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San José del Cabo - Attractions

Estero San José

After spending a few languid hours in San José del Cabo's colonially bricked and adobe-styled centre, you'll be hard-pressed to envision more-peaceful environs within the town limits. But walk south from the main plaza along Boulevard Mijares to the intersection with Juárez and swing off-road (just past the police station) down the delightful palm-lined pedestrian track called Paseo del Estero to fire up your imagination. Paseo del Estero shadows the comparatively raucous Boulevard Mijares to its west and the rivulet Arroyo San José to its east, the stream feeding into an estuary in the zona hotelera called Estero San José.

Once upon a time serving as a resting place for pirate ships in-between energetic attacks on Spanish galleons, this estuary is now a serene wildlife reserve frequented by all manner of birdlife, including white herons, frigate birds and the slightly schizophrenic sparrow hawks. Note that parts of the trail to the estuary are prone to flooding after heavy rains.

Playa del Nuevo Sol

For a leisurely taste of white sand, saltwater and good swimming conditions, head down Boulevard Mijares to the tan-friendly Playa del Nuevo Sol. A short slouch along the sand and it's welcome to the Playa de California, the eastern extension of del Nuevo Sol and such a lovely place. Those who enjoy surf fishing can make their way 2.5km (1.5mi) east of downtown to La Playita, the sandy crescent that fronts the small fishing village of Pueblo La Playa, while surfers will want to venture 2km (1.25mi) south down the highway to the sick reef and point breaks at Playa Costa Azul, colloquially known as Zipper's Beach.

To plant your plastic bucket and spade in the many other spacious sandpits along the Bahía San José del Cabo, and wet yourself in a socially acceptable way in the process, journey west down The Corridor to the heavily footprinted foreshores of Playa Acapulquito, adjacent to Zipper's and also conducive to surfing; Playa Palmilla, a lengthy beach 1km (0.6mi) west of Acapulquito that's popular with swimmers; the breakwater-protected Playa Cabo Real, a further 7km (4.3mi) west; and Playa Santa María, a placid cove located a full 17km (10.5mi) from San José del Cabo, with fish-teeming waters that yield the best snorkelling along this stretch of peninsular coast.

Plaza Mijares

The rest of Los Cabos may be dominated by modern, all-credit-cards-accepted resorts and the mock-formality of golf course clubhouses, but the county's capital has chosen to keep its historic Spanish-colonial atmosphere, laidback friendliness and natural tranquillity. These relaxing characteristics are all on show in and around the distinctly uncluttered Plaza Mijares, a breezy square where inactivity rules supreme. Looming prominently on the western side of the plaza is the mosaic-decorated Iglesia San José, a replica of the cornerstone Jesuit misión built here in 1730.

The plaza's perimeter is home to some fine restaurants where mooching pedestrians can get their fill of Mexican cuisine, from mariscos (seafood) to antojitos (traditional snacks). Also scattered around the square are numerous souvenir shops that sell all the usual Baja trinkets, like black velvet paintings, gaudily stitched super-size sombreros and wrought-iron cages containing domesticated wildlife (OK, stuffed birds). But among these are several shops selling the genuine craft and interior-design articles, such as artful ceramics, glassware, woven rugs, silver jewellery and sculptures from the mainland Mexican Huichol tribe. Running from the southeast corner of Plaza Mijares all the way to the main beach is Boulevard Mijares, where you'll find more emporiums and this low-key town's handful of gringo-frequented boozers.

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