San Jose del Cabo is located near the tip of the Baja Peninsula, on the Sea of Cortez, 17 miles east of Cabo San Lucas. The central downtown area has many fine restaurants and is well-organized for shopping and is generally pretty busy with tourists and locals mingling together. It seems that the historic center is like a magnet that draws everyone toward the recently refurbished town square. The hustle and bustle of San Jose does not seem to interfere with the feeling of calm that prevails here as it does in many other tourist centers.
An organized art district has haphazardly been created, with quite a few galleries calling this section of town home. It is located just to the east of the church and has become quite a popular addition to the historic center. San Jose is the county seat of Los Cabos so the local government has many offices here and that contributes, a bit, to the busy feeling.
The first expeditions to explore this area were carried out by Hernan Cortés, as early as 1535. San José del Cabo was officially founded as a mission in 1730. The colorful history of San José del Cabo includes the murder of a priest, treasure (and water) seeking pirates and more than a few violent Indian uprisings. Life was a little rough for the first settlers here.
Today you hear quaint, mellow or charming as the words most often used by visitors to describe San Jose del Cabo. The old buildings of the historic center, the ever-present stature of the beautiful church and the friendly family atmosphere that radiates around the town square, seem to make each of these descriptions accurate. San Jose del Cabo instills a sense of tranquility into the desert landscape and the beautiful Sea of Cortez coastline that so defines this area of Baja. Old customs and traditions prevail and time seems to be nothing more than a symbol that applies to the rest of the world. Funny thing though…almost all visitors seem to feel that time goes by way too quickly during their visit.
San Jose del Cabo is a city of comfortable residential neighborhoods, some new and some are fairly old. It seems like new neighborhoods are springing up everywhere you look. The very first golf course in southern Baja was built here and although it is no longer run by the city, the nine holes are good fun and the green fees are very affordable. There are many private homes and condos built around the original golf course in yet another expanding part of the city.
This comfortable city, with a population of close to 70,000, provides residents with a comfortable, easygoing lifestyle. Because of the local tourism appeal, there are plenty of jobs to be had here. The near zero unemployment rate results in a quality lifestyle, with little crime.
A natural estuary covers a large area in the southeast part of the city. Over 100 species of birds inhabit the estuary along with a variety of turtles, fish and a few marine mammals. Bird watching can be incredible here and is easily accomplished from a variety of angles. The easiest way to get to the estuary is to go to the far east end of the hotel zone, past the Hotel Presidente, there you will find a viewing area. To get the best view, walk along the path, next to the hotel, and out onto the beach.
Puerto Los Cabos is the sparkling new world class marina that is located just to the east of the city center, right next to the ever tranquil village of La Playita. The general plan for Puerto Los Cabos includes over four hundred slips in the marina and two eighteen hole golf courses laid out on over two thousand acres. The development includes private homes, condominiums, a private beach club, and a boatyard. There will be commercial centers, boutique hotels, and full service, resort-style, hotels built around the marina. All of this in a carefully thought out, master planned community, that fronts on the Sea of Cortez. The developers graciously saw fit to make a special area, within the marina, for the very popular panga fleet that was located on the beach in La Playita, seemingly forever ago.
Puerto Los Cabos and La Playita are now connected to San Jose del Cabo by a massive bridge that spans the arroyo, hopefully relieving the area residents of being cut off from the city center during the brief summer rainy season.
Activities abound in San Jose and the new marina has made it much easier for visitors to fish from cruisers. But, there are so many activities in this area that most people will find it is a difficult choice as to what to do with your vacation time. Most of the hotels have an activities desk and you can find brochures all over town.
The hotel zone, along the Sea of Cortez, is home to about a dozen beachfront hotels, condo complexes, and timeshare resorts. This area stretches all the way from the estuary to the surfing beach at Costa Azul. The beaches along the hotel zone are known for strong undercurrents, so it is not such a good idea to swim here, no matter how inviting the water looks. The beach at Costa Azul marks the beginning of the beautiful 17-mile long Golden Corridor. This is an area of top-rated hotels, including a few with 5 stars, private residences, golf communities, and wonderful beaches. At the western end of the Golden Corridor, you will find yourself in Cabo San Lucas, at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula.
San Jose del Cabo is the southern gateway to the East Cape region of Baja. To get to the East Cape from San Jose involves a 50 mile long stretch of terrible road that leads to some of the most incredible beaches in southern Baja. Needless to say, the fishing, surfing and camping possibilities are close to endless. This mind-boggling drive will take you all the way to the smaller fishing resorts of the Los Barriles area. Along the way, you will find adventure and you will find “The Real Baja”. This road is not for the timid or the weak of heart.
There is an easier way to get to Los Barriles, via paved road. Just head north from the airport on Mexico 1, you will be in Los Barriles in a little over an hour.