On the southern half of the Baja California Peninsula, discover an often-wild desert landscape juxtaposed against brilliant blue waters teeming with life. Along the east coast, the Sea of Cortez—dubbed “the world’s aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau—presents underwater adventures from snorkeling with the ocean’s largest fish to diving along a rejuvenated reef, a remarkable environmental success story.
When you come up for air, take in sublime sunsets, taste traditional flavors at a taqueria, and track down secluded hot springs. The road less traveled awaits.
Stop 1: Start with art
Less than 10 miles from Los Cabos International Airport, San José del Cabo lies at the south end of Baja California Sur near the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. The quieter, not-so-crazy sister city to Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo is known for Spanish colonial architecture, the massive circa-1730 mission cathedral, and the gallery-filled Art District. The city’s convivial Art Walk is held every Thursday evening from November through June, when the weather is practically perfect every day.
Stop 2: Birds of a feather
Just to the south, find the San José del Cabo Estuary wildlife preserve. This peaceful place where the Río San José meets the ocean draws some 200 species of resident and migratory birds including wood storks, pelicans, egrets, herons, ibises, and hawks. Grab your camera or your binoculars, and rent a kayak for a paddle around the coastal lagoon. Or hoof it along the well-marked hiking path. (Discover what Baja California is doing to save its fishing communities.)
Stop 3: Living large
A short drive southwest reveals one of the latest luxury resorts to spring up along the lively oceanfront corridor that stretches from San José del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas. At the Montage Los Cabos resort, edging Santa María Bay, head to the spa—40,000 square feet of bliss—for treatments such as the Baja Desert Cocoon, which harnesses the healthful properties of sage and agave. Then indulge in new takes on traditional fare at Mezcal restaurant before settling into an ocean-view suite.