Sunshine, white sand, lounge chairs under beach umbrellas and cocktails under little umbrellas. Sportfishing, parasailing, horseback riding, golfing, snorkeling, or just plain relaxing.
While Cabo San Lucas has developed a reputation as a wild party retreat and a destination for avid sportfishermen, it also offers some of the best diving along the coast of the Americas. Located at the rugged and arid southern tip of the Baja, California where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, Cabo diving features a rich and varied marine life, a result of the nutrient-rich upwelling from the deep Pacific waters. Local diving even minutes from the beach features schools of tropical fish, white tip reef sharks, moray eels, and sea turtles. Further from shore, for example near Isla Cerralvo, hammerhead sharks, bull sharks and giant manta rays with 12-foot wingspans have been seen.
Cabo San Lucas is sheltered by a small crescent bay that forms part of the Sea of Cortez. The southern barrier of the bay juts out to the southeast, terminating with dramatic rock formations known as Land's End. Considered the official border between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, Land's End features Cabo San Lucas' most famous landmark, El Arco, through which can be seen either the Pacific Ocean or the Sea of Cortez, depending which side you're on.
Several excellent dive sites are located in this immediate region, including The Point, Neptune's Finger, Pelican Rock and Sand Falls, whose underwater sand cascades were first made famous in a Jacques Cousteau documentary.
While the Sea of Cortez near Cabo San Lucas lacks the colorful corals of the Caribbean, it is one of the most prolific bodies of water on Earth, featuring more than 850 species of reef fish. Slowly descending through 70-degree water, the vibrant angelfish and barberfish visible from the surface are even more abundant. As I scan the distance for big pelagics, parrotfish meander by, their opalescent blue color catching my eye, their down-turned beak-like mouths piquing my sense of humor. Turning and focusing my attention on the massive rocks and boulders behind me, I find hundreds of sea fans lapping at the current, green moray eels with gasping, gaping jaws lurking in the shadows, and a solitary craggy rockfish perched quietly, invisibly.
After an hour surface interval which included a lap around the now-awake and rowdy sea lion colony, we drop anchor just off Land's End, somewhere between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. Swimming low against the sandy bottom, we follow two massive, morphing fish balls as they drift in and out of the murky distance.
As we alternately kick and rest against the surge, the massive looming shadow of one of the schools slowly draws near, as if we are approaching a giant underwater seamount. It drifts over and around, the thousands of tuna zigging and zagging as if they are one living creature. I roll over onto my back and let the surge carry me at neutral buoyancy, arms spread, while the school envelopes me, completing clouding the shimmering surface 50 feet above. Then in an instant, the school thins and opens as a sea lion slices through its center, weaving almost playfully within the ball. Instead of scattering in all directions, the tuna simply move out of the path of the sea lion as if they are magnetically repulsed. I can't decide if the sea lion is hunting for food or simply playing a game of tag.
Motoring back to shore after a morning of great diving with a dive staff that clearly loves its job sharing Cabo San Lucas' dive treasures, I look forward to relaxing on the beach with lunch and cold beverages. But as I pass tour boats packed with tourists leaning over the edge, straining to find treasures in the depths, I think about those who will only see the water from above today, and I think about all the things about Cabo San Lucas they will miss. - By Misha Troyan, San Diego Correspondent.
Read Misha's Jetsetters Magazine feature, "Tanked For ThrillsSan Diego Shark Diving!"