Being a seaside community, it's a given that the ocean has played a major role in the livelihoods of Los Cabos residents since the beginning. This museum traces the history of fishing in the area, and exhibits make use of historic photos, equipment and taxidermists' specimens of a huge variety of fish.
Cacti Mundo, an international group dedicated to preserving cacti, operates this botanical garden, which also specializes in native Mexican succulents. Located in the heart of San Jose del Cabo, the garden was founded more than a decade ago to educate visitors about the importance of maintaining native ecosystems. Some plants on display, like the Mexican Gold Barrel cactus, are extinct in the wild. Visitors can browse the specimens along paved paths weaving among these fascinating plants.
Once a fresh water stop for Spanish ships plying the Manila - Acapulco Galleon Trade, San José del Cabo's estuary is still an important local water source (it's fed by the San José River), but is now best known as a bird and wildlife sanctuary home to hundreds of avian species. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit the estuary, whose colorful residents include coots, cactus wrens, ducks, frigate birds, herons, pelicans, and red-tailed and sparrow hawks. Although negatively impacted by Hurricane Odile and nearby real estate developments, this remains one of the most beautiful walks in Los Cabos. The estuary is easily accessible from the Zona Hotelera, or from the downtown area.
The Arch of Poseidon, or simply "El Arco," is Cabo's most famous landmark. The towering, 200-foot rock formation was created by ages of whistling winds, pounding surf and shifting sands. Located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez, the area can be accessed only by boat. However, water taxis and glass-bottomed boat tours are easy to book in the Medano Beach area. When you visit El Arco, keep your eyes peeled for sea lions, who frolic in the vicinity.
This cheery yellow building is an excellent example of Spanish Colonial architecture. The building is still in use by the municipality, so content yourself with viewing it from the plaza. Grab a drink at a local restaurant, sit at one of the outdoor tables, and ponder life in old-time San Jose del Cabo.
The Lighthouse of the False Cape was built in 1890. Today, its remains stand on a cliff, 500 feet above the water. Access to the lighthouse is by horseback, ATV or 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Many companies offer tours that also take visitors to a nearby shipwreck and to view sea-turtle nests.
Twenty-five miles north of Cabo San Lucas lies this fascinating Indian village. In the past, and perhaps even to this day, the pueblo has been known for its practice of white and black magic. The settlement is also noteworthy for its abundance of lush bamboo and its mango and palm trees, all of which are fed by an underground river. Many local tour companies rent ATVs that can take you to the site.
Playa El Médano is ground zero for the Spring Break madness in March, and remains busy throughout the year. In many ways, it's the center of social life in Cabo San Lucas. The beach is huge, about two miles long, and filled with restaurants, bars, souvenirs vendors, and water-based activities rentals. You can rent wave runners, kayaks, go parasailing, have a water taxi take you out to Land's End or Lover's Beach, or drop you off back at the marina. The water is extremely calm here, and although you won't find any lifeguards in Cabo San Lucas, areas are roped off for swimming.
Local Expert tip: Mango Deck and The Office are the most popular cantinas on the beach, and both feature plenty of seafood, cold beer, tropical cocktails, and seaside ambience.
The local natural history museum is located on the town square, Plaza Amelia Wilkes, and is easily identifiable by the whale skeleton out front, although a distressing number of bones were blown away during Hurricane Odile. The museum is free (donations are very much appreciated, of course), and features exhibits detailing the geology, paleontology, archaeology, biodiversity, and culture of the inhabitants of Baja California Sur. Highlights include details on the life of the Pericúes, the original inhabitants of Los Cabos; information on local flora, fauna and marine life such as whales and porpoises; a history of Spanish colonization and episodes of piracy along the coast; an exhibit of early tools; and old technology donated by local inhabitants. The most important and unusual exhibit is a two million year old fossil of a zebra jawbone, discovered in the nearby Sierra de la Laguna mountain range.
Local Expert tip: The museum is surrounded by great dining options. Follow your history lesson with some traditional Mexican food at Pancho's, located a block away on Miguel Hidalgo.
Parroquia San Lucas Evangelista is one of the oldest buildings in town, and one of the few places of genuine historical importance in Cabo San Lucas. It is located just off the town square, and is open to visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with three masses on Sunday (8:30 a.m., noon, and 8 p.m.), and one Saturday evening (7 p.m.). Attending mass here is a great introduction to the local people and culture, but be forewarned that masses are in Spanish with the exception of the noon mass on Sunday. There is no air conditioning here, so dress accordingly, albeit respectfully, during the summer months.
Local Expert tip: The noon mass on Sundays is bilingual.