The Best Beach Is the Local Beach
“We’re going to another beach. You’re welcome to come with us,” said Mr. Díaz Flores, the vacationer from Mexico City I had met on my snorkeling jaunt. He and his friends had gotten a tip about a hidden haven toward the northern exit of the park.
A dirt road led us to a stretch of sand and a sign for Playa Miramar. Clusters of tents overlooked gently rolling surf. Towels and swimsuits were draped across every surface of a pickup truck to dry. By no design, I’d come to Mexico on Semana Santa, or Holy Week, when most of the country, including my new friends from Mexico City, happened to be on break.
What Mr. Díaz Flores and I found after a little asking around was a heartening makeshift town of Cabo San Lucas locals. All echoed the same sentiment, that they had driven two hours from their homes because this is the closest swimmable camping beach available to them. Many of the beaches along the Hotel Row of their city and San José were private, and the ones that weren’t had strict no swimming or camping policies because of fierce waves and riptides.
On Playa Miramar, though, they’d built a cocoon of relaxation I can only hope to mimic some day. A taxi driver beachgoer we met drank beer while lounging in a makeshift couch his children had sculpted in sand. His eldest son fished nearby while an uncle dove in with a net and another friend rowed a boat trawling for bait parallel to the shore. They had nothing but tiny baitfish to show for the day — but then, as the moon rose, orange and bright as a spotlight, nabbed three big catches at once. “Es la ley,” shrugged Erick Castro, a Cabo-based finance manager who was fishing alongside them. (“It’s the law.”)
What had struck me most about Baja, beyond even the beaches, was a spirit of generosity that reminded me of being back home in New Mexico. I saw that generosity in drivers who were constantly stopping their cars in the middle of a highway to allow me to make a left turn. Or my waiter at Flora Farms, Jorge Solano, who invited me to go to La Baladra Beach with his entire family. Or a plumber on a camping holiday at Playa Miramar who gave me his name and number and invited me to his niece’s quinceañera next year — an invitation that I soon lost to a gust of wind. Anyone in Cabo, if you know a plumber named Oscar, please tell him I’d be honored if he’d get in touch.
Don’t drive at night like I did. Taking the two-lane Highway 1 from Cabo Pulmo to San José, I got stuck behind exceedingly slow cars more times than I could count. “Only cars?” Mr. Solano, my Flora Farms waiter, remarked. “Usually it’s horses or cows, and the whole drive can take four hours.” One night, while driving on the regional road, at far too late an hour, what crossed my path but: a herd of cows.