Los Cabos Feature
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What's New in Baja
It happened about 30 million years ago, give or take a couple of hundred thousand.
According to seismologists, it must have been an unimaginably powerful seismic event. It happened in just seconds—a giant rift, perhaps associated with the San Andreas Fault, tore a huge finger of land miles away from the mainland. Much later the mainland would be called Mexico and the finger the Baja California Peninsula.
Perhaps not as physically jarring as that monstrous quake, the recent developments in Baja—many in Los Cabos specifically—are nothing short of an explosion of epic proportions. In Los Cabos, hotels, restaurants, bars, golf courses, and tourist-oriented businesses have sprung up seemingly overnight in recent years. And those properties that are not necessarily new are undergoing major renovations in order to keep up.
Other parts of Baja are seeing significant goings-on, too. Outside Ensenada, a burgeoning wine district, the Valle de Guadalupe, is gaining recognition. And U.S. citizens are finding themselves hit with some new restrictions on reentering the United States from Mexico by land and sea.
San José del Cabo Grows Up
The same gnawing question has always confronted visitors planning a trip to Los Cabos: do I stay in San José del Cabo or Cabo San Lucas? Most visitors have always opted for the flash and glitter of the latter. San José's hoteliers and restaurateurs have stopped trying to compete on San Lucas's terms, opting instead to market their community for what it is.
The city has truly come into its own. San José's zócalo (central plaza) has been jazzed up with a lighted fountain and gazebo; old haciendas have been transformed into trendy restaurants and charming inns. And the city's art scene is thriving with a high-season Thursday Night Art Walk, where those interested in art can visit participating galleries and enjoy free drinks and live music.
Golf is the name of the game in Los Cabos. There are 11 courses tied to names that read like a Who's Who of golf legends and course designers: Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Tom Weiskopf, Robert Trent Jones II, and Tom Fazio. Baja golf is more than just Los Cabos: courses line the entire peninsula, if not in the same density as at its southern extreme.
The Rise of Todos Santos
Once the province of surfers—the undertow is wicked here, making for some amazing waves, but risky swimming—this town overlooking the western cape about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas is home to a growing artists' community. Just don't call Todos Santos Baja's "hot" new destination, because folks here aren't interested in becoming another Los Cabos, thank you very much. But "genteel" and "refined" and "preserving Mexican culture"? Absolutely, those descriptions apply.
People always ask, "Is Los Cabos the next Cancún?" And that's not exactly a compliment, as potentially negative repercussions for the environment and local culture are implied. Perversely, Los Cabos did benefit from 2005's Hurricane Wilma, which battered Cancún and the Mayan Riviera, as visitors canceled plans to vacation there in the storm's aftermath. The next three years were boom times unlike Los Cabos had ever seen.
The east-west balance has been restored and the world economy has slowed. The flurry of new construction, especially in Cabo San Lucas, has abated, but only somewhat. Even if the number of new hotels opening has subsided, many are still being remodeled and refurbished.
New Terminal at SJD
Anyone who's flown into Aeropuerto Internacional de Los Cabos—SJD in airport-code lingo—recently can tell you that the infrastructure at Mexico's eighth-busiest airport has not kept pace with the ever-rising number of visitors coming here. Relief is on the way in the form of a new terminal, expected to open in 2010. The 10 additional gates should greatly ease congestion for the nearly 3 million passengers who pass through annually.
Border Crossing 2010
U.S. citizens need to have their paperwork in order to return to the United States from Mexico by land or sea. Those aged 16 years and older need to carry a passport or passport card. Children 15 and under are only required to provide a birth certificate if traveling with their parents or an organized group.
Note that if you return from a cruise and your itinerary also took you beyond Mexico, a full-fledged passport is necessary for reentry to the United States. All travelers, regardless of age, require a passport when returning by air from Mexico. See the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Web site (www.dhs.gov) for more information.
A Bit of Bad News
You've seen the reports: drug cartels are responsible for violence that has gripped pockets of Mexico, including the sliver of land just south of the U.S. border, near Tijuana. For now, we have greatly reduced our coverage of Baja's border towns, but we hope to restore that coverage in future editions. With standard travel precautions, the rest of the peninsula can present you with carefree travels.
Mexico appeared to be the epicenter of the H1N1 virus—the so-called "swine flu"—in 2009, although the outbreak centered in Mexico City. Many visitors canceled reservations to Los Cabos and Baja, possibly hastily and unnecessarily.
September 2009's Hurricane Jimena roared ashore in central Baja near Santa Rosalía and Mulegé. Repairs to damaged infrastructure began almost immediately and are ongoing at this writing.
And, to end on an upbeat note …
200 Proud Years
Mexico celebrates its bicentennial in 2010. (Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1810 and marks that year as the year of its birth, although true freedom wasn't won until 1821.) A palpable sense of pride runs through the population here as the odometer reaches 200. Exuberant fiestas and delicious celebrations are sure to take place throughout the year.
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