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Rosewood’s Las Ventanas al Paraiso resort (Photograph courtesy Rosewood Hotels & Resorts)

Los Cabos: A Window to Paradise

When I landed in Los Cabos, I almost immediately started daydreaming. You will too, if you come here. It’s rare that I arrive at a destination and start planning my return trip. Cabo hooked me in an hour.

Why? It’s something I started calling “Baja Soul” — a feeling of complete tranquillity. I always say you can channel different parts of your personality when you travel; in Cabo, I was feeling the most easygoing, unflappable parts of my disposition bubble to the surface.

After traveling to Vallarta/Nayarit and Mexico City, I was acutely aware that Baja California Sur was different. The remarkable combination of desert suddenly meeting bright blue water is a landscape I haven’t seen before.

In Los Cabos, on the tip of the peninsula, it rains six or seven days a year. And when you think about the temperate climate, it’s no wonder people from all over the world come here to unwind all year round.

Los Cabos refers to a trio of communities — Cabo San Lucas, which has a livelier vibe next to the main marina, San Jose del Cabo, a small, charming town chock-full of art galleries and restaurants, and the Corridor, a 20-mile strip filled with resorts and housing communities.

Separated by the Sea of Cortez from mainland Mexico, Los Cabos also possesses a certain international elan. The people I met hailed from France, Tokyo, Chicago, New York, even Australia. For visitors who hail from the U.S., it’s an even easier trip, as many establishments accept American dollars.

Los Cabos attracts a bevy of A-listers and jet-setters. If you are even a casual reader of celebrity gossip (I need to pass the time during flight delays somehow!), you may know that Jennifer Aniston and Cabo have a love affair that has far outlasted most of her real-life relationships.

“Welcome, Annie. There are 380 of us here to pamper you,” was my welcome greeting as I checked into Rosewood’s Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a name that translates to “the windows to paradise.” And if I thought I would amble to my room and get unpacked, I was wrong. I was handed a welcome margarita, whisked to the spa, and treated to a ten-minute massage.

When I did return to the spa, the massage was so heavenly (stress knots blasted into oblivion!) that I begged the therapist to move to New York. He didn’t want to leave paradise, naturally.

In colonial San Jose del Cabo, the heart and soul of Mexico can be found in local shops. By chance, I met Eduardo Sanchez, a jewelry and handbag designer, who showed me a gorgeous clutch I was eyeing (the accent on it was made from a rattlesnake skin he had spied in a parking lot). Sanchez is a  third-generation jewelry designer (“My grandmother was making jewelry 50 years ago, right here in Cabo,” he told me) who spent four years in Italy studying his craft.

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The Arch at Land’s End forms the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. (Photograph by Annie Fitzsimmons)

On the other side of the peninsula, in Cabo San Lucas, I took a glass-bottomed boat to the remarkable El Arco (The Arch), which marks Land’s End, where the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean meet. We passed Pelican’s Colony, Lover’s Beach, Pirate’s Beach, and Divorce Beach (as a newlywed, I wasn’t interested in stopping for a visit) and saw sea lions lounging on rocks.

The waters of Cabo aren’t really for swimming — they’re rougher than they look — but are gorgeous just the same. Luckily, most hotels make up for that fact by offering stunning pools that offer incredible views. But if you feel the ocean calling your name, look for beaches with “Blue Flag” designations for their eco-friendliness and commitment to sustainable development. El Chileno was my favorite spot — and you can swim there.

In the pre-Internet era, Baja California Sur drew old-time luminaries like Jimmy Stewart, John Steinbeck, who wrote The Log From the Sea of Cortez about a marine expedition he took here in 1940, and Ernest Hemingway and John Wayne, who were lured by fishing for black and blue marlin.

Today, the Cabo of yesteryear has most definitely changed, with hundreds of resorts lining the Corridor. Still, it draws you in and will draw you back again and again.

Tip: Cabo is extremely easy to zip around by car. My car rental agency even tried talking me out of getting the GPS, but I insisted. The agency was right — I didn’t need one. There’s basically one main road, and it’s nearly impossible to get lost.