Living the Baja Dream
Beach, beer, tacos — the lure of Baja has always been simple. These days, the best place to experience it is in the sleepy farming-and-fishing town of El Pescadero. Set below the green mountain peaks of the Sierra de la Laguna, where organic basil and chili farms line a palm-shaded beach, it's an easy, hour-long drive from the chaos of Cabo San Lucas. There are a handful of modest hotels and surf camps, a few restaurants and cafes, and not much more. "It still really feels like authentic Mexico, where folks are laid-back almost to a fault," says Don Morris, a former contractor and fisherman who has lived here for 22 years.
The uber-tasteful Rancho Pescadero (from $250 a night) is a secluded inn where the breezy rooms have ocean views, nearby gardens supply the restaurants, and the pool sits so close to the beach you can pass entire days without putting on shoes. The spiritual center of town is Baja Beans Roasting Company, a cafe that offers single-origin Mexican coffees, first-rate berry scones, and a Sunday farmers market. The best beach for swimming is 10 minutes south in Playa los Cerritos, a many-miles-long sweep of soft white sand with gentle breakers for easy bodysurfing.
The mountains are just as alluring. Rent a bike at Tres Santos' The Hub in nearby Todos Santos ($30 a day), grab a trail map, and ride the eight-mile loop of groomed singletrack that crosses boulder-lined rivers. Come dinnertime, the upscale cafe at Rancho Pescadero offers local farm-to-table fare. Or grab some simple but tasty tacos at Carnitas y Gorditas. And if you're itching for adventure, show up on the beach at Punta Lobos, five miles north of El Pescadero, before dawn. For a couple hundred bucks, the local fishermen will gladly take you out all day to chase game fish such as marlin and tuna. "Just don't be surprised when you speed back to shore like the goddamn Navy SEALs," says Morris, "right through the waves up onto the beach."
Fly nonstop to Los Cabos International Airport from 10 U.S. cities. (It's about 4.5 hours from Chicago.) El Pescadero is an hour's drive away.