Avoid the glitz of los Cabos by flying directly to La Paz, usually from Los Angeles. Round-trip flights on Air California (800-237-6225) start at $190. At the airport, Hertz (800-645-3001) rents compacts from $250 per week. Beyond La Paz, credit cards are virtually worthless, so carry sufficient cash.
Getting Situated in...
If you want to stay in the heart of the city, try the beachfront Los Arcos (doubles, $75; 949-450-9000). Five minutes north is La Concha Beach Resort (doubles, $107; 011-52-112-16161), home of the water-sports-oriented Cortez Club. Hopeless scuba obsessives should head for Pichilingue Point and the Cantamar Hotel (doubles, $70; 011-52-112-21826), 25 minutes closer to the dive sites. Two-tank outings start at $80 anywhere in La Paz, but package deals can lower your combined hotel-dive costs to about $100 a day. (For details, call La Concha or Cantamar.) The Cortez Club also arranges custom kayaking tours of Espiritu Santo and beyond; a three-day trip costs $300.
La Ventana/Los Barriles
Boardsailors will probably want to rent sails and boards ($50-$60 per day) in order to easily swap out as conditions change. Ventana Windsurf (800-782-6037) rents a 450-square-foot yurt or a one-bedroom bungalow for $120 or $160 per night, respectively.
Among the more plush lodgings in Los Barriles, the Palmas de Cortez (doubles, $110-$140; 800-368-4334) offers great bay views and access to big-game fishing charters, which leave daily from the nearby dock and cost $66 or more per person, plus $10 to rent tackle.
Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort (888-997-8566) has one-room bungalows and spacious casitas for $85 to $120 per night, and can also help arrange outings: A half-day of panga fishing runs $150; kayaks rent for $30 to $50. Right next door, Nancy's Restaurant rents palapa-roofed casitas ($65-$85 per night; 011-52-114-10001). Whether or not you stay there, don't leave town without sampling Nancy's fare. The fresh snapper, organic veggies, and homemade bread recently earned a rave review in, of all places, the New York Times.