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It's Mexico's hidden paradise, where the desert disappears into the sea.

Los Cabos ("The Capes"), the crown jewel of the Baja Peninsula, is a sun-drenched, safe and secure playground of resorts, a collective vacation enclave beckoning American travelers for its magnificent scenery, endless beaches and perfect climate — as in fresh breezes, no humidity and, listen up, worshippers of Sol, 350-plus days of sunshine a year.

Here, in a place so natural and tranquil and gorgeous that it makes you feel you've arrived at the end of the earth, life is a day at the beach.

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Sea of Cortes (or Gulf of California) to the east, this southern tip of our southern neighbor is the narrow Baja California Peninsula.

Largely undeveloped, it nonetheless boasts a booming shoreline crowded with hotels, restaurants, resorts, time shares, inns, bed-and-breakfasts, bungalows, apartments, spas, villas and gated residential communities.

There are obviously many vacation rental options to choose among in Los Cabos, but one promising avenue to investigate in these troubling financial times is renting — as opposed to buying — time-share condos for a week or two.

Owners who have bought time shares in Los Cabos seem to be on the desperate side to rent them out to finance-challenged vacationers. So merely ignore the hard-sell pitch to buy and instead get your Google on and peruse the want ads featuring renting time shares in Los Cabos.

Despite the minor aggravation of the time-share barkers, rest assured that Los Cabos is far removed — a thousand miles removed — from the crime- and violence-afflicted northern Mexico cities such as Tijuana and Juarez. The security of vacations is a high priority in Los Cabos, and it is obviously more than just a public-relations ploy.

The "Tourist Corridor" is the 20-mile, four-lane highway (Route 1) that runs through this holiday hot spot and connects the two highly developed major cape towns.

Have a Drink, Buy a Painting

To the north is the colonial village of San Jose del Cabo. Twenty years ago, this 19th-century mission town was still a remote fishing village. Now, its narrow streets are lined with lively cantinas and upscale folk-art boutiques.

To the south is the port town of Cabo San Lucas, a bustling city (the largest in the state of Baja California Sur), packed with souvenir stalls, cigar shops, theme bars, shopping malls, on-the-water tourist attractions and docked cruise ships.

In between are miles of empty desert, deserted beaches, and resort after resort offering fun in the sun in the form of swimming (mostly in the shallow pools because of the dangerous rock formations in the sea), snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, golf and tennis.

The beaches offer pleasantly soft sand that rarely gets hot while the pristine water, punctuated by arresting rock formations, is crystal clear everywhere. Your camera will thank you.

The twin cities served by the Los Cabos airport have evolved into a major tourist destination not only for Mexicans but for more and more Americans, including Hollywood's rich and famous.

Understandably, the local economy, previously geared towards fishing, is now based primarily on tourism.

And then there's whale watching, which becomes a preoccupation after the first time you survey the casually spectacular, downright astonishing vista that is the Sea of Cortes — which separates Los Cabos from mainland Mexico and was dubbed the "world's aquarium" by no less an authority than Jacques Cousteau — and spot a majestic Pacific Grey Whale slice out of and then back into the water.

This occurs routinely during the winter season, when the whales migrate to the Los Cabos shores from the northern seas.

There are plenty of whale-watching opportunities on small commercial boats, if you're so inclined, but there's nothing quite like seeing this natural wonder from your time-share balcony.

Looking out at the vast, dazzling Sea of Cortes, it's difficult not to wait, sometimes in vain, for the next whale to surface.

Elegant dining venues abound, and, needless to say, Mexican cuisine dominates the culinary landscape. But the mix of time-tested establishments and breath-of-fresh-air newcomers includes — in addition to the ever-present taco stand — restaurants featuring Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese and California cuisines.

If keeping kosher is a priority, not to worry. Cabo Kosher, the first and only kosher local meal service, offers online ordering and will deliver those orders to any location in Los Cabos.

Speaking of which, the Jewish community in Los Cabos has developed over the past several years and now offers a variety of services for the Jewish tourist, including Shabbat services, a Torah Club, Kaballah classes (they spell it Cabo'lah), children's programs, and holiday events and programs.

For general information about Los Cabos, see: www.loscabosguide.com; for information about kosher possibilities: www.jewishcabo.com or www.cabokosher.com.


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