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First-time visitors to Los Cabos usually find plenty of activities to keep their vacation interesting. Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo offer a range of resorts, world-class golf, upscale shopping and a vibrant dining and nightlife scene. Repeat visitors to this region of the Baja Peninsula, however, may find themselves wanting to venture off the beaten path. This is where the East Cape comes in handy — a region just north of San Jose del Cabo. The East Cape is a gorgeous stretch of mostly undeveloped coastline that runs nearly one hundred miles east and north along the Sea of Cortes.
The East Cape is an easy drive along Highway 1 and is close enough to San Jose and Cabo San Lucas for day trips from those areas. To fully explore the region, however, it is best to stay at least a night or two. The scenery blends stark desert landscapes and cactus with the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. The main lures for visitors are the East Cape’s small towns, full of local color, prime windsurfing and sportfishing opportunities and a spectacular marine park.
Cabo Pulmo is a national marine park with one of only three living coral reef systems in North America and is about a 60-mile drive north of Cabo San Lucas. The park is a big draw for snorkelers and divers, who can view a dazzling array of sea creatures, including 200 fish species, sea turtles, whales and sea lions. In addition to the natural beauty of the reef, divers can explore the sunken remains of a Mexican fishing vessel. A variety of small boats ferry divers and snorkelers out to the reef. The marine park is also popular with kayakers.
The sleepy town of Cabo Pulmo, adjacent to the marine park, offers a few restaurants and a dive operator or two. There are also options in Cabo Pulmo to arrange hikes through the nearby hills, including guided treks that bring hikers to an ancient petroglyph site.
One of the East Cape’s earliest forays into tourism was sportfishing. In the early 1950s, well-heeled fishermen, including President Dwight Eisenhower and John Wayne, would fly into the area and land on the beach. The East Cape is where the Sea of Cortez meets the waters of the Pacific Ocean, creating a nutrient-rich soup for the fish. Anglers regularly pull marlin, Dorado, roosterfish, tuna and sea bass from the area’s teeming waters. In addition to modern fishing vessels, anglers can also venture out with local fishermen in small “pangas,” or fishing boats.
The small town of Los Barriles lies midway between Los Cabos and La Paz to the north and makes a good base for exploring the East Cape. Lodging in the area includes a selection of three- and four-star hotels on the beach. Watersports in Los Barilles include snorkeling, kayaking, sportfishing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. On dry land, travelers can try bird watching, hiking, ATV excursions, mountain biking and horseback riding.
With growth reaching capacity in Los Cabos, developers have turned to the East Cape. In the works are such projects as a Mayan Resorts property, near Puerto Los Cabos; El Rincon, near Cabo Pulmo’s coral reefs; La Ribera, the site of a major marina development; and La Capilla, in Los Barriles. Currently, travelers to the East Cape will find a number of beachfront villas available for booking.