Just Back from … Whale Watching off Los Cabos and the Sea of Cortez
Text By Pat Middleton, Photos by Rich Middleton
As Cabo San Lucas has evolved into one of the busiest and most upscale winter tourism destinations on the Baja, my husband and I were delighted to discover San Jose del Cabo, a smaller town about a 30-minute taxi/shuttle/bus ride from the harbor at Cabo San Lucas. For $1400 each, our Internet package included a non-stop 4-hour flight from Minneapolis (minus 22 degrees F as I write), airport transfers and travel insurance, as well as 12 all-inclusive days at Royal Solaris Los Cabos Resort and Spa.
We found the resort (one of seven Royal Solaris resorts along the Mexican coast) to be immaculately clean. Excellent food was abundant 24 hours a day at several different restaurants, cafes and grills within the resort. Pina coladas, rum punches and every other Caribbean concoction were served up non-stop around all the pools and resort beach area.
Memorable Experience: For a $20 a night premium, our 5th floor room at the Royal Solaris directly overlooked the resort gardens and the vast Sea of Cortez which was a lively playground for whales. We had coffee in our room and simply sat on the balcony and enjoyed watching walkers, runners, fishermen, pelicans, Osprey, trawlers, and whale-play as the beach came to life each day. The all-Mexican staff was amongst the most attentive and helpful we have found in the Caribbean.
The community of San Jose was settled along the estuary in 1730. The historic city square and artisan shops were an easy walk from the beach.
ATVing along the vast undisturbed beaches of the Sea of Cortez, whale watching, and snorkeling with “kissy fish,” “mugger mullets” and colorful tropical fish left us with great memories of this unpopulated Baja coast. We took a little bread along to the snorkeling beach (I confess) and were instantly awash in wonderfully colorful tropical fish at Bahia Santa Maria.
While whale watching and ATVing were available only in small guided tours, we packed a lunch and hopped a local bus to get to Santa Maria beach. Good snorkel masks and fins cost $12 each right there at the beach. Bring food, water, sun shelter… there is a safe snorkeling beach here, but no other amenities! Things we didn’t do (but would have liked to): Swim with the Dolphins at the Cabo San Lucas harbor ($150 each) and horse ride along the beach.
Travel Tip: Bring your binoculars! From December through March, hump back whales are calving along the tip of the Baja California penninsula! We saw whales daily off the beach from our room… blowing, breaching, diving, waving black and white tails… all those amazing things these behemoth’s love to do to entertain us.
The Royal Solaris is also located within a 10 minute beach walk of one of Los Cabo’s best birding spots… the San Jose Estuary. Our birding list included the Costa Hummingbird, eared grebe, 6 different species of egrets and herons, frigate birds, ibis, moorhens, stilts, etc.
There is a turtle sanctuary near the San Jose Estuary and tourists are recruited for moonlit rescue operations while the sea turtles are hatching. Motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are not allowed on the beach at San Jose while turtle eggs are incubating.
Finally, our resort package was advertised as a 5-day discount package… we asked for a 12-day package and the daily price dropped even further. Any day check-in/check out was a nice feature. I can't think of another location where we have enjoyed such a beautiful mixture of ocean, arid desert, and riparian habitats in one such easily accessible locale.
So both the Royal Solaris and San Jose del Cabo get our best recommendation!
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