Favored by fishing enthusiasts, five-star-resort junkies and roving herds of bachelorettes, Los Cabos resides at the extreme tip of Baja California, poised excitingly between two great bodies of water: the mighty Pacific and the somnambulant Sea of Cortez. It’s a scenic, wind-whipped slice of heaven, and hardly the one-dimensional wilderness of body shots and whistle-tooting hombres envisioned by famed resident Sammy Hagar. Unless you want it to be.
Where to Stay: 7 Reasons to Make Pals with the Palmilla
Los Cabos is teeming with swank resorts, scenic rentals and funky, charming hotels, but the One&Only Palmilla near San José del Cabo rules them all. Here’s why:
1. Its unbeatable backstory.
Playboy pilot Rod Rodriguez – son of one-time Mexican president Don Abelardo Rodriguez – was flying over the Baja peninsula in the late 1940s with his new Hollywood fiancée, Lucille Bremer, when they spotted the barren but beautiful Los Cabos coastline and figured it was a perfect spot to build a luxury celebrity getaway. Los Cabos’ first resort was born.
2. Ridiculous views.
Each room boasts an expansive balcony perfect for private, deeply contemplative sunset breakfasts.
3. The spa.
Less a “spa” than an indoor-outdoor compound of private therapy casitas (complete with shaded lounge beds) encircling a catacomb of steam rooms, beauty parlors, an excellent gym and more, it will ruin wellness for you. Spa-ing will never be this good again.
4. Playa Palmilla.
Surprisingly, swimmable beaches are hard to find on the steep, tight breaks of Los Cabos. One of the exceptions is Palmilla’s private beach on the north end of the property – a sheltered, serene cove with nice snorkeling.
The same beach can also serve as a low-hassle jumping-off point for a fishing charter in the nearby waters. Look for amberjack, tuna and the occasional marlin.
6. The fish tacos at Breeze.
No disrespect intended to the resort’s two Jean-Georges Vongerichten-led restaurants – SEARED and Suviche, both exquisite – but the crispy, succulent one-two punch of the fresh grouper tacos at the Palmilla’s swim-up pool bar overlooking the ocean is pure sensual perfection.
7. It’s slightly cult-y.
Customer service is such a passion at Palmilla, the staff keeps a digital file of your preferences and needs, to reference during later visits. They also reverently place their hands over their hearts when they pass you on the breezy jungle footpaths. It’s like being Tom Cruise at Sea Org.
If You Go: Summer rate: $635/night
Los Cabos is jointly composed of two distinct, beachside communities, linked by a 20-mile highway corridor.
A Cabo San Lucas
The “Cabo Wabo” of Sammy Hagar fame. Newer, rowdier and more tourist-oriented, but with several exquisite resorts.
A San José del Cabo
Slower-paced and more residential, with an emerging farm-to-table culture and many artisan-owned shops. Closer to the nexus of five-star resorts along the Cabo corridor.
3 Must-Visit Restaurants
1. Flora Farms
The one everyone talks about. Craft cocktails, hand-churned ice cream and farm-to-table cuisine (pictured), steps from the farm itself. Cabo’s version of Quiessence. flora-farms.com
Conceived by Michelin-starred food guy Jean-Georges Vongerichten, with Flora Farms-sourced produce and a dazzling selection of aged beef cuts, the flagship restaurant at Palmilla is a carnivorous must-visit. oneandonlyresorts.com
3. El Farallon
Back in San Lucas, the king of the dining scene is undoubtedly this clifftop seafood restaurant at The Resort at Pedregal, where a blackboard menu of the day’s fresh catch makes for pure piscine eye candy. theresortatpedregal.com
Contrary to popular perception, this 115 million-year-old ribbon of igneous rock just off the beach in Cabo San Lucas does not mark the precise spot where the Pacific turns into the Sea of Cortez – that’s a mile or two west – but it photographs beautifully, so run with it.
One natural amenity Cabo conspicuously lacks: living coral reefs, ill-suited to the cold Pacific waters. But your own piece of snorkling and diving heaven is a mere 90-minute drive away at Cabo Pulmo National Park, a 20,000-year-old network of brilliant, rock-like polyps that’s grown 300 percent since the Mexican government afforded it protected status in 1995. Accessible via a drivable dirt road off Cabo’s Highway 1, the remote community is filled with scrappy dive shops, taco stands and campers, and affords visitors that ineffable thrill of isolation you can’t get back at your resort. cabopulmopark.com
For whatever reason, the musical mammal favors the waters of Los Cabos for breeding and breaching. Visitors can often see them from ocean-view hotel rooms.
Amberjacks and yellowfin tuna are more abundant, but no fishing excursion is complete without at least a glimpse of the sharp-billed monster.
Biznaga (Barrel) Cactus
Astoundingly, Cabo is home to more than 120 cactus breeds – some of which are unique to the peninsula. One of the rarest: this squat breed, which lives only on a smattering of islands offshore.