Friday, May 16, 2014

Cabo calls -- with wowing rocks, top beaches, glass blowing, shopping and a peaceful mission

The approach to Cabo San Lucas is a memorable one, with its unique rock formations.

REMEMBER that bittersweet Eagles song of the 1970s, "Hotel California"?
The song may refer to a hotel in the sleepy little town of Todos Santos, which means "all saints."  Ironic, given the attraction to the place from the not-so-saintly musicians of the day.
Besides the Eagles, many other other rock stars stayed there, including Crosby Stills and Nash. Of course Keith Richards married Patti  Hansen there. But the genesis of the famous song can't be authenticated.
Above, top, tourists enjoy spectacular "Cabo" views.
And Todos Santos is proud of its beautiful mission church.
FIRST, CABO SAN Lucas.  The rock formations of this lovely place on the Baja California tip are legendary.  We'd explored them before, along with many other tourist boats full of anglers (the sport fishing is world class), snorkelers, and other varieties of sun seekers. All of us reveled in the peace and beauty,spiced up by the region's reputation for fun.
Baja California's peninsula, in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, is home to "Los Cabos" -- Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.

The bathroom of the Hotel California, below,
is a throw-back to 1970s hippy days.
At right, one of many new buildings.

The bay of Cabo San Lucas was once a base for pirate vessels waiting to pounce on Spanish treasure ships. Even fifteen years ago, it was little more than a fishing and canning village occasionally visited by adventurous sports fishermen. Its beach escapes, fabulous snorkeling, parasailing, scuba and sea exploration now recommend it to wealthy second-home owners.  And it has its own "outback," complete with camels.  A few of our group took the camel trek, actually riding on the beasts as they photographed indigenous flora and fauna.
New hotels and condos are going up throughout the Baja peninsula.
Cabo is also famous for its glassware.  We visited a factory, and stopped at a lovely vista to sip a margarita or two. Salsa -- both the dance and the sauce -- is an artform in Cabo; lively music echoed from the hotel lobbies and pools.
 Glassware in bright colors makes popular gifts in Cabo's many shops.
CABO NATIVES are proud of their dolphins, too, claiming these smart and graceful creatures flirt with and communicate with those who venture into the water to swim with them. In winter, Cabo boasts that it has the best whale watching on the Pacific, but I'd put our San Diego whale watching ventures up against theirs.  Still, the peninsula is known for its superb spots to view migrating whales.  Human travelers -- including golfers from all over the world -- come to Cabo for its inviting greens, many with splendid sea views.
Cabo's destinctive
rock formations.
Cabo's colorful history includes many shipwreck stories, and you can still dive for vestiges of the doomed vessels. Scuba aficionados seek out ruins around Pelican Rock, Land's End, Neptune's Finger, Sand Falls, and other imaginative names.
Cookie strolls a sculpture arcade in Todos Santos' zocalo.
The display honors residents who made contributions to the town. 
WE WERE happy we'd chosen the trek to Todos Santos, a small coastal town at the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains, on the Pacific side of the Peninsula.  It's only an hour's drive north of Cabo but it's another world -- quiet, unspoiled, with mango, avocado and papaya trees downtown.

The rocks call,
and the fun awaits.
The trip
Keller shops for a t-shirt in pretty Todos Santos.
to Todos took us past gorgeous new hotels designed for  U.S. and European tourists. Condos attract ex-patriots, college students on breaks and time share owners, all discovering the Baja. Arriving in Todos Santos, we were greeted by friendly people, quaint galleries and shops, the famous and popular Hotel California with its unique bathrooms, and a beautiful old Jesuit mission. The Jesuits settled in the 1700s, and the church is well loved. We walked past an artful sculpture arcade honoring town founders and leaders.  We admired restored colonial buildings from the last century and enjoyed ice cream in the zocalo -- town square -- a colorful gathering spot.
THE TOWN is  a haven for artists, craftsmen, surfers and travelers seeking adventure, nature and what some call "Mexico's healthiest lifestyle." Todos attracts hikers, surfers, wildlife enthusiasts, kayakers, snorkelers and birders, too.
 The two destinations are radically different.  While Todos Santos' waters are quiet, Cabo's bay boasts high-powered, radar-equipped fishing yachts. Multi-million-dollar second homes are going up in prime vantage points, fringed by thousands of transplanted palms.

Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos offer many birds;
this booby was our escort down the Baja, into Central America and home.
WHILE TODOS Santos felt authentic and Mexican, Cabo felt more like the U.S. than part of Mexico.  We spoke to content ex-pats who bragged about a mammoth Wal-Mart, new restaurants and a choice of fancy bars.  Puerto Paraíso, an enormous mall on the marina, has everything one can purchase in the states.
Each place has much to recommend it, but you'll decide which suits your fancy best -- Cabo San Lucas or Todos Santos. And you can always visit them both.

COMING SOON:  The magnificent boobies, and we don't mean female breasts. We're about travel advice and adventure tips with a sense of fun. Remember to explore, learn and live.  Visit us Wednesdays and weekends at: 

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