From Los Cabos International Airport, northeast of San José, Highway 1 becomes a four lane freeway for its final 20 miles. But, even the modern "four-lane" is not immune from the Baja Highway's familiar hazards.
on the Pacific side of Land's End.
For several months following a recent September storm, driving from San Lucas to San José involved fording a hubcap-deep stream flowing a quarter mile wide across the roadway, and the storm reduced several sections of freeway to two-lane tracks while crews worked on repairs well into the new year.
Although cows are fewer here than elsewhere, it is not uncommon to see them grazing on the median strip near downtown San José. High-speed drivers, drunks, and passengers bouncing from the backs of pickup trucks also contribute to an accident toll that includes several fatalities every month.
The freeway follows the coastline to San Lucas Bay, among the world's deepest, and the town of Cabo San Lucas, which sprawls from the bay to the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna. The busy "four-lane" is the main artery for the Los Cabos Corridor, the final twenty-mile stretch of Cortez coast between San José and San Lucas.
The Corridor includes some of Mexico's most beautiful beaches, but exclusive vacation housing tracts, condos, golf courses and resort hotels are rapidly taking over the coastline.
Sunset on Solmar Beach.
Cabo San Lucas is all tourism, a vacation and party town that caters to beach lovers and sun worshipers, nightclubbers, shoppers, golfers and sport fishermen. Local charter fleets compete for claims to world records for blue marlin, striped marlin, swordfish, sailfish, dorado, roosterfish, tuna and many other species.
In just three decades, the town has grown from a small village of a few hundred fishermen and cannery workers, to a major resort center with a population approaching 50,000. Developers have thrown up more than 10,000 new hotel rooms in just the past ten years.
To Baja "purists", appalled by the town's crass and chaotic overdevelopment, Cabo San Lucas is a malignant tumor, eating away at the pristine beauty of their unspoiled peninsula. But, to those who thrive on the tropical resort and party scene, Cabo is heaven on earth.
The Baja Highway's final miles reveal vistas of Cabo San Lucas and its sparkling blue bay, encircled by the long arm of the cape and its famous arch, against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, a magnificent panorama reproduced endlessly on local postcards, tee shirts and tourist brochures.
Cabo straddles Cape San Lucas, the last rocky finger of land separating the Sea of Cortez from the Pacific Ocean, at the very end of the Baja Peninsula. The last beach in Baja sits like a saddle across the end of the cape, washed by both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.
On the serene Cortez side, it's called Lovers' Beach, and on the treacherous Pacific side, where "sneaker" waves can be huge and the undertow deadly, it's known as Divorce Beach.