Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula’s is fond of U.S. currency and comfortable with the English language. However, it’s disrespectful and inaccurate to imagine the region as an extension of America’s West Coast. The warmth and generosity of the Mexican people rivals any destination in the world. We’ve teamed up with Expedia-aarp.com to show you around one of our favorite resorts.
For more than 12 million years, the Baja Peninsula has slowly moved away from mainland Mexico. On the northern end of the peninsula near San Diego is Tijuana – 1,000 miles to the south is Cabo San Lucas. Affectionately known as “Cabo” by its admirers, the resort town was a “best kept secret,” not anymore. In 1955 the population of Cabo San Lucas was just 300 – today more than 90,000 people live there and there are about 100 accommodating hotels.
Off the jet and onto the tarmac is always a nice touch. It feels more authentic. First sight at the Cabo San Lucas International Airport is a large Mexican flag waving in the wind. Outdoor airport bars sell margaritas and Mexican beers to arrivals waiting for transfers.
The address for the week is the four-star all-inclusive Grand Fiesta Americana resort. Days begin with a march for breakfast at Peninsula restaurant. Part made to order, part buffet – Pacific Ocean waves crash hard 50 yards from the open-air restaurant. The restaurant view is an infinite ocean to the south and the sun clips the horizon to the east. There is a fresh squeezed juice bar with 12 choices: orange, watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi and more. The star of the show is the tortilla chef. From her Mexican breakfast command and control center – she makes tortillas from scratch for fresh breakfast tacos and tostadas. There are four variations of salsa, fresh cilantro, pico de gallo and guacamole. There is chorizo, carne asada and ham worthy of the great Pancho Villa. An omelet state is also available, but the Mexican breakfast stage is the headliner. This is breakfast is legendary.
Cabo’s only 1,583 miles (2,548 kilometers) from the equator and hangs out alone in the middle of the ocean — it’s hot and a bucket hat on the golf course is recommended. Ahead of a 10 a.m. tee time on Cabo del Sol’s Desert Course, on the range we catch up with golf professional Ernie Perez. He offers three tips for the Tom Weiskopf-design and they prove to be quality:
1. Hit putts firm and at the hole – do not play a lot of break
2. Be aggressive on holes #4 and #6 – they’re short par fours – go for it
3. Play it safe on #12 – it’s a long par five
The golf course is plush and well conditioned. It’s amazing what happens in the desert when grass, water, fertilizer and a little TLC is added. The golf course design is prime for the player on vacation – it’s fair and fun. Just like Ernie suggested – the two short par fours are reachable. Indeed, golf is more fun when the numbers are little, and Weiskopf’s layout is generous and smart. The Desert Course’s condition matches the more expensive Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course and while there aren’t ocean views – the layout is just as good or better. Drinks on the deck after the round are recommended. Margaritas this good at a golf course is a joy that only happens in Mexico. It’s only 2 p.m. and this is one of the greatest days of all-time.
“Something for everyone” is a typical claim by destinations to lure travelers. Cabo has it all and its quality is second to none. Anglers hook up often with massive billfish and tuna the size of Volkswagens. The richest fishing tournament in the world happens here – every year in late October the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Tournament awards more than $3 million to the winning fish. There’s also whale watching, nightlife, ATV tours and much more. However, two memories from Cabo live forever: the tortilla queen and golf at Cabo del Sol.