Easy, breezy Baja California is where Los Angelenos go to play. But for New Yorkers, getting there was hardly hassle-free.
That is until JetBlue added its daily year-round flight from JFK to Los Cabos International Airport two years ago. Since then, tristaters make up 5% of the famed peninsula’s visitors, up from fewer than 1% in years prior.
But heading to Los Cabos doesn’t just mean one thing. Below is a primer to having a blast in southern Baja’s four main regions, alongside their equivalents from our own nearby answer to the promontory: Long Island.
Is Montauk a must-do? Try Todos Santos
Hotelier turned wellness guru Chip Conley has his Modern Elder Academy campus here, which he calls a “midlife wisdom” school, a sign of the vibes here — come yoga-ready. This corner of Los Cabos has superb sandy beaches, but the breezy weather off the Pacific makes the water less ideal for swimmers than it is for surfers.
San Pedrito’s exposed beach break is a year-round standout. Even if you can’t easily dip in the waters, the West Coast perch guarantees killer sunsets — head to the bar on Cerritos Beach, a rare swimmable stretch, for superb views. The dining scene is heavy on farm-to-table and food trucks: Try the huitlacoche ceviche at the restaurant at minimalist hotel Paradero or gorge on bargain-priced fish tacos at the Barracuda truck.
Stay: Check in at the recently reimagined, now-103-room Rancho Pescadero (doubles from $895), set in its own 30-acre gardens with indoor-outdoor rooms.
North Forker or nowhere? Hit the East Cape
Anchored by the town of Cabo Pulmo, this is the most countrified corner of the region: Be prepared that even cell phone coverage can be spotty. It’s an area that the villagers declared a reserve three decades ago to protect their waters from overfishing — a pioneering eco-tourism effort — and they continue to manage numbers.
Come now to dive or snorkel in the teeming Gulf of California, as many Cabo locals do each weekend: Among the 10 main dive sites, don’t miss the permanent colony of bull sharks at El Pensador — book a trip with Cabo Pulmo Dive Shop. The beaches on this side are rockier, but swimmable; the most appealing is at Cabo Pulmo, where there’s also the only fringing reef on the Pacific Coast.
Stay: Until Amanvari opens here next year, the only choice is the Four Seasons Resort (doubles from $800) at the new Costa Palmas development — it has its own marina, so feel free to moor your superyacht right next to your villa.
East Hampton hedonist? Cabo San Lucas is ideal
The most famous center in Baja remains its best place to party and yep, you’ll find Señor Frogs and Co. on the 20-mile “tourist strip.” But there are also plenty of upscale options: Hit Bar Esquina, the ultra-cool grill and bar inside the Bahia Hotel, with décor that’s a delicious mishmash of Mexico and Morocco while Sunset Monalisa has romantic tables for two on the clifftop overlooking El Arco, the recently collapsed arch at Baja’s southernmost tip.
Come, too, for sport fishing from the marina — Picante is a reliable operator — or browse for souvenirs inside the gleaming Puerto Paraiso Mall, where local stores like Mi Mexico Magico selling artisanal goodies sit alongside the international brands.
Stay: The Waldorf Astoria’s an ideal bolt-hole here (doubles from $1,093). It’s minutes from the action but separated by a specially built 650-foot tunnel which connects to the hotel’s site on its own self-contained beach.
Sag Harbor snob? Go to San José del Cabo
At the other end of the tourist trip from CSL, this artsy village-like hub is its antithesis.
With all cobblestone streets, colonial buildings and galleries — there are almost three dozen downtown. Standout art spots include Corsica Galleria, which focuses on well-known modern Mexican artists like sculptor Jorge Marín or contemporary specialist Casa Dahlia. Stroll around on Thursday nights when the streets are car-free and there’s live music.
Stuff yourself on locally caught seafood among a leafy garden in the arts district at La Panga Antigua, and give thanks for the trip at the nearby mission church: Tie a white ribbon to the rack near St. Charbel Makhlouf — it’s a tradition for locals where they express their gratitude.
Stay: Zadun is part of Ritz-Carlton’s toniest tier, Reserve (doubles from $1,499). The 115-room resort sits between two superb golf courses, one each designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman.