For decades, Cabo — or more specifically, the region around neighboring towns Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo — has been a renowned American tourist destination favored by hard-partying spring breakers or just about anyone who’s excited at the thought of an unending nightlife. It’s got everything from the palm trees and idyllic sunshine to a seemingly unlimited amount of umbrella-clad cocktails, but in many places, it can feel like a watered down version of the culture that Mexico has to offer.
Cabo is jam-packed with ocean-side resorts and bustling tourist spots, but the development hit warp-speed in 2014 after the region was forced to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Odile. Today, you’ll find that most tourists tend to stick to their resorts, most locals within resorts speak English, and you won’t run into trouble if you pay your cab driver with American dollars. As beautiful as Cabo is, it has a tendency to feel like you haven’t really left the United States — at least until you venture to Baja’s East Cape.
As far as luxury Mexican vacations go, Baja East Cape is famously off-the-grid. Years ago, some parts didn’t even have reliable electricity. It was, by all accounts, an untouched corner of Mexico’s West Coast where desert and marine wildlife were sheltered by the surrounding mountain range. Today, the region is still secluded, but it’s become home to the exclusive Costa Palmas resort community. Unlike the more touristy areas of Cabo, which rely on Americanized resort activities, Baja East Cape is brimming with things to do that celebrate Mexican culture and the region’s unique flora and fauna. Here are a few of the area’s best kept secrets.
Swim (yes, actually swim) on a private beach
What most first-time travelers don’t realize is that you can’t actually swim at most beaches in Cabo because of dangerous undercurrents and high waves. You’re either stuck at your resort’s pool or have to drive to a crowded, designated swimming beach. Flatly put, there’s nothing less relaxing than being smashed towel-to-towel with loud sunbathers who’ve had a little too much fun at the beach bar.
In this regard, Baja East Cape is an oasis. You can swim in the Sea of Cortez, which has calm lake-like waters but none of the crowds. For example, the Four Seasons has two miles of private beach access, so you can take a dip in a secluded spot and pretend the shoreline is all your own.
Dive into the West Coast’s oldest coral reef
At 20,000 years old, Cabo Pulmo is the oldest coral reef on the West Coast of North America — and a short drive for those visiting the East Cape. It’s so beautiful that it inspired John Steinbeck’s famed novel The Log from the Sea of Cortez, but what’s perhaps more impressive is how it was subject to one of the most successful ocean conservation efforts in history.
In the 1990s, residents banned together after overfishing had killed off most of the reef’s wildlife. Their lobbying led the state of Baja California Sur to create the UNESCO-listed marine preserve, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. Over the next 14 years, every single group of fish slowly returned. Today, you can visit the preserve to witness a myriad of species from sea turtles and humpback whales to predatory sharks, ospreys, and the endangered gulf grouper.
Enjoy a scenic round of golf
An 18-hole championship course was designed by the renowned architect Robert Trent Jones II. He designed it to celebrate (and actually enhance) the East Cape’s natural terrain — from the rise and fall of the dunes to the glimmering cobalt water. The links-style walkable course is suitable for every kind of player regardless of skill or age, but if you need to brush up on your swing, you can take a lesson from one of the club’s on-site pros or enjoy the 30,000 foot putting course.
Try your hand at sport fishing
The Sea of Cortez is home to 900 species of fish and more than 20,000 species of marine vertebrates. If you’re inclined to go on the fishing trip of a lifetime you can catch one of them for dinner. Four Seasons Los Cabos has a “Catch Your Own Dinner” program. It takes you off the coast of the East Cape with spearfishing world record holder Sebastian Melani. Catch a Marlin, Snapper, Yellowfin Tuna and more, and one of the resort’s world-class chefs will custom-prepare your meal.
Soak in the natural hot springs
Baja East Cape is a short drive to two natural hot springs. These are El Chorro Hot Spring at Agua Caliente and Santa Rita Hot Springs. Both are a bit off the beaten path, tucked away in a rural part of the canyons, but that’s how you enjoy Baja’s unique natural landscape. Hike to the waterfalls and take a dip, but be sure to bring your own bottled water. It gets hot out there, and you’re no longer in the land of crowded beach bars.
Visit Wirikuta Botanical Garden
Wirikuta isn’t just your average botanical garden. It’s a veritable shrine to both desert flora and some of Mexico’s most famous living artists. You can catch their work in the park’s famed Sculpture Garden. Overall, this 12-acre park is a labyrinth of over 1,500 different types of desert plants from all over the world. This includes more than 1 million — yes, a million — individual plants like cacti and succulents. It’s seriously impressive.
Put the farm in farm-to-table
In Baja’s East Cape, you’re never too far from your food. The whole area has a booming farm-to-table scene and a bevy of markets. These include Buena Vista Organic Market, Organic Community Market, and Bajaus in Zacatitos. The Four Seasons alone has an 18-acre organic farm and orchard. Here you can meet the people who grow and harvest your meal while learning about sustainable organic farming. This is possible thanks to Baja’s mineral-rich soil, seemingly endless sunshine, and technological advances in irrigation.
All in all, Baja’s East Cape is a treasure trove of hidden gems. Let’s be honest, Cabo is nice but it isn’t for everyone. If you want an unforgettable experience that’s both high-end and off-the-beaten-path, let the Four Seasons Los Cabos guide you. Want to learn more? Fill out the form below.