European-style bistro fare with a Mexican twist, a fine dining restaurant named Don Sanchez to enjoy upscale Baja cuisine, live music, and creative cocktails, not to mention a selection from the 300-label wine cellar—at affordable prices—and The Retro Burger Bar upstairs above Don Sanchez where comfort food has been reinvented in this nostalgic sports bar. You won’t have to miss any of your favorite games, munchies, or beer while kids from 3 to 93 slurp on root beer floats, indulge in a banana split, or get their lips around a great burger. La Panga Antigua near the main plaza is situated in the oldest colonial-style mansion with more than150 years of history and one of the area’s most beautiful courtyards. This is a must for contemporary Mexican cuisine and locally sourced seafood. Dine beneath the stars surrounded by tropical foliage on fresh seafood served with authentic Mexican sauces that compliment with just the right touch of “hot.”
Beyond huge wooden doors and surrounded by 19th-century rustic stone walls you’ll find La Ostería where European-style tapas are served in an open courtyard. Mi Casa, a truly Mexican feast for the eyes as well as the palate—formerly a hacienda-style residence—charms with life-size murals, gardens, and regional Mexican dishes. How does fresh mango ice cream infused with a touch of tequila sound on a warm summer day?