Los Cabos, Mexico (Wikimedia)

What to do in Los Cabos

Los Cabos (cabo means "cape") is Baja's premier vacation destination, stretching 20 miles along the Sea of Cortez at the bottom of the Baja Peninsula where the Pacific and Sea of Cortez meet. San Jose del Cabo, the traditional Spanish colonial city, and the resort town of Cabo San Lucas (Cabo), bookend Los Cabos. A multitude of resorts and golf courses line what's known as the "Corridor"—the rocky coastline between the two cities. Cabo San Lucas offers non-stop action in the form of activities, nightlife, and a full-service marina; San Jose del Cabo tends to be quieter, with boutique hotels and a more reserved atmosphere.

By night, Cabo's many bars swell with college students and 20-somethings, especially during spring break, downing shooters and dancing. In daylight, Cabo becomes a place to browse for the typical touristy T-shirt and souvenir. For a change of pace, watch artisans hand-blow the Mexican glass you see in area shops and restaurants at the Glass Factory (the best time to go is before two, when many artisans are at work).

For an up-close view of 150-plus species of tropical and migratory birds visit San Jose's Estuary and Bird Sanctuary, which doubles as a fresh-water lagoon for kayakers (kayaks are available for rent). The sanctuary boasts beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Visit Cabo between January and April for a whale watching bonanza; each year thousands of gray whales journey from the Bering Sea to Baja—the longest migration of any mammal. Behemoths may be spotted from shore, but a boat offers much better views; most hotels set up tours. For families with more time and money, a fly-in tour to Magdalena Bay gets you up-close to these oceanic titans.

Fisherman in the know consider Cabo the "marlin capital of the world" (more marlin are caught in these waters than anywhere else on the planet); watching fishermen come in with their daily hall of huge fish can be very interesting.

An all-terrain vehicle (ATV) tour can be a lot safer, not to mention enlightening, than one would expect. Many operators offer ATV tours, but Desert Park ATV (www.desertpark.net/html/index.html) is unique in that it shows you 25 miles of private reserve instead of public roads. Instead of "extreme" runs, Desert Park tours ride slowly so that guides can point out highlights of the landscape. Kids with ATV experience who weigh at least 110 pounds can drive alone; others ride with parents. The company also offers hiking outings with an ecological bent; transportation to the park is not included.

Day Trips: Todos Santos, La Paz, East Cape

Tip: With the exception of Medano Beach (main beach in Cabo San Lucas) and Cabo Real Beach (on the Corridor), most area beaches are not safe for swimming due to strong currents and rough waters (many are great for surfing).

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