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Guests who aren't feeling the circus atmosphere of Cabo (above) can head to the quieter 'Zona Turistica' area.
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BY GARY A. WARNER
The Orange County Register
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico-- There's another side to Cabo San Lucas, where tequila is gold and not white and comes in short fluted glasses, not poured into your gullet by a funnel.
A place where the food doesn't come on a stick or wrapped in a tortilla.
Behind the guard-shack-rimmed gates, the resorts north of Cabo San Lucas create their own little worlds, where you are encouraged never to leave--except perhaps for a round of golf. This is by design.
Few who are going to resorts along the Sea of Cortez know Fonatur, the Mexican development agency that dreamed up Cabo (and Cancun, Ixtapa, Loreto and Huatulco).
The idea at Cabo was to create a gringo playground at the southern tip of Baja California, far from cities whose pollution, poverty, congestion and sometimes crime discouraged less-adventurous travelers.
Everything is master planned, from the international airport away from beaches to the four-lane highway that speeds motorists from to the full-blown Americano party town of Cabo San Lucas.
In between is a strip of luxury resorts, where I decided to start my trip. In a more commercially minded country, it would be called "The Gold Coast" or "Baja Riviera." But Fonatur's creation goes by "Zona Turistica"--tourist zone.
I booked the Westin. The beach is perfect for sunbathing or strolling, but choppy waves and somewhat rocky shoreline make swimming a no-no. But there are two pools.
We stayed a Sunday and Monday, and the resort was strangely empty. In search of life, we headed out the first day.
HITTING THE BEACH
We swung off the highway to Chileno Beach, one of the best sand strands that keeps a somewhat natural look. The sand gave the water a psychedelic green tinge.
The June water was a bit brisk, but fine once you got used to it. The small waves were enough for some fun bodysurfing, and the mix of locals, tourists, kids and lovers made for a nice scene. It was my favorite spot from the trip.
A REFINED DINNER
We finished the night at the One & Only Palmilla, a secluded, sedate luxury spot. I couldn't afford to spend the night, but dinner was a splurge worth getting, to see the place close-up.