Just 45 minutes north of the Cabo airport, the fishing village of Los Barriles, on the Sea of Cortez in Baja Sur, is the perfect balance between accessible and remote. The highway there is mostly paved, while the streets are mostly dirt and sand – locals cruise around on ATVs and dirt bikes – and there are only a handful of hotels. (Try the 56-room Hotel Palmas de Cortez, starting at $140/night; or, for a more bare-bones experience, the beachfront campgrounds of El Cardonal's Hide-a-Way, 30 minutes north of town.) Thanks to consistent El Norte winds this time of year, it's ideal for windsurfing and kiteboarding, and the warm, cobalt waters offer world-class diving, snorkeling, and sportfishing. "Every day is like Animal Planet here," says Sara Close, one of a growing number of expats who've been drawn to Los Barriles. "Dolphins are everywhere, whales, jumping manta rays – I even kited over a hammerhead shark the other day." A little farther inland, mountain bikers tackle new desert trails that weave among the area's waterfalls and swimming holes. Get in a few runs, then return to town for fresh seafood tacos at one of the traditional stands dotting the streets. Later, pop into a beachside bar for a drink as the sun goes down.
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