Los Cabos (often called simply "Cabo") is actually two different towns...Cabo San Lucas, and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico.

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Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas and San Juan del Cabo) Mexico history


 

 

This peninsula upon whose tip rests Cabo Can Lucas and San Jose del Cabo (“Los Cabos”, or just “Cabo”) was long a dry spit of land inhabited by a few Indians who fished in the rich sea between their land and what is now mainland Mexico. But once Hernán Cortéz heard a rumor of this land rich in gold and pearls, he moved a few ships north from Acapulco where he had been raiding the famous Manila Galleons that traded Mexican Silver and Gold for the Philippine’s silk and spices. His ships arrived in 1535, and he found no gold, few pearls, and a group of Percu Indians that weren’t especially pleased with the arrival of these ‘new-worlders’. Cortéz´s ships left after a couple years, having gained only a decent new map of the newly-named Sea of Cortez.

 

The area was on the sailing route between Acapulco and Asia, however, and therefore made a prime hang out for Dutch and English pirates hoping to intercept the ships of “New Spain” laden with goodies. Sir Francis Drake came to the area in 1587, and Thomas Cavendish raided the "invincible" galleon Santa Ana off Cape San Lucas in 1587, laden with so much gold that its capture depressed the London bullion markets for some time.

 

The Spanish crown was not happy to continually give up its booty, and sent the Jesuits to colonize the area. In 1730, Nicolás Tamaral, a Jesuit missionary, founded Mission San José del Cabo in an attempt to convert indigenous Pericu people and thus end frequent uprisings. The nearby Río San José was useful to the Spanish as a source of fresh water for galleons traveling to and from the Philippines

Their only real interest was in perhaps setting up a base from which they could protect their ships and dispose of the English and Dutch pirates. It was difficult work in a difficult environment, and again the Indians weren’t pleased with having interlopers trying to tell them they had to wear clothes and only keep one wife. 4 years later they managed to run the missionaries out of town.

 

Mexico and the young United States of America got into a little disagreement called the Mexican-American War in 1844, and while President Polk was successful in stealing a good chunk of Mexico for the States, they took a pass on the long peninsula (even though U.S. troops were sent to La Paz and San Jose del Cabo). It was only a dry chunk of useless land, after all. The U.S. retreated from the Baja.

 

Without a stable water source, sleepy Cabo San Lucas remained relatively undeveloped throughout the 18th century, although a large number of Catholic missions were established throughout the Baja. By the 1930s the town's population was only 400, though it was fairly successful as a fishing village and ran its own cannery. In the postwar period the area was the destination for sport fishermen, who came for the billfish and dubbed the waters 'Marlin Alley' for their ample quantities.

 

In the mid-1950’s famous names of the time like Desi Arnaz and Bing Crosby got a few of their friends together and built a hotel on the beach not far from La Paz. The only way to get there was by yacht or by flying into La Paz and then driving what might roughly be called a ‘road’ which culminated at the private Hotel Las Cruces reserved for the rich and famous. But word started slipping out about the huge fish and generally abundant wild life available in the Sea of Cortez, and others followed. Within 10 years of the opening of Hotel Las Cruces, another resort was built at San Jose del Cabo, then another at Cabo San Lucas…then another…and this is the beginning of “Los Cabos” as we know it today.

 

Los Cabos was still difficult to reach until 1974 when a highway down the length of the peninsula was opened. Californians discovered they could get here on relatively good roads in just a couple days, and many decided to fly in, pressing the limits of the small airport. In 1986 the airport was modernized and enlarged and became an immediate hit with travelers from all over the U.S. and Canada who could now experience this new jewel of Mexican resorts, Los Cabos, just a few hours from home. Since that time the population has doubled and tripled, new hotels pop up on a regular basis, and “Cabo” has become known world-wide as a place for sun and fun and incredible rugged natural beauty.

 


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