Whether or not you live in Cabo San Lucas yet, it’s always fun to know a little of the history behind popular places in the world. Every town has a history…and Cabo is no exception! We know what it’s like now…but how did it get to this point?
Although the sea of Cortez bares his name, it was not Hernan Cortez, but his navigator, Francisco de Ulloa that was credited with first discovering Cabo San Lucas in 1537. It soon became a busy trading port and stopover for pirates (not the Johnny Depp kind, alas). British and Dutch ships both had a field day cashing in on the Spanish treasure ships trying to take treasure back to Spain.
The Spanish treasure-galleon, the “Great St Anne,” was captured off Cape St Lucas by Sir Thomas Cavendish November 14, 1587 prompting King Phillip II of Spain to establish a small fortress at Cabo San Lucas to try to rid the waters of “undesirables.”
With the establishment of a fort at Cabo San Lucas, the area was opened up to exploration. Settlements along the Baja began to spring up as pearls were discovered in the Sea of Cortez. In 1730 a Jesuit mission, Jose del Cabo, was established to the north. Together, the two towns became known as Los Cabos (The Capes). However, Cabo San Lucas remained largely undeveloped having no steady water supply.
By the 1930s the population of Cabo San Lucas was still around 400 when it started to become know as a sports fishing haven. Accessible only by small plane, long range yacht, or anyone willing to travel 1,000 miles of rutted dirt roads to get there. The word roads is used very loosely here.
After World War II, word started spreading around Southern California’s elite and Los Cabos became a playground for the rich and famous. By 1950, Bing Crosby, Phil Harris, Desi Arnaz, and The Duke had built the exclusive hotel Las Cruces on the East Cape. More development followed.
In 1974, with Cabo’s population at around 900, the peninsular highway was built and Los Cabos started to become accessible to Middle America. Mexican architecht Manuel Díaz Rivera purchased 250 acres which would become the development Pedregal. Marlin fishing tournaments began drawing international attention and Fonatur, the Mexican tourist agency along with international developers began to pour money and resources into the region. Construction of an international airport in San Jose Del Cabo, a modern 300 slip marina and a fresh water pipeline to Cabo San Lucas have ignited the current boom.
Today, sportsmen continue to flock to Los Cabos for world-famous fishing, outstanding diving, and game bird hunting. However, the area now also draws families, beach lovers, honeymooners, golfers, and the retiring segment of society. Huge investments in golf courses have been made in the 30 kilometer “Corridor” between Cabo San Lucas and Jose Del Cabo. 108 holes are already open, with a master plan calling for an eventual 207 holes. Dramatic course layouts built by some of golf’s premier designers take full advantage of the region’s striking landscape.
Cabo San Lucas boasts dozens of fine restaurants, fabulous shopping, a fine marina, and an active nightlife. Accommodations are first-class and feature some of Mexico’s finest properties and vacation rentals. With miles of pristine beaches, beautiful scenery, and almost perfect weather, it’s no wonder that Los Cabos is fast becoming the ultimate resort destination, and even more, the ultimate place to live.