Cabo? Sure. But Not That Cabo.

East of San Lucas's sun-drunk hordes, the Baja that was still is.

It's 11 p.m. on Playa Candelero beach out on Espiritu Santo, the uninhabited island five miles off La Paz. A half-dozen tents stake out the shoreline beside an impromptu harbor: a fleet of beached sea kayaks and a skiff loaded down with freshly filled air tanks, ready for the morning dive. Campfire embers are falling into ash, and the night is quiet save the neighborly barks of the sea lions camped out on Isla la Partida, a mile to the north.
Welcome to Baja California's East Cape, the rustic yin to Cabo's golf course¡ and cigar bar¡saturated yang. Running south from La Paz to the mouth of the Gulf of California, this oft-ignored eastern tip of Baja hasn't changed much since the days of John Steinbeck. Despite long-discussed plans for a paved route that perhaps five years from now will wind through the Sierra de la Laguna and link up with the Los Cabos highway, most roads here are still bad, ribbed with washboard and sandy sinkholes that can swallow a tire whole. Boils of tuna and plankton still draw all manner of giant sea creatures: orcas, humpbacks, and gray whales, elusive hammerheads and whale sharks. Out on Cerralvo Channel, winter winds still blow steady and hard, exhausting the most dogged of boardsailors. And come spring the gulf still turns to glass, with 100-foot visibility over a rare coral reef cruised by dozens of neon-hued fish.

As you might expect, the dog days of summer—August 15 through September 15—can be deadly: up to 110 degrees during the day, 95 at night. But the big surprise is that the rest of the year, even through July, is quite nice, especially if your sports are water-centric. Diving and sea kayaking are best from March through December, though possible year-round. Windsurfing and mountain biking are ideal during winter and early spring. And all year, water temperatures are as much as ten degrees warmer than those of the Pacific, ranging from the seventies to the eighties.
Whatever the season, the best way to launch a tour of the East Cape is to fly into La Paz, at its northern boundary.

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